Picture of Candle Powered Pottery Heater
The instructables site is great at finding solutions to everyday problems.  I've found that the best solutions are that those that can be built with items that you already have around the house and don't take all weekend to make.  My goal is to make this instructable fit both of those criteria.

With Hurricane Sandy leaving many people without electricity and heat, I figured that I would share this option for generating heat.  Hopefully, this can benefit someone impacted by the hurricane, as well as yourself the next time you are stuck without heat.

Keep in mind that this will NOT heat your whole home, not even close.  However, you'd be surprised at how it will heat up a closed room and will keep you from getting hypothermia.  Essentially it takes the heat from the candle that would normally go straight up and radiates it out once the terra cotta begins to retain the heat.

My garage isn't heated and I used this today to provide heat while I was working on a project. 

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need the following:

-  3 different sized clay planting pots

-  1 large bolt (approx. 5")

-  6 washers

-  1 flat bracket

-  1 Candle in a jar (like a Yankee Candle)

-  1 Alarmed looking black cat (optional)

Step 2: Step 1

Picture of Step 1
1.  Thread the bolt through the bracket

2.  Turn pot upside down

3.  Thread the bolt through the hole in the bottom of the pot

4.  Turn right side up

Step 3: Step 2

Picture of Step 2
1.  Put washer on bolt

2.  Thread the bolt through the mediam sized pot

3.  Secure with a washer and nut

Repeat this step again with the small pot

Note:  be careful not to tighten too hard and break the pot (like I did)
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inhiskeep2 years ago
When I saw this I couldn't wait to show my husband who is forever survivalist-minded. He loved it! We're going into town today and are going to pick up the few things we don't have to make this. He also suggested to put water in the jars, just in case it worked well to heat the water in the jars. This shouldn't be a problem since these are canning jars and are built to withstand heat anyway. Also, I have a woodworking table outside in our garage and general don't get to work on my stuff during the winter because it's so frigid. Looking forward to trying this in the winter season.
This is a good idea but if you want it to really act as a heater with some good heat output, be sure to put lots of metal in the inside core. For instance, when I made mine, I put a washer, a nut that was too big (so it slipped right onto the bolt without screwing - in other words, it was too big), then another washer before putting on the nut that fits the bolt. I did this same pattern between all three pots. This gives the core lots of metal that heats up to higher temperatures than the one you saw at instructables.
jeremym27 (author)  inhiskeep2 years ago
Thanks for the praise. Now is a great time of the year to pick up extra pots since they are on clearance in many nurseries.
So we made the thing and tried it, but it didn't seem to get very hot. My husband said it may keep a cup of coffee warm. We used a large candle with only one wick though. We are going to give it another go when we can pick up a candle with more wicks. :)
They get so hot you can't touch them- it would most likely boil your coffee- One wick should be enough but the pots must be room temperature and dry. Ones brought in from a cold wet garden take days to properly dry and get up to a decent heat. Feel free to join my facebook group for more info
doo da do2 years ago
Well done

love your posting I actsally made one before reading your post how ever I was looking for new ideas for making it better. do you think liening the pots with aluminum foil would decrees "Baking time" and increase heat heat out put?

jeremym27 (author)  matthew.meyer.129725 days ago
I'm not a scientist, but my guess is that it would cause the inner pots to get hotter and the outer pots to not get quite as hot since the aluminum would reflect the heat.

Make sure those clay pots are NOT treated with anything...I tried something similar to this BUT the clay pots I purschased had been treated with something that caused the whole thing to catch on fire glad I had sat there and watched it for a while!

ovisoftblue2 months ago

this guys just crowdfunded a candle heater:

this kind of heat source only works in SMALL rooms/areas, it will NOT heat a home. you would have to have about 40 of them in your house to heat it in an emergency. Blanket off doorways and windows if you want to take the chill of with this type of heater. That is my personal experience. And remember that this is not a type of heat source for small kids to be around (like in their room) the candles are to tempting and to heat the small area these heaters should be at floor level as heat rises to the ceiling (where we are not ! lol) it gets hotter on the bottom of the project than I found on the top. Like I said, this is MY personal experience in 2013.

TheWilks13 months ago
Have you tried this with metal cans
Wyvyrn3 months ago

Awesome instructable. I just submitted a request to join your fb group. I do a lot of fermenting & I need a small source of heat to keep the fermentation active & this will be perfect! Other fermenters are using heat mats & such but I hate waste! Thank you for the instructable!

Most wax is polluted. Beekeepers know this. Wax for "beauty" products is imported from Africa since they are too poor there to treat their bee-hives with anything. Trust me you do not wish to inhale the residue from wax. I read recently that paraffin causes cancer. So to sum up either get clean wax or forget this.

jeremym27 (author)  martin.miljkovic.376 months ago
Well, I don't recommend standing above the candle used in this emergency heater and breathing. That said, it is no different than lighting a candle for ambience in your house; so using that same logic, no one should ever use a candle for anything, period.

Also, this is for emergency heating; not for every day heating that you stand above and inhale.
webgiant1 year ago

Bear in mind that all this does is slowly store up then release the heat of one candle, which is most likely insufficient heat for a large space.

The heat output of candles is well studied. In this case a rough calculation of the heat output of the candle would be about 262BTU/h. To raise the temperature of a room approximately 12 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet by 1°C (assuming good insulation), you would need 341BTU. You would need to add an additional candle, say a jar candle with multiple wicks, to the heating apparatus to raise the room temperature by a little more than 1°C over the period of 1 hour. So this is not a particularly good room heater for a bedroom or other decent sized room, but could work for a smaller room like a half bathroom.

aadaam20011 year ago
Assalam o alikum i have made one for me using 10",6",4" dia pots but not getting enough heat
bluemoon62 years ago
What a great idea...once my daughter had no heat for days and I told her to take a soup can ..put holes in it and put a candle inside and then she could heat up soup or water for coffee or tea..she was amazed it worked..
Do you know how she put the holes in? Drilled- or punched in? I would be interested to know for another idea I'm working on! Thank you
I've been making these for a few days- a friend recommended taking a tuna tin and placing three shelled tea lights in- then add the melted wax of three more tea lights. Three wicks will be visible but you only have to light one or two. This way it burns for a LONG time. In my experience the original tea light wicks get burnt up before the actual wax does so I make my own wick holders and today made my own wick.
jeremym27 (author)  Frugal Girl1 year ago
Thanks for the invite, I just joined the Facebook group
Yeah I added you :) The more the merrier so we can share ideas so if you know others that might be interested feel free to add them.
Mhbaben1 year ago
This is a good thing to know. I have seen this done with only 2 pots, but thicker ones. Three would hold the heat longer though as there's more mass to retain the heat. The top flat bracket can also be replaced with a larger flat metal washer so that it sits flatter. Thanks for posting, it might even save someone's life. There are prepper site's that have 30 hour vegetable shortening surrounding emergency candles in "mason" jars that would work well with this.
monet1081 year ago
Thank you. I will try this out.
Johenix2 years ago
Actually, you could nest as manny pots as you wished, they would take longer to heat up, but would hold heat longer.
A good safe place for this would be sitting in the empty bath tub- nothing there to burn.
In the 1930's a poor man's hot plate was a 100W bulb under a large tin can, bottom up.
this was a really neat idea! and simple enough that it kinda makes you go "hhmmm.. Why didnt i think of that!" the meterials list made me chuckle a lil bit there at the end too. Heat is just one of those things that a lil bit is comfortable to some and not others. im a hot blooded person so lets hope this produces atleast just enough heat to keep my toes intact. :) thanks
jfoster222 years ago
You may be able to use the base plate of a small clay pot so the lip would be a small enough diameter to rest on the bottom of the large outer pot. This should cover the end of the bolt and give a flat surface to put a small pot of water to help hydrate the air also.
NIce and clear instructable, i made one and have materials for 2 more. Candle light and heat, gotta love that combo in this time of year.
doo da do2 years ago
This will work well, my garage (shop) has no heat. I try to get there when the temps are good but sometimes not so much.
poofrabbit2 years ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the be prepare contest!
jeremym27 (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
Thank you very much. I'm excited!
Tracy_Marie2 years ago
I like the idea, but does it really need 3 pots? I'd like to warm soup or tea on top. The bolt gets in the way. Does it need the metal to conduct the heat?
jeremym27 (author)  Tracy_Marie2 years ago
It doesn't necessarily Have to be made out of metal but I can't think of another substance that would keep it all together and not melt or burn.

The point behind multiple pots is that you have more to radiate heat from, sort of like a radiator. By having multiples surfaces it will stay warmer longer.
Natalina2 years ago
This is a great, simple yet effective idea. Thank you for posting!
As Stormy0314 said below, this is just like the pot heater at and credit should be given where due (just as I have learned) . There is also a stand design there and also has the science behind it. Of course, if you dreamt up this idea on your own, then I wish I had the same sort of mental ability
jeremym27 (author)  cerberustugowar2 years ago
I learned about this on a survialist board without any reference, but I certainly agree that this is the same approach and don't claim to be the originator.
This is pretty clever. Any guess of how hot the surface gets?
Taken from

Steel has the ability to approach the temperature of its heat source, so the Steel Inner Core is driven to Very High Temperatures (500-550 deg. Fahrenheit) by the burning candle flame (550-600 deg. F.) and becomes a very hot Internal Thermal Mass.

The intense heat of the Steel Inner Core is transferred into the Three Ceramic Modulators, one into the other. The High Inner Temperatures are gradually reduced by the Increasingly Thicker Walls and Larger Surface Area of the modulators. The outer surface of the radiator becomes a Dry Heat Radiating Body with surface temperatures of 160-180 degrees Fahrenheit and a surface area of Over 88 Square Inches.
I'd bet that the metal bolt, at least, would get blistering hot. I love this design, and plan on making one this weekend, but I might cover the bolt end with something, maybe a (yet smaller) pot, possibly cemented with silicon?

Also wondering if cork washers would help ease the stress when tightening the nut, or if that would interfere with heat transfer.

A great design that I'm going to be playing with.  If I was in the wake of Sandy (or anywhere cold) I'd appreciate having this!

Thank you, Jeremym27!
jeremym27 (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
I wanted to post that originally but I only have a thermometer used for taking kids temperatures and that didn't work.

I need to borrow a cooking thermometer to measure it. I will and will post it once I do.
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