Introduction: Tea Candle and Ceramic Flower Pot "heater"

Picture of Tea Candle and Ceramic Flower Pot "heater"

There's been a slight debate on whether this actually works or not. Whether it's convection or radiation, etc. I believe it's radiating the heat which isn't as effective as if it was convecting it. The original designs I found online has a hole at the very top which I guess allowed more convecting. I like mine because it's simply a little cleaner and easy on the eye. It gives off a little heat and is good for your desk. I keep mine directly next to my keyboard and it feels nice while I'm on Instructables!

Check out my personal website here: ParaVival

Step 1: What You Will Need

Picture of What You Will Need
  • 1 - Medium ceramic flower pot. Mine is 6"
  • 1 - Small ceramic flower pot. Mine is 4"
  • 1 - Ceramic plate (usually comes with pot, mine is 6")
  • Tea candles (100 for $9.10 here:
  • 2 - 1/4" x 5" hex bolts (there's a mistake in the picture, both bolts should be fully threaded.
  • 1 - 1/4" coupler bolt
  • 2 - 1/2" nuts
  • 3 - 1/4" nuts
  • 3 - 5/16" x 1-1/2" hex bolts (not shown)
  • 5 - small washers
  • 5 - big washers
  • Drill press/drill
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Lighter

Note: If you have big washers with a small 1/4" hole in them, you can use 5 washers total instead of 10. Also, the two large 1/2" nuts are simply spacers. If you want you can use a small 1-1/2" section of a small pipe, or anything that comes to mind. You will see what I'm talking about in step 4.

Step 2: Drilling Base Holes

Picture of Drilling Base Holes
  • You'll need your drill, ceramic plate, and sharpie for this step.
  • Drill bit size: 5/16"
  1. There should be a little circle in the middle of the base which is the center. Mark this with your sharpie. Mark your three leg holes. You can measure these out or simply eyeball it like I did. It does not need to be perfect!
  2. Add a little water to where you'll be drilling. Add more if needed throughout the entire drilling process.
  3. Using your new or freshly sharpened drill bit, slowly drill out all four holes. Remember don't push too hard because the opposite side of the ceramic plate will chip off and break underneath. Drill slow, with minimal pressure. This takes some time so be patient.
  4. When done your plate should look like this.

Step 3: Assembling Base Bolt

Picture of Assembling Base Bolt
  • You'll need one 1/4" x 5" bolt, two 1/4" nuts, two small washers, and two big washers. Note: If you have big washers with 1/4" holes use those. I couldn't find any in my workshop and just used two washers to achieve my goal.
  1. From the bottom of the ceramic plate put the bolt through the center hole with your washer(s). If you're using two washers like me make sure the big washer is up against the ceramic and then the small one is on top of the big washer.
  2. Here's what it should look like. It's vital to keep the washers and bolt aligned straight.
  3. Now the same on the top side of the ceramic plate. Big washer, small washer, 1/4" nut.
  4. It should look like this when done. Remember to keep everything lined up nice and straight when you're tightening it up.

Step 4: Assembling the Legs

Picture of Assembling the Legs
  • You'll need your 3 x 5/16" bolts and nuts
  1. Drop the three bolts through all three holes.
  2. Flip it upside down and screw the nuts onto all three bolts. Tighten by hand.

Step 5: Assembling Pot Bolt and Spacers

Picture of Assembling Pot Bolt and Spacers
  • You'll need the second 5" x 1/4" bolt, 3 small washers, 3 big washers, 2 BIG nuts. Recommended: If you have big washers with 1/4" holes use those. I didn't have any laying around the workshop.
  1. Place a large washer, small washer, and the bolt through the top of the bigger flower pot like shown in part 1 of the diagram.
  2. On the inside of the pot your going to put a large washer, then a small washer, then a nut. Tighten with screw driver and needle nose pliers. Do not over tighten. Be careful not to break the pot!
  3. Put your spacers down the bolt. Remember: You can use anything here. Whether it's a small metal pipe, an over sized coupling, or even a ton of washers, anything works. I used two BIG nuts as my spacers. Note: You only want your spacer to be about 1". Too big of a spacer will make your inside flower pot stick out below your big pot.
  4. Now some washers. Small than big. Or 1 washer if you have a big one with a 1/4" hole.

Step 6: Inserting Second Ceramic Pot

Picture of Inserting Second Ceramic Pot
  1. Place second pot inside the bigger pot.
  2. Like always, big washer, small washer, nut. Tighten with needle nose pliers. Do not over tighten.
  3. Now you should have something that looks like this.
  4. Now screw on your coupler halfway.

Step 7: Connecting Base to Top

Picture of Connecting Base to Top
  • Screw the base bolt into the coupler. You want to try and turn the whole top part together and make sure the coupler tightens down on the base bolt. If you're not careful the top bolt will start screwing further down the coupler, instead of the coupler tightening onto the base bolt, which we don't want.

Thanks for reading my Instructable I hope you liked it! Please visit my new website


DrewV1 (author)2018-01-01

You know, for safety sake, this can also be made to fit over a light bulb instead of using open flame. You can vary the wattage of the bulb for different heat levels and/or use a 3 position socket & bulb and have a variable setting heater...

DIY Dave (author)2016-09-17

would this work with some type of metal instead of ceramic pots? I'm wondering about a metal bowl so that it would be less fragile to carry in a vehicle

DrewV1 (author)DIY Dave2018-01-01

Yes Dave, it can be done but is not nearly as efficient as using the clay pots... With the metal you do not get the thermal mass afforded by the pots. The metal will give off the heat rather quickly while the clay pot will hold the heat more effectively. Think of the pots as being being a cast iron stove compared to one made of sheet metal...

c4xp made it! (author)2017-01-05

I made it myself.

After 2 hours: 77'C outside pot, 82'C metal stand.

DawnieHMc. (author)2015-01-26

****CAUTION I have done these for months with the IKEA, plain, metal cup candles. I decided to use some plastic cup, fragranced tea lights and it proved to be SO dangerous. I noticed an odd smell, then realized the terra cotta pots were blackened, flames were up to 12" high. I tried to blow it out, but it just increased and wouldn't lesson. I threw flour on it and it just simmered. I finally pushed a dish towel on the flames and killed the fire. I had NO idea the fragranced tea lights would cause this. If someone has an explanation, feel free to tell me what happened.

saladgyrl (author)DawnieHMc.2016-02-04

NEVER throw flour on a fire, you can make it explode...the dust is highly combustible. You can make a much bigger fire. Baking soda can be put on a fire. The best thing is to smother it by covering it with a solid metal bowl or similar object or use a fire extinguisher. If you only have a dish towel, soak it in water first or it may also catch fire.

NeeNee96 (author)DawnieHMc.2015-11-11

First off in order to understand how it happened you might want to know how candles burn both scented and unscented. The wax actually burns and evaporates. It is capable of becoming to hot and burn like oil. So if any of the wax spilled over and onto to play form this can cause a fire it can ignite without a wick at high enough temperatures. Best bet is to always make sure you have plenty of air as to keep the candle wax cool enough not to ignite and always clean up a spill as soon as possible. Or use a small glass tea light candle holders from the dollar store, something thing that catch the spill.

PhillipS27 (author)DawnieHMc.2015-10-03

Never throw flour on a fire. Use baking soda. Flour can ignite.

azcrafter (author)DawnieHMc.2015-09-15

Was it too hot for the plastic?

bstragier (author)2014-11-08

I made and modified this a bit. for the base plate I just drilled one hole in the center and flipped it upside down for the footing. at first I copied this indestructible exactly and it gave off good heat and worked as the best hand warmer ever!! then I converted it to convection to see if there was a real difference by drilling a few holed in a tuna can and mounting that over the small pot. instead on the larger pot getting really hot, hot air flows from the top. I think this heats air nicely. both have a noticeable difference in air temperature. one is an awesome hand warmer.

kingofeye (author)2014-09-23

this would be such an inneficient method to make this heater,..check this instead

nmakarowski (author)2014-07-04

For any of those coming to this. Don't bother with it. This is completely ineffective as a heater for a number of reasons.

Candles, Regardless of whats above them cannot put out any more heat than they have energy trapped in the wax, and in paraffin candles that amount of energy is very small, about 35 Watts of heat per hour. To put this into perspective, it would take about 43 candles to compare to a 1500w electric heater, and these candles cost about 10$ per 100, and last only about 4-5 hours. This means about $4.30 is needed every 4-5 hours to heat a room effectively. Not to mention the dangers you have to face with 43 lit candles in a room, or the potential oxygen depletion or carbon monoxide risks you're facing. This is in addition to the having to need a place to put 11(4 candle) or 14(3 candle) heaters around the room/house.

Compare this to that 1500W Heater, some of which can be found for as low as 150$, can heat up an entire 1500-1750 Sq ft house/apartment. For whatever the cost of your electricity is in your area. Mine is about 14 cents an hour, so it's $0.14x1.5kw(1500w), or about 21 cents an hour, if it's on full blast all the time(which it won't be, they only turn on when needed).

A 500W-750W heater can be found for quite a bit cheaper anywhere from 25-75$, which won't offer the same heating power, but it can heat up a decent sized room and keep it at temperature quite easily. These are even cheaper to run, and might just suit your needs better. For me it would cost about 7 cents an hour for the 500W heater, and 11 cents an hour for the 750W.

Even if you're living in an area with electricity prices as high as 30, or even 40 cents an hour it's going to be far cheaper to run an electric heater compared to a Tealight heater. If an Electric heater is completely out of the question, then you should look into a Kerosene Heater. Which is liquid fuel heater, and the fuel can be bought in large quantities. It still poses many risks, Fire, Air(it's exhaust is normally vented indoors), but if used safely and properly it offers little to no risk. This is great for area's without electricity. This type of heater is used almost exclusively in Japan in the winter time over there, so it can't be THAT dangerous. Just don't misuse it.

There are other options, but also depend solely on where you live. A Rocket/Jet Stove is a wood burning stove that could be vented outside. It heats up to incredible temperatures pretty much vaporizing wood(small twigs in most cases). The smoke stack/chimney/exhaust w/e you call it, gets incredibly hot because of this. It allows you to heat rooms(with a small unit), Entire houses, with a much larger unit. And you can even use them to heat water by wrapping copper pipe around chimney. This is actually an incredibly efficient way to heat houses and water, though it requires a proper design, and a proper place to put it.

The only reason I took the time to write this is because I would prefer to inform people before they decide whether or not to make something like this. I'm not telling you NOT to make one, I'm just telling you that there are other, way more efficient and cost effective means of heating a house/room/garages. To be quite honest with you. This Tealight heater at best, would be able to heat up a small bathroom. Even then, the Terracotta pots don't offer much of anything except for a small amount of heat radiated off. The rest of the heat will still rise, so it's cheaper and easier to just burn the candles by themselves.

Costarus (author)2014-02-12

The amount of heat that allocates candle, remains unchanged. And similar devices, alas, a mindless waste of money. Candles are so small, that are well-suited for themselves. Air convection is excellent. 1 candle has a thermal capacity of about 30 to 40 Watts. But they cannot be put close to each other. They overheat and lights directly paraffin, and not the wick. The flame is very strong, it may be a fire. For burning low in oxygen and strong smoke. I tried to do a good microwave on paraffin. But it is difficult. Need a boost and constant control. (computer translation)

boter2099 (author)2014-02-08

Awesome Ible'. Well documented and well written.

However - I'd like to point out, what you have designed is a heat exchanger but what you have built is a radiator.

In theory the way this should work is that the "sealed" smaller pot is meant to catch the heat, and warm up. This heat warms the air trapped between the small and bigger pot. As heat rises the warmed air is meant to escape the hole in the end of the pot. This in turn draws cooler air up from the bottom, thus cycling all of the air in the room past the heating element.

However with the hole sealed. The two pots simply warm up and radiate out the heat into the room. Convection is more efficient than radiation.

Might I suggest redesigning your method of attaching the big pot? Possiblly add bolt feet standoffs like on the tray? so that the main hole is left open to allow for better circularion?

AnthVale (author)boter20992014-02-10

Very informative. Thanks for the post! I'm going to re-design this and try and go for more of a convection than radiation.

So, I just want to make sure I'm on the same page. You're thinking...Keep the main central bolt, but end it at the bottom of the small pot, and instead of it going all the way to the bottom of the big pot, use three bolts (like legs of plate) and have that be the method of fixing the pots together. This would allow the big pots hole to be open still. Then the heat gets trapped in the small pot, heats up and spill out into the big pot and comes out of the hole up top??

Do you think If I just drilled holes on the top (bottom of big pot around central bolt that's currently there), it would work??

Look forward to hearing what you think.



artistajg (author)2014-02-06

You got this all wrong. The candle flame is supposed to be under a bolt loaded with washers that are inside the smallest planter. This in turn will turn the washers red hot. That's where the heat comes from. As far as this really warming up a room with no heat, no way. I've built two different versions of this to try and heat my garage office, 35 degrees in the winter. Didn't make a bit of difference.

AnthVale (author)artistajg2014-02-06

I wouldn't call it "All wrong"...The stainless steal that is present is awfully hot up inside those ceramic pots. And I'm seeing higher readings radiating off of this thing so idk! You prob know more that me but I wouldn't call it "all wrong". If anything it just looks more presentable on a counter than any other version I've seen. I guess what I like about it is I just keep it right next to my laptop so when I'm online/Instructables it keeps me toasty.

mampoer (author)2014-02-06

A small correction to step 5, you didn't use two big bolts as your spacers, you used two big NUTS.

AnthVale (author)mampoer2014-02-06

Thanks Mampoer!

All Fixed. The images take me so long to make that I rush through the writing portion!


Grunambulax (author)2014-02-06

I think that this works because it becomes a radiant heater. It will capture and release heat right around the device itself. Obviously it is not generating more heat than the candles per se. With the candles, the heat is partly radiant but mostly dissipates upward quickly as there is nothing to contain it. It would be interesting to use thermal imaging to contrast this with three candles per se.

madmedix (author)2014-02-05

It works, doesn't work…who cares? This is the perfect project to get a young one started into thinking like a 'maker'. Play with the materials, sizes, configurations and see what happens…I like it.

Misac-kun (author)2014-02-05

I wonder if this same principle could be applyed for cold dessipation. (Brazil is just like hell by mid day on summer)

jmwells (author)2014-02-05

I put three holes in the bottom of the bigger one, like you did on the plate. Seems to add a little convective draw. Spreads the heat a little.

hdmotorc (author)2014-01-30

You might get those readings close to the heater although, there is just not enough BTU's in tea light candles to heat up ANY room.

AnthVale (author)hdmotorc2014-02-01

I mean...My room reads 62. Then when I close my door and put it on for
an hour. My WHOLE room goes up at least 7 degrees every time.... Soooo.
Ya maybe I can just defy physics or something. And my room is pretty
big. If It was a small 6 x 8 office or something, I bet my money on it
heating the whole place way more than 7 degrees. You can't even touch this thing when it's
running it's literally 200+ degrees when it's on. But I'm not
scientist I just like building stuff (: Hell I forgot what BTU stood for, I had to look it up!!!

hdmotorc (author)AnthVale2014-02-01

Cool. I saw one on Facebook and wanted to make it. My pots were too close in size to try it. I need to buy some. Instead I researched it. Never found any real info that claims it is possible to work. A lot of info that says it don't and won't. I think it's cool. I will make one like yours because if you say it works what can it hurt. I'd only be out like $10. Plus it looks pretty cool. I'll try it.
My room will be 12x20 with 9' ceilings. We will see.

AnthVale (author)hdmotorc2014-02-01

It's at least a nice desk warmer. I have it next to my laptop and it keeps me warm!

MikB (author)hdmotorc2014-02-01

Never mind the physics, and boring theory, and common sense. These things are all over the internet and so they must work :)

miscast (author)2014-01-30

Perfect for camper or tent!

About This Instructable




Bio: I went to school for Architectural Engineering for two years and ended up getting a degree in culinary arts (long story). I have great passion ... More »
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