Tea Light Radiant Space Heater




Introduction: Tea Light Radiant Space Heater

About: Hi :) Thank you, humbly for taking the time to explore my projects. I thoroughly enjoy learning and working with my hands, and hope that you find what I create, and the intentions behind them both worth you...

This is a simple space heater; and as the name implies, the heat source is a tea light candle.

This is going into my camper, so it's actually fairly small.

I imagine something like this being lit during a bath or shower to prevent the mirrors from fogging up -of course it'd have to sit next to said mirror.

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Step 1: What You'll Need...

-8" Clay saucer (for orchids)
-3.5" Clay saucer
-6" Clay pot
-4" Clay pot
-3 drywall screws
-3 short screws
-scrap wood and columns (for the wooden stand). THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE.
-Nut, bolt, washers.

Step 2: The Stand...

The wooden stand is made of what you can see: wooden tray (cut size to fit inside the bottom saucer), and 3 columns of equal size and length.

Screw on the 3 columns equidistant from each other (from the bottom of the wooden tray) using your drywall screws.

Screw one short screw on top (and slightly toward the inside edge) of each column.

Now build the top end.

Step 3: The Top/Shade

Assemble the shade according to the picture.

From top to bottom, the order is: Bolt, large washer, small washer, Orchid pot, small washer, large washer, 3" pot, washer and nut.

Note: over tightening risks breaking!

Step 4: Putting It Together; Transporting

The small screws on each column help hold the shade in place by its inside rim.

Place the small saucer in the middle and wait for a cold evening to warm your cubby hole:)

This is how you might want to keep it during storage or transport.

Step 5: After Thoughts...

A space heater of this small size is perfect for tents, bathrooms (as both a heater and mirror defogger -or to prevent fogging up), or a small room like a camper shell.

The orchid pots are vented and let out the collected heat stored in the small pot and center bolt and washers. The vents also let the candle breathe so it doesn't die out.

You can flip the tea light saucer to slightly raise and lower the candle to control the heat, albeit insignificantly:) and you can also flip the bottom saucer to raise your candle further from the floor (in case that's where you wanted to put it).

Why did I choose to use 3 columns?

Because 3 points allows the planter to sit and not wiggle from any uneven lengths to the columns!

Have a warm evening, namaste!

Step 6: Update: First Use

Although only ~8" tall, with 3 tea lights, this little heater worked just as expected in my GF's SUV. Camped out by the beach in Orange County, CA, we warmed up enough to have to open the windows. The tea lights run for over 3.5hrs and cost as little as 0.99 cents for a 20 count pack. Overall, it beats occasionally having to start the car to run the heater.

This was definitely a worthwhile project, and will be very useful in our tent during winter camping!

I'll get actual temp readouts soon:)

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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    beautiful and genial and simple like Einsteins formula! Now a way to grow candle lights... ;-)

    It can be even more lightweight, remove the 8" Clay saucer on the bottom.


    5 years ago

    I like this very much, is the concept radiant heat ? Reminds me of the radiators we had in every room when we lived in Italy. They worked great, used water instead of flame/fire, lol. Also like ewbray's idea of using only 1 heat source that's reusable, longer lasting & are able to add essential oils or extracts to.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Found a way to have a much more STABLE base for the unit. I used an old 10 inch cast iron frying pan instead of the terra cotta saucers. Then fitted an upside down 8 inch round metal basket inside the cast iron frying pan that raised the flower pots level slightly higher (approx ⅞ of an inch) than the cast iron frying pan's edge's level to let oxygen to get to the flames. {Thin wire or ball chains can be used to "secure" the flower pots to the wire basket} Cast iron frying pan's handle also makes it easier to move the space heater, {if necessary}, besides giving it a low circular heavy base that is NOT going to be tipped over!

    To modify (compact) the source of heat, the next thing to do is to put the vegetable shortening in the empty 12 oz. tuna fish can and then put an old saucer in a frying pan that was half full of water. Once the water came to a boil, place the can of vegetable shortening on the saucer. As the vegetable shortening melts, vanilla extract or lemon extract is added to the solution; this gives the vegetable shortening candle a very nice aroma while it burns. Keep adding vegetable shortening and the flavor extract until the can is full to the brim.

    Cooling the liquid back into a solid is best performed by either placing the can in the refrigerator and/or the freezer. After the solution becomes solid, push four (4) of the small birthday cake candles equidistant from each other into the matrix. The birthday cake candles supplies wicks that are better than any DIY homemade wicks.

    By melting the vegetable shortening first, this REMOVES all of the air that the manufacturer places in the product during its production. This will help insure 5+ hours of burn time per oz. for each wick in the matrix.

    Now there is one (1) fire unit, instead of four (4) separate fire units, that should give the user 10+ hours of continuous burn time for their flower pot space heater!

    The 'secret' to good design of any device is to REDUCE the number of functioning parts down to the bare minimum!

    If the user wants to stick more with the original design, the user could also make a {lamp oil and/or cooking oil} candle out of an old 2.5 oz. baby food jar X 4 and use those instead of tea lights since the user can get about 5 hours of burn time for each ounce of fluid! This way the user can refill the fluid candle bottles as needed and there is a much less chance of the heater being knocked over.

    Frying Pan.jpgAmerican-metalcraft black-round-wire-basket-10 in.jpg

    Reply 5 years ago

    I would like to see a pic of ur idea put together.


    6 years ago

    I believe the incandescent bulb idea u mention will work --it doubles as a safe night-light, too! That would be neat for children's rooms and such:)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Like kakashi, I've seen a number of these assemblies recently (online but not in person) and yours is the nicest build I've seen. Most of the others just use smaller pots to stack the larger pots on; kinda lazy.
    Question: using the tea candle eliminates the need for/use of electricity, but if that was not a concern, couldn't you do the same thing with a small incandescent light bulb as your heat source?


    6 years ago

    Thank you, Kakashi. I appreciate your feedback, input and am looking fwd to testing how effective it is. Upon completion, I found there've been a few interpretations of said heater, and I've also had the chance to entertain theories about the science behind this thing. I'm glad I bought a second (unvented) pot! More exciting testing to come soon, Kakashibatosi!


    6 years ago

    a couple of things in case you decide to build another: the candle gets plenty of air, it doesn't need a vent hole in the top as it pulls air in from the sides. The vent hole lets heat out, but not in the right way. The point of the clay is to store heat and localize it. losing it out the top is losing extra thermal energy you could otherwise be storing. You're trying to keep as much thermal energy in the desired area as possible and not let it run away to the ceiling. I've seen this done a few ways now, and you've kept it nice and simple. Good job.