The power went out here a few days before Christmas. I decided that I would post some pictures of the heater I built. I have seen and read about these on the internet in several places so I thought I would give it a try.
This is a Candle Heater. It is made by inserting a bolt (or in our case a threaded rod) through several clay pots. I have a bolt I planned to use, but my son insisted I use a threaded rod, because it is longer, which is important later.
Choose 3 pots in graduated sizes. You should have at least 1 to 2 inches between each pot size. It is important that you check the size of the hole in each pot to be sure that the bolt will fit. I found that two of my small pots had very tiny holes and wouldn’t work for this project. And I was not about to try to drill them out! This is supposed to be an easy project!!
On to the nuts and bolts…really. You should plan on at least 2 nuts and washers just to build the basic structure, and your bolt should be at least 6 inches long. 12 inches is better and I will tell you why in a minute.
This is missing a washer. but the idea is to insert the bolt into the largest pot from the bottom to the inside. Set the second pot inside the first over the bolt. Put a washer and then a nut on the bolt, stopping about an inch from the bottom of your pot. The idea being that when you turn the whole thing over the pots will settle onto the washers and leave air space between each pot. Repeat with the third and smallest pot, washer and bolt.
Now this is the quickest, cheapest, 5 minute build.
To use the heater turn it over so the pots are upside down. Use three steady objects as a base to set it on. I used jars. You could also use bricks. Please choose something fireproof. Not plastic peanut butter jars like I did! Underneath the pots set a lit candle jar. Preferably one with 3 wicks, but a single will do. I found plain white candles at the dollar store.
When lit the candles produce heat which is trapped by the bell shape of the pots. The heat builds in the smallest pot and transfers via the metal bolt to the other two pots. The pots then radiate the heat out into the room. This could be used to heat a small bedroom or living area.
Now, a better way to build this thing is to use many more nuts and washers. The metal helps to trap the heat and move into the clay pots. After inserting the bolt through the largest pot, attach the bolt securely with a washer and nut. Then add two more washers and another nut. One more washer and then the second pot. Secure again with a washer and a nut. Repeat: two more washers another nut, another washer, the third pot and secure with a washer and nut. the benefit of having a washer and nut securely (but not overly) tightened against each side of the pot is that it prevents the pots from shifting and banging against one another, and it helps the heat transfer from the metal rod to the pot. Now, you should have several inches of rod hanging down still. Here you can stack washers and nuts down the length of the rod to act purely as heat collectors. I recommend a variety of widths of washers, with a nut between each. why…to allow the heat the most surface area to warm. Most nuts are about 1/2 inch thick, but you can buy some that are 1/3 to 1/2 inch i believe, and that would allow you to use more washers. I also saw one heater that had graduated widths of washers stacked with one another and finished with a bolt. That may also be effective. Some friends have expressed concern about carbon monoxide poisoning from burning candles, but I don’t think that the average size room would suffer from just 3 candle wicks burning. If you are concerned, open the door every couple of hours to allow some air exchange, and watch for symptoms. Also it may work better if you can set it lower over the candles.
One caution: after the heater has burned for several hours, the candle jars, the heater and especially the head of the bolt will be very very hot! Use pot holders to move them if you have to. Check the recommended burn time on your candles if they have them, you don’t want them to shatter from the heat. Keep a second candle ready, blow out the first and replace it with a fresh one if you need to burn longer than your candle can handle. oops…that rhymed, sorry.
Now this is what we use upstairs for heat in a power outage.
It will heat the entire main floor of my home. My son has his room in the basement so the clay pot heater will work just fine for him. The day we used this kerosene heater in the house, my husband had to shut it off after about 3 hours because it was about 76 degrees in there! He uses it in the garage in the winter when he is working on projects. It keeps our uninsulated garage right around 55 to 60 degrees! and that is when it is about 25 degrees outside! It uses K1 kerosene which is a little more expensive than the basic stuff, but it burns clean and is safe enough to use indoors. People have been using kerosene heaters in our neck of the woods for more than a hundred years!
Good luck, if you try to build this clay pot heater. Remember, don’t over tighten your nuts, the clay will crack. It takes a couple of hours for it to really warm up, so start it up before you get cold. DON’T wait to build it after the power goes out. Put it together now, and buy your candles. It will be there when you need it. And next spring, you can take it apart and use the pots for flowers if you like!