How to heat up a small room cheaply - with alternative views

'Dylan Winter created his DIY heater using tea lights and placed inside a bread tin and covered with two ceramic flowerpots. This creative system uses the scientific principles of convection heat transfer and, according to Winter, can heat his home for around 8 hours a day.'


'The tea lights are first put into a bread loaf tin and covered with a small upside-down flower pot.

The hole in the top of the upside-down pot is covered with the metal casing leftover from one of the tea lights. Then the pot is covered by a second, larger pot and the hole in the bigger flower pot is left uncovered.

This system works because the candles produce gases full of heated particles that are captured and channelled through the pots. As hot gas particles are lighter than the air, they will rise up through the top into the colder area.

What will then be caused is the cold air to fall into the warm areas and create a convection current; then heat is transferred from one pot to another, and then out of the hole.

One does not need a huge amount of money to invest in this economical heating method, either. Winter began by buying 100 tea lights from Ikea for less than a dollar, a standard loaf tin, and two different sized flower pots. In the video it is shown four candles are used for the heating system.

Sharing his invention with the world, Dylan explains that the heat from the candles warms the inside of the smaller flower pot, which becomes an ‘inner core’ that gets ‘very hot’. As explained before, a convection of air is then created between the smaller and larger pots and this heated air comes out of the top of the homemade heater.

When asked about his heater, he said: “People have told me that judicious positioning of flowerpots help to make the heating more efficient. I did not believe it but it really does seem to work. You get a nice flow around the [pots] and it warms the room up. You’d be amazed.”

Dylan even uses the flowerpot method on his boats to conduct heat. Truly inspiring for those seeking to simplify, be more frugal with their dollar, and leave less waste, perhaps this system will warm many families this year as winter makes itself more present.

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Watch the cats though so that they do not knock it over and start a fire!

Following the internet craze where this was seen as an answer to reducing there are some critiques which have also been critiqued as not being experimentally sound. See the next video for such a test:


One of the criticisms were:

"#1 you built it wrong, because you did not put the metal core into it. #2 You need a more stable base #3 These were not designed to be primary heaters, but emergency heat that keeps you warm within about 3 feet of the device, or as a desktop heater to save money. I have seen videos using large pots and Crisco candles that got quite warm after being lit for a few hours to a day, but they were built right, with the metal core. Obviously, you aren't a scientist."

There have also been critiques about whether it really works out cheaper given that a huge amount of candles get burned for bigger rooms.

Here is another video where there are some modifications using metal bolts and washers. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK - if knocked over a fire can start and there is also a risk of breathing in carbon monoxide.

Personally I would use this in emergency situations only in small spaces.


The guys from Tactical Intelligence had the following to say: "

  1. Heat rising from a burning candle (or electric lamp) is first trapped in the Steel Inner Core and surrounding Ceramic Inner Module.
  2. The Inner Cores get very hot and radiate heat to the Ceramic Middle Core.
  3. This Entire Inner Region gets VERY VERY HOT!! Heat synergistically builds up and “boils out” of the Ceramic Inner Core into the Ceramic Middle Core. The Middle Core heats up and begins to Radiate Heat. Heated air “boils out” into the Ceramic Outer Core.
  4. The Large Surface Area of the Outer Core begins receiving Heat. The inner wall surfaces become very HOT! Heat travels through the wall to the Outer Surface.
  5. The Outer Surface gets VERY WARM to HOT and gently begins to Radiate Heat into your home or office.

Putting it all Together

The process for putting together the candle heater is very simple:

What You Need

  • one 4″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • one 2″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • one 1 1/2″ ceramic (not glazed) pot
  • two 1 1/2″ x 1/4″ washers
  • three 1 1/4″ x 1/4″ washers
  • three 1″ x 1/4″ washers
  • eight 3/4″ x 1/4″ washers
  • seven 1/4″ nuts
  • one 3″ x 1/4″ bolt

Assembly Instructions

I think that the easiest way for you to learn how to put one of these heaters together is to follow the cut out image (to the left) I used from the site:

Just place the washers and nuts in the right combination as the image and you’ll be good to go. Looking inside, it should look something like this:

Making the Stand

I found the simplest stand to make is to purchase three 4″ corner braces.
Then just put the three braces together with the middle brace facing the opposite direction and bend the outside two just enough to support the heater.

Test Results

I decided to test out the heater with the bacon-grease candle I had made (check out Homemade Lamps from Everyday Objects to learn how to make your own). Since the homemade candle jar was a bit bigger than the 4.5″ stand I made, I added 6″ corner brace extensions to support the larger candle.

After burning the heater for around 6 hours it seemed to be putting out only a small amount of heat (a decent amount of heat was pouring out from underneath though). However, since the weather has been warmer around here I wasn’t able to give this little heater a fair shake (and besides, how much heat output are you really expecting from a candle anyways?).

Despite the less-than-optimal testing conditions, still, in no way would it heat up your home (or even a normal size room for that matter), but in an enclosed area like your car I could see it having some benefit. Again I haven’t been able to truly test it so this is only conjecture."

Flowerpot stove version 3:


Be safe!

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