Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Homemade Flower Pot Heater

Living in Los Angeles, I don't really have to worry about the "polar vortex" that is currently gripping the country. I mean, it has been in the 60s instead of the 70s so sometimes I have to wear a hoodie, but it's nothing compared to the negative wind chill temperatures other places are experiencing. So when I saw RealFarmacy's link going around Facebook about how you can make your own heater using flower pots and candles, I wanted to see how well it actually worked, since my well-being doesn't depend on it right now! Here's what you'll need:

2 terracotta flower pots that can fit inside one another
Tealight candles
1 metal 5x9 bread pan
1 lighter or matches
Tin foil or something to plug one of the holes in the flower pot

First, take four tea lights, put them in the middle of a metal bread pan, and light the candles.

Take your smaller of the two pots (my flower pots were 5 1/2" wide in diameter and 6 1/2" wide) and place it on top of the bread pan directly above the candles with the hole facing up. Plug the hole with something so air does not escape - here's where I used tin foil. Essentially, you want to trap the air so the pot gets hot.

Next, grab your bigger flower pot, place it on top of the smaller pot and voila! You have a... really... small... heat...er...

I may not have a convincing British accent like the original post or live in a cold part of the country, but it seems like you would get more heat by huddling around your toaster! Don't get me wrong, it does get warm (ish) but after 30 minutes of it next to me, I'm only feeling the heat if I put my hands on the bigger pot. Perhaps if your power goes out and:

a.) all you have are tealight candles and you live in a studio apartment or have a small bathroom OR
b.) if you have an infinite supply of tealight candles you want to get rid of

then this would be worth your while. But if you have relatively larger rooms or don't want to be stuck in your bathroom until your heat turns back on, you might want to find alternative heat solutions. Like a fireplace. Or a Starbucks.

$4 for two terracotta pots at local flower shop
$5 for 100 tealight candles at IKEA
$5 for bread pan at Target
Lighter and tin foil already on hand

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: Less than 5 minutes
Note that times will vary depending on the size of the room and how long it will take to warm it up

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 1 out of 5
This isn't difficult to make at all - the difficult part is being patient enough to get any sort of heat from it!


  1. You need more space between your two pots. I would suggest a larger outer pot. That space between the pots is where the air is drawn in (from the open area that overhangs the side of the bread pan) warmed by the inner pot which causes the rising effect, and finally expelled through the whole in the bottom (top for this application) of the larger pot. This process is called convection. What you've created here is a "radiation" heater simply heating the clay pots and not really "moving" any air. Don't get me wrong even when properly constructed and this convection process is underway the heated pan and outer pot do offer some radiant heat but not as efficiently as that warm air spouting out the little whole up top.

    As I said, try a larger outer pot and see how that works for you.

  2. The previous commenter is correct, you need more of an air gap between the two pots - I'd suggest an outer pot an inch bigger than the one you used. You'll also get a better result by grouping the tealights under the inner pot rather than having them in a line, as the central pot is the critical thing to heat to make this work.

    I actually made one of these earlier these year when we had a day long power cut on one of the coldest weekends of the year. OK, so it didn't turn even my tiny house into a tropical paradise, but it did get glowing hot and take the edge off the cold :)

  3. I've also seen a suggestion to use a muffin pan instead of the loaf pan. It's a little more stable and not as deep as the loaf pan. Can't wait to try this!

  4. I've also seen a suggestion to use a muffin pan instead of the loaf pan. It's a little more stable and not as deep as the loaf pan. Can't wait to try this!

  5. Ok, now, how do you keep your water pipes from freezing???

    1. Shut off the water supply and drain them.