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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Terracotta Flower Pot Space Heater?

While goofing off on facebook the other day, I saw a video clip of a guy who heated his room with terracotta flower pots sat on top of a bread pan. Inside the bread pan was three or four tealight candles

I was very intrigued and hunted down two terracotta flower pots, one small and one larger... then promptly couldn't find the video again. Also, my pots wouldn't fit over the pan because the small one was too small.

Instead of giving up, I searched Google for ideas on how to make a Terracotta flower pot space heater. I found this helpful site that explains how it works! In the end, I created my own with what I have because I can't afford to run out and buy things.

UPDATE: A commenter called "Current Thoughts" posted a comment below on how to make this terra cotta flower pot space heater even more efficient! When you are done with reading the post, scroll down to read the comments. I'll update when I make a candle out of shortening. When I have the money to buy orchard terra cotta flower pots, I'll add a new post with the new design. Thank you for commenting with the brilliant design changes! 

Here is what I did...

Creating my own terracotta flower pot candle heater!

I placed a regular dinner plate on my centerpiece plate on the table. Then I arranged three shot glasses on that and placed a trivet on top of those, lit three tea light candles and put them underneath the trivet.

Then I placed a smaller terracotta flower pot upside down on the trivet, right over the candles and put a small piece of aluminum foil over the hole (since I don't have nuts and washers)

After that, I put the larger pot over the smaller pot and sat back and waited to see what happens. In this picture you can see the shot glasses better and see the candles underneath.

This is what my finished product looks like. Isn't it cute!? But... does the terracotta flower pot candle heater really work?

Does it work?

At first we were making jokes about how it would make a nice hand warmer, not an actual space heater. A few hours later, it was really putting off a bit of heat, enough that I ended up moving away from it and working elsewhere. 

After stepping outside and then coming back in, I can honestly say it warmed up the room some. The area in the dining room is down right TOASTY! 

If I had to use it in a power outage, I would probably have four or five of the things throughout the living room area. I would also start them before they say a storm is coming to give them time to warm up. 

But, yes! This really worked. I could see using this to warm up a smaller room. You'd probably need more than one if your room is bigger or if you live in the north.

And now for a disclaimer, AKA please don't sue me when you try this and it goes horribly wrong.

Please be careful when using the terracotta flower pot as it does get HOT! By the time I went to take pictures, the top pot was quite warm, while the small pot was entirely too hot to even touch! 

These should be used with caution around children, pets, drunk friends, rednecks, or friends who tend to set themselves on fire (you know who you are!)

Don't go to sleep with your terracotta flower pot candle heater running as it may lead to bad things, like your room getting too hot, or your house burning to the ground.

Please make sure to check your smoke alarm batteries to make sure they aren't dead.

Wash your hands before you eat, after you sneeze or cough, after using the bathroom, and after shaking hands with weird strangers. 


Amy Hughes said...

I bet if you did have a pan big enough, you wouldn't los heat from between the shot glasses, but a nice makeshift set up nonetheless...wondered if it really worked. I don't see why not. Great for a camper or even if you live in your vehicle or got stranded...just as long as you don't melt your dashboard or crack the windshield ....i always knew it was good to have a coffee can and candles in the car for purposes such as this. Fun blog!

Dotchi Latham said...

Thanks Amy! I am saving up for a bigger pot to put over the larger one so I can put them over the bread pan. I am thinking that would help get it going faster. We suspected we were losing heat out the bottom too. I'm also going to get nuts, bolts, and washers for the next experiment and see if that helps too. I am thinking the flame would heat up the metal and transfer to the terra cotta pots better. Just a theory there and I can't wait to update on it when I try it.

Emlon said...

Hi, I believe the guy on the video used a metal loaf pan at the base because when you burn down the tea lights to the very bottom of the wick it could make a ceramic plate crack or explode from the nearness of the flame. A metal pie tin seems like it would work. I learned this lesson the hard way as a kid (tea light in a plate = cracked plate). Thanks for your page!

Dotchi Latham said...

Thanks for the warning Emlon! I will definitely be buy a larger pot then! I don't want to break my dishes. I didn't know that could happen! Thanks for commenting!

George Zimmer said...

IF anybody is interested were making stands for the Terracotta Heaters. We have pictures of our units at
We can send prices if your interested and will have a web site up and running shortly.

Dotchi Latham said...

George Zimmer... Thanks so much for the facebook page. I checked it out. Very cool! Send me a link when you get your page up and running. I'll add it to this post.

Current Thoughts said...

Made a few modifications to the design!

Used an “orchard terra cotta flower pot” INSTEAD of a “standard terra cotta flower pot” for the outer pot. Those come with a hole in the bottom and four (4) slits on the sides near the bottom of the pot.

Blocked the hole in the bottom with aluminum foil held down with some old valve cover gasket sealer, that I had laying around in my tool box, now instead of the warmed air escaping out the top of the unit, the warmed air is distributed out the four (4) slits in the side of the flower pot thus spreading the warmed air in a more horizontal fashion for more evenly distribution of warmed air throughout the area!

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 bread pan or meatloaf pan. 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. The terra cotta flower pots can be secured to the metal basket with either thin wire or ball chains. The 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! and black-round-wire-basket-8 in.jpg

To modify (compact) the source of heat, the next thing to do is to put vegetable shortening in an empty 5 oz or 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 5+ hours of continuous burn time with the 5 oz can and 10+ hours of continuous burn time for the 12 oz can with the 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.

Dotchi Latham said...

Current Thoughts, OMG! Those are excellent ideas! I will definitely try those! I never thought of using the birthday candles in shortening for making your own candles (although I did think of the shortening, just haven't tried it yet). You are a genius! Thank you SO much for adding the comment! That was very helpful. I am off to search for orchard terra cotta flower pots now :)

Th1ck said...

To drill your own holes in pots! Use a masonry bit. But there are some important tips...
1.) Keep the pot and the bit wet at all times.
2.) Start with a tiny bit, then work your way up little by little. Even if you have to use 5 different bits to get to the desired hole size, it's better than cracking the pot by starting out with a large bit. The first bit just makes a pilot hole. It's literally like a pin hole. If you can make that first hole without cracking it, the rest are easy.
3.) Put a piece of masking tape over the area where you want to drill before drilling. This is typically done for ceramic tile to keep the drill bit from slipping off the surface of the tile. Can't hurt here, either.
4.) Never put downward pressure on the pot. Let the drill do the work. If the pot cracks, it won't be from the spinning of the drill, it'll be from excessive pressure. Let the drill do the work, don't be in a hurry.

Lynne M-S said...

I need to make sure ...
Do you use Orchard or Orchid flower pots?
(I'm not yet sure whether terracotta pots with side slits are down here in NZ, but will search once I'm sure)

Do fruit orchard it's use these for frost protection outside?!

Thank you whoever can reassure me which pots you're discussing.

Ross Kelly said...