Can You Really Heat A Room With Candles And Flower Pots?

The concept of heating a room with candles and pots or clay flowers is based on basic principles of thermodynamics. By placing a candle inside a pot or other enclosed container, the heat generated from the flame gets trapped and builds up inside. This creates a small area of concentrated heat that helps warm up the surrounding air. The enclosed pot acts as a miniature greenhouse, capturing the heat energy that would otherwise quickly dissipate into the room. As more candles are added, more heat gets generated and the effect becomes more pronounced. With enough candles and properly positioned pots, it is possible to raise the ambient room temperature by a few degrees and take the chill out of a cold room without needing an active heating system.

The Science Behind It

Ceramics are excellent materials for storing and slowly releasing heat over time due to their high heat capacity and low thermal conductivity. This property is known as thermal mass. Ceramics can absorb, store, and release heat gradually as temperatures change (

The amount of heat energy a material can store per unit volume is known as volumetric heat capacity. Ceramics have a very high volumetric heat capacity compared to materials like wood, plastic, or light concrete. This means ceramics can absorb and retain large amounts of heat energy.

Ceramics also have low thermal conductivity, which means heat transfers through them slowly over time. Metals by comparison have high thermal conductivity, quickly conducting heat away. The low conductivity of ceramics causes the absorbed heat energy to be released gradually over many hours as the surrounding temperature drops (

Together, the high heat capacity and low thermal conductivity give ceramics excellent thermal mass properties ideal for passive heating applications.

Required Materials

Here are the main materials you’ll need to make a simple flower pot candle heater:

  • Terracotta flower pots – You’ll need at least one flower pot, but more pots will generate more heat. The smaller the pot, the more concentrated the heat. Aim for pots around 4-6 inches wide.
  • Tealight or votive candles – Standard tealight candles provide around 15-40 watts of heat each when burned. Make sure you have enough candles to fill your pots.
  • A candleholder or plate – Choose a fireproof plate, tray, or candleholder to place under the flower pot setup for stability and protection.
  • Tiles or bricks (optional) – For better heat radiation, you can place tiles, bricks, or stones in the bottom of the flower pots. This provides thermal mass.

That covers the basic supplies. You may also want materials for safely moving the hot pots, like oven mitts. Now let’s look at setting up the flower pot candle heater.

How to Set It Up

Setting up a flower pot heater with candles is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Use terra cotta flower pots that are around 4-6 inches wide. The pots should be a standard size and shape to allow them to fit together properly.

2. Place 3-5 tea light or votive candles inside each flower pot. Make sure the candles fit snugly so they don’t fall over or float around.

3. Arrange the flower pots in a circle or square shape about 1 foot apart from each other. The pots should be close enough to share warmth but not touching.

4. Place the flower pot arrangement on a safe, level surface away from flammable materials. A brick or stone surface works best.

5. Light the candles in each flower pot. It’s best to use long fireplace matches or a utility lighter.

6. Let the candles burn for a minute or two before placing the terra cotta “heater” arrangement in the room you want to heat up.

7. Make sure to watch the candles closely and never leave them unattended. Have a plan to extinguish any flames if needed.

Tips for Maximizing Effectiveness

There are a few tips you can follow to get the most heat possible from your candle/flower pot heater:

– Use reflecting surfaces like aluminum foil or metal trays around the candles to reflect heat back into the room. The reflected heat can raise the temperature significantly. See this Lifehacker article for details:

– Allow for some ventilation so fresh air and oxygen can feed the flame, but avoid drafts which will draw heat away. You want a balance of ventilation without too much heat escape.

– Use more candles or larger pots to increase the heat output. But make sure to take safety precautions as more candles means greater fire risk.

– Place the candle heaters near where people will be so the radiant heat is most effective. Positioning them close to chairs, beds, or work areas will make it feel warmer than scattering them around a room.

– Group multiple candle/pot arrangements together to combine their heating power in one area.

– Use the flower pot setup overnight while sleeping to maintain a warm ambient temperature all night long.

Calculating How Many Candles You Need

The number of candles needed to heat a room depends on several factors:

  • Room size – Larger rooms require more candles to warm up. As a general rule, plan for 1-2 candles per 100 square feet of space.
  • Insulation level – Well-insulated rooms will retain heat better, so fewer candles are needed. Poorly insulated rooms may need more candles.
  • Outside temperature – More candles are needed to heat a room when the outdoor temperature is very cold.
  • Drafts – Rooms with lots of drafty windows and doors will lose heat faster, necessitating more candles.
  • Ceiling height – Heat rises, so rooms with high ceilings need more candles to maintain warmth near the floor where people are.
  • Candle size – Larger candles or taller tapers produce more heat output than smaller tealights.

As an estimate, plan to burn at least 1 large jar candle or 3-4 tea lights per 100 square feet of space. Monitor the temperature and add more candles as needed. Group candles together near seating areas for maximum effect. Refer to candle packaging for official burn times and heat output per candle.

To accurately calculate heat needed, determine the room’s volume in cubic feet (length x width x height). Multiply this by 30-40 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour for lightly insulated rooms, or 20-30 BTUs per hour for well-insulated rooms. Then divide by the heat output of your candles in BTUs/hour to determine how many are required.

Safety Precautions

While heating a room with candles and terra cotta pots can provide supplemental warmth, it’s crucial to take safety precautions. Candles have an open flame, which always carries a fire hazard. According to, it’s important to burn candles in a well-ventilated room without drafts or air currents. Good ventilation prevents rapid, uneven burning and excessive sooting and dripping. Never leave burning candles unattended, as the risk of accidental fire increases if not properly supervised. The Massachusetts Fire Safety Commission recommends taking precautions with candles, as the winter months see an uptick in house fires started by open flames (source). Consider safer candle alternatives like flameless battery-operated candles if concerned about fire hazards, especially when sleeping, leaving home, or around children/pets.

take precautions like proper ventilation and no drafts when using candles to heat a room.

Common Questions

Here are some common questions people have about using candles to heat a room:

Is it really possible to heat a room with just candles?

Yes, it is possible, but with some caveats. According to this source, candles can raise the temperature in a small, enclosed space by a few degrees. However, it would take a very large number of candles to heat an average-sized room to a comfortable temperature.

How many candles would I need?

As a general rule of thumb, you need approximately 1 candle per square foot to increase the temperature in a room, as explained in this video. So for a 10×10 ft room, you would need around 100 candles. The exact number will depend on factors like insulation, room size, and outdoor temperature.

Is it safe to heat a room this way?

Heating a room with candles does carry some safety risks, such as fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s crucial to take precautions like keeping candles away from flammable materials, ensuring proper ventilation, using fire-safe holders, and never leaving burning candles unattended.

How does it work?

The basic principle is that candles release heat energy as they burn. Placing candle jars inside terra cotta pots helps retain and radiate more of this heat energy into the room. The pots act as mini heat sinks, absorbing and slowly releasing the warmth. More pots mean more heat emitted.

Comparisons to Other Heating Methods

While using candles and flower pots to heat a room can be an effective emergency heating method, it has some key differences compared to other options like portable heaters, fireplaces, or central heating systems. Here is an overview of the main pros and cons:


  • Very inexpensive to setup – only requires candles and clay pots which most households already have
  • Portable and easy to move around
  • Runs on inexpensive fuel (candles)
  • Provides some immediate heat source in an emergency if power is out


Overall, while limited, a candle/flower pot heater can provide some extra heat in a pinch during a power outage. However, for whole home heating over an extended time, a more powerful heating system would be required.


Heating a room with candles and flower pots is possible but has limitations. While it can provide supplemental warmth, especially in small spaces, it likely won’t be able to fully heat most rooms due to inefficiency and safety concerns. The main benefit is during power outages when it can provide minimal heat and light. But it isn’t a sustainable long-term heating solution compared to modern HVAC systems or wood stoves. Use care with fire safety, ventilation, and monitoring if attempting. Understand that results will vary greatly based on factors like room size, temperature, and drafts. While an interesting science experiment, it likely won’t replace central heating. Use good judgment to determine if it can safely meet your specific heating needs.

Similar Posts