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Using The Sun Garden to Heat Your Home

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What Are Flower Pot Heaters?

As well as emitting delicate fragrance within your home environment, The Sun Garden’s heavenly range of all-natural palm wax candles can also be a great way of generating heat, to add warmth and comfort to smaller spaces within your home. Though candles produce a suitable amount of heat all on their own, with the addition of a couple of simple and inexpensive household items, you can turn your candles into an efficient ‘flower-pot heater’. This simple but effective method allows natural, affordable terracotta pots (that you may already have around the house) to collect the heat from a lit candle and concentrate it, radiating it out into any room of your house. This method results in the heat the candle produces being more available to the immediate area, giving you access to more heat than a naked flame alone.

The basic method involves creating a two-layered structure from your pots, with a small assembly underneath, and is an uncomplicated task which can be undertaken easily at home. The process is kicked off by the placement of lit candles onto a heat-resilient container such as a baking sheet or hot plate. Normally two is plenty, depending on the size of available candles. A simple platform is then constructed around the hot plate and a terracotta pot placed on the platform, suspended above the lit candles. The small drainage hole in the base of this pot (which will become the ‘inner pot’) is covered with a small lid such as a piece of foil. A larger pot is then placed on top and the drainage hole of the ‘outer pot’ is left uncovered. The smaller flower pot will quickly become hot, causing the air between the two pots to heat up. This air is then able to flow freely out of the opening in the larger pot, increasing the temperature of your surroundings. One online source claims that this method can be used to heat a small room for the equivalent of US 13₵ per day, making this not only resourceful and ecologically aware, but incredibly cost-effective.

How Does It Work?

There has been considerable discussion, particularly online, about the authenticity of the “flower-pot heater” and its ability to provide heat over and above that of a naked flame from a candle burning on its own. The science behind this DIY space heater is surprisingly simple. The terracotta pots are able to adapt the candle’s heat to a more convective heat, making the natural terracotta act as a kind of storage device for the candle’s energy output. The inner pot absorbs the thermal energy that the candle is giving off, while the outer one focuses the energy more economically than a naked flame. For this reason it is important to ensure that you have two pots of appropriate size, as each one has a distinctive function which will contribute to the success of your heater. Utilising this simple heating device means you will have access to a hotter flow of air which will be available to a larger area of the room, with no heat loss to the ceiling. The combination of the candles and the pots work to create a small but effective thermal mass that can radiate heat more efficiently than a candle alone. In short, flower-pot heaters cannot cause a candle to generate more heat, but they can localize the heat and release its heat in a way that benefits the room and its dwellers more directly. This combination of simple garden pots and The Sun Garden candle range means that your candles are being used more efficiently, as you are making the most out of the heat that they release as they burn. This modest structure works by trapping the heat and directing it out into the wider space of the room, rather than allowing it to simply rise to the ceiling and dissipate, resulting in heat loss. Because candles heat mainly by way of convection, in order to benefit from the heat they release when they burn, you need to be hovering directly over the flame. In constructing this simple flower-pot heater, the heat is absorbed into the terracotta pots which radiate the heat evenly outwards. This is called ‘heat convection transfer’ and is the principle behind the success of using this method, resulting in the candle being able to distribute its heat capacity more effectively and in wider scope. In other words, this heater doesn’t change the amount of heat that a candle discharges, but redistributes it at a lower level, making the room and its occupants experience the warmth in a more direct way.

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How Do I Make My Own Flower Pot Heater?

In order to fashion a flower-pot heater, a few simple items are needed, some of which can likely be found around the house;

The first item is something heat-durable for the base. This might be a piece of baking equipment such as a cake tin, old frying pan or the saucer from the flower pot. The item used for the foundation will be holding the candles directly, so it needs to be stable and will function as protection for the surface underneath, from the heat the candles will emit. The second key item is going to be something stable to cover the base, which will allow the pots to rest on top of it. This ensures that the pots are not completely covering the candles and inhibiting their ability to freely burn and thus release their heat. This can be a baker’s cooling rack, 2-3 bricks or unopened soup cans. Online videos promoting this method of heating often use narrow bases such as a loaf tin, where the pot is balanced on the edges of it - though this is not advisable due to safety reasons. A solid base is essential to ensure that the heater is stable and cannot be easily knocked over. A more attractive way to construct it may be making use of the feet from the terracotta pot if these are available.

Two natural terracotta pots are also required to assemble the heater, one large enough to fit completely over the other with space for air in-between the two such as 4” and 6” pots, or 8” and 10”. The pots need to be unglazed which is important, as flower pots with any kind of glazing could emit fumes which may be unsafe to inhale. Underneath the pots is where The Sun Garden candles come into play. We recommend selecting from our exquisite range of 2” x 3” mini pillar candles or from our superior selection of larger jar candles. There should be no temptation to use a large amount of candles as too much heat could result in the pot overheating and cracking. Burn times will depend on the choice of candle but a mini pillar candle from The Sun Garden range will burn for up to 60 hours. This makes this do-it-yourself heater a great cost effective way to heat a caravan or small room, or as a winter hand warmer while you work from home. A couple of smaller, miscellaneous items are also required in order to complete the heater. Essential to this device is something to light the candle with (matches or lighter) and something small to cover the drainage hole of the inner pot, in order to create a space of heated air in between the two pots. This must be a small piece of material that is heat resistant such as a small mirror or the casing from a tea light candle.

Using the TSG Flower Pot Heater

This handmade heater is a great piece of equipment to have on hand in case of emergency and has been used by people in scenarios such as car breakdowns, at home after storm warnings or in the event of power outage. The heater will take around 45 minutes for the outer pot to give off heat, and after a further 45 minutes both the inner and outer pots will be too hot to touch. For this reason, if the device is going to be used for power outage or in intense weather it is advisable that the candle is lit with enough time to be fully functional and radiating warmth before the power ceases. Users of the flower-pot heater have found it to be a great option for heat and comfort when weathering out a storm or blackout.

The flower-pot heater is also an excellent contraption to use in camping conditions and can even acquire enough heat to cook on. Although it takes around half an hour to reach its maximum temperature, some sources claim that it can reach up to 300◦F. Since canned soup can be heated at around 200◦F, this makes the flower-pot heater a great choice for those who enjoy camping and the outdoors. The heat capacity of the pots may be enhanced by painting them inside and out with black paint that can withstand high temperatures, and by placing in the centre of you room/tent. If placing the heater in the centre is not possible or safe, it is recommended that a sheet of aluminium foil is placed behind the heater, so as to reflect the heat back out from the wall. This ensures the most efficient heat transference and will make the most out of your hard work. And, if painting it black doesn’t suit, obtain a small amount of heat-resistant paint and brush on some colour to suit your home interiors, making the heater an attractive feature in your bathroom or office.

Flower-pot heaters can also be an invaluable tool in the garden. They make an excellent source of heat in a greenhouse to keep the chill off vulnerable seedlings in cool weather. When seedlings are established and the weather has picked up, the heater can be taken apart and used for flowers.

The Safety Stuff

We do advise anyone who has a go at this to exercise caution. Be sure to construct your heater in a place that will be free of pets and animals, and where it will not be knocked over easily. It goes without saying that candles need to be kept out of reach of children, as does this heater. As with any candle, do not leave to burn while unattended or when you are sleeping, and ensure you have a working smoke detector in your home in the unlikely event of a fire. Care should also be taken with the pots while they are in use and for several hours after, as they retain heat for an extended period after the candles have been extinguished. Both the pots will quickly reach temperatures which are too high to be handled, meaning an oven glove or towel is essential when handling the pots after use or when changing the candle. Be sure the heater is placed away from any flammable materials on a stable, non-flammable surface as the base of the heater can get quite hot also. If you are concerned about marking the work-surface underneath the heater, it may be sensible to construct the warmer on a chopping board, cookie sheet or other heat-resistant substructure which will protect the surface underneath from being damaged or marked.

These uncomplicated flower-pot heaters are affordable and almost effortless making them a great gadget for candle lovers to try out. They can be purchased from selected online suppliers but because of the simplicity of their construction why not create one yourself? They can be fashioned at home for less than half the cost of ordering one (depending on what you already have at home!) and can be a fun activity to adopt on a cool fall day while you relax with a soothing cup of tea from The Sun Garden.

Images generously provided and copyrighted by theprovidentprepper.org and instructables.com/id/Candle-Powered-Pottery-Heater.

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