How to Heat a Small Room Inexpensively

How to Make an Emergency Heater

Add some tea light candles and tera cotta pots to your emergency stockpile!

These days with heating costs continuously on the rise we’re setting our thermostats lower in order to cut heating costs. Oh sure wearing an extra sweater is good but when you need a little extra warmth an you’re in a relatively small room then this actually works!

What you’ll need:

Tea light candles (beeswax is better for you and the environment)
Two clay pots, one smaller than the other so the larger one fits over
Loaf pan (glass or metal)

(Important – the small clay pot must not have a hole, if it does stuff it tightly with aluminum foil. The larger pot must have a hole.)


In the loaf pan place four tea light candles and light them. Position the smaller clay pot over the pan and then place the larger clay pot over the smaller one. The gap between the two pots enables a flow of air that then passes warm air around the room.

Light candles in a loaf dish.

Light candles in a loaf dish.

Place small clay pot over the candles.

Place small clay pot over the candles.

Place large clay pot over the smaller one.

Place large clay pot over the smaller one.




As with any candles, never leave unattended. Always blow out the candles if you’re leaving the room longer than a bathroom break. If the tea lights you use are not beeswax then remember that paraffin is toxic!

The clay pots and loaf pan will become VERY hot! DO NOT TOUCH THEM without oven mitts otherwise you can burn yourself.

It’s that simple! This even works if you’re in a larger room and you’re in one position – like watching television or surfing the net! It won’t heat an entire large room but it adds warmth to where you are!

See it in action!
This YouTube video is what inspired us to try this on our own!

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    • Karen Stephenson says

      Hey Patrick,

      My office is in my basement and even though the upstairs of my home is comfortable it gets mighty chilly where my desk is. I have two of these and they have helped keep the chill off which is great. (I do two because the area I’m in is relatively large.) The only drag thing is that I have 2 cats so every time I have to leave my desk for anything I have to blow the candles out! :)

      • momcat says

        Have you considered placing the heaters inside small metal animal crates with doors that latch securely? Of course, some cats are incredibly adept at getting themselves into trouble, so this may not work for you. Just a thought

    • KC Corun says

      In anticipation of an ice storm that thankfully didn’t materialize as expected, I gathered 8 pots, 4 smaller and 4 larger. Just to see how this would work for me, I set up two “heaters” in my living room (12.5’× 16′). I used a simple bed sheet for a curtain to the hall, to hold heat in the one room. It’s 33º outside, and I’m comfortable in a long sleeve tee, and light lap blanket, same as if the electric heat system was on.
      I’m here to say I’m a believer! Thanks, God Bless, and Merry Christmas.

    • says

      Karen made this and posted about it so I (Erica) can’t tell you for sure, but she told me, and so have others, that it’s less of an alternative heat source and more of an emergency heat source for when you have nothing else. It’s not going to make the room good and toasty, but it will for sure keep the room warmer. I’m told around 65 degrees in a couple hours. :)

  1. Kim says

    Hello Karen

    What would happen if I used a metal pan instead of a glass one? Also Does there have to be a gap on the outside sides of the larger pot between the clay and glass? Won’t the heat just come out the top hole of the large clay pot like a chimney ?

    I like the idea, but don’t know about using my glass baking dishes for this idea.

    Thanks for sharing and look forward to your comments.

    • Karen Stephenson says

      Hi Kim,

      You can use a metal one as well and it will still work! I used glass because it’s all I had!

      Yes – there needs to be a gap so that it helps to convection of warmth.


  2. Kat says

    It doesn’t work. We have no power outlets in our bathroom and its freezing! I’ve been trying this for two weeks. I wish it made a big difference. Or even a small difference. We ended up buying extension cords and space heaters.

    • Ginger says

      ok, this is the 2nd time I had to post this so if it comes up twice you’ll know why. Sweetheart, please don’t give up. Check out this other site if you haven’t already begun searching. My husband & I have been without ‘real’ heat for 4 years here in New England. It does get mighty cold. We’ve had to use electric heaters & our electric bill jumped to $4,000. We couldn’t afford the gas as it was, so this really didin’t help us. But, keep searching for something that will work. CHeck the utube video that’s available & check this site here :
      I hope it helps you. Again, babe, hang in there.I’ve gone 4 years now. No it isn’t pleasant & isn’t what I ever invisioned for us, but it’s where we are right now & I’m trying to cope with it as best as possible. So you can do this. It won’t be happy usually, but you can do this. I love you, God bless.
      ~ Ginger

  3. Vanessa says

    Hi! Great idea! I always live in drafty cheap apartments, so this will be great. One question: Does this need to sit on top of a trivet or something? Or will it be safe to sit directly on top of a wooden coffee table?

    • Dixie Lee says

      Do not put it on wood, no!!!!!

      Do not use this in any situation except an emergency such as – a multiple day power outage after a blizzard. And for heaven’s sake, put it on metal or porcelain (such as a sink or bathtub) or stone or a brick (fireplace hearth) surface.

      -Girl Scout Leader

  4. Lou Ann Tapley says

    Does the tea candles need some air to keep them burning. Maybe tilt the smaller one a little to get air?

  5. Vickie says

    Not sure if noted but it is real important to put a coin or piece of foil on the smallest pots hole to seal it ..not the large one.

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