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Can Candles Heat a Room? (And What Are Some Safe Alternatives?)

Can Candles Heat a Room? (And What Are Some Safe Alternatives?)

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This is one of those discussions that you have with a friend when both of you have nothing better to do. However, it’s also a question that’s going to stick in your mind long after the discussion is over. Is it possible to heat up a room using just a candle?

For instance, you might have heard of a candle heater; a simple device that has been touted around the web for several years. There’s been a lot of noise about it, though most people aren’t even sure whether it’s a viable thing or not.

But, there is little doubt in the fact that the idea definitely seems compelling, and more importantly, exciting. Imagine a heater that is incredibly inexpensive and simple enough, helping you maintain warmth during an emergency.

Look at the design of a candle, and the fire burning at the top is generating heat. That is for sure. Then, if you take a look around your room, you will realize that ceramic is one of the best materials that is capable of holding the heat.

Now, while the theory makes sense, you should know that it’s important to get into the basics and understand them before making a decision. Taking a look at the hard facts is important before you decide to cut off the heat before the winter approaches this year.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: can a candle heat up a room? The answer usually varies depending on the kind of room you have. If you have a room that is 10 x 10 with standard insulation in place, and a room with no windows, or a door that completely seals shut, the answer is still primarily no.

These are relatively favorable conditions, so most people still expect that the heat generated by the candle will be trapped inside.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen this way. Some people think that if you place the candle under a flowerpot to maximize the effect of the heat, it might work. Again, the answer is still no.

Feeling the Burn

Stacks of Old Clay Flower Pots

You might have tried this already and even felt it before. If so, then an argument might arise in your head already. If you keep a small candle under a clay pot, and take a seat beside it, you will soon begin to feel the heat, as it won’t rise straight up to the ceiling.

Ultimately, the heat will be more available to you as compared to going straight up.

An important rule of physics that you should know is that hot air always rises, and cold air rushes to take its place. That is one of the main reasons why heat always rushes up to the ceiling.

Any heat that is able to reach you will be able to give you warmth. However, you should know that this heat isn’t enough to warm up the room.

In the simplest of terms, it’s a small trick, and one that is likely to cost you more money and ultimately, consume more energy when compared with other types of heat. Funnily enough, the person who actually came up with this discovery also sells a device known as a candle heater.

Most people think that candle heaters are a viable choice, but they are actually quite useless. In fact, they are designed for finger warming at best. At the very least, the marketing plan is designed to be a bit manipulative, and if you carry out a cost analysis, you will realize that it costs even more money.

If you are under the impression that using a standard candle heater is the wise choice for dealing with this problem, you are wrong. In fact, it might be a wise idea to visit your local store and buy an indoor heater for use.

Indoor heaters are generally designed to provide greater warmth than a candle heater, and are considerably more effective.

How Hot Can a Candle Get?

Several Burning Paraffin Tealight Candles on a White Background

When you take into account this question, you might realize that there’s more to consider than just the heat emanating from the candle itself.

If you want to heat up a room, you will first want to know what the ratio of heat loss is on the outside. More importantly, you will want to get a better idea about how the insulation works within the room itself.

You will want to know about all the doors, the vents, and windows, or any other openings that might result in heat loss within the room. More importantly, you will want to check whether these openings can be sealed or not. If they cannot be sealed, you are looking at a considerable amount of heat loss.

Depending on the style and the size of the candle itself, it’s going to burn in a different manner. As you can imagine, the material used for the wick also has an impact on the burning as does the container in which it is kept.

Any candle is capable of causing a burn, though you should know the difference between a Crisco survival candle and a beeswax candle.

Now, let’s talk about the simple numbers. On average, a paraffin tea light is capable of putting out around 100 BTU. When you consider this in a realistic manner, you will understand that it takes roughly 1/5th of that candle to heat up a square foot for a single degree.

So, a tea light could be used for heating up a five foot square room for a little while.

Burning Heat

Assume that you are able to achieve a perfect seal, and that there’s absolutely zero loss of heat. This creates an oxygen problem inside the room.

If you are going to be inside the room and are going to use a source for burning the oxygen to heat up the space, you will have a limited amount of time before the fire, and you, end up suffocating.

It will take a bit of time, but as most people will tell you, an unventilated fire is generally a bad idea. Fire tends to lose 80% of its heat from the chimney when you have adequate ventilation.

Simply put, what this means is that non-fire heat sources are able to heat up the room more effectively than others.

What Can Be Burned?

An Old Kerosene Lamp on a Wooden Table Against a White Brick Wall

If you are determined to burn anything for heating materials, then it is always better to know what is going to burn in a more effective manner.

Remember, when burning anything, you need to keep fire safety in mind. There have been plenty of cases where a fire outbreak has been caused due to these issues.

There are several other things that are more effective than a simple candle that you can use. Here are some other alternatives that you can use for burning to generate heat:

  • Wood, coal, and other organic matter: There are certain things that can burn much better than a candle. For instance, wood, coal, and other organic items such as cotton can burn even more effectively. However, you need to be sure that certain things such as wood and others won’t turn out to be toxic.
  • Paraffin, gel, or beeswax candles: There are several kinds of candles that are designed to burn for longer periods of time. These are definitely not energy efficient sources, but they are ones that can prevent your fingers from freezing up quickly.
  • Crisco, lards, fats, or oils: To make most types of fat burn, you are going to need a wick of some kind. A Crisco candle is another kind of design that works best. Crisco is capable of burning just fine, though you should know that any kind of fire in a cardboard tube is a terrible idea, and it could break out quite easily.
  • Kerosene or alcohol: These are incredibly high risk, and to burn these properly, you are going to need a lamp. There are a number of different kinds of lamps available that you can use to burn them in the right way.

Non-Oxygen Heat Options

Now that we have established that a fire is generally quite wasteful, what other options do you have for staying warm?

First of all, you need to understand that inefficient doesn’t always mean bad, especially if it helps in keeping you alive. If you are feeling frostbitten and need to warm up your fingers on a tea light, do it without any hesitation.

If you are caught up in a tough situation, you should always consider using more candles to heat up a room, especially if there is no other option available to you. But, there are a few options available to you that you can use.

Dressing up

Closeup of a Man With Several Layers of Clothing On

The best thing to do is to start with how you dress up. If you want to stay warm, you should consider dressing in an appropriate manner.

Animal hide has been used for thousands of years to stave off the cold. If it works for animals, it can work for you. Fur, down, and even wool are some of the best options for keeping the cold away.

There are some beautiful designs out in nature if you just keep your eyes open. Feather-stuffed down is incredibly popular and has been used for many years, and you can always add that in your house as well.

Basically, it’s all about keeping away the cold. The more layers you can add between you and the cold, the better it will be for you.


Another thing that you can do to keep the room warm is to add some insulation. Insulating the walls is a fantastic way to keep the cold at bay. You can hire a local insulation company to get an inspection done and figure out the best option.

There are a number of different choices available to you when it comes to insulating the house, so it’s best if you discuss with a professional company and then make a decision.

Buying a Heater

Heating Element of a Coil Heater Glowing Red Hot

There are a bunch of room heaters available in the market that you can use as well. A standard electric coil heater is one of the most effective options that you can use, and it’s generally designed for providing warmth throughout the space.

You can keep the heater in a corner of the room and it’s going to work effectively in keeping the place warm.

The coils on the heater warm up and radiate heat, which moves throughout the room and keeps the place warm. You can also invest in a high-efficiency fuel stove for your house. The fuel stove heats water in the copper pipes, and it can be used in a radiant floor or a standard wall heating system.

Ultimately, these end up using much less fuel and are also easier to set in place when compared with other materials.

How to Buy a Suitable Heater

By now, you might already have realized that a standard candle heater isn’t going to be an effective choice for you. Instead, you need to make sure that you invest in a high-quality heater that is going to provide enough warmth to keep the room heated.

More importantly, you are going to have to make sure that you choose a heater that is big enough for the kind of room you are going to use it for.

When you visit a local store, you are going to come across plenty of different options. It’s recommended that you talk to a sales agent to figure out the best option depending on the size of the room and the area to be covered.

A bigger room will ultimately require a bigger heater, and vice versa. It’s recommended that you check the efficiency ratings as well before making a decision.

These are just a few things that you should know about the effectiveness of a candle for heating a room and other alternatives that you can use.

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