There have been numerous cases of people surviving harsh winter conditions by heating with a candle. Heating with a candle will not make a comfortable temperature, but it will raise the temperature enough for you to survive longer.
You can heat a room with a candle by making sure that the room which you are trying to heat is the smallest in the house, closing all doors and windows to prevent any draft from coming in as this will limit the ability of the candle to heat up the air and the surrounding objects. Keep an eye out on the flame that it is not flickering and that it has a teardrop shape, if not you probably have either draft, poor wick or the flame doesn’t get enough oxygen for a steady burn.
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Hopefully, you will never be is such a bad situation where your only option of heating a room is a candle. Most people do not actually think that you can heat a room with a candle, you can just do not expect to have comfortable temperatures while outside is freezing. People who are forced to heat a room with candles usually do this out of desperation, while it will not keep you comfortable it will raise the interior temperature a couple of degrees, just enough for the persons inside to not freeze to death. Can a candle heat a car? Yes, a candle will be even more effective in heating a car than a room as it has to warm up a lot less air than in a room.
Odds are that if you are forced to heat a room with a candle is that the local power grid is down, while this can happen to anybody any time, there are ways on how to prepare yourself for it, for more information check out my article on Power outage grocery list ( Top 38 most important items ).
You can also use candles to heat your car, as many people living in more colder environments almost always have a candle in their car. If the car brakes down or gets stuck in the snow you will have a limited time till you run out of fuel making the car a freezing casket. The smaller the place you are trying to heat the higher the temperature will go with something as simple as a candle.
Some people might even consider heating their own homes just with candles to reduce the cost of living, do not do this, candles are good for heating small places only. Even if you use hundreds of candles throughout your house the temperature will go up with a few degrees but which each additional unsupervised candle you are increasing the risk factor of setting your house on fire. Heating a room with a candle is an alternative way of heating a room, although there are several more efficient methods on how you can heat a room, for more information check out my article on ( Top 15 ) Best alternative heat sources during power outage.
How does a candle heat a room
Once you light up the candle this will start heating up the air around it with the flame. Once the interior air is already hot, everything in your room will start to absorb the heat than radiate it outwards. Just like when you sit on a cold chair, once you get up you can feel the heat radiating from the chair if you put your hand on it. What you need to keep in mind is that the smaller the room is the faster it will be heated and the candle will be also much more effective in heating not only the air but surrounding objects. In my article Prepping for a winter power outage ( Everything you need to know ), you will find out that one of the biggest dangers of a power outage is the loss of any reliable ways of heating, there might come hard times where all you have is a candle to heat an entire room.
Keep in mind that all objects in your room will affect the interior temperature and as not all objects will have the same heat radiation the temperature will be different for each room. The smaller the object the faster it will heat up and produce the heat radiation effect. In addition to this, not all materials are great for radiating heat back to you, some will take a lot more energy to be able to radiate heat and as all the energy comes for a candle the heat might even be dispersed by these materials. If you want to know how to heat a room without electricity, or any available heating source, then your best bet is to use a candle.
A metal object needs a lot more energy to radiate heat than plastic or wooden objects, in addition to this once the temperature gets fairly low these metal objects will actually radiate cold temperature if there is no source of heat nearby. As heat travels upwards it is safe to say that the taller the room the colder it will be and the less efficient will the candle heating be. You need to make sure that the room is well insulated as even the lightest drafts will affect the interior temperature. The heat from candle flame is around 1600-1800 degrees Kelvin.
While a candle should be sufficient enough to keep the inside temperatures of a room above freezing you should take some extra precautions. In my article What is the best prevention for frostbite? ( Illustrated ), you can learn several ways how to prevent frostbite.
If the room is not well insulated on the exterior you will have to do some improvisation, like putting towels or blankets on right below the door to stop the draft, the same goes for windows. If the outside temperature is below freezing, look out the window if there are ice crystals starting to form on the outside it means that the window is not well insulated and hot air is leaking from the outside.
When this hotter air comes in contact with the cold air outside it condenses and forms vapor drops on the exterior of the window which will freeze. Having the outside of the window might even help to trap the heat inside the room, as the ice will most likely form in the places where the hot air is getting out. Make sure that once you have lit your candle to put it close to the window for a couple of seconds and observe if it is flickering.
If it is flickering it probably means that there is a draft either coming in or going out, either way, this will not help you heat your room and you must insulate it asap.
Candle fire hazard
As with all open flames in a house, this will also create a fire hazard, if you have several candles try and space them out, this way they will be more efficient in heating the air. If you bunch up several candles they will last less then normal as the wax around the candle will begin to melt faster due to the additional heat sources of the other candles. The best practice if you only have one candle is to put it in the middle of the room away from any flammable objects.
While putting the candle near the wall might be a good idea as you probably think that it will heat up the wall, but this is actually a bad idea as you will heat up that wall and the heat will escape on the other side of the wall. Your priority is to trap in as much heat as possible in the room where you are in as safely as possible. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar location make sure there are no spider webs on the walls, if there are taking these down will be a priority.
Spider webs are lighter than air, once the room starts to heat up due to the candle the fire webs might become airborne and if these land on the candle they will catch on fire instantly. While a single spider web isn’t enough to start a fire if there are several of them they might become a fire hazard.
Candles and smoke
Usually when a candle is starting to smoke it is due to the wick, it is either too long or the actual wick is of poor quality. However, candles can make smoke also if there are hit by a draft or if there is not enough space for them to burn oxygen efficiently. In case of a draft, most candles will stop making noticeable smoke once you have dealt with the draft. While one candle no matter how poor quality it is will not cause an asphyxiation hazard, but if you have several candles that produce a lot of smoke in a small cramped room, in this case, you will have a major asphyxia hazard.
Some people out of desperation to try and heat the room faster might light on fire strips of paper o other flammable objects. In theory, this will help heating up the room faster but depending on the material you will end up with a lot of smoke and possibly a fire hazard. The last thing you want to do while trying to heat a room with a candle is to open the doors and windows to ventilate out the smoke.
How to make your candle last longer
Depending on what type of candle you use there are some ways to make your candle last even longer. If you have a narrow tall candle there is nothing you can do about it from burning as normal, but if you have a wider candle where below the flame a pool of liquid wax forms then you can prolong the burn of the candle. Once the liquid pool of wax forms right below the flame simply put out the flame and wait for a couple of seconds for the wax to get solid again and then reignite the candle.
You can do this as often as the pool of liquid wax forms and as the time of the liquid wax to turn solids just of a couple of seconds the amount of heat loss will be minimal. Simply put the longer you can keep the wax around your candle the slower it will burn thus increasing its burn time which will also increase the heating factor. You also need to make sure that your flame has a teardrop form if it is flickering it will start burning unevenly and will not be able to form the pool of liquid wax below the flame. If you are wondering how to heat a room cheaply, then heating with candles is not the best way for it as heating a room with a candle is fairly ineffective when compared to the other heating options.
If the candle has some sort of housing around it this will also affect the longevity of your candle. If the housing is close to the candle this will absorb than radiate the heat back at the candle making it melt a lot faster then usual. In addition to this, the candle will also not melt evenly and the molten wax will flow out on the sides which you do not want.
There are a lot of candle heaters that you can find online and offline as well. These are specially designed to produce as much heat as possible in a safe way. Although I personally would invest in something more efficient like a small stove instead of a candle heater. Odds are you will be desperate if you are considering to heat a room with just candles, and in this case, you probably do not have a candle heater.
You can improvise, get a thick candle as possible and make an improvised housing for it. The best item for this is a flower pot made either out of clay or ceramic. Do not attempt to do this with plastic flower pots as eventually this will melt, drip on the open flame and create a fire and asphyxia hazard. If you have ever seen plastic burning you probably know the black smoke it creates, now imagine that in a small room with limited airflow. In addition to this, you can also heat water with a candle.
Flower pots are extremely good as these also have a small space where the water flows out this will be the air vent for your candle. Put the candle on the floor, put some elevated objects around it on to which you will place the flower pot upside down. Make sure that there is enough elevation between the candle and the flower pot and that air can circulate in this space. This way the candle will draw in air from the sides to burn and it will have a place to went which is the hole in the flower pot.
You will not get this with your first try, keep a lookout on the flame, if it is flickering then you either need to increase the elevation or the flower pot is to close to the actual flame and the upward warm draft of air is having a difficult time getting out through the hole of the pot. Keep on trying till you get a good steady teardrop flame and also keep an eye out how evenly the wax is melting. You want an evenly melting wax on all sides to make the candle lasts as long as possible.
Clay or ceramic flower pots are best for heating as these heat up quickly and radiate a lot of heat outwards, even after the flame has gone out. In case you do not find any flower pots you need to use whatever you can, as long as it is not flammable. Try to make a small housing for the candle just like with the flower pot.
In addition to this you can also use other flower pots or even rocks placed a few inches away from the housing, Just make sure the candle can still get plenty of oxygen to burn, stones are excellent heat radiators although it will take them some time to heat up, but once they are hot they will keep radiating heat for hours.
If you ask yourself the question if you can heat a room with a candle than the answer is yes, but it is not a very efficient way to do it. This will only be helpful in extreme situations like if you are facing to freeze to death than a candle is a good way to warm up a room just with a few degrees to ensure you will not freeze. Do not think that you can heat your entire home just with candles, as these do not have sufficient power to heat large interiors no matter how many you use.