Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hot pots.

Updated post 09 April 2016... Hot pots 2, the final solution... follow link for latest discoveries                    including the Pyrex dome heater and cooker.

Original Hot pots post -

This blog post charts the history of my experiments with flower pot heater designs over a six month period from the time in September that I first saw the Tea light candle heater in the video that was later posted by Sheerien Carter.

It mentions the pitfalls associated with the use of Tea lights as fuel (the wax can ignite in a very smoky way if the pots get too hot and there is always a candle smell)

The solution to that is to use Rapeseed oil as your fuel, it also burns for far longer and allows your pots to get much hotter than is safe with Tea lights, the oil never goes on fire.

Use plain household COTTON string for your wicks and clothes peg springs as wick holders (see photos)

The oil powered heaters require far less attention and are easy to top up, no smell either.

You may find all the ideas interesting or you may want to skip it and cut to my final designs in the last part of the post (scroll down to Updated March 17 2014  May 15 2014 and Nov 4 2014.

Note added Jan 4 2015 -

The solution to the problem of the oil residue build up on the peg springs is to feed your wick end through a tealight wick holder and then pop it into the spring so that the wick holder sits on top of the spring and the bottom end of the wick hangs inside the spring.

Make the wick short enough to just reach the bottom of the spring with no extra tail.

This also makes it exceptionally easy to replace a spent wick, just remove the used one leaving the spring where it is and put a new one in. The tealight wick holders can be used repeatedly and the springs stay clean.

It really does take nearly all the work out of it.

Here's another really good idea that I am using now that does not require the use of peg springs and allows tou to replace all your wicks at once before relighting a heater that has been allowed to go out, you can also replace wicks quickly and easily while the heater is in use -

Take a 330 ml soft drink can (empty) turn it upside down and punch eight or ten holes in the sloping shoulder of the can and make a hole in the center of the domed bottom large enough to allow the bolt in the flower pot saucer ((if you are using the split rod design) to pass through it then cut the can all the way round about a quarter to a half inch below the shoulder level and throw away the rest of the can. This gives you a burner ring.

Place the ring so that it sits down on the fuel saucer. and put in as many wicks as you need in the same way that I just explained for the peg springs (using tea light wick holders.

These wicks can be replaced whenever you like very easily.

In the morning if you have let your heater go out you can simply either replace the entire ring loaded with wicks or replace the wicks in the same ring in a very short time with no mess.

It only takes a few minutes to make the burner ring and they can be reused over and over again.

November 2013.

A few weeks ago I watched this video and have been going potty ever since, this thread on a post by Sheerien Carter may help others to do it well.

  • Hahaha might have to try this! The big six have put the cost of gas and electric up and times are hard!
    Like ·  · Unfollow Post · 
    • Les WattsAron Lumley and 3 others like this.
    • Charlotte Hughes It works!! Been doing this for a while now!
      6 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    • Les Watts I've already done it, lol. Works great although you can't buy 100 for a pound anymore. The best I've found is 30 for a quid. I'm going booting to see if I can get some candles that are cheaper and longer lasting. 
      5 hours ago · Like · 2
    • Les Watts Might be worth making your own candles. I'll look into it.
      5 hours ago · Like · 2
    • Charlotte Hughes You can get bigger longer lasting candles but they are too big to fit under the pots 
      5 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    • Les Watts Yeah, definitely might be worth making your own then. You'd be able to make em to fit, lol. And of course you'd be able to scent them to your liking. 
      5 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Katy Rosewell Either way, it's gotta be cheaper the rate their putting up the gas and electricity prices! Grrr
      5 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    • Les Watts Handy for blackouts too. 
      5 hours ago · Like · 2
    • 5 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    • 5 hours ago via mobile · Like · 2
    • Sheerien Carter Awesome Charlotte & Les! Katy we must give it a go!  x x x
    • Graham Elias wot a great idea. will try it out.
      5 hours ago · Like · 1
    • David Clarke Disgusting though isn't it.We constantly work hard,and its still a luxury to put the heating on when you like,a basic human right.So we're having to resort to measures alike to living during WW2.Ill bet CaMORONs nice and snug this winter,whist poor old sods sit under a duvet in their living rooms.
      4 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly Asda do 100 tealights for two quid.
      2 hours ago · Like · 3
    • Charlotte Hughes They do but I find the ikea ones are the best they last the longest if you can get hold of them 
      2 hours ago via mobile · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly I have been experimenting with this for about 5 weeks now, my entire house is being heated with various versions of this, it really does work.

      Three ASDA tealights fit perfectly in to a Tuna tin, if you fill the remainder of the tin (the space in between the three) with the wax from 3 more it makes a level candle, very quick and easy to do but it burns for up to 14 hours on the three wicks.
      2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly (Remove the cases from the three first)
      2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly I'm going to do a blog post showing the different versions I have along with some very helpful hints about how to enhance them and a warning about what happens if you make it too efficient, they can get so hot that they cause the wax to vaporise and catch fire, there are ways to avoid this and let you burn them safely all night long and longer without worry of starting a smokey mini fire.
      2 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly The Asda ones normally burn for three and a half hours.
      2 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly Despite the fact that they have gone up in price the Tuna tins allow you to run a heater for one penny an hour and it's hotter than the pots on the bread tin.
      2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly Some pots are better than others, use Italian Terra cotta, widely available and much better than British ones that I tried.
      2 hours ago · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly It was the same video that prompted me to try it, there are others that show you how to add metal to the pots to store a greater internal heat, copper coins are cheaper than washers believe it or not, no need to make holes in them, the simple way to use them is just stacked between the pot tops and bolt the pots together.

      You can make a variety of this by using a couple of flower pot saucers drilled with a 6 mm hole for a base, put them together one on top of the other, the bottom saucer upside down. bolt a length of threaded rod up through the middle and suspend your top pots with nuts and washers on the rod.

      Like a hat a few inches above the base saucers, you can then burn two three or four tealights in this version but it's one that needs to be attended, regulate the heat by the number of candles you burn. A good one is not safe with four candles and once hot will stay hot with two.
    • Ross Kelly Here's another very good clue, a stainless steel cylindrical cutlery drainer that has a central hole in the holes in it's base, £3 in ASDA, allows you to turn it upside down and bolt your top pots to the top of it, the tuna tin fits inside it on a small flower pot saucer, an EV 13 no less! using the little saucer the normal way up the cutlery drainer sits on the rim of the saucer and the other way up it sits beautifully allowing the candle to be raised up a bit, a small Douwe Egberts coffee jar candle made with the wax of 6 or 7 tealightsfits in fits perfectly too but will only burn when the saucer sits the normal way up, it allows enough oxygen in to the jar to burn the wick because the jar will sit lower in the base saucer.

      The little gap at the top of the jar allows enough air in to run the candle economically but still hot enough, so it lasts longer.

      This too will burn all night and can never catch fire as it does not allow enough oxygen in to support that amount of flame.
      about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 1
    • Ross Kelly A very small flower pot sit's perfectly on top of the cutlery drainer allowing the next size uo to sit on it and contain the top part of the drainer thus providing a brilliant metal core with no need for added washers or coins, the whole top can be bolted together, two pots and the drainer, so you can lift it off in a oner.

    • Ross Kelly If you make the candle in the jar variety or a tuna tin candle with a single central wick use the wicks from two of your melted tealights to make a single double wick, by using a small electrical screwdriver or a bradawl you can make the hole on the little wick base wide enough to put the two wicks in, crimp it with pliers to grip the wicks.
    • Sheerien Carter Brilliant! Thank you so much for taking the trouble to put out all this info Ross  
    • Ross Kelly Will post some photos soon.
    • Sheerien Carter Thank, you must have read my mind, I was gonna ask you to post some for me to see 

Photos -

Pics 1 and 2 -Pots on  threaded rod.

Pic 3 and 4 -Small stainless core pots.

Pic 5 -Very good warmer, small pot on top and stainless core inside big pot sitting on 2 Tuna tins with 2 of the three wicks alight in each tin close to the middle of the pot., good bedroom warmer but less light to see.

After starting on this potty quest I looked at the Ana code, the usual subject of my blog posts and found that it says -CLAY POT HEATERS I LINK STAND IN BEDROOMS.
This link will take you to an explanation and demonstration of what the Ana code is, it's important!

Please take a look after reading this Hot Pots page.


My kitchen table. This one shows a glass jar with stainless steel wool in it as both a light and a small but effective heater -
Click to enlarge.
A Tuna tin candle, add the wax from 3 more Tealights to fill the gap between the first three.

A note about string wicks and Tealight wax for flower pot heaters. -

The cheaper Chinese string from B&M makes a big but smokey flame, I'm glad the first ball we tried was the Tesco string from India because it is superb.

Another safety point that should be stressed -

If you make your candle in a tallish jar and your pots get so hot that the wax might otherwise go on fire, it won't.

This is the best way to do it at night.

The first bit of smoke in the jar puts out the flame.

A small Douwe Egberts coffee jar is the perfect jar for use in the cutlery drainer pots.

If you do ever get a situation where your wax does ignite when doing it other ways don't panic, just get a damp cloth like a tea towel and hold it around your pot so that the flame is deprived of oxygen and goes out.

The little stack of saucers on top of the pot adds to the heat storage  like a fire brick and adds to the radiated warmth.
Taking it up a notch, a 25 centimeter half pot under the previously shown pot sitting on two ceramic white bowl candles with one Tesco string wick in each bowl.

The candle flame reflects in the melted wax showing a perfect upside down flame that provides a lovely light to the heater.

Silky smooth very safe warmth that will last a long time before needing to be refilled.

A flower pot bowl design, the pot has been waxed while hot with Tealight wax painted on in liquid form. It gives the pot a burnished copper look and helps protect it from dirty finger marks.

The bowl pot is sitting on a connected smaller pot on top of two Tuna tin candles standing on an upturned fruit bowl as shown below.

An absolutely brilliant heater.

New idea - Instead of standing the bigger pots on two or three tuna tin candles use larger bowls like cereal bowl size and place your pots on them with a portion of the bowls sticking out the side.

This burns for longer because of the bigger candle you make in the bowls and allows you to add wax or a new wick without having to melt wax elsewhere, simply add Tealight bodies to the wax pool when it needs topped up.

You can replace a tired wick with a new one while your pots are still hot so there's no loss of accumulated heat in the pots and less work making refill candles.

Use a magnetic screwdriver to remove the old wick in it's little stand.

 ASDA juice cartons cut in to thin strips make excellent tapers (spills) for reaching in to light the new wicks.

Both of these designs are superb room heaters.

The tall one consists of a 25cm half pot with a 20cm (I think) full pot on top and a 15cm pot on top of that, I have a long steel bolt connected to the top pot and just let it hang down through the holes on the tops of the other two pots without blocking them with washers or anything, this assists the heat transfer to the higher pots.

The whole thing sits on three bowls with one string wick in the centre of each one.

This is one of the bowl ones.

There was a heavy frost this morning and the rooms that these two sit in were warm.

This one shows another idea, drill a few holes in the flower pot to let tha candle burn inside it.

After a few weeks of intensive experimentation with this I came to this conclusion about the cleanest safest way to power these heaters -

Use Rapeseed oil instead of TL wax, it has no smell, burns very hot and does not pollute your space with Petrochemicals.

Floating wicks.

Try this -

Using a small screwdriver or a nail of the same thickness as a string wick punch a little hole in the centre of the bottom of a tea light case (from the outside) and insert your string. Crimp the foil to the wick using thumbnail pressure on the inside of the cup around the wick to ensure a tight fit so that it doesn't leak when you float it on the oil.

Allow the string to soak up oil before lighting.

I found that these little things can burn for over 36 hours with a little but very hot flame, you can add oil whenever you like and use as many of them in your heater as yo please.

This allows you to get round the problem of only being able to use shallow oil if you use a standing wick holder that is not floating, so you can fill a deep bowl and still use it.

The bottom picture shows an unlit wick with the string dangling in the oil and a lit wick.

You can pull through more wick with a pair of tweezers when the wick gets tired and carry on burning it and you can reuse the case with a new wick too.

Float as many of them as you like in your flower pot heater because unlike tea light wax the oil does not go on fire.

A couple of my floaters leaked a bit and sank over time but mostly they don't.

Because of that I was inspired with the idea of suspending the wicks from the ouside of a tea light case with no hole in it and tried a few experiments that were very promising using clips made from reshaped paperclips , they burned well for several hours but then went out.

I realised that I had to include a coil in the wick holder in order to hold the burn part of the wick above the oil level so that it would burn continuously and I set about attempting to add a coil to the wire of the paper clip wick holders but it's a very fiddly job ... then Elaine had what proved to be a great idea ---


Simply clip one to the outside of the tealight case (no extra fastening needed) and put a wick in it.

We found that both string and washing up cloth material (the cheap yellow ones that are a bit like paper chamois leather) work but the dishcloth wick is better.

Just cut a length about a quarter of an inch wide, twist it into a wick and insert it in the spring.

You can support 3 wicks on one TL case and they work SUPERBLY.

The flame on the left is kitchen cloth and the one on the right is a single Tesco string.

You can add more oil whenever you like and they just happily float up on it and carry on burning like nothing happened.
  •  A few days ago I tried using half a match soaked in TL wax as a wick, it very quickly burned down to close to the wax level and then continued to burn for several hours with a tiny blue flame that kept the burned part of the match glowing like an ember.

    Tiny and economical on fuel though it was I realised that it was worth experimenting to see if I could get wicks to burn like that. Last night I had partial success with it, little flames that made one of my cutlery drainer pots really really hot for a few hours but then went out.

    The pictures show the type of thing I tried, the idea was to keep the string wicks very shortly trimmed.

    I think if I had made the holes in the Tuna tin lid (next picture) in the centre of the ridged ring further in from the edge so that the wicks were raised above the oil slightly they would have kept on going until the oil was all gone, so will try that later as well as going back for another attempt with the matches.

    The punctured tin lid (easy to do with the can still full of Tuna before opening the can) sits on a circle of rolled up cotton cloth and the bottom of the wicks trail on it into the oil.

  • Ross Kelly This one has one little tin insise the cotton ring thet has wicks stuck in it, eventually it set the cotton ring on fire and it got so hot it cracked my flower pot because it was bolted too tightly and did not allow room for expansion.
  • Ross Kelly Using a punctured lid as a wick holder.

Incandescent light bulbs work as well as candle flames!

  • Joseph Coda You can still get incandescent bulbs -- but you have to look for "rough-service" incandescents. They are designed for rugged applications (in delivery vehicles, outdoors, any place where there's a lot of vibration) -- they have mutiple filaments and don't burn out as quickly. They cost more but also last much longer (years, usually) than the old incandescents.

  • Ross Kelly I have a pot heater with a 100 watt incandescent bulb in it and it's fantastic, pots too hot to touch.

    I also found that cotton string from B&Q, (much thicker than the Tesco string) works brilliantly with the oil.

  • .. and that the clothes peg springs also make excellent standing wick holders by simply opening out the two spring arms a little bit, they stand up really well, are very easy to pull or push the wick up and take about a second to make after removing the spring from the peg, i'll post some photos later if I can get in to my email where they are, am having trouble doing that so far today ... grrr!

  •  A threaded rod heater modified for use with oil, excellent with that B&Q string.
  •  Light bulb heater.

     This is what's inside it. The matchsticks are to raise the pot up a little from it's base to let a bit of light out and cooling air in.

  •  The light bulb one is beyond my expectations, it is as hot as any of the naked flame pots.

    All that remains to be tried now is a 40 watt heater bulb.

    These are a couple of my new designs.

    The one on the window sill is a bowl pot suspended on threaded rod bolted through two flower pot saucers on top of each other, the small one on the bottom being upside down and the big one is the oil reservoir.

    I used a couple of shiny lids from take away trays to produce the mirror effect behind the flames, it looks brilliant, like a bloody UFO hovering over the fire in a beam of light that appears to be supporting it.

    The one on the floor is a very tall pot with a smaller one on top and a couple of added fancy bits from an old lamp stand that I took apart.

    Inside the tall pot there are two stainless steel cutlery drainers that act as a heat core bolted on a length of threaded rod, it has a 100 watt incandescent light bulb powering it.

    It is also an excellent heater, the whole tall pot gets hot in a short time and stays that way until you switch it off.

    A 100 watt bulb costs an average of about 1.5 pence an hour to run.

    I have also converted a couple of my small cutlery drainer heaters to run on 60 watt bulbs and they get brilliantly hot for less than a penny an hour.

This one has a longer cutlery drainer that allows light to shine out from the 100 watt bulb inside it.

It looks tilted in the photo but it is just the camera angle.

Fire in the sky.

Reflections in a flower pot heater.

March 17 2014.

 I have since improved the central rod design as I will explain, my latest model of that kind is made so that the whole top lifts off leaving an open oil dish for easy access to the wicks (which need adjustment from time to time or replacement when used up).

The base of the heater is made from two flower pot saucers, the one on the bottom is upside down , the one on top is the oil reservoir where the wicks are placed in clothes peg springs.

The two saucers are drilled in the centre to take a 6mm bolt that is inserted through the holes from the bottom.

A rubber seal the size of the washer made from bike inner tube is then pushed down the length of bolt that protrudes beyond the base of the top saucer followed by a washer and a nut. 

This makes a leak proof oil pan.

The bolt protrudes vertically for a few inches. Do not over tighten the nut as it may crack the saucer. It should be firm but not mega tight.

Then thread another nut on the standing bolt with another small washer on top to be used as a height adjuster for your flower pots.

That's the whole bottom half.

For the top half use another 6mm bolt of the same size to connect your pots and fix them together with a washer and nut leaving a length of bolt protruding downwards.

Then get a length of 6 mm copper pipe a few inches longer than the bolt and use it as a sleeve over the bolt so that it's bottom end protrudes an inch or two beyond the length of the flower pots and beyond the length of the bolt.

If you gently squeeze the top of the copper pipe with some pliers when you first insert the bolt into it you can wind it up the bolt so that it stays firmly connected to it.

Wind it on until it reaches the nut inside the flower pots.

You then have your two halves complete.

You can now simply connect the top to the base by slotting the bottom of the copper pipe onto the upright bolt in the base and adjust the height of the pots by turning the nut and little washer on the base bolt to get the optimum distance above the wicks.
See screenshot below -

....and since that was posted in a FB group a few weeks ago it has now come to this -

They are also made to the split rod design.

 This one gives you some idea about how pleasant the light in the pots is with the varnished interior of the saucer.

May 15 2014

I found that capping your pots with a half pot retains the heat in the pots and they get hotter, adding another pot or two in between is even better.

The increase in the density of the pots above your flames increases the heat storage in the pot 'fire brick'.

Helpful hint - Clothes peg springs come in different sizes, avoid using ones that are tight on the wick and you will find it quite easy to adjust the wick either up or down while the heater is burning by using a long bladed pair of scissors as tweezers.

To raise the wick grip it lightly above the spring, lift it slightly and give it a little shake. To lower a wick that is too long and producing a smokey flame lift the spring,not the string, and shake it or cut off the top of the string with the scissors. It takes a little practise but  if the wick falls over and goes out you can pick it right out of the saucer, adjust it, replace it carefully and relight it with a long reach gas lighter.

I now use epoxy glue to seal the bolt hole in the saucer and water based woodstain to coat the outer surface of the pots to make them look finished and to prevent them from getting dirty.

  • Nov 3.14

    I tried a new one two nights ago and it's really good, we had to open our bedroom window in the middle of the night because it got so hot in there..

    It's the very tall pot that you see in the photos (the one with the 100 watt bulb) but instead of the bulb
     I stood the pot on an upside down chrome wire fruit bowl that Elaine found in a second hand shop. Inside the fruit bowl standing on a ceramic tile there is a flat bottomed breakfast bowl as the oil and wick holder. There are two of the stainless cutlery drainers bolted inside the tall pot but these may not be necessary.

    So if you can pick up the right sized fruit bowl there is no drilling necessary, no bolts would be required in the stand.

    The pot sits on the fruit bowl leaving plenty of access for air, topping up (using a little spouted tea pot) and wick tending (by scissor tweezers method without having to remove the hot pot.)
  • Ross Kelly Variation on a good theme -

    Elaine came home with another fruit basket, a different design (see link)

    This one works great sitting the right way up.

    The wick bowl sits in the wire bowl neatly held by the third wire ring up and the upturned flower pot sits on the second ring down.

    It looks very elegant and works brilliantly.

    This wire chrome fruit basket would look good in any kitchen.
  •  I have not stained these pots but you can already see the finger marks on the clay.

  • The tall pot has a diameter of 24 or 25 CM.

    A 25 cm upturned hyacinth bowl pot with a couple of smaller pots bolted inside it  like the ones in some of the other photos above is also very good and looks good too.

  • There are 5 replacement wicks in spring holders in the tuna tin, it's the best way to deal with replacing burners in the morning, 2 or 3 minutes and it's on again for the day. 5 minutes sorts out the old wicks for the next swap.

  • The other equally usable fruit bowl is partially visible to the left of the picture

Even better with the Hyacinth bowl pots.

If you have any queries regarding that or other points you might like clarified this is my email address -

Please title your emails ...Hot Pots.

Important note on the usual subject of my blog posts -

The initial timing of this Hot Pot's post coincides with the news of the utter devastation in Tacloban in the Philippines.

I couldn't help noticing that the name of that city ends in OBAN, the name of the Scottish town that many of my blog posts are linked to in connection to global catastrophe so I looked again at the anagram code and this is what I found that it says -



(One blank space O in that last line)


Readers who would like to know what the code thing is all about should first read this free online book about the 1996 events that led up to the code discovery.

Or you can watch this video and then if you want to read the book for more detail -

Tacloban is in the news again today as typhoon Ruby strikes it.

Code line - SEE WHY I PR 6.12.14 - TACLOBAN - TINTIN'S OLDER.

(Older PR but only just) My most recent blog post is connected to TINTIN.


  1. where do you buy Rapeseed oil? is it same as the one us for cooking (oil)?

    1. Yes, ASDA vegetable oil, it says on the bottle in smaller print that it is Rapeseed, another name for it is Canola.

  2. Nice looking work. Not simply functional.
    Question - would a dutch oven with legs work as a heat catchment? I know it wouldn't look as nice.

    1. Cast iron would probably be very good for this yes, I would try it with your oven upside down raised up on a few egg cups or something that allows the air to get to your wicks in a flat bottomed bowl.

      I am interested to see how you get on with it Mary.

    2. I tried a new one last night and it's really good, we had to open our bedroom window because it got so hot.

      It's the very tall pot that you see in the photos (the one with the 100 watt bulb) but instead of the bulb I stood the pot on an upside down chrome wire fruit bowl that Elaine found in a second hand shop. Inside the fruit bowl standing on a ceramic tile there is a flat bottomed breakfast bowl as the oil and wick holder. There are two of the stainless cutlery drainers bolted inside the tall pot but these may not be necessary.

      So if you can pick up the right sized fruit bowl there is no drilling necessary, no bolts would be required.

      The pot sits on the fruit bowl leaving plenty of access for air, topping up (using a little spouted tea pot)and wick tending without having to remove the hot pot.

    3. Ha ha ha, the pot cannot create any more heat then the fire. What a fun project but a waist of time. Burn the (candle) fire and you get the same heat without all the fuss. Allen.

    4. Yeah, thanks for that sound advice Allen, I'm going to use my gas boiler without any radiators from now on.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I started discussing with Clay (Frederick) about the Ana code in Oct of the same year as this blog post. I was admitted to hospital on the 8th of Oct.. and to my surprise there was another patient in there by the name of Clay which isn't a common name in Australia. When I was discharged on the 18th Clay (Frederick) and I became intimate over the phone and online for some months.. the same time this blog post was made was when the love between Clay and I was at its hottest. Ana makes me laugh and I'm always amazed at her brilliance.

    1. Only just saw this Kellie, thanks for your help, I'm glad I know about you, sorry it all got a bit fucked up but Anna has her reasons for the way it all has to be.