Monthly Archives: October 2012

Denatured Alcohol/Candle Heater

I use this particular heater with liquid candles. You could use an alcohol stove for it, but as denatured alcohol heats up it evaporates faster and thus burns faster. This means that the same amount of fuel it would take for a liquid candle to heat for 8 hours would burn in less than an hour if using denatured alcohol.

This bad boy is a radiant heater as well as a convection or forced air heater, and will function as a radiant heater for an hour after the flame source is put out. It’s made from three cans: a 5 liter mini keg, a large coffee can (#10 can) and a small coffee can. Oh, and sand.

All you really need to make this is a marker, tin snips, a can opener and a 1/2″ drill bit. Were I to make it again I’d use a unibit, as the drill bit left some sharp edges.

Here’s the outer shell. What you want to do is use a can opener to cut the top of the keg off. I used my swiss army knife. Next set the #10 can on the bottom of the keg (the end that’s facing up in this photo) and draw a circle around it. Then patiently cut it out. Cut it a little within the marked circle. You want it to be a tight fit. Then drill about 20 1/2″ holes around the bottom of the keg, and three at the top.

The #10 can will sit down in the keg, with the open end of the #10 facing up. The lip of the coffee can should just rest on the edge of the hole that was cut in the keg. Now take the #10 can and set it bottom up. Place the small coffee can on it and mark the circle. Cut that out as done before, use patience for a tight fit.

With the #10 can upside down, push the small can into the hole you cut, open end of the small can facing up.

See what I mean? Now place this into the keg, so that the small can opening is facing down.

It’s hard to tell, but there is a gap between the keg walls and the #10 can.

It’s dirty because of the sand that was stuck to it before this blog. I took it apart to get the pics. But here it is all assembled. Now just fill with dry sand, covering the top of the little can as much as possible while keep the sand flat. Mine covers about 1/2″, believe me you don’t want to touch the sand in the center, and especially not the little can itself if it weren’t covered.

All ready to fire up! If you choose to use a normal candle (solid wax) then use one in a jar, the temperature inside this thing will melt a solid candle. Also, use a jar candle with multiple wicks. I use liquid candles because they’re easy to make, easy to fill, easy to extinguish. I use 3 liquid candles with 3 wicks each. Mine were made from baby food jars, but the caps don’t seal properly after heating up. When I make a different version I’ll share, but a little searching and creativity is all you need.

What happens is the heat from the flame source goes straight up, into the small can. Heat starts coming off the top. As time goes on the sides of the small can heat up, which gets all that sand hot. Now the excess heat that goes up in the small can must come down, and then it goes back up the sides of the #10 can, heating the outside of the keg (the sand helps to do that too). That heat exits the 3 holes at the top of the heater.

I place this next to my feet, 3 holes facing me. Within about 40 minutes I feel hot air coming out those holes, and the top and sides of the heater are at full force. If the candles go out (mine will burn for 10+ hours) or you extinguish them, the sand will continue to radiate heat for about an hour.

This won’t heat your house. It WILL¬†help to heat a small space. The space I live in gets down to around 50*F in the winter. This heater puts out as much heat as a small electric heater. Using this when it’s really numbing outside in conjunction with my electric heater or a different candle heater can keep me comfortable at up to around 65*F.

The general concept for this was from¬†These innovative little things do work, but not well enough for my needs. If you had a house at 68*F and had a drafty or chilly room that was colder than the rest, they would help. Hence my nagging inspiration to create something better. To understand my dislike for utility companies this link may help if you haven’t already read it: Confessions of an Alcoholic…Stove Addict

I don’t believe in disclaimers. But I also don’t believe in suffering because of another’s stupidity. Use caution making anything. Use caution with fire. I am not responsible for anyone but myself. That is a universal truth, and the need for disclaimers is lame.