Terracotta Pot Heaters: Are They Safe, Do They Work, and Can I Use One in an Emergency?

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It may be hard to believe, but the first days of autumn are here. Leaves are changing, and pumpkin spices are wafting through the air. Warming scents are nice, but the early morning and late evening breezes can come with a cold bite. If you're not ready to pull out the quilts and covers, a terracotta pot heater is just what you need.

Think of a terracotta heater as a blanket for a small room. Only, unlike a space heater or gas fireplace, clay warmers don't require a connection to household utilities. No electricity or propane is needed. With the thermodynamic power of a few tealight candles, this DIY heat source is a common-sense way to produce enough heat to turn up the temperature in a small space. Best of all, candle heat can come in handy during power outages or winter emergencies without spewing carbon monoxide into your home.

How do terracotta heaters work, and are they totally safe? Let's bring those answers to light.

Terracotta Pot Heater

Terracotta clay warmers are a simple way to heat up a small area. Plus, you don't need to be a disaster prepper to have the supplies for this DIY project on hand. With a bread pan, two different-sized clay flower pots, and a candle flame, you can use the basic scientific principle of convection to create radiant heat in your space.

Check out YouTuber David Cook's visual tutorial for a how-to:

As Cook describes, a smaller pot set within a larger one pushes hot air upwards, resulting in warmth moving upwards through the clay setup. If you're trying to heat larger living spaces, this won't create enough BTUS (amount of heat per unit) to cover the entire room. However, this small heater can create crucial personal warmth in times of need. (Or when you just want a little comfort).

The supplies are easy to come by:

Set of 4 Plant Pots, 3 Inch 4.5 Inch 5 Inch 6 Inch Small Ceramic Terracotta Planter Pot with Drainage Hole and Saucers (Small Set, Terracotta)

A small terracotta pot set is the perfect starter set-up for a beginner clay warmer. Cover the 3-inch pot with the sixer, and set it all atop your reliable loaf pan. The result will provide a small source of heat on your countertop and coffee table. Or, use it to warm your toes underneath your desk. Working from home has never been cozier.

Stonebriar 100 Pack Unscented Tea Light Candles with 6-7 Hour Extended Burn Time

Once you have your terracotta setup, you'll need an open flame to generate heat. These Stonebriar tealights have an extended burn time, which translates to more warmth for you. At $0.15 per candle, this is the most inexpensive heat since cave people invented fire.

Are Terracotta Pot Space Heaters Safe?

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to terracotta heaters is (believe it or not) the heat. The fact that clay gets so hot is what makes it useful, but also what makes it dangerous. As YouTuber Sailing the High Seas describes, there are dangers to using a terracotta heater:

Essentially, if enough paraffin chemicals spill from a candle onto a hot terracotta surface, it can catch fire very rapidly. This is an important disclaimer: terracotta clay can burn you, and the chemicals from tea lights are flammable.

However, it should also be noted that Sailing the High Sea's terracotta pot warmer was hanging from a washer hook... in a boat... on the high seas. Sounds pretty unstable to me.

Keep your warmer on a steady, flat surface, and you'll be plenty safe (and plenty warm).

Pottery Candle Stove, Terracotta Flower Pot Heaters, Farmhouse Stove Pots, Clay Pot Heater

If the DIY candle heater seems like a hassle to put together, consider this ready-made candle stove from QParts. It comes with all the included pots necessary to generate heat when you need it most. While the FAQs are clear that this will not cover your entire room, I'm estimating a 15ft by 15ft space could get really toasty.

All in all, terracotta pot heaters are an easy and inexpensive way to stay warm in the colder months. Skip the exhaust of a gas heater and save on the electric bill with this inventive DIY solution to home heating.