DIY Heater for Emergencies

Spread the love

Each year, as the weather gets colder, I receive emails from readers who lose power in their homes or apartment.  They are worried about heating their space when the power is out.  I have written about keeping your apartment warm in the winter without power.   The following article provides some good instructions on making a homemade heater with items that are easy to obtain.  Please note this DIY heater is not meant to replace a heating system.  The flower pot heater is a backup so you can heat up a room in the event that power is out.

DIY Heater for Emergencies

Written by Brett Ehlert

Your power is out. It’s freezing outside and the cold is starting to seep into your apartment. You don’t know how long you will be without heat, what can you do to keep warm?

These are some questions that everyone who lives in a cold climate has to worry about during the winter months. If a nasty snow storm knocks out the power, you could be without heat for days at a time!  Thankfully, if you are open to getting a little creative, you can make your own indoor temporary heater to survive the storm!

Note: This is not a stand alone option, and can have a risk of fire. Obviously you should be very careful and you need to keep an eye on the heater. Along with this, although it does put off a good amount of heat, it doesn’t give off much light because the flame is covered, so make sure you have some high lumen flashlights available.

DIY Flower Pot Heater

If you were ever in the the boy scouts or girl scouts you might have actually done something similar to this before. The general idea is we are going to use a a few flower pots and along with the help of a few nuts and washers we will trap and radiate the heat from a few tea candles to heat a small room.

What You’ll Need

One 4” Ceramic Flower Pot
One 2” Ceramic Flower Pot
One Large Bolt to Hold It Together (Larger Than the Largest Flower Pot)
About Eight Nuts
About 12 Washers
One/Two Small Tea Candle

Note: I have seen quite a few variations of these flower pot heaters so as long as the basic idea is the same, I wouldn’t worry too much!

As you can see, you’ll probably have a good amount of these pieces available in your home right now. If not these will only cost you a few dollars to get the whole set. After you have all your pieces, it’s time to get started on the installation!



Before we start the installation process, it should be noted that these heaters should be put in small rooms with closed doors and windows so they have the most effectiveness.

The installation of these mini heaters is actually quite simple and will only take you a few minutes. The whole idea is based around layering our material to help radiate heat.

Step 1: Place the Large Bolt Through the Middle of the Largest Ceramic Pot. (You can think of this as a rod that runs through the whole heater.)

Step 2: Add a Nut, and Three or Four Washers onto the Bolt.

Step 3: Slide the Second Smaller Ceramic Pot Through the Bolt and Inside the Largest Ceramic Pot. (The bolts and washers will be separating the two pots).

Step 4: Add another nut and three or four washers after the small ceramic pot.

Optional Step 5: If you want to make a heater with three pots, then you will just repeat step three with the newest small pot.

Implementing the Heater

Now that you have officially finished creating the heater you now need to find/create a stand for the heater! You have a few options; I have had good results with placing these heaters on metal stands above a ceramic tile piece or a brick slab. You need something to lift the heater a few inches off the surface, whether it be metal stand or you stand it on a few bricks. Along with this you need to place the stand and the heater on something that is flame resistant. This could be a stove top, or a brick or stone slab.


Now that you have found a safe stand to put your heater on, all you have to do is light the few small tea candles you have, and place them under pots. You will seen begin to notice that the heat from the tea pots gets trapped into the pots and soon begins to radiate and warm the room. I hope this heater can get you out of a tight bind this coming winter, and if you are
interested in any other potentially lifesaving tricks take a look at!


About the Author:

Brett Ehlert is the Owner of  At TacticalTutor we strive in producing unbiased and honest reviews of outdoor products, along with interesting tips and tricks that will keep you safe!  You can follow us on our Facebook at

Spread the love


  1. I’ve tried several variations of this heater trying to optimize it and it’s worthless. I wish people would stop spreading this junk.

    It makes no change in temperature. At all. Even in the tiny bathroom I tested mine in. I gave it every chance to work. I kept it filled up with tea lights an entire day. From the time I woke up untill bed.

    This heater does not break the laws of psychics. You can not get more energy from the tea lights than they have.

    If you want to spend time and money building a hand warmer then by all means.

    1. I tried it too–totally worthless is being nice. And I was in the closed door bath, size 10 x 9 with no windows!!!!
      Best heat is a huge metal bowl with alcohol drenched cotton balls..
      I tried just 10 cotton balls and they burned for 16 minutes.
      In a room with no windows, centered in the house, this is a much better option.

  2. Well I know you have experience with the Southern California so-called winters, but in the decade that I’ve been here, I’ve never used my heat. I appreciate the link to your article two years ago, and will sure use your bubble wrap idea. I have a healthy stash of it since I can’t bear to throw it out when it’s mailed to me.

    I did use the plastic shrink wrap on a patio window back in the eighties when I lived in an Ohio apartment, and it worked great. It was much more affordable back then though. It wouldn’t work here since it warms up so quickly–today it’s 70 degrees inside, but was mid 60’s inside and chilly last week. I’ve paid my dues living in Colorado many years too, so nice not to have to pay for the heat now. I just layer on the clothes and keep moving!

    1. Hi Deb, The bubble wrap has really worked for us out in Houston where it gets cold intermittently. You’re right So Cal winters never get cold enough-a few clothing layers are enough to stay warm. Thanks for the comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *