Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least that’s how the saying goes. And when the weather gets cold people look for heating solutions, leading some to wonder if candles can heat a room, and if so, how many?
It is possible to heat a room with candles if you light enough of them. But while it is something that can be done, it’s not safe to do it. Lighting a large number of candles in one area can lead to a fire hazard and is something that could be quite dangerous.
Read on to learn about how many candles you would need to heat a room and whether there might be more viable alternatives.
Can You Heat A Room With Candles?
To answer this question, we first need to know how much heat can be created by a candle and then the approximate space that can be warmed with that amount of heat.
How Much Heat Can A Candle Generate?
According to scientists affiliated with Cambridge University, about 8 grams of petroleum-based wax generates about 80 watts of energy, 95% of which is heat. To put things in perspective, the average tea candle is about 17 grams of wax. So a tea candle can generate about 170 watts of energy, 161.5 watts would be heat energy.
Different types of wax can burn for various amounts of time and generate more or less heat; candle size is also a factor. So everything that I’m sharing here is approximate. Let’s now consider how many candles would be needed.
How Many Candles Can Heat A Room?
According to the indoor air company, Sylvane, a 750 watt space heater warms a 75 square foot space. That’s ten watts for every square foot. Using this logic, one tea candle can heat about 16 square feet. If you are attempting to warm a 10 foot by 10 foot room, that’s 100 square feet, and you would need at least 1,000 watts to warm it. Using our tea candle example, 1000 watts / 161.5 watts = 6.19. This is how many tea candles might warm a small 100 square foot room. Now, exactly how long the candles will burn is a different story.
How Long Can Candles Heat A Room
Some candles burn for two hours, others four, five or much more – depending on size, wax type, and fragrance load.
As a safety precaution, though, the National Candle Association suggests that candles should not burn for more than four hours at a time. Increasing the candle burn time can cause the wick to mushroom. This build up of carbon can create a bigger flame which leads to heavy smoke.
If you’re using tea lights, though, this could work out well. For instance, in this pack of 200 tea light candles each tea light burns for exactly four hours. This means that they will extinguish themselves after four hours. In terms of safety, this is good. In terms of you no longer having a heat source after four hours, it’s inconvenient.
Once all of the candles have gone out, will you light six more candles? And would you be willing to do that every four hours? Buying more candles to accommodate for this may not be all that helpful in the long run.
What About Larger Candles?
When I lit this Eco Palm pillar candle, the room felt warmer after thirty minutes. It’s unscented and is made with 100% palm wax. At five inches tall, it weighs a little over half a pound, or 295 grams. After doing the math, this candle generates a little more than twice as much heat as the tea light candles, 350 watts worth. So heating a 100 square foot room would require at least three but closer to four of these larger candles. So I could assume that I would only need one or two 10-inch candles to light the same sized room.
Fewer larger candles would be needed to heat a room, but there’s still a number of problems that exist.
- What if you need to sleep? Since it is extremely dangerous to fall asleep while candles are lit, you would have to blow out your heat source before going to bed. And you’d likely be freezing cold throughout the night.
- Even if you are awake or have someone you can alternate shifts with, you both would have to monitor the candles and periodically tend to them to make sure they are consistently lit, and aren’t near any flammable objects. Not to mention children or pets.
- You would also need to have multiple candles on hand so that you can extinguish flames after four hours and then light a different set of candles for the next rotation.
- And what if you have a larger room to heat? You will need more candles, which means more money and monitoring. Four thousand watts would be needed to heat a 400 square foot room. 4000 watts / 161.5 watts = 24.8, basically 25 tea light candles. That’s 150 small candles or approximately 75 larger ones for every 24-hour period.
If that room has higher ceilings or if there’s poor insulation throughout, more candles will be required.
Are There Better Heating Alternatives To Candles?
I think it would be safer and more cost-efficient to consider alternative ways to heat a room. But the best alternative would depend on your situation. If you are experiencing a power outage, you would need a different solution from someone who is simply trying to heat a room without ductwork.
Electric Heating Options
If you still have access to electricity, then these options are for you.
Electric Space Heaters
I have an electric space heater similar to this one, at its hottest, it is 120v/1500w and heats a my space within minutes. It’s a small personal heater, but it gets the job done. There’s even a tip switch that turns the space heater off if it gets knocked over. If it were to overheat, then it would automatically shut off then as well.
A heater this size would work best in spaces ranging between 75-150 square feet.
Another alternative would be an electric fireplace. I have a relative who’s used a couple, and I find that these also distribute heat well.
In addition to size, wattage varies and some can be operated by remote control.
Electric Heating Blankets
Another option I’ve used in the past has been heating blankets. They won’t heat an entire room but can keep you warm in a cold room.
Similar to most bedding, you can find these blankets in twin, full, queen, or king sizes. Some are flannel, others, plush sherpa, or quilted fleece.
There are a lot of rules to follow when operating electric blankets. But there’s usually overheating protection and an auto-shutoff timer. Electric blankets are super cozy and much safer than candles while sleeping.
What If There’s No Electricity?
Although none of us want to be in bad situations, it’s better to be prepared than to look for solutions after the worst has already happened. Whether there’s a power outage in your area or some sort of a natural disaster, searching for a way to keep warm under such stress is no fun.
Gas Heating Options
There are gas-powered fireplaces and stoves similar to the electric ones. Another option includes:
For spaces up to 95 square feet, there’s medium-sized Mr. Heater. It’s a portable option that can be used inside of a tent or in a home during emergencies. It can run for 5.6 hours and needs a one pound propane tank. There are many safety features, like a tip-over switch and low oxygen sensor.
For spaces up to 225 square feet, there’s a larger Mr. Heater.
What If There’s No Access To Electricity Or Gas?
In some cases, there might not be access to an electric or gas source, and you might be tempted to pull out and light candles. In such moments, please consider two alternatives:
Also called blackout curtains, thermal curtains help insulate your space so that you don’t lose the heat that’s inside.
If you are unable to keep heat in a room using any of the methods above, then layering clothes is the most basic solution. You don’t have to have fancy waffle knit thermals, either. Two or three layers of pants, tops, and socks can offer some relief. Wearing outdoor gear, like gloves or mittens and a hat can only help.
While candles can technically heat a room, I would suggest you try one of the safer alternatives listed above.
In addition to needing to purchase many of them in order to sustain your heat source, it is nearly impossible to monitor them within a 24-hour period. And it’s absolutely dangerous to accidentally fall asleep while so many candles are lit. Choose safety instead.