After the successful operation of my Candle-lamp design, I decided to research oil burning lamps.

The benefits of using oil as fuel for a ceramic heater inspired me to create my newest design, this Radiant Heat Oil Lamp. The metal and ceramic radiator assembly is almost identical to the one used in th Candle-lamp, however the higher calorific value of the paraffin lamp oil means that this device puts out more heat.

The oil burns more steadily than a wax candle fuel source, and the flame remains at a constant distance from the radiator assembly.

It is important to keep the wick trimmed very close to the top of the glass wick holder in order to keep the flame at an optimum size. I’ve noticed if the flame height exceeds an inch or so, some of the hydrocarbons do not completely burn and instead ride the heat up into the ceramic and create soot problems.

I am amazed at how long the burning oil lasts when compared to the wax candles. This lamp burns all of my waking hours and the level of the oil in the reservoir drops no more than two or three centimeters.

And lamp oil is cheap! I was able to buy 64 fluid ounces for 5 dollars. This should last my one lamp 2 months or so burning 14-16 hours per day. A variety of fuels will all work in this lamp as well. One I would like to try is olive oil. I’ve read it burns cleanly, slowly, and emits a pleasant odor.

The fiberglass wick I use also does not burn down as long as there is a fuel source wicking up from below, and there is no mess from dripping wax or charred wick.

Lastly I would like to comment on this lamps many decorative options. Of course the ceramic radiator assembly can be painted, as done with my Candle-lamp design. Another great option is to fill the base with aromatic, or visually interesting objects, such as potpourri, sea shells, or pine bows. This will not only look interesting, but the oil will slowly become infused with the scent of the items it envelopes. I am also in the process of developing a lighted LED base, that will illuminate the oil reservoir with colored light!

The simplicity, efficiency, and cleanliness of an oil lamp in this application is, in my experience, the best choice.

Update: In response to the many inquiring about the lamp heater construction, I made a short video detailing the basics. Enjoy!


Inexpensive… AND effective!

A great way to stay warm during the colder months is to create an elegant solution to provide tangible heat.  There are many ideas out there, but a few of the most enduring are candles and oil lamps.

In this post I will cover my candle fueled model.  You can check out my newest design, the Radiant Heat Oil Lamp, here.

My first ceramic heater design was based on the Kandle Heeter.  Although I didn’t think 30 dollars was an unreasonable amount for the a ready-made model, the shipping from California to Pennsylvania most certainly would be.  So I threw a similar custom design together from parts and pieces laying about my abode.

You can see the simple construction.  The ceramic radiator that sits above the heat source is made of two clay pots, with a metal core connecting them.  An inner clay pot is important because it regulates the outer temperature, and acts as a soot collector.  The metal core acts as the primary thermal mass, capturing most of the candle’s heat and distributing it throughout to radiator assembly.  A clay ‘cap’ sits on top, protecting the user from the hot metal.  This cap can also be removed and carried for mobile warmth.

More clay pots or metal can be used, but adding parts does not increase efficiency.  Two pots and a small metal core will capture transmit the same amount of heat as a heavier, more massive radiator assembly.

Another great aspect of the ceramic candle lamp is the ability to personally decorate the radiator and base portions.  You can see the clay tops are interchangeable.  My lovely girlfriend painted the appealing winter scene below.

As far as the base is concerned, I just used a scrap of wood.  You could use a more decorative cut, or I’ve even an inverted clay pot to serve as a heavy base.  A low center of gravity is what I strive for.

For fuel I’ve been using the candles everybody has but nobody burns.  When I get sick of the flowery fragrances of scented candles, I searched out a value pack of unscented votive candles, from Michael’s arts and crafts (be sure to use a 40% off coupon).  These have served very well, and burn energetically and evenly.  With a good flame from a good candle, the ceramic radiator is too hot to touch!  But the cap is always a pleasant temperature.

I also am able to use leftover wax scraps with home-made cotton wicks to ensure every once of wax is converted into heat energy!

Staying warm CHEAP!

So how am I staying warm this winter?

Multiple layers of clothing, of course, is a simple way to retain body heat, and consequently the most economical way to stay warm.  Feeling chilly?  Add a layer!  We lose a significant amount of heat through cold surface contact, so two pairs of socks, and sandals or some sort of footwear keep my feet off the cold floor.  A hat or hood can be very effective as well.

I found that radiant heat goes a long way in making me feel warmer.  Just wrapping my hands around the warmth of a mug filled with my favorite hot beverage really does the trick.  So after stumbling across this Tiny House Blog post, I decided to make a cheap radiant heat source of my own, and improve upon the design!

Using mostly bits of junk collected by myself or my girlfriend over the years, I put together a oil-fueled ceramic radiator, pictured to the right.  It works wonderfully well.  I also created a ‘rough draft,’ if you will, utilizing a candle as the primary heat source, but eventually discovered the benefits of oil lamps make them cleaner and more efficient.

You can check out my “Candle Lamps” here.

There is something very satisfying about curling up under a soft blanket next to the quiet ambiance and radiant warmth provided by my home-made lamp heaters.