How to Heat a Tent With a Candle (2 Best Options)

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Believe it or not, you can technically heat a tent while camping with just a candle (and a little ingenuity)!

A candle won’t provide the same amount of heat as an electric tent heater, but it may provide a good amount of warmth when you don’t have an electrical supply nearby.

So, let’s look at a few of the best options for heating a tent with a candle, along with a few tips to help trap the heat inside your tent.

But, first, we should address the #1 thing… safety.

Safety Is Priority Number One

Your tent is 100% flammable fabric, as well as most of your camping paraphernalia. The top concern when heating your tent with a candle is safety. It’s crucial to take extra precautions when bringing a flame into an environment that it can engulf in less than a minute.

While some tents have a fire retardant coating and a lot of campers already pitch close to a campfire or a portable gas stove, bringing a candle inside your sleeping area is another matter.

Luckily, certain candle lanterns like the UCO Candlelier have made lighting and warming the inside of your tent relatively safe, which is why some mountaineers and campers have started considering them essential.

So, just remember to exercise extreme caution when heating your tent with a candle (or any flammable source), and never leave a candle heater unattended.

With that out of the way, let’s learn how to heat a tent with a candle using the two most effective ways.

Using A Candle Lantern

Just a little over a century ago, candle lanterns were the only way to see in the dark, and a fire was the only way to keep warm. What better way to throw yourself back into the arms of nature than using fire as your primary source of heat?

With a few touches of modern technology, you can light and heat the interior of your tent worry-free with aluminum candle lanterns from companies like UCO!

The UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern is one of the handiest items in the UCO roster not just in terms of providing light but also warming up a tent.

UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern

UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern

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Its large cylindrical body puts out 5,000 BTUs of heat and can even heat a few food items and a small amount of water, enough for a cup of coffee.

The UCO Candlelier Deluxe comes in four colors, and you can use three different kinds of candles in them – wax, beeswax, and citronella candles (which repel mosquitoes). The UCO wax candles are the cheapest while their beeswax candles burn out slower.

The only real downside to the Candlelier Deluxe is you need special UCO brand candles to fit into its chamber, meaning you can’t replace your burned out candles with just any other candle you find in the supermarket. However, UCO candles can burn for longer than 9 hours, which will easily keep you warm all night long.

  • Safest candle heating option
  • Provides 5,000 BTUs of heat
  • Can be used to heat food and water
  • Various candle options
  • Requires you to use UCO brand candles
  • May not create enough heat in colder climates
UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern

UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern

Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

DIY Candle Heater

Another viable option is to make your own candle heater! By making your own, you don’t have to worry about purchasing special candles (any tea light candle will work) and you can design your heater to be as big as you want.

Below is a popular way to make your own candle heater using clay pots and convection heating principles.

DIY clay pot tent heater

You will need:

  • A flower pot made of clay without a bottom hole
  • A bigger pot that the small one can fit inside, this time with a hole in the bottom
  • A ceramic, copper, or glass container that can hold your candles without burning
  • Four to six tea light candles

DIY Clay Pot Tent Heater Instructions

  1. Light the tea lights and place them inside a ceramic, copper, or glass container. For example, a ceramic casserole dish.
  2. Flip the smaller clay flower pot upside down and place it over the candles, but with the edge of the flower pot on top of the container. If the pots are too big or small to rest on the container, you can place a brick or something to keep the pot elevated over the candles. You just can’t have the pot completely cover the candles as they will go out due to a lack of oxygen.
  3. Next, flip the bigger clay pot over and place over top the smaller one.
  4. That’s it!

How It Works

A candle by itself does not give off much heat. But, the idea behind placing the clay pots over the candle is to capture the little heat the candle gives off thus heating the inner pot. When a bigger pot is placed over the smaller pot the air in-between them rapidly heats up and a convection current is formed.

Does It Really Work?

Yes… and no. It will put off a little heat, but will it be enough to keep you warm in a frigid tent? Will the candles burn long enough to keep the tent warm for a prolonged period of time? Is your specific setup even safe?

The only way to answer this is to test it out before relying on it to keep you warm. And again, use extreme caution if trying to heat your tent with this method!

  • Will produce some heat
  • Can be made with household items
  • Uses conventional tea lights
  • May not provide enough heat
  • Internal pot gets extremely hot
  • Must be setup correctly or could be a fire hazard

How To Trap Heat Inside Your Tent

No matter how warm your candles burn, if you don’t trap heat inside your tent and prevent the cold from seeping in, your efforts will be futile.

Here are a few ways to help keep your tent warm in those frigid conditions. And be sure to check out our full guide on how to insulate a tent for winter camping for more tips.

Use A Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is a useful camping accessory that is often overlooked! They essentially can help keep you warmer by providing another layer of insulation between you and the ground.

  • First, flatten the ground and keep it free from sharp stones to prevent your footprint from tearing. The flatter the ground the better as to present cold air from flowing under the tent.
  • Second, place your footprint evenly beneath your tent so you can insulate your body and your sleeping bag from the coldness of the ground.

Line Your Tent With Blankets Or Rugs

This tip is practical if you’re planning to stay in your tent for more than a week. A rug or a bunch of blankets will certainly add extra weight if your out backpacking, but if you’re planning to stay in your tent for a week or two in frigid temps, you may be glad you have them!

Cover the floor of your tent with a few clean rugs to make it softer and cozier. You can pull a one-two combination by covering the ground beneath your tent with a tarp or footprint and lining the interior floor with a rug to insulate you from the cold, hard ground. Just remember that rugs and blankets become unbearably heavy when they’re soaked in the rain, especially pieces that are big enough to cover your tent’s floor. So, keep them dry!

You can also use fabric clips to hang blankets over the tent windows and doors, to further insulate your tent.

Pick The Right Spot For Your Tent

Setting up your tent in the Sun, but out of the wind will help keep your tent warm in those frigid windy conditions. Pick a spot where your tent will be able to absorb sunlight, but next to a structure that will block the wind. If there’s snow on the ground you can even build a little snow wall to help insulate your tent from winds.

Use The Smallest Sized Tent Possible

We all want to have a large and roomy tent. But, if you’re camping in frigid conditions, size matters. And in this case, the smaller the better!

A smaller tent will be easier to heat up and keep warm, especially if you’re using a heating source like a candle.

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