How To Make A DIY Clay Pot Heater With Reclaimed Wood Base

Staying warm on a budget or just adding a rustic touch to your home is easy with a terracotta pot heater. Learn how to stay warm without breaking the bank by building a DIY clay pot heater at home. This easy project will help you escape the cold and create a cozy atmosphere in your home.

For a detailed walkthrough of the process, check out our DIY clay pot heater tutorial video on YouTube.

Materials Required

Luckily, this heater project doesn’t demand a long shopping list. Plus, the items needed are readily available and won’t break the bank. Bonus!

  • 1x Large Terracotta Plant Pot
  • 1x Medium Terracotta Plant Pot
  • 1x 10M Threaded Bar
  • 8x 10M Nuts
  • 1x 10M Nyloc Nut
  • 6x 10M Washers (large enough to cover the holes in the terracotta pots)
  • 1x Base (I made a circular wooden base out of reclaimed wood, but you can use a terracotta plant pot base if woodworking isn’t your thing)
  • 4x Tealight Candles

While stainless steel threaded bar, nuts, and washers are an alternative, they come at a higher cost. Some online comments caution against using galvanized threaded rod and nuts or washers due to potential zinc oxidation and the emission of toxic gases. Upon investigation, zinc oxidizes at 1600 °F, a temperature tealight candles don’t reach. Moreover, positioning the candles far from the threaded rod eliminates direct heating, making safety concerns unwarranted. After an 8-hour test run, neither the rod nor the nuts or washers emitted any odor, visible gases, or discoloration, indicating the setup’s safety.

You will start by making a circular wooden base from scrap wood. This is safe, as heat rises and doesn’t affect the wood given the wax is contained within the aluminium tealight cups.

Time Investment

Making the circular wooden base and assembling the terracotta pots and hardware takes about an hour. If you opt out of making the reclaimed wood base, the project will be quicker.

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. First, construct a neat wooden base to accommodate the tealight candles and hardware.
  2. Glue and dowel two pieces of 3cm (1.18 inches) thick pine offcuts, letting them set overnight.
  3. Next, square the wood to fit the terracotta pot you have. We went with approximately 25cm by 25cm (9.8 inches x 9.8 inches).
  4. Create a circle cutting jig for the table saw to cut the circle, a process not covered in this tutorial. Once set up, it will make quick work of cutting the wood.
  5. Dividing the circle into four squares, drill a 40mm (1.6 inches) hole in the center of each to hold the tealights. This maintains a safe distance between candles to prevent flash burns. Using a forstner bit ensures a flat bottom, and leaves the tealights slightly protruding for easy removal.
  6. Then, drillea 40mm (1.6 inches) recess in the base to accommodate a nut and washer, and a 10mm (4/10s of an inch) hole all the way through the center for the threaded bar.
  7. Using an angle grinder, cut a section of the threaded rod to approximately 30cm, roughly gauging the required length against the pots and marking it with a permanent marker. Since threaded bar only comes in 1-meter (39.4 inches) lengths, you may need to do the same. Alternatively, a hacksaw can be used if an angle grinder is unavailable.
  8. Next, use a router with a coving bit to add a decorative flair to the base and facilitate easy lifting.
  9. To prevent slippage during use, affix small rubber strips to the base with epoxy.
  10. While the wooden base complemented the pots nicely, you can use an upturned terracotta plant pot base if woodworking isn’t feasible. Placing the pots on bricks is also an option but lacks aesthetic appeal.
  11. Secure a nyloc nut and washer to one end of the threaded bar and recessed it into the wooden base. We opted for a nyloc nut for added security, as it supports the entire structure, preventing loosening. Due to space constraints, recessing two nuts within the 3cm (1.8 inches) base thickness wasn’t feasible without compromising integrity.
  12. Proceeded to build the structure as follows:
  • 1 washer, then 2 nuts to secure the base’s top.
  • 2 nuts, followed by a washer to support the medium-sized terracotta pot. Adjust as needed for desired height, leaving a 3cm air gap for airflow and ease of tealight placement.
  • The medium terracotta pot.
  • 1 washer, 2 nuts, then another washer to separate the medium pot from the large one.
  • The large terracotta pot.
  • Finally, capped off with 1 washer and 2 nuts.
  1. Tighten each set of nuts as you go, using two spanners if necessary.

How to Use

Using the terracotta pot heater is a breeze. Place four tealights in the recesses and light them in place with matches or a stove lighter. It takes approximately 45 minutes for the pots to heat up, and the tealights burn for about 4 hours.

While the heater won’t win awards for heating large spaces, it does provide a cozy atmosphere and helps dry out the air. We didn’t conduct rigorous scientific tests, but it made our small lounge more comfortable. Plus, it doubles as a charming hand warmer. Just remember:

  • Never leave the heater unattended.
  • Avoid covering the heater; the terracotta pots get hot!
  • Use only tealights, not candles, as they come in a metal cup, preventing wax spills and igniting.
  • Refrain from moving the heater once lit to prevent spilled wax.
  • Opt for high-quality, unscented tealights, as scented ones may cause flash burns.
  • Exercise caution when blowing out the tealights to prevent wax spray.
  • For added safety tips, refer to candle safety guidelines.

With these precautions in mind, enjoy the cozy warmth and ambiance of your homemade terracotta pot heater!

About The Authors

Michael Martin and Nikki Rixon started their business Reclaim Design in 2013. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for more videos filled with practical advice, eco-friendly tips, and inspiration to help you live a more sustainable life.


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