Candle Heaters: How to Heat a Tent with a Candle? (2024)

By: Derek Vitiello | Last Updated on December 22, 2023

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There’s a certain magic to camping in chilly weather—waking up to the shimmer of frost, seeing your breath in the crisp air, and having popular campsites all to yourself. But let’s be honest, when the sun dips below the horizon and the temperature starts to plummet, staying warm becomes priority number one. Sure, a high-quality sleeping bag and layers of thermal clothing are essential, but sometimes you crave an extra touch of warmth inside your tent. Enter candle heaters, a classic yet often misunderstood tool in the camper’s arsenal.

Far from a simple source of light, a candle heater can be a remarkably effective tool for adding that extra layer of warmth you’ve been craving. In my extensive camping adventures across a range of climates and terrains, I’ve found candle heaters to be an invaluable resource. They’re portable, easy to use, and they add an almost immediate sense of warmth and coziness to your tent setup. Stick around as we dive deep into this often-overlooked gem in the world of camping gear. We’ll explore how they work, why they might just become your new favorite piece of equipment, and how to use them safely and effectively.

Best Candle Lantern Heater

UCO Deluxe Candle Lantern

If you’re looking for a safe and easy way to warm up your tent using a candle, look no further than the UCO Candle Lantern! This candle lantern is known for its ability to output large amounts of heat while keeping you and your gear safe. Plus, with a flame retardant metal housing and glass chimney, you don’t have to worry about any stray sparks flying out and igniting something else in your campsite. So go ahead and pick up one of the UCO Candle Lantern, it’s the best candle heater to heat your tent!

P.S.- this is the deluxe version, but it also comes in the original model that uses only a single candle, making it great for smaller tents.

Benefits of Using a Heating a Tent With a Candle Heater

When it comes to heating solutions for camping, few options are as portable and simple as a candle heater. Compared to hauling around a propane heater, a candle heater is lightweight and space-efficient, fitting comfortably into your backpack or gear box. Plus, they are easy to use—just light the candle, and you’re all set. Over the years, I’ve found this to be an invaluable quality, especially when you’re tuckered out after a day of hiking and just want a quick source of warmth.

Another advantage of candle heaters is their dual functionality. Not only do they provide warmth, but they also give off a soft, ambient light that creates a cozy atmosphere within your tent. There’s something inherently comforting about the flicker of a candle flame on a chilly night in the wilderness; it’s a far cry from the harsh glare of a battery-powered lantern.

Moreover, candle lanterns are relatively inexpensive, both in initial cost and in ongoing maintenance. Replacement candles are generally affordable, and you don’t have to worry about carrying extra fuel or batteries. This cost-effectiveness has long made them a go-to choice for both novice campers and seasoned adventurers looking to stretch their gear budget.

Finally, a well-designed candle heater comes with safety features that help mitigate risks associated with open flames. Many models have enclosed flames and sturdy bases to prevent tipping, which gives you added peace of mind. This is especially valuable if you’re introducing younger campers to the joys of the great outdoors and want to ensure their safety while keeping them warm.

UCO Candle Lantern Refills

If you are concerned with sustainability or want a cleaner burn, UCO makes replacement candles made of beeswax. Not only do these beeswax candles last slightly longer than the original candles, but they are more sustainable, all natural, and have a cleaner burn. They also make Citronella Candles for their UCO candle lanterns, which are excellent at supplying heat and giving off a scent that repels insects. If you like the regular white candles, then you can buy replacements in 3-pack, 9-pack, and 20-pack sizes.

How to Safely Heat a Tent With a Candle

First thing first, let’s get one thing out in the open: It is never 100% safe to light things on fire inside a tent (unless you are using a tent stove and a hot tent). You would be surprised at just how fast a small flame can spread across an entire room that is made of flammable material (like most tents). Candles can be used to produce heat in your tent, but it is important that you take a few safety precautions:

  • Make sure the candles are in sturdy holders and placed on a stable surface away from flammable materials.
  • Keep children and pets away from the candles.
  • Do not leave burning candles unattended.
  • Put out all candles before going to bed or leaving the tent.

Keeping those safety precautions in mind, in our experience the safest way to heat a tent using candles is with a candle lantern. Candle lanterns normally have a metal or aluminum housing and a glass enclosure just like your standard lantern. The difference lies in the candle and the vents on top that allow the majority of the heat to escape into your cozy tent!

Heating a Tent With a Candle – A Step by Step Guide

By now I’m sure you can see that it is very possible to heat a tent with candles. Now we can talk about the steps you need to take to get your tent warm and comfortable before a good night’s sleep.

Step 1: Choose the Right Candle Lantern

First and foremost, invest your own candle heater designed for tent use. These heaters come with safety features such as a sturdy base and an enclosed flame. They usually use long-lasting candles as well, so you’re not having to replace them frequently. From my personal experience, the UCO Candle Lantern above is a reliable choice.

Step 2: Find the Ideal Location

Place your candle heater on a flat surface inside the tent, away from flammable materials that pose a fire hazard. Some tents come with a utility loop at the center of the ceiling; you can hang your heater there as long as it’s stable and far away from the tent walls and ceiling. Make sure the heater is in a place where it won’t get knocked over.

Step 3: Ventilate the Tent

Before lighting the candle, make sure your tent is adequately ventilated. This doesn’t mean you need to open your door or windows wide, letting all the cold air in. Rather, ensure that the tent’s built-in ventilation options, like roof vents or low-level mesh openings, are clear.

Step 4: Light the Candle

Once you’ve ensured proper placement and ventilation, it’s time to light the candle. Use a long-stem lighter to easily reach into the enclosure where the candle is housed. Confirm that the flame is stable and well-contained within the heater before proceeding.

Step 5: Monitor the Candle

Never let the candles burn unattended. Make sure you’re awake and alert to monitor it. Keep flammable items, including clothing and sleeping bags, away from the heater. You’ll want to monitor for any signs of tipping or unusual behavior.

Step 6: Enjoy the Warmth but Stay Alert

Now you can enjoy the added warmth and comforting glow of candle light that a candle lantern brings. It might not turn your tent into a sauna, but it will raise the internal temperature by a few degrees, keeping your tent warm and making your camping experience significantly more comfortable.

Step 7: Extinguish Safely

When you’re ready to extinguish the candle, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for doing so. This usually involves smothering the flame in a safe manner to prevent hot wax from splattering.

Step 8: Allow Time for Cooling

Before packing away your candle lantern, give it sufficient time to cool down. Touch it carefully to make sure it’s not too hot to handle, then stow it appropriately in your gear.

Step 9: Assess Candle Condition

Before your next use, check the candle for wear and tear and replace it if necessary. Always carry extra long-lasting candles designed for your specific heater model.

The best thing about these candles is that they are self contained inside aluminum housing so you don’t need to worry about if your tent will catch fire. The design has changed slightly over time but it all works very similarly. Basically there is an enclosed metal box with holes in top or sides to let light and warmth out, while keeping the actual flame inside where its less likely to cause a problem. Plus, with up to 5000+ BTU of heat, it only takes about an hour for this candle lantern to raise the interior temperature of your tent by around 15 degrees!

Want to be REALLY warm while you are camping? Try these:
Best Battery Operated Heated Blanket for Camping
Best Heated Camping Chair
Best Heated Sleeping Bag

How Much Heat Does a Candle Give Off?

Candles can produce quite a bit of heat, and how much heat they create depends on the size and type of candle that you are burning. We are going to get quite technical here for a moment and then break things down so they are a little easier to understand.

First off, heat is measure in BTU’s (British Thermal Units). A British Thermal Unit is roughly defined as the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at sea level and standard barometric pressure. This means that a 200 BTU/hr Heater can raise one pound of water 200 Degrees in an hour. That’s a lot of heat!

To go a little deeper, studies have found that candles are about 16% efficient when it comes to total heat generated. This means that if a candle has 100BTU/hour of total heat, 16 BTU/hr will be felt as emitted heat.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Small Candle – burn time up to 15 hours; one candle generates approximately 75-80 BTU

Estimated actual usable heat output – 13.12 BTUs/hr

Medium Candle – burn time up to 20 hours; one medium sized candle generates approximately 120-130 BTU/hr.

Estimated actual usable heat output – 19.68-20.48 BTUs/hr

Large Candle – burn time up to 30 hours; 1 large candle generates approximately 200 BTU/hr.

Estimated actual usable heat output – 32 BTUs/hr

It’s easy to see that a simple candle can actually create a bit of heat! This is magnified by the fact that the space you are heating is extremely small compared to the size of a room in your house. We aren’t aren’t trying to create enough heat to make a sauna, but raising the internal temperature of your tent up even a few degrees can make a massive difference in how comfortable you sleep at night! Plus, you aren’t sapping electricity with an electric heater or running the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning with a propane heater.

Final Thoughts

Heating a tent with a candle lantern offers a simple yet effective way to add an extra layer of warmth and coziness to your camping experience. From their portability and dual functionality to their cost-effectiveness and ease of use, camping candle heaters have proven to be a reliable addition to my own outdoor adventures.

While it’s crucial to always prioritize safety and follow guidelines, a quality candle lantern can truly elevate your cold-weather camping. So, the next time you’re prepping for a frosty outdoor escapade, consider packing a candle lantern. It might just become your new favorite piece of gear, as it has for me.

Pro tip: if you don’t want to use a candle lantern, it’s possible to make a DIY candle heaters with tea light candles in your tent. You could also make your own DIY candle heater using clay pots and tea lights.

FAQ’s

Can you heat a tent with a candle?

Yes, you can heat a tent with a candle, specifically by using a candle heater designed for this purpose. While it won’t dramatically increase the temperature, it can add a few extra degrees of warmth and create a cozy ambiance inside the tent all night long.

Can candles heat up a tent?

Of course they can! Everything from a tea light candles to a candle you found in your mom’s cabinet can act as a heater while you are camping. All you need to do is light a candle inside your tent and give it sometime. But be careful, most of your camping equipment is flammable and requires extra attention. And never let the candles burn while you are sleeping. To be extra safe, we recommend pairing any candles with a candle lantern to protect your camping equipment.

Are candle lanterns safe in tents?

Candle lanterns can be safe in tents if used responsibly and according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. It’s crucial to place the candle lantern on a stable surface away from flammable materials and ensure that the tent is adequately ventilated. Never leave a burning candle lantern unattended.

*Photos from manufacturer.

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About The Author

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers.

Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me.

When I'm not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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We are Derek and Ashley of Know Nothing Nomads. Whether it is hiking, camping, or just generally being outside, we love it. We are so happy that you have found our little blog and hope that you stick around a while. Feel free to contact us with any questions or get in touch with us on social media!

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