How to Heat a Tent with a Candle [Easy Way]

Tent heating can be a challenge, especially during colder seasons. There are many ways to heat a tent, and a candle can be a cheap and relatively safe option. Surely, there are better options than candles, but we’ll focus on how to heat a tent with a candle in this article.

This method’s first and obvious problem is the chance of causing a fire. Be careful not to place the candle near anything flammable, including liquids and cloth. Now, let’s go through the most important information, such as what candle to use, how to use it, and some safety precautions.

Candle light heating the tent
Candle in a Tent, Source: Unsplash

Can you heat a tent with a candle?

Yes, it is possible to heat a tent with a candle. However, the heat from a candle is not distributed evenly but on a single point instead. There is also a chance that the candle will tip over and the flame will start a fire. That’s why we got to be extra careful when choosing this method. Sometimes you might not have access to electric heaters or other types, so a candle would probably be your only option.

The first step when heating a tent with a candle is choosing the right type. It is important to avoid using candles with scents. Even though it smells nice, the fumes can be harmful to breathe in. Instead, choose a plain, unscented candle that won’t cause you health issues.

Some forum users claim that candles are ineffective, while others claim you can feel the difference.

“The heating effects are somewhat overrated. A candle only puts out 30 watts of heat. For comparison a Buddy propane heater on the lowest setting is 1200 watts and a human body produces 100 watts.

It is better than nothing but not by much.”

parametrek on Reddit

How to safely set up a candle?

Before lighting the candle, make sure that your tent is properly ventilated. If you have any vents or windows, open them to have proper airflow inside your tent. Not enough airflow will allow carbon dioxide and other potentially harmful gases to build up. When you properly ventilate the tent, use a lighter or matches to carefully light the candle.

When setting the candle inside your tent, you must ensure it doesn’t move much. It is important to minimize the chances of the candle tipping over, burning the fabric, or melting over other stuff. You can either use some kind of candle lantern or a candle holder that will keep it stable and straight. You should consider that the candle melts when it burns, so make sure it doesn’t tip over when it starts melting.

Also, if you use a candle holder, ensure the surface you place it on is as stable and flat as possible.

The flammable materials include both liquid and clothing. Make sure no gas containers or fumes are nearby the candles. Also, don’t place any clothing around the candle. If you want to be extra safe, you can place an open water container underneath the candle just in case it falls. Also, you should never leave the candle burning while you are out of the tent.

How to trap heat from a candle within your tent?

Trapping heat inside your tent is important to ensure you’ll get some heat out of the candle. There is no point in heating the inside of a tent if you allow the temperature to escape quickly. The first and obvious step is to fully close the tent while you are inside, but there is more to it. Here are some ways you can trap the heat:

  1. Choose a tent that has a rainfly. If you don’t know what a rainfly is, it is a waterproof and windproof part that is located on the top of the tent. It will keep the wind out while the warm air will remain inside the tent.
  2. Use a tent with an insulated floor. A huge part of your tent is directly in contact with the floor. Sometimes the floor will be colder than the surrounding air, resulting in huge temperature losses. A tent with an insulated floor will trap the heat inside, preventing it from “escaping” into the floor.
  3. Choose a tent with a high R-value. The R-value stands for the material’s resistance to heat flow. The higher the number, the better the insulation is.
  4. The vestibule can further help you trap the heat. A vestibule is a small area at the entrance of the tent. It provides an additional layer against the wind and helps to keep warm air inside the tent.

Overall, the best way to trap heat inside your tent is to choose a well-insulated winter tent that is designed to keep the warmth in.

What type of candle is good for heating a tent?

We must remind you that candles can produce carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas that can be deadly if inhaled in large amounts. That said, ensure your tent has enough airflow, and you’ll be fine. You should always use a candle made from natural wax, such as beeswax or soy wax. These candles burn cleanly and produce less smoke than those made from paraffin wax, mostly sold in stores.

Naturally, candles made out of beeswax or soy wax will probably be more expensive. That’s why we recommend a better way to heat your tent, such as using a gas heater. There are other ways to heat a tent without electricity, but in this article, we’ll focus on candles.

How many candles do you need to heat a tent?

You probably won’t be able to heat a tent with just one candle. If we look at physics, a candle will usually produce approximately 40 watts of heat. If you compare this number to other ways of heating, you’ll see how inferior candles are. For example, a smaller propane heater will produce approximately 3,000 BTUs per hour, which is about 873.4 watts.

Now compare the cost of propane with the number of candles that you would need to match the heat. It’s far more cost and heat efficient to get a proper heater. However, let’s answer the initial question.

You would need approximately 100 to 200 watts per hour to see a difference of a few degrees Celsius. Now divide that by the number we have previously mentioned, 200/40 = 5 candles. It looks like you need a couple of candles to feel the heat difference, but that’s just a rough estimation.

Final words

Even though it is technically possible to raise the temperature by using candles, it is not an effective way to do so. There are much better alternatives, such as propane tent heaters or even using rocks. However, in a life-or-death situation, candles would make the difference.

If you decide to experiment with heating a tent with a candle, do it safely. Ensure the candle can’t tip over, and the flame doesn’t touch the tent fabric. Also, make sure the tent has proper ventilation. You can also invest in a carbon dioxide detector, it can tell you if the air is safe.

About Krešimir

Hi, my name is Krešimir and I am a software developer by profession. In my free time, I have a passion for content writing and SEO optimization. I love to use my technical skills to create engaging and informative content that helps people online. When I'm not working or writing, you can find me camping or enjoying time spent outside. I love spending time outdoors and find that being in nature helps to clear my mind and recharge my batteries. Whether I'm hiking through the mountains or just enjoying a peaceful day by the lake, I always come back feeling renewed and ready to tackle whatever challenges come my way.