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http://pesn.com/2006/03/15/9600246_Candle_Power/
You are here:
PureEnergySystems.com > News > March 15, 2006

Candle-Power: Enhanced Low-Input, Higher Output Emergency Heating

Low-tech device gets more from a candle: concentrating and holding heat from a single flame slows heat loss through walls of a shelter or vehicle.

by Mary-Sue Haliburton
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2006


Heat-radiating candle-holder showing correct type of candle which must be enclosed in jar.
Passive Heat Retention

Is it possible to heat a room adequately with only one candle? When we consider that in the frigid high arctic, relying on only the tiny flame of a whale-oil lamp to heat their snow houses, the Inuit people have survived for millennia, the idea seems more deserving of respect. Californian Doyle Doss has come up with a simple device to amplify the amount of heat that is perceptible from a similarly small source, a single candle flame. As natural and man-made disasters can mean being cut off from fuel and electricity supplies, a low-tech device that provides a little warmth may be useful in such times.

Invented and manufactured in Fortuna, California, the "Kandle Heeter™" consists of solid steel and ceramic components. Just over 9 inches tall and just under 7 inches wide and deep, and weighing under five pounds, the device is packed in a sturdy cardboard box for shipping. It is being offered at a modest price that keeps it easily within the budget of most low-income people. (Ref.)

Note that a Kandle Heeter needs to be “inaugurated” before any emergency occurs. Before it can start to radiate heat, residual moisture in the ceramics must boil off. And due to the principle of water evaporating removing heat this will cause a temporary cooling effect for up to a few hours. If kept in storage after that, sealed waterproof wrapping is advised. Although designed primarily for emergencies, this mini-radiator may also prove useful for reducing the overall cost of heating by adding a little warmth in an occupied room while the thermostat is set a bit lower.

There is also an entertainment aspect. The inventor likes the emotional aspect of a friendly flame. “I like being able to get a little more out of the candles I burn,” he says. “The Kandle Heeter™ is a way of reminding us all that we used to sit in caves at night and tell stories around the fire.” (Ref.)

The cutaway photo on his website indicates that the nested ceramic components are the standard flower pot converted to another use. Taking advantage of the fact that they are already manufactured with a central hole in the bottom, the Kandle-Heeter™ inventor has installed graduated sizes of these off-the-shelf items concentrically on a metal rod, which he names the "Quad-Core™".

This metal captures most of the energy rising from the top of the flame and, by becoming very hot itself, helps to conduct this heat into each layer of ceramic.


Ordinary candle without the glass jar melts too fast.

The heated air within each downward-facing flowerpot is described as "boiling out" downward to the next larger layer, assisting in heating the outer layers. A candle which has been molded in a metal can, or poured into a heat-resistant glass bowl or jar is recommended as the heat source. A typical bare-wax tapered or cylindrical candle cannot be used with this passive-heat collector. Enough heat is reflected downward to melt all of the wax, not just that which normally pools around the base of the flame.

The downward pointing ceramic forms also help to trap soot from the candle flame, keeping the ceiling cleaner. The layers of ceramic moderate the rod's high heat and radiate it more gently into the surrounding space. There is significant heat available even from one flame. Doss's press release notes that one 4.5 oz. jar candle contains over 1,000 BTUs of potential energy.

The principle is similar to that of using a mass of masonry for passive solar heat collection. The sun-warmed stone or concrete gives off heat for some hours after sunset. Although the ceramic elements of this little contraption are not as massive, for a small space they would help to retain and radiate some heat for a while after the candle burns out -- or is extinguished temporarily to conserve the fuel supply.


Flame Wrangling

Noted on the Doyle Doss site is the importance of keeping the flame centered under the steel Quad-Core™. Any slight draft in the vicinity will cause the flame to waver easily away from the vertical.

During his graduate-student years, my late father often found himself struggling to stay awake through late-night scientific experiments required for course completion. One night in the lab, as he often told the story, he was trying to heat a fluid in a test tube over a bunsen burner. Bleary-eyed, he looked up from his notes to see the flame streaming to one side in a draft. Without thinking, he automatically reached forward and turned the bunsen burner around! Of course the flame continued to point steadily away from the test tube. He then did a double take, woke up enough to realize what he had done, laughed at himself, and decided that when he became too fuzzy to keep basic scientific principles in mind it was time to go home at get some sleep.

Along with being amusing, this anecdote makes two points worthy of note. One is that it is any single-flame heater is vulnerable to rogue air currents. Another is that one must keep one's wits and not start to doze off in the presence of open flame.

Some survivalist sites have instructions for making your own hobo stove or candle-in-a-can with cardboard or other wick substitutes. (Ref.) If you are intending to rely on the flame from such a home-made candle, it may necessary to check and trim the wick frequently. Cardboard, string or other material used for wicks may not burn away at the proper rate.


Antique type of wick-trimming scissors with a catch-box for the burning tip.

In earlier centuries, it was standard equipment to have a special pair of brass scissors with a small bin built onto one of the blades. (Ref.) Now a rare antique, this device was designed to trim wicks without having to put out the candle first. It captured the hot tip of the wick material when you clipped it, preventing its falling onto a table or other surface that could be damaged.

Using a professionally-made candle may help you avoid some of the wick-trimming issues. Many modern wick materials are designed to curve as they heat up. The hotter exterior of the flame will actually burn away the sideways-pointing carbonized tip so that it does not need to be clipped. However, this curving effect may tend to carry the flame to one side, so positioning the can or jar to keep the flame directly under the Quad-Core™ will take some attention.


Safety Considerations

To ensure safe use for even such a small and contained fire, this open structured Kandle Heeter™ should be used on a wide base of non-flammable materials. If accidentally bumped by people attempting to cope with a crowded emergency-shelter situation, the structure could be knocked over, spilling flammable hot wax as well as the flaming wick onto the floor. If this lands on wood or carpet, the flame could spread, and people could suffer burns if they happen to touch the very hot Quad-Core™ rod.

In an emergency when power is cut off and roads may be blocked, it is difficult to obtain supplies. If you are investing in this candle-powered heater or any other open-flame heater against such times, it would be wise to be prepared with secondary items. A slab of sheet metal, such as the back from an old stove, or even an old cookie sheet, could be squirreled away as a base for your Kandle-Heeter™. Or, if you have space to store a more bulky item, you might want to build a movable base with ceramic tiles cemented onto a plywood base. A heavier version could be made with bricks, which would also retain heat, and this might be mounted on casters so that it can be repositioned while in use. This of course assumes that a flat floor will be available as a location for your mini-heater in a storm aftermath or during another type of emergency.

Oven mitts or pads such as the flexible silicone ones will protect your hands if you have to grasp any hot components to re-set them. However, inventor Doyle Doss says that his new design provides a built-in measure of safety, unlike an earlier one he had built which had soldered round legs. That base heated up and did burn his hand when he reached in to remove the candle.

In the redesigned base, the “legs” are “oriented like the fins on an air cooled engine.” Doss notes that while the edge nearest the flame receives heat, the long and broad depth of the leg dissipates this outward. “At least in my personal experience,” he adds, “the legs have never become very warm, but remain ‘cool’ to the touch.” (Ref.)

Using only three legs is only minimally stable, but a trade-off was made for the sake of small size and low cost. With four legs closer together, it was harder to insert an already-lighted wide jar-candle in between them. Thus the three flat legs were the better choice. Doss is considering modifications to the bottom points that will improve stability of this somewhat top-heavy candle-holder while retaining the ease of access for candle placement.

Generally, safety is a concern around any heater using combustion. Typically, manuals and websites on emergency preparedness and safety discuss using propane from tanks, or kerosene, which may be illegal in some jurisdictions. Being heavier than air, propane sinks to the lowest level possible and may build up to dangerous levels if the flame goes out. The same site discussing propane notes that CO gas (carbon monoxide) can result from incorrectly-used combustion heaters. This gas has often been the cause of deaths even in non-emergency situations. Nitrogen oxide may be emitted; it can burn the lungs causing long-term injury. (Ref.)

During the 1998 ice storm aftermath, after some residents were found dead in their homes, authorities issued warnings against using fuel-based heaters or camp stoves indoors. Hundreds of cases of carboxyhaemoglobin poisoning were reported in Quebec alone from using camp stoves or kerosene in closed spaces. (Ref.) Charcoal briquettes should not be burned indoors either, as they also give off CO gas. (Ref.) Although there are no laws against using candles, there are safety alerts as with all combustibles.

It is also standard in safety manuals to check for broken gas pipes or leaking tanks in the area before lighting any flame, even a match or candle. Natural gas can build up to dangerous levels in a disaster situation, and in the past has caused explosions powerful enough to destroy several homes. This is why an unpleasant smell has been added to the otherwise odorless gas, making it possible to detect a gas leak just with your own nose. As long as your olfactory sense is not impaired, no is equipment required for gas detection.


Oxygen Supply

Numerous warnings have been issued about the risks of open flame causing fires, and Doss repeats these on his website. Of course a candle should never be left burning unattended, or if everyone is sleeping. People will have to stay awake in turns to take candle-watch, which may make it dangerous to use this device if alone.

There are more risks that just fire. If a room is sealed to prevent drafts, oxygen can be used up. "Several people within a car, even with no candle burning, could use the car's oxygen if all windows were closed. This is called 'oxygen starvation.' It ranks right behind carbon monoxide as a threat." (Ref.) When a candle is added to the mix, the oxygen will deplete faster. Oxygen deprivation can lead to mental sluggishness and the inability to recognize the danger of creeping asphyxiation. It is imperative to open the shelter, room or vehicle periodically to allow more oxygen to enter. If a window is opened by even a crack, on a side away from a cold wind, not all of the heat will be lost even with the needed influx of outside air.


Achievable Heating Levels

Note, of course, that in the absence of electric or gas-fired heaters, this enhanced candle is capable of heating only a single room, preferably a small one. It will not be very effective in a tent or lean-to in winter, though a little heat is better than none as long as drafts can be stopped while it is in use. The colder the climate, the more effective the insulation must be for the candle to perform as an effective heat source. Remember those Inuit in their igloo? A dome made of snow is actually quite good insulation, and of course the occupants were also wearing fur clothing. With a family inside and the oil lamp going, eventually the snow-dome’s interior would be warm enough to permit relaxation. With the entrance open but facing away from the wind, the Inuit could sleep safely.

If a major disaster causes people to be homeless in deep snow, the art of snow construction could be revived, and reading up on the subject would not hurt. The design is not complicated. Slightly curved blocks are cut from hard-packed drifts with a long-bladed knife. For the upper layers, the blocks are beveled slightly on the edges to allow them to slope inward. If a saw, machete or similar tool is not available, a snow-knife can be carved from a piece of wood. (Ref.) Another site describes building an igloo by packing snow into an ordinary home-made box to make simple blocks. (Ref.) A commercially-made low-cost kit called the “Eskimold” is available for making interlocking blocks from soft or wet snow. This is simple enough for completely untrained people including children to set up a solid snow structure big enough for five people. The device is marketed to promote a family having fun together out of doors, so it is not relegated to the survivalist suppliers’ inventory. (Ref.)

These snow structures can be heated with a small flame, and the enhancement available from the Kandle Heeter™ is likely to make them pleasantly warm. Ventilation holes can be cut to ensure that they don’t overheat, and ice that forms in response to warmth will strengthen the structure.


Toxicity Levels of Competing Candle Fuels

Because paraffin is produced from the sludge that comes out the back end of an oil refinery, and because bleaching this guck to make it white and pure-looking adds more toxic compounds such as dioxin, some people are questioning the safety of burning candles made from this petroleum byproduct. (Ref.)

This health concern is why various vendors offer beeswax and vegetable-source-wax candles as alternatives.

One company with a long track record is Pheylonian, which happens to offer a beeswax candle in a can that is designed for use in vehicles if trapped in a snowstorm. (Ref.) These survival candles come with a world patent -- and a tightly-fitted lid to keep out dirt while riding around under the seat of your vehicle. There your can of beeswax may sit for months, out of sight and out of mind, until the day you find yourself stuck in a snowdrift somewhere out in the country while a blizzard prevents rescue. Designed to be multi-purpose, this long-lasting candle also has, enclosed inside the lid, a small rack which can support a saucepan or other container for heating water or soup. A paper book of matches can also be tucked inside that handy lid.

Such a beeswax-in-metal candle could be suitable partner to use with a Kandle Heeter™ as a fuel source. If you survive the emergency or storm, you are going to want to protect your health as much as possible, and the cleaner combustion of beeswax will at least keep toxic buildup to a minimum while you cope with many other challenges. One of these will be wick trimming, as Pheylonian candles unfortunately have straight wicks. (Ref.) Some modern versions of wick clippers that safely capture the flaming tip are available for modest prices from different vendors. (Ref.)

Although beeswax is considered non-toxic, the same concern about using up oxygen applies to burning beeswax in a vehicle or other closed space. Beeswax does have the advantage of burning more slowly than the same quantity of other fuels, depending on factors such as wax quality and wick thickness, so that a can of it has a chance of lasting longer and would be a worthwhile investment.

When burning, beeswax has a pleasant smell, slightly evocative of honey. Pheylonian also claims that pure beeswax is the only fuel that emits negative ions which help to balance the energies and keep the environment positive.


A Niche Idea Whose Time Has Come

But why wait for an emergency? As long as the appearance is not an issue, people who like to burn candles anyway may find this simple Kandle Heeter™ appealing. For those who like scents, aromatherapy oils can be placed on the top surface after it warms up. Perhaps in future there will be a décor-friendly model offering various designs of glazed ceramic plant-pots as its outer layer.

This simple technology can provide a way to reduce reliance on external fuel or electricity by making more use of the energy from your candle’s flame.


About the Inventor

A cheerful and friendly man, Doyle Doss loves photography as a hobby, and offers royalty-free photos on his site. For a long time his interest in all forms of energy efficiency has pushed him into invention. Some years ago he invented a narrow vertical fan housing needing only a little energy to re-circulate heat from the ceiling to the floor. He named this the HEATSTICK™ Thermal Fan. Although this invention even made it to national television, the broadcaster got the 800 number wrong and few orders came in. Mischievously, Doss says, “I will redesign the HEATSTICK™ Fan this summer for lighter weight, ease of shipping, and less expensive materials. Who knows, maybe ACB (oops!) will give me another free pass!” Doss has also invented a compact tomato greenhouse with sliding walls, and is working on a new concept to make use of direct solar energy.

# # #

References

Contact

Doyle Doss <emeraldoracle {at} yahoo.com >
DOSS Products,
PO Box 2,
Fortuna, CA 95540
(707-442-5459)

Pheylonian Production Kohr <sales {at} philoxia.com >
1-877-445-6942


Feedback

Nice Article!

On 19-Mar-06, at 10:28, Doyle Doss wrote:

> It's pretty early still Sunday morning, and I am searching around on
> Google news, when, in a whim, I stick "kandle heeter" in news search
> and voila. . .
>
> Up pops an article by Mary-Sue Haliburton -- wow, that is some
> article. Congratulations. Very well written, expansive in scope, yet
> focused and detailed -- and did I mention entertaining?

See also

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan March 14, 2006
Last updated March 19, 2006

 

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