A candle powered stove… wait… what?

by BCtruck – Subscribe to his youtube channel for more interesting home workshop projects…

I came across a video by the inventor, Paul Elkins. I am a fan of his but I haven’t watched his entire catalog of videos. The one that really got my gears turning was his experiments with tea candles for the purposes of cooking or heating water.

Pauls trials were what I would call moderately successful. I thought I could make something that would work better at capturing the heat that a tea candle puts off.

I made a tea candle stove and I designed it around a thin gauge metal pot with a lid. After several experiments and even more, attempts at fine tuning and tweaking,I was able to cook a stew over the candles in less than 3 hours. It actually got far hotter than I wanted it to and I had to blow out 5 of the 9 candles I started the stew with.

That was so successful that I removed the pot and tried cooking stir fry over those candles. That was not a success but I knew why. The candles were not close enough to the wok to get it hot enough to stir fry. I decided that I would design another stove to be used exclusively with a cast iron skillet.

I began by choosing a skillet that I had a duplicate of, and taking a measurement.

candle powed stove

I deducted 3/8ths of an inch from that measurement and cut a hole that size in a 14.5 x 14.5-inch piece of plywood.

candle powed stove

Next, I took that circle of wood I had just cut out and secured it in my bench vise. I got a 1 5/8ths hole cutting saw and drilled 8 holes in it,evenly spaced around the edge and one dead center.

candle powed stove

Then, I went to the table saw and cut out the 14.5 x 3.5-inch sides.

candle powed stove

I then assembled the 4 sides, glued and nailed them together, then I did the same to the top.

​candle powed stove


candle powed stove

While the glue was drying, I screwed a handle onto the tea candle paddle,stained and put two coats of polyurethane on the entire stove.

candle powed stove

Since I was out of bacon, I was forced to go to plan B, which was spam. That was a resounding success and it made me go out right then and buy some bacon and cook it. It did take a little longer than I would have liked, but it was a success!

​candle powed stove

Now, I’m looking into making my own multi-wicked candle poured into a foil pie tin . The tea candles are more than sufficient heat wise, but they are .4 cents apiece. That s not bad for cooking a meal,even if you used ten,but I’m convinced I can make them cheaper and get them hotter by making them myself. If you would like to watch the videos of either the spam or bacon being cooked on this stove,here are the links to them both


  1. Brilliant! OPSEC may not allow using my rocket stove.

    • People would still smell your bacon cooking. My intention for this was to be able to cook inside relatively cheaply. Its just one more cooking tool in the toolbox of knowledge. In my opinion,propane is the best choice for off grid cooking.When that runs out,then a rocket stove would be my second choice. If it was bad weather or dangerous to be outside,this method could be used indoors. It does have its limitations but It is a viable alternative to consider.

  2. Red Tower says:

    Concerned that polyeurethane and wood may be a somewhat flammable option.

    • Wood doesn’t spontaneously combust until it reaches a temp far greater than you would be able to achieve with this,unless you expose the wood to direct flame,you would be perfectly safe. The poly,,,,Hmmmm,,,, I think once its cured, it would also be safe enough under normal conditions. The poly is only on the outside surface so I think there would be little to no chance of it being a problem.

      • Still all the same I wonder if cutting out a sheet metal template of the wood parts and securing to the bottom on the wood may improve the efficiency by reflecting heat where it needs to go.

  3. Looks like a simple & effective way to heat things. & it can be used indoors. I’m going to experiment a bit w/ this. I believe one could add slats or domino-sized blocks under the corners, to raise the top to adjust the level of heat (high, med, or low).

    Also, one could make extras, to give away or use to barter. Not hard to imagine a scenario where people are looking for ways to heat food indoors.

  4. Thanks BC. This is a good one.

  5. I notice that you put heat exhaust holes around the pan opening, I imagine that reduces fire risk as well. How many did you drill? I like your stove.

    • I actually experimented with the size of the holes and the amount. I will have to go count,but it would be different with different sized pots. I had to few and the candles kept burning up the O2 and going out. I drilled holes until they stopped extinguishing themselves.

  6. BC:


    If you keep this up, you might end up out of the club!

    • PS.

      I like the pictures. I wish I had more room to work on things like this. My garage is barely a single car, and is full of projects waiting for warmer weather.

    • Really great idea, but I agree with JP – you ran out of BACON????
      That’s why I have some of the bacon Spam. LOL

  7. BC:

    At the end of your article…am I to assume you are going to make your own candle to power this?

    • I actually experimented with the size of the holes and the amount. I will have to go count,but it would be different with different sized pots. I had to few and the candles kept burning up the O2 and going out. I drilled holes until they stopped extinguishing themselves.

      • the comments are going nuts!! I cant believe that I put in writing that I ran out of bacon. Yes, I bought the wax ,some wicks,and a pie tin. Im gonna try and make my own candles and see if I can get it hotter.

      • Why wood? Might it be possible to make the top out of expanded metal grating material? There’d be no O2 shortage, and heat rising along the edge of the pan might heat the sides as well as the bottom…

        • Holding just enough heat in to allow the candles to remain lit is what I was going for. If you build yours out of expended metal,be sure to document the process. This method of cooking hasnt had enough experimentation by anyone to say what would or wouldnt work.

  8. BC, you did a good job putting this presentation together, well documented! Going to give this a spot on my list of things to do!

    • Thanks Patrick! Working on another article about how to turn yard sale butcher knives into inexpensive bushcraft knives.

  9. BC truck
    Thank you for the explanation, I didn’t understand the principle. I will also adjust for my own pan.

  10. I had a thought on this and decided to run down the idea. Use the trapped heat to generate electricity in addition to cooking a meal.


  11. Hmm… I wonder if you could close the circle and make the candles out of lard?

  12. Curley Bull says:

    Once again BC You did good! I had been thinking of something very similar to it and you have made it easy for me.

    • Hey there C B! hope all is well on your end.

      • Curley Bull says:

        Yes my friend, I am still up-right and mobile, therefore all is well as everything else is down hill. How is your leg? How is the DW? You have both been in my morning prayers for some time.

        • leg is pretty much the same as it was before surgery. I dont have any improvement and Ive decided against having the other leg done. In fact, it almost feels like it hurts even worse. Wife is doing much better. Thanks for asking.

  13. Babycatcher says:

    Ya made me hungry BC! Now I have to go get some kettle corn from the kitchen! ( fresh made, not store bought. We have a friend in the business)

  14. Good idea and possible even better if made of metal to transfer heat better. Please to the person operating or anyone else; NEVER use the miter gauge and rip fence the way it is shown in the 4th photo. You can have serious kick backs this way. If you want to use the fence as a gauge for multiple cuts, attach a block to the fence so there is clearance before the board gets to the blade. FYI, I for one will go for years before I run out of bacon. πŸ™‚

  15. mom of three says:

    Take your time with your knee, my mom had one done and she was happy to be able to be walking. My big brother, also had his knee replaced a couple of months ago and in June, he will have the second one and he is 56, this year. For most of us we want to be doing jumping jacks, and not feel like we are limited. As for the stove that was totally AWESOME! Now I’m going to show my daughter, to see if she wants to try her hand at this she is quite a good little wood worker herself. Thank you for your wisdom, and sharing your talent πŸ™‚ !!!!!

  16. BC, I don’t know how long they told you it would take to recover, but I had my knees done separately, one in Oct & one in May. Two years later, I am glad I had them done & I can do many things I could not before. It will take well over a year before the leg heals enough for you to do better than you were before.

    I can move better now. I can carry cinderblocks & such, which I could not before. I can carry my 6 month granddaughter. I can sleep under a heavy quilt again, instead of a comforter, if I choose. Couldn’t do that before. I can walk until I am tired, instead of stopping due to pain.

    On the downside, I cannot kneel (which I was not told before the surgery!) for longer than a minute or two, & not at all on hard surfaces, which makes getting off the floor or out of the bathtub interesting – my shoulders & upper arms are stronger now than before. I work int he garden in a semi crouch position now, but it works. The cold in winter still bothers me a bit, but not as much as it did before. I can tell the difference when the weather warms up.

    My surgeon never did tell me how long it would take to heal, which was probably smart of him. He also told me that when I was ready, I would come to him, & he was right there. I ran my knees completely into the ground – both were bone on bone before they were done, as I am a pretty stubborn person. My major reason for having the surgery was to be able to continue driving & walking on my own.

  17. Berneck says:

    Wood isn’t such a great idea. While the chances may be low for the wood to catch, the chances will greatly increase in a true emergency. Not to mention, any emergency response would be greatly reduced in an emergency situation. Fun experiment, but I would not rely on it. I ordered a HERC oven made out of steel. I think that will be a much better option.

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