Recycled Tin Can Tea Light Holders / Grow House Heaters

As is so often the case, I forgot to put the bin out today.  It didn’t especially matter because it is the recycling collection week and I’ve been trying to generate less of that lately.  I’m saving milk bottles to carry rain water to the allotment and for mini cloches, pots and planters when the time comes.  I save smaller, clear bottles to make into self-watering plant pots, which seem to have gone down really well with some peas I started growing last week.  Glass jars and lids get passed on to my sister: the reigning jam maker in the family, although we’ve all tried various things with reasonable success.  I have been using cardboard boxes to provide some support for plant trays, and I diligently smooth out and fold the miles of brown paper that come with things: saving it for something as yet undecided.  Bubble wrap will make insulation for things in due course.

McGyver strikes again. Nailed it.

McGyver strikes again. Nailed it. Literally.

So once I started re-using stuff and re-purposing it for the garden and allotment, I found I wasn’t throwing much in the recycling at all: just the odd baked bean tin and any plastic I couldn’t re-use for household/gardening purposes.  (This all started because I was watching an old TED talk and someone made the point that recycling is actually a failure to reduce and re-use waste.  I’m not about to start hoarding everything in sight, but I was definitely throwing out stuff which would have saved me time and money, had I thought to just use it slightly differently.)

I’d seen this on Pinterest and thought it looked pretty.  I have a ton of IKEA tea lights (who hasn’t?) so I’m always looking at things to sling them in. I’d also seen various comments from people on forums mentioning using tea lights in unheated greenhouses and polytunnels to take the edge off the cold air on winter nights. Being me, I decided to combine the two ideas and made this.

Tea Light Holder Project Blog 280114

Click to view the full-sized image.

I traced round the inside of a metal cookie cutter with the bradawl, trying to keep the dots fairly evenly spaced.

Click to view full-sized image.

Click to view full-sized image.

About half an hour after I deposited the finished article in the grow house (where it’s glowing away nicely, still) we had a dramatic hail storm and the temperature plummeted. I don’t imagine my leeks will care either way, since they like the cold, but I want to refine this, ready for when I start putting other young plants out there.

I will get some sand to put in the bottom of the tin.  That will help both with stability (in case it was windy) and heat retention. I may also try putting an upside down terracotta pot over the top like a lampshade. I’ve read that this improves heat retention and the general performance of the heater, so I’ll get hold of some small ones and try it.

Obviously you need to ensure that there’s an oxygen supply when you do this. My grow house is open at the bottom, so plenty of air can circulate.  The combustion process gives off CO2, which is fine, but also H20. I’ve just had a look outside (it’s too dark to get a picture) and the plastic is covered with condensation, which I’d expected. I will make a point of wiping it dry (2 minute job with an e-cloth) and/or airing it as weather conditions permit, just to ensure nothing starts going mouldy.  I did wonder if condensation might drip onto the tea light and put out the flame, but it hasn’t done so yet.

Another win, which I’ll be uploading to Tumblr under #nailedit, obviously.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to work. 🙂


About SAM2.0

You'll want me on your team for the Zombie Apocalypse.
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