Aquarium Heater & Passive Solar Heat NOW!

By Beverly Sandlin

First off let me say that this aquarium heater is NOT my idea. Wifey of the WE2’s mentioned it in a comment and as I had a spare 10 gal. aquarium sitting in the living room waiting to go down to the basement, I thought I would give it a shot. I’m not sure if this is what she meant in her comment, but this is what I came up with.

Aquarium Heater

I had some spare pieces of Mylar laying around, so I taped them together and covered 3 sides of the aquarium and about 2/3s of the top. You could used tin foil shiny side in too. I then layered kitty litter in the bottom – stability for the candles and something to absorb the mess of the wax if needed – and put in some candles. WOW, the heat that is flowing out of this is unbelievable! I have moved it on the floor next to my desk where it can keep me warm and I can put my hands over it and warm them up.

This is putting out so much heat that I think a small fan sat next to it could raise the temperature in a smallish room by 5 degrees at least. I’m thinking that the only purpose of the glass is to enclose the heat and the Mylar to intensify it and direct it – but I could be wrong. In theory I think this could work in any glass container and a mirror could do the same thing as the Mylar or tinfoil.

Fossil Fireplace aka Masonry Heater

Fossil Fireplace aka Masonry Heater


It could be an innovative and attractive little fireplace when you didn’t need it for heat and be a small room heater when needed. Add a grate and some rocks above the candles and it has the potential to heat beyond just the life of the candles by letting the rock absorb the heat and give off heat after the candles burn out. In this example I used two cups to hold up an old 1930s license place that was metal and the shape I needed and then I added “junk” fossils (With 2′ of snow on the ground it is all the rock I have right now.) to be warmed on top of the metal. For looks I added some more fossils to the front. The same fast, wonderful heat but it will keep on heating after the candles burn out because the rocks will continue to give off heat for quite a while.

Got some improvements or variations on the design? Please send them to bcfossillady at gmail dot com or put them in the comments!


Passive Solar Heat NOW!


I didn’t actually think this would work, but after just one hour with the heavy duty emergency blanket taped over the windows with the Mylar side in and the orange side out I decided to order 2 mil Mylar, one side black, 50’x4′ for <$30 on eBay.

Passive solar heat

You can put your hand at the bottom and feel cool air and your other hand at the top and feel significantly warmer air coming out! Now understand this is an east facing bank of windows and it is about noon so no direct light is hitting it. I used painters’ tape so that it would remove easily when the heating crisis is over.  

You could do this right now with cardboard painted black on one side facing out and a $1 emergency blanket or tinfoil shiny side in over a window. Just leave an inch or so at the bottom to draw the cool air up and an inch or so at the top for the warmed air to escape.

I am totally sold on 2 mil Mylar as I have been working with it off and on for over a year now. I had no idea it came black on one side! And it does come white on one side also. For passive solar heating, I want the black on one side for absorbing the heat from the sun on the windows and I want the heat inside the room to be maximized by being reflected back into the room by the Mylar side. AND in the summer, I can turn it around and reflect the heat back outside keeping the house cooler in the summer – I call that a WIN – WIN for $30!

Want some more nifty ideas on heating? Go to the sidebar category menu and hit “heating” and you will pull up a number of articles on heating in an emergency situation.

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