It’s gotten cold-ish here on the farm. Which means if you live in a house without a heating system, you will be, like me . . . chilly.
So I set my kitchen on fire. First though, I got myself an infrared heater. My roofing contractor told me to, but called it an “inferior” heater. I was confused. Why should I get an inferior heater, since so far, I had none, which is pretty inferior already? Three of us tried to figure it out and finally did after some alcoholic beverages passed our lips. The whole slurring thing morphed “inferior” into “infrared” and suddenly we were all “oohhh” and “ahhhh.”
ANYWAY. I was still cold. Next, I bought an oil-filled heater and listened very closely to the home improvement fellow, who, as he termed it, is “a roughing it kind of guy.” This is code for “poor.” At his suggestion, I also purchased a thermal-lined curtain panel to cover the gaping maw where many people would have a bedroom door, but I don’t. Happier nights, but I WAS STILL cold.
Went to the Internet and discovered a British bloke who heated a small room with a tiny heater made out of a loaf pan, six tea light candles, and two different size terracotta pots. Five dollars! No electricity involved. Assembly was deceptively easy; loaf pan holds tea lights, small pot–hole plugged with foil–sits on loaf pan edges, and larger pot covers smaller pot. For table protection I put the whole contraption on aluminum foil and hot pads because when it comes to fire, I am Suzy Safety.
I lit my tea lights. The cold air went in under the pots. The small pot heated up and the air circulating between it and the big pot came out the big pot’s hole nice and hot! I was impressed.
AND THEN I DISCOVERED that paraffin is really oil. Because at a certain temperature, all my tea lights ignited at one time. NOT just the candle wick; I’m talkin’ the whole darned everything! The entire device was so hot I thought it might melt through my table shields like radiation fuel rods at the Fukushima power plant! I had to put it out!
My largest pot did not totally cover the apparatus, hence, all I got was a soup pot filled with soot and paraffin deposits. Tried a towel to smother it but couldn’t get the towel to the actual flaming candle wax. Rigged an aluminum shroud around it but only made it hotter and never did cut off the oxygen leg of the fire triangle. I would have had to remove the red-hot terracotta pots to get baking soda onto the flames, which did not happen.
So, I did it. Exactly what you’re never supposed to do. I filled a pot with water and poured it into one end of the loaf pan. Flames shot out the opposite side engulfing the terracotta pots and melting my vinyl tablecloth to the wood atop my junkyard kitchen table. Apparently melting vinyl is not a good fuel and the flames petered out. I lifted the terracotta pots off with an oven mitt. The water bath had drowned three of the tea lights. I blew out the others, opened the kitchen windows losing all the heat I had produced, and discovered the word “non-stick” on cookware doesn’t apply to paraffin or soot. I’m still thinking of how I could perfect this . . . after all, the British bloke swore by it and the heat’s free!
More of Cohea’s humor is available at www.BarbaraCohea.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara.Cohea.3 on Facebook.