Lightbulb Water Heater

Here’s an interesting way to heat water when no flames or conventional cooking apparatus is available. A friend of mine used to work in the maintenance department at a facility where an upstairs water leak dripped through to a lower floor light fixture. He responded to a call only to find a water-filled globe with the light-bulb still turned on. There were bubbles inside and steam coming out. I’m sure that it was an amazing sight. This story prompted me to try using a light-bulb as a heating element inside of a water-filled can.

Here’s the procedure I used: Begin by using a clamp-style shop light, and remove the aluminum reflector. Next, clean off a cool incandescent light-bulb and screw it into the socket. Clamp the light onto a base… I used a pan laying on it’s side. Place the bulb inside a clean, grease-free can (15oz. size works well), keeping the light-bulb base above the rim. Then, pour room temperature water into the can, filling it to about 1/4 inch from the top. Make sure there is no water on metal parts, then turn on the light switch. If possible, plug the light into a GFI protected receptacle for safety.

After a half hour, the water temperature reached nearly 170 degrees F. but hit a ceiling of about 180 degrees thereafter. Two things to avoid when using glass bulbs – contrasting temperatures and grease. I’m sure there is some flexibility with this setup when using different sized bulbs, cans, and time. Anyway, in an emergency situation, this is another way to create hot water which could be used in a variety of ways such as pasteurization, food and beverage preparation, and for warmth.

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