8 Useful Candle Safety Tips
Candle safety is a topic that comes up frequently at home. From candles being left burning unattended to candle wax dripping onto furniture and carpets, there are many ways that candles can cause damage. Candle fires cause an estimated 15,600 house fires, 150 deaths, and 1,270 injuries each year, resulting in 3% of all fire related incidents.
How to Burn a Candle Safely
1) Check Candle Warning Stickers
The first thing you need to know about how to burn a candle safely is that candles are not always safe! Candles come with different warnings on them for a reason. These types of warning should be taken seriously as they could lead to a candle house fire if ignored.
2) Never Leave Candles Unattended
Never leave lit candles unattended. Even when you think you will be right back, accidents happen. It’s best to always extinguish any candle before leaving the room and keep them out of the reach of children and pets. For additional safety, candles could also be placed in holders so they don’t fall over.
3) Keep Lit Candles Away from Flammables
Never place a lit candle next to any flammable material like curtains, rugs, fabrics, or combustible liquids.
4) Use the Proper Wick
Always use the proper type of wick for each particular style of candle. The wicks used in votives or pillar candles will be much longer than those found on taper candles.
5) Trim the Wick
Another important tip for how to burn a candle properly is to keep the wick trimmed correctly. When lighting a new candle, trim off all but 1/4 inch of the wick before placing it in its holder. This ensures that the flame doesn’t go too far down the wick which would result in a shorter life span for the candle. It also helps prevent the candle from catching fire due to over-extending itself. Once the candle burns through completely, remove the remaining portion of the wick.
6) Keep the Flame Steady
When using a lighter, make sure that you’re keeping the flame steady. Don’t blow air directly towards the flame or allow the flame to waver back and forth. Doing so can cause the candle’s fire to spread.
7) Make Sure to Extinguish the Flame!
When burning a candle, remember that it takes time for the candle to become fully extinguished. Therefore, do not expect a candle to extinguish instantly after removing it from its container. Allow the candle to cool slightly before moving it. Never put a wet candle near anything that might catch fire. And finally, once the candle has burned completely, dispose of it responsibly. It is recommended that you throw a used candle away in a sealed metal canister rather than just putting it in the trash.
8) Storing your Candles
Store candles properly. Make sure that you store them where children cannot reach them and avoid storing candles anywhere near flammable materials like curtains or rugs.
How Do Candles Start Fires?
Candle fires start when a candle burns too close to flammable objects such as curtains, wood furniture, or clothing. The heat from the flame melts the wick, which then drips wax onto the surface below. When the wax touches the object, the temperature rises and the wax ignites. This pool of wax is then exposed to oxygen, causing the flame to grow.
Can a Candle in a Glass Jar Start a Fire?
Using a glass jar as a candle container is considered best practice to prevent a fire. The glass keeps the open flame from touching anything flammable and risking catching anything in your home on fire. Even then, make absolutely sure that the candle is no closer than a foot to anything that could possibly catch fire.
What Happens if you Leave a Candle Burning Overnight?
Candles can become unstable if they’re left to burn for too long. If you leave a candle burning overnight, you may have an unexpected visit from firefighters who are called to put out the flames. After a candle burns for around four hours, carbon build-up begins, creating an unstable flame. This can lead to wax tunneling, soot damage, and damaging the candle container.
Beyond that, leaving a candle burning overnight raises the risk of other incidents, such as the candle being knocked over. This may sound unlikely, but a strong wind, a huge insect, or even a pet, can knock the candle over and potentially cause a house fire.
Another potential incident of leaving a candle burning overnight is a candle flashover. A candle flashover is when all the wax in the candle melts and catches fame of the wick and is ignited. If this happens, it can set fire to anything close to the candle.
How to Put out a Candle Correctly
Using a candle snuffer is the best way to put out a candle, for safety reasons. It does not allow any ash or wax residue to be left behind. For indoor use, it avoids creating smoke that may set off an alarm system and/or cause damage by burning nearby objects.
A candle snuffer is simply a metal cone with wire screen around it’s opening that covers only the flame; when the flame touches the wire screen inside of the cone it extinguishes because there is no oxygen getting through. The wire screens are even designed so they don’t interrupt the fragrant smell of your candle! Since these cones collapse down small you can take them anywhere.
Never use water to put out a candle! The water will cause the hot wax to spatter, sometimes causing burns.
Out of all fire-related deaths, candles are responsible for nearly half (45%). Many fires that result in death begin very close to where people sleep and most often during nighttime hours when someone is sleeping. These statistics should be enough motivation to ensure your home has adequate candle safety.
Do Candles go Out on their Own?
It is a common thought that you can let a candle burn itself out. However, only candles in jars or containers with a wick that come from a metal bottom are able to self-extinguish. If you attempt to let any other kind of candle burn themselves out, it becomes a safety concern.
Other Ways to Put out Candles
There are a few other ways to put out candles: using a wick dipper or your fingers.
For many people, the most familiar and common way to deal with an unsightly stub of wax is by using a wick dipper – an inexpensive metal tool made for this purpose – with the blade positioned horizontally and pointing towards the candle’s base (this helps prevent flaming). Dip the end of the wick dipper into the flame (typically one-third down from its top), then retrieve it again; as it moves back up through the now-cooler waxes, they “melt” away from one another making for easy separation.
How to Put out a Candle with your Fingers
The other option is less graceful but at least as effective: simply lick your fingers and pinch off the tip of the wick with your fingers and discard!
Is Candle Wax Flammable?
Wax that is used in candles can catch fire, but not easily. Compare it to other things that are flammable, wax is pretty resistant to catching fire. It usually takes a lot of intense heat to make the wax combust.
How to Put Out a Wax Fire
If there is a wax fire in your home, use a dry chemical or baking soda to smother the flames. Remember: never use water on a wax fire, as this can cause it to expand violently and throw hot coals into the air which could start another fire elsewhere!