Top 10 Tips for Candle Fire Safety 2020

Last Updated on 17th October 2020

This article looks at the Top 10 Tips for Candle Fire Safety 2020.

Candles Are a Significant Fire Hazard! A candle flame may be small, but you should treat it as you would any other flame – with care.

Candles are one of the most common causes of home fires, Fire Risk Consultancy Services have put together these 10 handy tips, considerations and preventative measures for candle fire safety. Together with a little common sense they can help you avoid getting injured or causing a fire.

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Never leave a burning candle unattended

It is important to put burning candles out when you leave the room and make sure they are completely out at night before you go to bed and not still smouldering. This includes incense and oil burners.

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Always put candles on a heat resistant surface

Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, as they can get hot enough to melt through a plastic surface (e.g. a television or bath is not a fire-resistant object). Never burn a candle right down into the holder.

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Always use a suitable holder when burning candles

Candles should always be held firmly upright in heat-resistant holders so they won’t fall over and placed on a stable surface away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, bedding, books and magazines.  Burn candles in a well-ventilated room but avoid draughts, vents or air currents.  This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, dripping or flaring.

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Don’t put them under shelves or other enclosed spaces

It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there is at least one metre (three feet) between a candle and any surface above it. Do not burn several candles close together as this might cause the flame to flare, leave at least 10cm (four inches) between two burning candles or tea lights.

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Keep candles and other naked flames out of the reach of children and away from pets

Always keep candles away from children and pets – clothes, hair and fur can catch fire in an instant, Never use a candle in a child’s bedroom.

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Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles

Blowing out candles can send sparks and hot wax flying, use a snuffer as this is much safer.

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Don’t move candles when they’re burning

You increase the risk of fire or injury if you move a candle while it is lit. Don’t let anything fall into the hot wax and leave them to cool down before you try to move them.

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Keep loose clothing and hair away from candles/tea lights when they are lit

If there’s any chance you could lean across a candle or brush past it and forget it’s there, put it somewhere else.

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Take care with ritual or scented candles

These kinds of candles turn to liquid in order to release their fragrance, so always burn them in a suitable glass or metal container that can withstand the heat of the liquid.

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Always have a working smoke detector

Every home should have at least one smoke detector on every floor, but it’s a good idea to have one in every room where you burn candles. Make sure you check that the detector is working regularly.

It's safer to use battery-operated (flameless) candles

Benefits of flameless candles

Sometimes called LED, battery-operated, or electric candles – flameless candles have a number of advantages:

  • You can leave them unattended
  • You don’t have to worry about pets or children knocking them over
  • If you doze off while a flameless candle is on, it’s not a problem
  • You can use them outdoors
  • You can buy flickering, rechargeable, coloured and waterproof versions

Jar Candles

In relation to candles in jars, there have been occasions when glasses and jars have cracked or shattered – exposing the open flame – without warning when the wax levels get low. This is due to less heat energy being absorbed by the remaining wax resulting in the glass heating up excessively to the point when it may crack or shatter with force.

Users are advised to continually supervise all candles and extinguish the candle when the level of wax reduces close to the base of a jar, say to 1 or 1.5cm.

Even once the candle is out, never pick up a hot jar that has contained a burning candle until it has cooled sufficiently to be able to do so. 

The above safety advice can also apply to joss sticks, oil, and incense burners. Tea lights present a high risk. They have a foil outer container; however, this is not a suitable holder. This foil container can get extremely hot and melt surfaces on which it is placed such as the side of a bath. Ensure tea lights are placed in proper holders.

Please note that this article provides basic easy-to-understand guidance of fire safety provisions and the key fire safety information required to comply with legislation. Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. We aim to assist you to understand the fire-related terms within your Fire Risk Assessment.  It does not provide detailed technical guidance on all fire safety provisions, and you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.

Fire Risk Consultancy Services have the knowledge and experience to assist your business to comply with all legal requirements surrounding fire safety including legislation. Be sure to read our accompanying guides: Fire Alarm System Types, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Lighting, Fire Doors, Fire Safety Signs, also published on this site. 

Please take a moment to have a look around our website where you will find related articles and guides to all the services we can provide your business with, from providing Fire Risk Assessments, fire safety training, full advisory service to Articles on Fire Safety Provisions and our Top Fire Safety Tips!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Candle Fire Safety Week takes place towards the end of October each year.

As the UK winter sets in the sales and usage of indoor candles escalates. (12-18 October 2020)

The main purpose is to remind the public about using wax candles safely.

Candles Are a Significant Fire Hazard! 

A candle flame may be small, but you should treat it as you would any other flame – with care.

Candle fires account for over 500 fires resulting in around 350 casualties in the UK each year.

If there’s an accident with a candle and your clothes catch fire, don’t run. Try and remember ‘stop, drop, roll‘ – which means: 

Stop – don’t run, you’ll make the flames worse

Drop – lie down on the ground at once

Roll – in heavy fabric or a fire blanket to smother the flames, though just on the ground will help

Because LED lights do not put out as much heat as a live flame, wax-based flameless candles do not melt but, rather, maintain their original shape and size for future use.

A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. Consumers often incorrectly believe their candles are sooting because of the wax type, fragrance, colorants or additives used in the candle’s formulation, but sooting is primarily due to flame and combustion disturbances. If the wick becomes too long, or an air current disturbs the flame’s teardrop shape, small amounts of unburned carbon particles (soot) will escape from the flame as a visible wisp of smoke. Any candle will soot if the flame is disturbed.

To avoid this, always trim the wick to ¼ inch before every use and be sure to place candles away from drafts, vents or air currents. If a candle continually flickers or smokes, it is not burning properly and should be extinguished. Allow the candle to cool, trim the wick, make sure the area is draft free, then re-light.  

Maximum burn times vary from candle to candle, so it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always extinguish a candle if the flame gets too close to the candle holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (½ inch if a container candle or jar candle).

The candle will not burn. Reasons for this: – Combustion requires oxygen, once the oxygen in the closed jar, which is limited, is finished, the candle will not go on burning.

When you don’t trim the wick before burning scented candles then it may start producing soot. Always trim the wick ¼ inch before lighting fresh or previously burnt candles, if you want to burn your candles for more than 4 hours then also extinguish the flame at intervals of 4 hours, let the candle cool, trim the wick and relight. Place the candles away from drafts as they may cause the candles to burn unevenly and can create smoke.