A study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that 85 percent of candle fires could be avoided if consumers followed three basic safety rules:
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Never burn a candle on or near anything that might catch fire.
- Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
How to Burn a Candle Safely
- Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
- Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. It should be heat resistant, sturdy, and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
- Burn candles in a well-ventilated room.
- Place the candleholder on a stable, heat-resistant surface.
- Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
- Avoid drafts, vents or air currents. This will help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, and excessive dripping.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on burn time and proper use.
- Never touch or move a burning candle. Never move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquefied.
- Don’t burn a candle all the way down. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2 inch if in a container).
- Extinguish a candle if the flame becomes too high or flickers repeatedly. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, and check for unwanted drafts before re-lighting.
- Always keep the candle within your sight. If you are going to leave the room, be sure to first blow out all candles.
- Use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax from splattering.
- Never use water to extinguish a candle. Water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might break a glass container.
- Make sure the candle is completely out and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.
- Don’t touch or move the candle until it has completely cooled.
Candle Fire Statistics
Nearly 10,000 residential fires are caused each year by the careless or inappropriate use of candles.
The National Candle Association urges consumers to always keep a burning candle within sight, keep candles away from anything combustible, and to keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
Where Candle Fires Start *
Living/Family Room/Den: 16%
Items First Ignited*
Mattresses or Bedding: 11%
Upholstered Furniture: 6%
*Source: Home Candle Fires, Fire Analysis and Research Division, National Fire Protection Association, December 2011. Based on 2005-2009 annual averages