NCA SAFETY TIP LIBRARY
The NCA Safety Tip Library houses useful tips on how to burn candles safely. Safety tips are intended to educate consumers on the elements of a candle, their role in candle use, and how they may put users at risk if used unsafely.
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Trimming the Wick
Candle manufacturers routinely recommend trimming the wick to ¼ inch before and – if needed – when it gets too long while burning.
Trimming the wick to ¼ inch each time before lighting your candle will reduce uneven burning, excess smoking and dripping. It will also help ensure you won’t have an accidental candle fire.
The wick controls how a candle burns, providing the even and efficient consumption of wax, and optimum burning performance.
Trimming the wick ensures that it won’t get too long, which can cause the flame to get too high or flare, both of which can result in smoking and uneven burning.But trimming the wick is also is a critical safety precaution for preventing breakage of a glass-filled candle toward the end of its burning life or avoiding scorching beneath a self-standing candle.
If a high concentration of carbon balls forms on a too-long wick, or a large mass of curled wick drops to the bottom of a glass container, this unwanted residue can act as a second wick and catch fire. This is known as secondary ignition. In some cases, the flame from this second wick can come in contact with the glass, causing it to break and possibly catching the supporting surface on fire.
So be sure to trim the wick each time before burning and to discard any burnt wick pieces. Don’t leave them in the candle, where they could result in secondary ignition. If you notice the wick is getting too long or the flame is getting too high, blow out your candle, let it cool, trim the wick and then relight.
And last but not least…. always read the fire-safety warning label on your candle, and follow the manufacturer’s use instructions. They’re provided to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience when burning candles.
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Flames
Candle flames are the source of heat and light. For safety, candle flames should be three inches or less, and should never be found anywhere other than the original wick or wicks. Never handle or move a lit candle (Flame is HOT!), and always extinguish flames according to the candle maker’s instructions. The candle flame should not touch any container or accessory material that is not designed for direct flame contact.
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Candle Tunneling
Learn how to stop worrying and love the leftover wax!
If you love candles, but don’t like when the candle doesn’t burn all the wax, you might look for a way to make the wax burn completely. Here’s what you should do about leftover wax on the side of the jar.
• Avoid short burns. If you light your candle for brief periods only, the wax is not able to melt completely. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and never burn candles unattended.
• Don’t touch! Pushing the wax down into a hot candle puts you at risk of skin burns, and shortens the length of exposed wick. This can actually result in more wax remaining in the next burn.
• Accept ‘leftover’ wax. Residual wax can have the benefit of preventing the candle from becoming too hot. Variability in burning conditions result in different amounts of leftover wax. For example, the length of time the candle’s been burning or the temperature of the room can affect the amount of leftover wax. The candle is likely performing as designed, in some conditions, leftover wax can be a safety feature by preventing overheating.
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Hotplates
The NCA Safety Communications Committee recommends an “either/ or” approach when using a hotplate- type candle warmer.
Candles are formulated to be lit and burned. The flame causes a wax pool to form and in turn, emits the lovely fragrance you are expecting from your scented candle.
If you are looking for a flameless fragrance delivery system, and wish to use a candle warmer with a glass jar candle, the NCA recommends that you should never light the candle during or after candle warmer usage. Once you use a glass jar candle on a candle warmer, it should be used exclusively on a candle warmer.
Alternating between burning the candle with a flame on one occasion, and then heating it with a candle warmer on another occasion, can cause unwanted changes to the candle and further lead to breakage and potential property damage. Such practice can also cause an off-center wick that might impinge the sidewall of the candle, or the expansion process of the wax may cause unwanted breakage.
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Wrapped Candles
The “wrapped “candle look is currently a very popular design for candle centerpieces. Use caution when following this trend.
When planning the decorations for your event, we caution as to the use of any flammable materials wrapped around pillar and votive candles. That pretty fabric and ribbon décor could easily catch fire and turn an important day into a sad one.
If you do wish to add a paper, fabric or ribbon accent to your candle centerpiece we suggest using a glass candle holder or a filled glass candle jar for your base. The glass container will provide a barrier and be a safety measure to keep the flame away from the flammable material.
Candles and candlelight are an important part of every celebration. Please use them safely!
Wax Pool Debris
Candle Safety Tip: Never “litter” the candle wax pool. Keep it clean & safe.
Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire!
The wax of a candle is the ONLY fuel that a candle needs to burn properly.
When you light a candle, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick and creates a small pool of molten wax. This liquid wax is then drawn up the wick by capillary action to fuel the flame.
If you light a candle and then discard the match into the wax pool…or if a bit of lint or paper or a piece of burnt wick is accidentally left in the wax pool…you’ve added more fuel to the candle than it’s designed to handle.
Too much fuel can cause the flame to unexpectedly flare up or even start a small fire near the candle flame.
Be candle-wise and safe. Make sure the wax pool area is always free of wick trimmings, matches, or any other type of debris.
Below are some basic safety precautions to remember when burning candles.
Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc.
Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping.
Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use.The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat resistant surface. This will also help prevent possible heat damage to counters and table surfaces and prevent glass containers from cracking or breaking.
Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times.
Always read and follow the manufacturer’s use and safety instructions carefully. Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.
Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning and avoid flame flare-ups and sooting. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire.
Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Don’t burn too many candles in a small room or in a “tight” home where air exchange is limited.
Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container.
Never touch a burning candle or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid.
Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use.
Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This is to make sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.
Use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax from splattering.
Never extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might cause a glass container to break.
Be very careful if using candles during a power outage. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure. Never use a candle during a power outage to look for things in a closet, or when fueling equipment – such as a lantern or kerosene heater.
Make sure a candle is completely extinguished and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.
Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, orthe flame becomes too high. The candle isn’t burning properly
and the flame isn’t controlled. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before re-lighting.
Never use a candle as a night light.
Holiday Candle Safety
CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Holidays
The holiday season is a joyful time for celebrations, family gatherings and decorating the home. It’s also the most popular time for burning candles and, unfortunately, the peak season for accidental candle fires.
The National Candle Association and the National Association of State Fire Marshals are urging consumers to take special care when using candles this holiday season, and to follow these important fire-safety rules:
• Always keep a burning candle within your sight. Never leave a burning candle unattended.
• Keep burning candles away from combustible items. Be especially careful not to place candles near flammable decorations or Christmas greenery.
• Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be sturdy, heat resistant and big enough to collect dripping wax.
• Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
• Trim candlewicks to 1⁄4 inch before lighting or re-lighting. Keep the wax-pool free of wick trimmings, dust, matches and debris at all times.
• Never move a candle when it is burning.