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 Wicks

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.

Before burning a candle, manufacturers recommend trimming the wick to ¼ inch every time.

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, sooting and uneven burning.

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 catch the supporting surface on fire.

Discard any burnt wick pieces after trimming. 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 for a couple hours, trim the wick and then relight.

Always read the fire-safety warning label on your candle, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. These instructions are provided to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience when burning candles.

Mountain View

Candle 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 – the flame and wax are hot. Extinguish flames by using a candle snuffer to prevent blowing hot wax. Never use water to extinguish a candle flame. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and burn you.

Keep candle flames at least one foot away from anything that can burn. Burn candles on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.

Mountain View


CANDLE SAFETY TIP: Candle Tunneling

Candle tunneling is when a candle burns a hole down the middle, but the sides are left unburned. Here are some tips for preventing tunneling:

• Candles have a memory. A candle’s first burn is its most important. Candles should burn one hour for every 1 inch in diameter of the actual candle size. If a candle is not burned for long enough to allow the wax to liquefy or to melt from edge to edge of the container, it will create a “memory ring.” Once a candle has this “memory ring,” it will continue to tunnel for the life of the candle.

• 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 Warmers


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.

Wrapped Candles

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 against 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 adding the decoration to the outside of a glass candle holder. 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.

Before burning a candle, make sure the wax pool area is free of wick trimmings, matches, or any other type of debris. Any debris will add 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.

Store-lidded candles keep them clean of dust and debris, and help protect the wax and fragrance.

Holiday Candle Safety


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.