Everybody loves lighting candles. Burning a candle every evening before bed or can’t work from your apartment without surrounding yourself with a calming scent. There are different candles that correspond to various seasons and moods. Candles also make fabulous gifts when selected with care.
Candles have gained popularity in recent years, especially scented candles, oil burners, etc. Small votive candle and tealight candle arrangements are also popular these days.
How a lighting candle works
Candles produce both light and heat through a simple combustion process.
Although it seems that the wick of the candle is burning, it actually only supports the flame; it is the wax that burns. The simple truth is that the wick is absorbent; it draws the molten wax to the flame where the wax ignites and evaporates.
The burning wax vapor produces most of the light and heat. This is the reason the candle wick lasts so long, it just acts as a kind of "fuel pipe". Once the wax is used up, the candle can no longer be burned because there is no more fuel.
How to use lighting candles safely
- Don’t burn candles near flammable Items. The NFPA says more than half of candle fires are caused by candles burned too closely to items that are flammable. Keep your candle flames a foot or more away from anything that could start on fire. So don’t light candles near, drapes, tablecloths, towels or anything else that is flammable.
- Do not place candles directly on the rim of a bath. Most contemporary baths are made of fiberglass/acrylic and they can burn, and/or melt from the heat of the candle holders. Bathrooms are full of flammable objects such as towels, toilet paper, bath towels, bath mats, etc.
- Trim the wick. Trim the wick to be approximately ¼ inch before lighting a candle. This will keep the flame from becoming too large, which can ultimately help prevent a home fire.
- Put them in a proper candle holder. Lighting candles need to be held firmly upright by the holder so they won’t fall over. The holder needs to be stable too, so it won’t fall over either.
- Don’t leave them burning. Extinguish lighting candles before you leave a room. Never sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a children’s bedroom.
- Use long matches or a long-reach lighter. Keep your fingers safe by using a long match to light your candle. Tie your hair if it is long and keep loose sleeves and clothes away from the flame.
- Don’t move lighting candles. It's easy to forget but let a candle cool down before you try to move it. Hot wax splashing around could cause burns or even a fire.
- Keep the wax pool clear. Make sure your candle is free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times as these things can catch fire.
- 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.
- Use a candle extinguisher or a spoon to put out candles. Blowing a lighting candle out can send sparks and hot wax flying, a candle extinguisher, also known as a "snuffer" or using a spoon, is a safer option.
- 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.
- Be aware that tea light candles get very hot and without proper holders can melt through plastic surfaces like a TV or bath.
- Don’t burn for more than four hours. When your candle is burning, carbon collects on the wick. Letting it go for too long can cause the wick to become unstable and the flame to get too large.
- Use secure holders to place lighting candles. Many candles are in elegant candle vessels. However, other candles, such as those used for holiday centerpieces, must be placed in holders. The holidays are already the most dangerous time of the year when it comes to potential house fires. Make sure that the holiday candles are properly secured before lighting them. It only takes a moment for a candle to light up. Loose candlesticks can cause a fire while you turn your back to the kitchen to cook dinner.
- It is not safe to sleep with a lighting candle lit because as the candle burns towards the bottom, the container temperature may increase to the point where it could burn the wax and start a fire that could spread to nearby items like bedding, books, and curtains.
In addition, leaving candles burning during the night increases the risk of other incidents such as candle falling. It may seem unlikely, but a strong wind, a large insect, or even a pet can knock over a candle and cause a 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 the flame of the wick and is ignited. If this happens, it can set fire to anything close to the candle.
- Install smoke alarms. You should have smoke alarms on each level of your home, inside each bedroom, in the hallways, and in other rooms.
- Using a glass jar as a candle container is considered best practice. The glass prevents the open flame from reaching any flammable objects and setting your house on fire. Even then, make sure to keep the candle at least 1 foot away from any curtains or other items that might catch fire.
Do not place the candle directly on a plate, as the open flame can spread. If you want to burn a candle for a longer time, place it in a glass container located on a metal tray or a basin filled with water.
Each candle is different so make sure that you thoroughly read and follow each manufacturer's instructions on correct lighting, burning, and extinguishing. Don’t burn a candle longer than the manufacturer recommends.