When handled correctly and responsibly scented candles and wax melts are perfectly safe to use. However using candles can raise concerns over safety which is entirely understandable—scented candles, tealights and wax burners require an open flame and this will always present a fire risk.
Using scented candles and wax melts in your home should be relaxing and enjoyable. So although there are associated dangers, having these concerns at the forefront of your mind may be counterproductive and stressful. These risks can be easily minimised by taking a few sensible precautions when using candles and wax burners. With that in mind, here are our top ten tips for candle safety.
1. Do not leave you scented candle or wax burner unattended when lit
Whenever you have an open flame it is essential that you are around to keep an eye on it. That won’t prevent an accident from occurring but it does mean that if anything does happen you can do something about it immediately before things get out of hand.
2. Keep your scented candle or wax burner away from curtains and draughts
Avoid placing candles and burners on window sills or close to any hanging soft furnishings. Be aware that draughts and breezes can cause curtains and drapes to move around, so keep open flames well away from these and try to avoid using candles and burners in draughty rooms.
3. Give your scented candle or wax burner plenty of space
It is not just soft furnishing that can catch fire if they are too close to a flame. If you place your candle or buner on a shelf make sure that there is plenty of space above it because heat rises. We recommend at least a metre (3 ft) of headroom. Also be aware of other flammable material in the room. This might include newspapers and magazines, books, clothing or cardboard and packaging.
4. Place your scented candle or wax burner on a stable, fire-resistant surface
Make sure your candle or burner is somewhere that it won’t easily get knocked over. Avoid putting it too close to the edge of a table or shelf and avoid surfaces that wobble or move around, such as a table with a dodgy leg. Some candles or wax burners—and especially tealights—may get very hot as they burn down, so avoid placing these on a surface that may be damaged by intense heat. Plastic surfaces like a TV or computer are a definite no-no.
5. Keep your scented candle or wax burner away from children and pets
Children can be curious and are often fascinated by open flames. It is best to avoid putting them in temptation’s way by keeping your candle or buner out of their reach. Pets are not so interested but they can be clumsy—cats love to jump up on tables and furniture and dogs with wagging tails can easily knock things over. And the sudden, unexpected pain from a burn can easily cause panic which may quickly lead to things getting out of hand.
6. Don’t move scented candles or wax burners around while they are lit
Do not light your candle or burner until you have put it where it needs to be—and don’t try and move it once lit. Moving around with an open flame greatly increases the risk of fire and injury. It is easy to trip, drop or collide with something which may result in a more serious accident. If you do need to move your scented candle or wax burner after it has been lit then extinguish it first—and remember that it might be very hot!
7. Keep loose clothing and hair away from your scented candle or wax burner
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you have left a candle burning close by so avoid placing your candle or burner in an area where you may lean across or brush past. If you are using more than one candle, or have a candle with multiple wicks, be sure to light the farthest from you first so that you avoid having to reach across an open flame.
8. Take care when disposing of spent candles and matches
It may seem obvious, but make sure that candles and matches are properly extinguished before throwing them in the bin. Rubbish is often very combustible—waste paper, flimsy plastics, loose packaging—these all make for good kindling and a fire can easily spread once it has taken hold. Please double check that your match or candle is definitely no longer alight before throwing it away.
9. Don’t go to sleep while your scented candle or wax burner is still alight
In the same way that you should not leave a burning candle unattended, you should not leave a candle or burner alight when you go to sleep. This is another tip which may seem obvious, but one of the main uses of scented candles and wax melts is to create an atmosphere in which you can relax and unwind. After a stressful day—or if you’re particularly tired or run-down—burning a scented candle or wax melt can be the perfect way to relax. But if you find yourself in danger of drifting off then the sensible thing is to put things out before you do.
10. Always have a working smoke alarm
Every home should have a smoke alarm. They are a proven lifesaver, alerting you to the presence of a fire before you even smell the smoke. They are cheap and readily available so it makes good sense to have one in any room where you regularly burn scented candles or wax melts. Here in the UK your local fire brigade will visit your home and fit a smoke detector for free. If you don’t have one already then please make sure to get one installed without delay. It really could save your life.
So those are our top ten tips for candle safety. If you follow our advice you will greatly reduce the risks that are always present when there is an open flame.
If you have other safety concerns around the associated health risks or whether scented candles and wax melts are harmful to dogs, cats and other pets, we have covered this in a separate article.
Remember—a little bit of care and common sense goes a long way!