Candle Safety

14 Mar

As a chandler I have candles burning all the time in my home … and I mean all the time! I am constantly testing wick sizes, new fragrances and new containers BUT I NEVER leave them burning in a room where there is no-one to keep a check on them. If that means I have to test an enormous candle in my small home office then so be it. My home, family and pets are worth too much for me to risk losing them to one moment of inattention.

I wasn’t always like this though. Yes, in the past I have left candles burning unattended, sometimes overnight! When I think back now I realise just how lucky I was on those occasions.

I suspect that one of the reasons I have been so lucky is that even in my foolish days I was always careful about where my candles stood. They were always on protective plates, always away from windows and window dressings, always clear of draughts and usually in the centre of tables or on mantelpieces with no decoration above.

Unfortunately it seems though that no matter how often we candle makers stress the safety aspects of burning candles there will always be those who don’t follow our advice. My candles have warning safety labels on the bottom and they all come with a mini card (usually stuck to the lid) with advice on how to enjoy the candle safely. Yet still I read about homes burning down due to candles being left unattended or too close to highly flammable materials.

So here are 6 simple tips on avoiding burning your house down. I’ve even included some answers for those who want to know why they should do as is suggested. 6 simple tips to help you enjoy your candle safely. And if you can’t be bothered with following all of them then at least take notice of TIP 6.

Candles burn please enjoy them safely.

The simplest, yet most effective thing you can do is to TRIM THE WICK of your candle to around 6mm EVERY TIME you light it.
{WHY} Trimming the wick removes carbon balls that build up during the burning process. Untrimmed carbon balls explode the next time they are lit and send hot and burning embers out in all directions – if you’re lucky they stay with the container, but do you really want to risk it? Wicks that are too long create much larger flames that flicker, dance and sway – anything dangling above or next to it, such as a curtain, could easily catch alight. Trimming the wick also makes sure your candle burns properly and therefore lasts longer – large flames burn through the candle quicker.

Try not to leave a container candle burning for longer than 4 hours – less for very small ones – and avoid burning the candle right down to the bottom of the container.
{WHY} Every container candle I make is created in glass specifically manufactured to withstand the heat made by a naked flame and burning candle. However, the reaction of the glass to prolonged heat or sudden changes in temperature can cause the glass to crack or shatter. Obviously this is far from a regular occurrence but common sense suggests that erring on the side of caution is the best option.

Burn your candle away from draughts, draperies and areas of frequent foot traffic by people and pets.
{WHY} Draughts can cause a normal flame to flare up and waver in a different direction. Anything close by is at risk of catching fire. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a flame will flicker and rise up higher than normal – if you have curtains above it they are at risk of catching alight. In areas of frequent traffic the candle is at risk of being knocked over, particularly if children and pets are involved.

Always place your candle on a protective plate when burning, even your container candles.
{WHY} Generally the wick is anchored in place by a metal holder. This gets hot as the candle burns and can eventually leave a nasty burn mark on your furniture. If your candle is on a protective plate or other surface then any accidents, such as a crack in the glass of a container or a blow out in a pillar candle, are more likely to be contained in one area rather than pouring down the front of the dresser you inherited from your Grandma.

Don’t blow your candle out. I also would not recommend using the lid of your container candle to extinguish it either. Use a teaspoon (or a professional wick dipper) and dip the wick into the molten wax. Pull the wick back to upright once it has extinguished.
{WHY} Blowing out your candle, apart from the obvious smokey results, may cause embers to become detached from the wick and float around in the air. They can then burn your surfaces at least and at worst settle on nearby material and cause fires. Although placing the lid back on top of the candle will deprive the flame of oxygen and eventually extinguish it containing the smoke, this can take some time. If your lid has a plastic seal around it this can melt and drip into your candle or maybe even catch fire itself.

{WHY} If you are not in the room then you are unable to prevent a fire catching hold, you are unable to see if your dog has accidentally knocked the candle wagging his tail or if your child has run past and caused the flame to rear up and set fire to the curtains. If you are unable to see the beginnings of a disaster you are unable to nip it in the bud before it becomes a real disaster. You are unable to see the glass crack and the molten wax seep out onto your expensive furniture.

There are heaps more hints and tips on getting the best from your soy candle on my website here.

OK, lecture over. Please go on with enjoying the ambiance your beautiful candle is creating in your home.


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