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The Candlestick Corner BLOG

...from candle-lit dinners to candle safety-first. A blog by Claire - Unique Candleholders

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Candle Safety

Posting date: 10th March 2007 08:37

Candles mark special occasions and create a special atmosphere. They also bring fire into your home.

The UK government has published advice on the safe use of candles and I wanted to draw customers attention to this important matter. Candles are a growing cause of fire and every year people are killed and injured from fires caused by candles. Here are some guidelines for safe candle use.

  • Put them in a proper holder: 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 put them under shelves: It's easy to forget that there's a lot of heat above a burning candle. If you put it under a shelf or other surface then it can burn the surface. Make sure there's at least three feet (one metre) between a candle and any surface above it.
  • Put them on a heat resistant surface: Be especially careful with night lights and tea lights, which get hot enough to melt plastic. TVs are not fire-resistant objects. Baths can melt.
  • Don't leave them burning: Extinguish candles before you leave a room. Never go to sleep with a candle still burning. And never leave a burning candle or oil burner in a child's bedroom.
  • Make sure they're completely out: Put it out before you go out. Make sure the candle is completely extinguished before you leave the room. Smouldering candles cause fires.
  • Keep clothes and hair away: If there's any chance you could lean across a candle and forget it's there, put it somewhere else. You don't want to set fire to your clothes or your hair.
  • Keep children and pets away: Candles should be out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep candles apart: Leave at least four inches (10cm) between two burning candles.
  • Take care with votive or scented candles : These kinds of candles turn to liquid to release their fragrance, so put them in a glass or metal holder. Don't move them when they're burning
  • Extinguish candles before moving them.
  • Don't let anything fall into the hot wax like match sticks.
  • Use a snuffer or a spoon to put them out: It's safer than blowing them, which can send sparks and hot wax flying.
  • Double-check they're out: Candles that have been put out can go on smouldering and start a fire.

For more information please see http://www.firekills.gov.uk/candles/01.htm.

Another point of view

Wikipedia also has something to say on the subject of candle hazards and how to minimise the risks.

Candles are a major cause of dangerous fires in households. (An electric candle warmer can be used to release fragrance without the risk of an open flame.)

The liquid wax is hot and can cause skin burns, but the quantities and temperature are generally rather limited and the burns are seldom serious. The best way to avoid getting burned from splashed wax is to use a Snuffer instead of blowing on the flame. A Snuffer is usually a small metal cup on the end of a long handle. When placed over the flame the oxygen supply is cut off. They were used daily when candles were the main source of lighting a home, before electric lights were available. Snuffers are available at most candle supply sources.

Glass candleholders are sometimes cracked by thermal shock from the candle flame, particularly when the candle burns down to the end.

A former worry regarding the safety of candles was that a lead core is used in the wicks to keep them upright in container candles. Without a stiff core, the wicks of container candles would sag and drown in the deep wax pool. Concerns rose that the lead in these wicks would vaporize during the burning process, releasing lead vapours - a known health and developmental hazard. Lead core wicks have not been common since the 1970s: Some candles may still be found to have lead core wicks, but these are extremely rare. Most metal-cored wicks use zinc or a zinc alloy. Wicks made from specially treated paper and cotton are also available. These wicks eliminate the need for metal in the wick. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candle)

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