"Let's Talk About" Series, Blog, Spirit

Candle Safety: aka “don’t burn down your house”

Amber Shehan March 10, 2016

a lovely candle, surrounded by tons of tiny, flammable herbs waiting to become wax-soaked wicks! (Candle safety on pixiespocket.com)

Let’s chat for a minute about candle safety, shall we?

I love LOVE love candles. They are a small, powerful, controlled fire. I nearly always have a candle lit at home. EVERYONE is more attractive in the flicker of firelight, which is why it has such romantic connotations. I light candles as blessings for people – need healing? Here’s a candle. Need confidence and support? Here’s that, as well as a candle. I have used up so much wax that I’m surprised that bees will even talk to me at all.

candle safety: a lovely candle, surrounded by tons of tiny, flammable herbs waiting to become wax-soaked wicks! (Candle safety on pixiespocket.com)

Tealights are pretty safe – the metal catches the melted wax.

Now, internet friends, I have spent time browsing through the many lovely pictures on Pinterest and Tumblr, images that are full of beautiful candles. There’s scads of aesthetically pleasing bouquets of herbs wrapped around candles, candles burning on driftwood, candles surrounded by fluttering curtains that look like something out of a witchy-chic magazine or Stevie Nicks’ house. These images are beautiful!

But hey, y’all…FIRE BURNS.

please don't sue me, lorne michaels.

please don’t sue me, lorne michaels.

Beauty and delicate aesthetics aside, people…think about what you are doing with that fire! 

I know what I’m talking about here, ok?  My concerns are based on nearly burning down my own house.

A few times.

In different ways.

To whit:

1. DO NOT burn candles on flammable surfaces!  

This may seem obvious, yeah?

But here’s the thing. After years of NOT BURNING IN A FIRE, you might get lazy. Once I had a small stub o’pillar candle burning on a bookshelf while I did yoga. It was safe, sitting on a plate, or so I thought. NOPE. It was sitting on an old coaster. A plastic and CORK coaster. My love and I went to bed, thinking we’d blown out all the candles, leaving the room nice and dark.

8 hours later, we woke to a fire alarm. We come downstairs to find our bookshelf was on fire! A popcorn bowl full o’water that was sitting in the sink put it out quickly, but we had to repaint the living room, we lost a few books and many of my other beloved books are charred. We were lucky.

After the panic faded and we inspected the shelf, we realized that the stub o’candle had been soaking the cork with melted wax as it burned out. The wax turned the cork into one big, smoky wick. It smoldered quietly all night long until the coal hit the plastic edge of the coaster, and BAM! Fire.

To top it all off…I’ve seen images of candles burning on driftwood. I’ve seen candle holders at stores that are made entirely of wood. Hey, y’all. WOOD BURNS. Just sayin.  DON’T DO THIS.

2. DO NOT try to make container candles out of just anything. 

Hot wax is hot, yo. Pouring hot wax into glass that isn’t heat-safe can make a lovely glass bowl shatter, spraying purple wax everywhere, including your very easily-stained linoleum floor. *sigh* I loved that bowl.

Even if your candle-making process goes well, consider how well it could handle the heat of a burning flame inside of it. I’ve even had heat-safe mason jars candles crack because the wick was too thick for the container and made a huge flame. Just be careful! Here’s a great example of a bad idea.

3. Beware of herb-studded candles. Seriously.

Good: big, fat candles with herbs only on the outside.

Bad: candles with dried herbs filling the wax. They burn, sputter, spark, throw smoke, and generally need diligent attention. Here’s an example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

4. Gel candles are DANGEROUS.

A dear friend of mine once visited me with a big, ugly blister on her lip and a few more across her cheek. She caught me looking at her wounds (I’m a healer, and also fascinated by things bodies do, and get distracted easily by such things). I apologized, and she blushed, and told me about how she’d blown out a gel candle with too much ferocity, and it splashed back over her face, chest, and bare arms, leaving these horrible blisters everywhere.  And then there’s this.


I promise that I’m not trying to discourage you from being crafty. I want people to explore new hobbies! But PLEASE, don’t just trust any old body posting things on Pinterest as a guide. Take a local class, or get a book…just prepare yourself with knowledge before you begin!

Sources/Image Credit:

Candle and herbs: Viking Visual on Flickr

Do you have other tips to share on how to NOT burn down one’s home?

Amber Shehan

Hi! I'm Amber Pixie, and this is my site. Enjoy the recipes, information, posts, and please feel free to message me if you have questions!

6 Comments

  1. Rosina on August 7, 2017 at 12:06 am

    As a person who sold candles, what I would tell people is never blow out a candle because you never know if an ember will fly and catch something flammable like a curtain or furniture. You should always use a candle snuffer. If you don’t have one, use a shot glass. If burning a pillar or ball candle always place it on a proper holder.

    • Amber Shehan on August 7, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      That’s great advice, Rosina! Thank you for contributing. I adore using a candle snuffer because it feels fancy. 🙂

      • Rosina on August 7, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        You’re welcome. I love using snuffers as well. In fact..I have several. 🙂

  2. Isla on August 12, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Good points Amber! People always think candles are just east to light and then let them burn. I guess because some are only small they don’t see the danger. But a fire is a fire!

    I agree with Rosina’s point as well, if you blow it out too hard you risk the hot wax from the melt pool flying everywhere. A sniffer is a really good idea!

    There’s candle etiquette that need’s to be followed that most people won’t even know of. I’ve recently put together a guide on this. The link should be in my name. I hope you and your readers find it useful!

  3. Shar Lise on February 19, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    I had a beautiful beeswax candle in a small canning jar. It was covered in dried chamomile. I wondered if it was safe to burn. I lit it and it smelled so beautiful. But within minute’s the chamomile had caught fire and I had to put it out. If I hadn’t been close by it could have been devastating. Great article on safety!!

    • Amber Pixie on March 1, 2019 at 9:21 am

      Oooh! I’m so glad you caught it before the glass shattered or something else caught ablaze! Fire elemental is no joke. <3

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