Safety Tips Template

Fire Facts
Candles have become a very popular décor item. They can scent the air with mood enhancing
aromas, provide us with a warm, calming, relaxing atmosphere, and be used in worship ceremonies.
Despite their appeal and popularity, candles can be very dangerous.
The facts
A lit candle is an open flame, which can have
How hot is a candle flame?
temperature zones up to 1,400 °C.
Candles are made primarily of wax and a wick. But
may also contain colorants and fragrances.
Candle waxes are made from animal, insect,
vegetable, mineral, petroleum and synthetic
materials such as paraffin wax, beeswax and gels.
Candle wicks are primarily made of braided or
plaited cotton or cotton-paper combinations.
High quality candle wicks, waxes, colorants, and
fragrances have been shown to burn cleanly and
Gel wax requires a hotter temperature to melt than
other waxes and is quicker to catch fire. It therefore
requires more caution with use.
All candles produce some amount of soot. The
amount of soot produced is primarily a factor of incomplete burning.
When you light a candle wick, the heat of the flame melts the wax near the wick. This
melted or liquid wax is then drawn up into the wick. The flame’s heat vaporizes the liquid
wax to produce water vapour and carbon dioxide. It is this vapour that burns.
There are currently no safety standards for candles.
The Hazards
Most candle fires are caused by human errors: leaving the candle burning with no one in
the room or house, burning candles too close to materials that can catch fire, leaving
burning candles within the reach of children or pets, or falling asleep.
However, some candles have design flaws that also increase the risk of fire. These flaws
may intensify flame flare and flame heat, and can cause rapid melting of wax. One
example is candles with multiple wicks that are too close together, which can produce a
single high flame or a number of large flames close together.
The materials used in and on the candles can also increase the risk of fire if they are
flammable. For example, some candles have decoration made of paper, ribbons and tree
bark, all of which are very flammable.
Last updated/reviewed August 23, 2006
For more information, please contact the Fire Commissioner’s Office at (780) 427-8392,
or visit
Dial 310-000 for toll-free access outside of Edmonton
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The Law
Health Canada is preparing candle regulations that will include safety labelling
requirements and limits on lead content in wicks and other parts of candles.
Relight candles have been banned in Canada since 1997. These candles may ignite
spontaneously after the flame has been put out.
How to burn a candle safely
Buying candles
 Be wary of buying decorated candles such as those with paper, ribbon, tree bark, paint,
dried flowers, or other materials in or on the candle. These materials may be flammable
and increase the risk of fire and burns.
Be wary when buying or using novelty candles, the may have design flaws that increase
the risk of fire and burns.
Before Lighting
 Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven
burning, sooting, flaring, or excessive dripping.
Locate candles away from drafts, vents or air currents, such as around windows. This will
help prevent rapid or uneven burning, sooting, flaring, or excessive dripping. Drafts can
also blow curtains or paper into the flame where they could catch fire.
Use a sturdy, heat resistant, candle holder to ensure that the container does not melt or
crack. Also ensure that the candleholder is large enough to contain any drips or melted
Place candleholders on stable, heat resistant surfaces. Candles can easily tip over and
may ignite a flammable surface in the event of an unplanned incident.
Locate candles inside a 1-foot circle of safety, free of anything that can burn, including
curtains, towels, decorations, and paper.
Locate candles away from flammable liquids. A lit candle can ignite vapours from
flammable liquids such as hairspray, nail polish remover, gasoline or propane and cause a
serious fire.
Place lit candles at least 3 inches from one another so that they don’t burn too hot.
Do not allow younger or older children to light candles in their bedrooms—a forgotten
candle or an accident is all it takes to start a fire.
Keep the wax pool clear of wick trimmings, matches, and debris at all times.
While Burning
To lessen the risk of candle fires, injuries or deaths caused by human error, design flaws or
decorations, pay attention to lit candles to ensure they are burning properly and safely.
Follow the safe burning tips below.
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Never leave a lit candle unattended. Unattended candle incidents include forgetting that the
candle is lit, leaving the room or house with a burning candle in it, or becoming distracted or
pre-occupied by things such as children or guests, watching TV, talking on the phone or
reading a book. Blow out a candle before you leave it unattended.
Extinguish a candle if it produces a large amount of smoke or if the flame becomes too high
or flickers repeatedly. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, and check for unwanted drafts
before re-lighting. A properly burning flame should look calm, steady, and teardrop shaped.
Maximum burn times vary from candle to candle, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for
recommended burning times.
Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge.
Always keep a lit candle away from pets or children.
Never touch or move a burning candle when the wax is liquefied. The wax is hot and can
burn your skin.
Don’t burn a candle all the way down to the bottom. Extinguish candles when they get
within two inches of the holder or decorative material. Follow the manufacturer ‘s
recommendations for burn times.
During power outages exercise caution when using candles as a light source. Flashlights or
other battery-powered lights are safer sources of light during a power failure.
Artificial battery- powered candles that do not have an open flame are available for use and
are a good alternative to open flame candles.
When Extinguishing
It is best to use a candlesnuffer to extinguish a candle. It is the safest way to prevent hot
wax from splattering.
Never use water to extinguish a candle. Water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might
break a glass container.
Make sure the candle is completely out and the wick ember is no longer glowing before you
leave the room.
Don’t touch or move the candle before it has completely cooled.
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Candle Making Safety Tips
When you make your own candles, there is a potential risk of burning yourself or starting a fire.
 Do not heat wax over direct heat or in a microwave, these cooking methods can cause
rapid heating. It is best to heat wax in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler,
make one by filling half of a large pot with water and placing a smaller pot or a coffee can
inside for the wax. Ensure no water is in the smaller pot.
 Keep wax away from open flames– it is flammable.
 Ensure wax is not overheated above its flashpoint (the temperature at which the wax will
self ignite) or else it will start on fire. Know the flashpoint of your particular wax and use a
thermometer to monitor the wax temperature. Different waxes have different flashpoints.
 If you see the wax smoking, you are in danger of a fire. Immediately turn off the heat.
 Never put water on a wax fire. Wax is essentially oil and water may splatter the flaming
wax. Smother the flames using a pan lid or a multi-purpose ABC extinguisher.
 Caution must be taken when selecting wicks, and adding fragrants and colorants. Wicks of
the wrong size, shape and material and wax with too much colorant and/or fragrance can
prevent the candle from burning cleanly or safely. Refer to manufacturer instructions for
For information on candle fire statistics view the Candle Fire Stats Sheet on the Fire Commissioner’s
Office website at
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