Candles: If in doubt, turn it out

Candles come in all shapes and sizes for celebrations and add a warm and relaxing feeling around the home. The important thing to remember is that candles are never classed as toys! The biggest risk with any candle is fire because irrespective of size, shape, colour or scent, they all carry a flame and fuel source.

In 2016/2017 there were approximately 161,770 fire incidents attended by the  Fire & Rescue Service (FRS) in the UK. 30,296 of these were in residential dwellings. It is important to note that the risk of a fatality is not uniform across age or gender. Even with an operational smoke alarm fitted, there were 47 fatalities across the UK in 2016/2017. 


For candle related incidents:


3% of the 30,296 dwelling fires were from candles.

Approximately 8.5% of the 47 fatalities were from candles.

There are three safety standards for candles, which include:

BS EN 15426:2007 - Candles. Specification and sooting behaviour

BS EN 15493: 2007 - Candles. Specification for fire safety

BS EN 15494: 2007 - Candles. Product safety labels


It is important you read the warnings and safety information in order to remain responsible and safe around candles. Below are the types of warnings you may expect to find on a candle:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended

  • Burn candle out of reach of children and pets

  • Always leave a safe distance between candles (if specified). If not, leave at least 7 cm between candles.

  • Do not burn candles near anything that can catch fire.


Each of these pieces of text will be accompanied by a symbol which should illustrate the warnings.

Things to think about when using candles:

  • Candles are not toys, regardless of their shape, size or colour. Some candles are manufactured to have child appeal but please be aware that these candles are still not specifically classed as toys and should never be treated as such.

  • Always read the labels on the packaging for product specific information.

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.

  • When lighting the candle, use a suitable lighter and avoid small matches. If using a match, hold it as horizontally as possible when lit as holding it vertically can result in risk of a burn. Do not attempt to light partly burnt candles in holders with matches - use a suitable lighter.

  • If the flame appears uncontrolled, put it out.

  • Burn candles well out of the reach of children and pets.

  • Do not place candles on the floor or anywhere they may be knocked over.

  • Burn candles at least 60 cm away from anything that can catch fire, such as curtains, drapes, clothes or paper decorations.

  • Only place candles on heat resistant and non-flammable surfaces.

  • If burning a bunch of candles together, place them at least 7 cm apart or at the recommended distance according to the packaging instructions. Some candles placed close together can flare up.

  • Do not burn candles close to draughts. A draught can cause uneven burning and in some cases, carry soft furnishings into the flame.

  • Place candles away from sources of heat. They can melt and catch fire.

  • Use candles in an appropriate candle holder, especially tea lights since they can get quite hot. Candle holders should be heat resistant and non-flammable.

  • Keep the candles in an upright position. Candle flames heating glass holders can cause them to crack. Tilted candles will cause excessive wax dripping.

  • If the wick is bigger than 1cm, trim it using scissors before you light it. If you notice a carbon build up forming a club, turn out the candle and trim the excess wick. 

  • To avoid any excessive flaring, ensure the wax pool is kept clear of any debris. You can remove excess debris by extinguishing the candle and letting it cool, before using a spoon or dinner knife to remove debris.

  • Always try and snuff out the candles rather than blowing them out. Blowing candles creates risk of molten wax spitting.

  • Do not use liquids to extinguish candles. It can crack glass containers and cause the wax to spit. A safe alternative for candles that are not easily extinguished is to cover them with a damp cloth.

  • Dispose of the candle when there is approximately 1 cm left in the bottom. Let it cool before disposing. Letting a candle burn out risks starting a fire and glass holders cracking.

  • Tealights must be used in holders.

  • Ensure all areas for candle burning are well ventilated.

  • Floating candles should only be used in water as the water affects their safe burning.​