Safe Use

Safe use

Nothing compares to the cozy and soothing atmosphere created by a burning candle. But a lit candle is an open flame and a potential fire risk if not handled properly. Candle manufacturers do their best to make their candles as safe as possible and provide helpful use instructions on the label. It is important though that consumers keep some basic rules in mind and follow the instructions so that they can enjoy their candles safely.

Most important safety rules

Preparing

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  • Read the candle label and follow the instructions.
  • Do not use outdoor candles indoors.
    They typically have larger wicks and flames which produce much more heat or may emit soot. This is no problem outdoors, but such candles should by no means be used in closed rooms including winter gardens.
  • Remove any packaging or decoration.
  • Adapt the number of candles to the size of the room.
  • Keep a safe distance between candles.
    ‎10 cm is most common, unless the manufacturer specifies another distance on the label. ‎This makes sure that the candles do not melt each other or cause a flare-up.‎
  • Trim the wick to approx. 5-10 mm or the length showed on the label before lighting the candle.
    You can use a wick trimmer or regular scissors. Long or crooked wicks can cause uneven burning, dripping or flaring.
  • Always use a heat resistant holder or base.
    The holder should fit and be sturdy and large enough to avoid heat build-up or oxygen starvation.
  • Avoid any air movement, e.g. drafts, ceiling fans, radiators close by, etc. to prevent uneven burning, sooting or excessive dripping.

Burning

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  • Keep the wax pool clear of matches, wick trimmings and other debris at all times.
    Use a long gas lighter to light candles ideally.
  • Keep a burning candle away from things that can catch fire.
    The safe distance to combustible items beside and also above the candle, such as decoration, curtains or paper for example, depends on the type of candle and its flame size. Keep in mind that the flame might get larger during burning when you set up the candle.
  • Keep burning candles away from children and pets.
    Children and pets can be attracted easily by burning candles. Keep the candles out of their reach so that they cannot touch them or knock them over.
  • Never touch or move a candle while it is burning or while the wax is still liquid.
    The container and wax can be very hot and cause burns.
  • Extinguish the candle if the flame becomes to high or starts to soot visibly.
    Let the candle cool, trim the wick, and check for unwanted drafts before re-lighting.
  • Follow the manufacturer´s recommendations on candle use and care.

Extinguishing

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  • Smother the flame, do not blow it out.
    This avoids hot wax or glowing wick fragments flying around. Either use a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame or use the metal spoon handle or something similar to gently put the wick into the liquid wax until the flame stops to burn. Do not forget to straighten it again afterwards.
  • Never use water or another liquid to extinguish the flame.
    It might cause the hot wax to splatter and might break the glass container.
  • Make sure that the candle is completely out before leaving the room.
  • Briefly ventilate the room after use.
    Candles consume oxygen and produce humidity. You can refresh the air by briefly ventilating the room after using candles. Please do not ventilate while candles are still burning however because of the draught.

Understanding the label

ECMA members do their very best to design their candles so that they are as safe to use as possible. But this is only one side of the medal. The other side is consumer education on the importance of candle fire safety and providing significant safe use instructions on the label. The candle manufacturers initiated several European Standards for the safety labelling of candles, so that all stakeholders use the same safety information ideally.
Most often, safety information is provided as symbols instead of text because the human eye is rather attracted to pictures than to blocks of text. You will find the most common symbols and what they mean below:

General warning sign

Never leave a burning candle unattended.

Keep away from things that can catch fire.

Keep away from children and pets.

Use a heat resistant candleholder.

Use in a suitable bowl filled with water.
(specific for floating candles)

Ventilate the room after use.
(specific for scented candles)

Avoid direct inhalation of any smoke.
(specific for scented candles)

For outdoor use only.

Keep candles at least x cm apart.
(x represents the minimum safety distance between candles and is defined by the manufacturer)

Do not burn in a draught.

Do not place near a heat source.

Place candle upright.

Trim wick to x cm.
(x represents the maximum length of the wick and is defined by the manufacturer)

Snuff out the flame, do not blow it out.

Keep wax pool clear of matches and other debris.

Do not move a burning candle.

Never use liquid to extinguish.

Remove packaging before use.

Trim edge if higher than x cm.
(x represents the maximum height of the edge and is defined by the manufacturer)

Use only in holders and warming stoves with sufficient ventilation.
(specific for tea lights)

This candle liquefies, use a suitable container.
(specific for votive candles)

Do not touch, may be hot.
(specific for container candles)

Do not burn in a warming unit.
(specific for candles not appropriate to use in a warming unit, e.g. scented tea lights)