8 Candle Safety Tips
Candles are the very soul of romance. Their flickering light gives a warmth to everything around them. They figure in song and story and cover the tops of birthday cakes and grace mantles. They are everywhere. Almost every house has at least a few buried somewhere, whether for birthdays, the love of the scent, or even as a decor accent. Candles are so commonplace that people forget just how dangerous they can be. Candles are not just sources of light, they are open flames. Every fire needs to be treated with caution, and candles are no different. That is why every member of every household should know and follow eight basic safety tips every time they light a candle.
How a Candle Works
Candles generate both light and heat through the simple process of combustion. One of the most important things to remember is that even though it is the wick that supports the flame, the wax is what burns. What happens is that when the wick is first lit, it melts the wax.. Because the wick is absorbent, it draws some of the molten wax up to the flame, where it vaporizes and then ignites. It is this burning wax vapor that produces most of the light and heat, reaching up to 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit at its hottest point. This is what makes a candle wick last so long. It simply carries the molten wax, serving as a kind of fuel line. Some of the molten wax does drip down the side, but that is more a measure of inefficiency than anything else. Once the wax is gone, the candle can no longer be used.
8 Candle Safety Tips
Candle safety is all about remembering that a candle is an open flame and treating it accordingly. As long as the candle is treated with the respect it deserves, problems are unlikely. If people in the home are going to be careless with candles, they are quite literally playing with fire. One simple way to ensure safety is to remember the following eight tips.
Tip 1: Always Use a Candle Snuffer
Some people like to blow a candle out, but this can send wax and possibly embers flying. Using water to put out a candle is even worse. The mixture of cold water and hot wax can send the wax splattering everywhere, possibly leading to burns. The cold water can also be dangerous to glass candle holders, as the sudden drop in temperature can cause the glass to crack, potentially spilling hot wax everywhere. A candle snufferstarves the flame of oxygen, ensuring that it goes out gently, without giving the wax a chance to spatter. It is the safest way to douse a candle without worrying about spatter or burning one's fingers on the wick.
Tip 2: Never Leave a Candle Unattended
It is a simple rule for anything that burns; fires should never be left unattended. This is particularly true of candles, as some can easily tip over, greatly increasing the chance of fire. The presence of pets just adds to the danger. Seconds matter when it comes to fire, and unattended fires mean that there is not one present to take action in the most important seconds. It simply is not worth the risk.
Tip 3: Do Not Rely on Candles When the Power Goes Out
It is a common misconception that because people often used candles for light before electricity they should be the first thing to turn to for light when the power goes out. Sadly, this is not the case. Candles were only one of many lighting options used before the proliferation of the electric light, and oil lamps were much more common. In most cases, a flashlight is a much better and safer option when the power is out than a candle. This is especially important when rummaging in a closet, as the flame can catch clothing on fire, turning the minor inconvenience of a power outage into a major disaster.
Tip 4: Always Use a Proper Candle Holder
It is a bad idea to simply stick a candle in a drop of hot wax in the middle of a plate or saucer instead of using a candle holder.. It simply is not safe. A proper candle holder includes both a socket to hold the candle and a well for the drippings. Many also have a ring or other handle in case the candle has to be moved. Candle holders should also be heat resistant so that they can protect the surfaces they rest on, such as tables that could otherwise be scorched from the heat of the candle or wax drippings. It is also important to make sure the holders are set on flat, stable surfaces to minimize the chance they will tip over.
Tip 5: Keep Burning Candles 3 Inches Apart
When arranging candles, it is important that they not be placed too close together to prevent the heat from one candle melting another. This can cause a serious problem because, even if the heat is not sufficient to melt the other candle completely, it can often be more than enough to soften the wax so that the candle can bend, with possibly disastrous results.
Tip 6: Do Not Burn a Candle Down to Nothing
For those who consider themselves frugal in all things, it can be tempting to get the most out of a candle by burning it all the way down to nothingness. While this does ensure the longest burn, that does not mean that it is a good idea. For safety's sake it is better to extinguish the candles once they reach about 2 inches from the bottom or 1/2 inch if the candle is entirely enclosed in a container. This ensures that the wick remains vertical and that the burn stays under control the whole time.
Tip 7: Never Use Candles if Someone in the Home Uses Oxygen
Fire thrives on oxygen, and using candles in a household where someone uses oxygen is courting disaster. The additional oxygen accelerates combustion and turns almost any spark into a runaway fire. While oxygen tanks are enclosed and can be kept far away from candle flames, it simply is not worth the risk to burn a candle anywhere in the vicinity of oxygen.
Tip 8: Keep Burning Candles Away From Drafts
While candles do require ventilation so that they do not exhaust the oxygen in the room, they should also be kept away from drafts in order to ensure a controlled burn. Strong drafts can not only lead to smoke and soot being produced by the candle but also fires if the draft is strong enough. With sufficient air movement, either the candle can be blown over or something light and combustible can be blown into it. Even if the draft is not strong enough for that, it can still lead to uneven burning that shortens the useful life of the candle.
Where to Buy Candles
Candles are available almost anywhere. Consumers who prefer to shop locally can find candles in hobby centers, corner stores, grocery stores, home stores, and major brick-and-mortar chains. People have been selling candles for centuries, and it should be no surprise that they have become ubiquitous. Those who prefer to shop from the comfort of home can find candles at most Internet retailers, major and many minor, as well as online auction sites like eBay.
Buying Candles on eBay
If you prefer to search, just enter the terms you want in the Search box on the main page, and watch the results appear. There really is a candle for every need, and you can use the filters in the sidebar on the results page to narrow your search to show just the candles you want. Once you have the list properly narrowed down, you can use the sort function to arrange order in which the listings are displayed to best fit your priorities, whether that be price or seller distance. The seller profile page is also a great resource to ensure you do business with a reputable individual. You can see the seller's feedback, location, and which shipping company they use. It only takes a few clicks to find both the candles and the seller you want.
Candles can add to the ambiance of any room, but they can also add to the danger. Users should never forget that every time they light a candle they are setting light to an open flame. Even so, the risk of that open flame can be greatly reduced by anyone willing to follow just a few simple tips. In almost every case, the key to these tips is to keep the candle flame under control and away from anything flammable. Keeping the candle vertical also helps, as it performs both functions, helping maintain a safe distance from anything flammable and combustion under control. Ventilation is also important, as both too much and too little airflow around the candle can cause problems. But by following these eight simple tips, it is easy to enjoy the ambiance in safety.