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Candle Safety 101: 5 Tips You Should Definitely Know


When nights are long and chilly like they’ve been in New York lately, we want nothing more than to curl up with a good book or to relax in the bath after work. Add a couple candles around the room (and maybe a glass of Pinot Noir) and you’ve got a seriously calming night in.

But just because candles make for a quick, cozy fix, doesn’t mean that you should treat them as set-it-and-forget-it décor. When 42 candle fires are reported every day in the United States, it’s important to be mindful of the many risks involved whenever you’re dealing with an open flame

The next time you plan to burn a few tea lights, remember these five easy tips to safely enjoy your candle’s dim glow:

  • Trim wick: Before you even light the candle, be sure to trim the wick to ¼ of an inch. This helps prevent any uneven burning or dripping caused by a long or crooked wick.
  • Keep away from flammable objects: That means no burning near bedding, curtains, carpets, books, and paper decorations. If you think something might be flammable, err on the side of caution and place the candle somewhere else in the room.

  • Similarly, keep candles on heat-resistant, stable surfaces: You should always place candles in appropriate holders or, in the case of candles like this one from Votivo, you can simply put the tin lid underneath to catch any melting wax. [Editor’s note: a Birchbox staffer had an unfortunate experience where she didn’t use a protective case. The result? A singed brown circle that now lives on top of her white dresser.]

  • Place candles 3 inches apart: Three inches isn’t much (a little less than a business card), but it’s enough to prevent the heat from one candle disproportionately melting the other.

  • Keep flame within sight: It can be easy to wander off and forget all about the open flame on your windowsill, but this is probably the most dangerous and easily prevented mishap. One in five candle fires start because of unattended or abandoned candles, so always extinguish the flame before leaving the room. This also means keeping an eye on any children or small pets that could accidentally knock the candle onto the floor.


Looking for a pretty candle to (safely) spruce up your decor? We love this sophisticated option from Annick Goutal.

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