Candle etiquette and safety for the Holidays

Candles have the ability to make every occasion into a social one. There’s simply something about the soft glow of a flickering candle – illuminating the coldest of rooms with warmth and transforming the barest of spaces into one full of personality.

Tealights, lanterns, candlesticks, block and floating; tall, skinny, round, and scented – candles come in all shapes and sizes. Beautiful to arrange and fun to play with, candles hypnotically make you forget about the importance of safety. So often are post-holiday season headlines about a tragic family perishing because of their Christmas tree catching fire, probably from a forgotten candle.

Here’s a quick refresher on candle etiquette and safety:

Never leave a burning candle unattended
Put it out if the candle smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame is not controlled.

Burn candles out of reach of children and pets
Don’t place lighted candles where they can be easily knocked over by children, pets…or anyone else!

Don’t burn candles on or near anything that can catch fired
Place candles on a heat resistant and non-flammable surface, and at least 30 cm away from curtains

Always leave 7-10 cm between burning candles
Some candles come with recommended minimum distances – follow them. Candles placed too close together can drip or soot, while tealights can flare up.

Do not place candles in a breeze
Keep candles out of a draught to prevent rapid, sooting, uneven burning and excessive dripping. Lightweight curtains can blow in the flame if there’s a draught.

Trim the wick to about 1 cm before lighting
Trim the wick before lighting the candles. If the wick is too long, a lump might form on it as it burns or the flame might become too high and start to soot.

Keep the wax pool clear of matches and other debris to avoid flaring
Flammable ojects in the wax pool, such as matches, insects, flammable decorations, can ignite and cause the candle to overheat and flare up.

Don’t blow it out
Try and use a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame. Sometimes if you blow out a candle in a container, there is an increased risk of flaring and hot wax could spatter up in your face.

Never use liquids to extinguish
If the candle can’t be extinguished easily, cover it with a damp cloth. Pouring water on a candle can cause the hot wax to spatter and the candle container to break.

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