How are candles made? While modern candle-making processes vary, most candles are made through the timeless process of placing a cotton wick into wax which is then molded, dipped, extruded, pressed, rolled, drawn or filled into a desired shape and size.
What are the typical ingredients in a candle? A candle consists primarily of wax and a wick. Many candles also contain dyes or pigments for color and fragrances for scent as well as other minor ingredients.
Does the industry have standards for candles? Yes. Members of the National Candle Association have a long tradition of making high quality, long-lasting and safe candles. In addition, NCA works with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to develop voluntary standards for the candle industry. ASTM standards currently exist for the fire safety labeling of candles and the heat-resistance of glass candleholders. NCA continues to work with ASTM to develop additional standards for candles.
What should I know about using candles safely? Candles are safe when burned properly, responsibly, and according to manufacturers' directions. When burning candles, consumers should always follow these basic safety rules: Lighted candles should always be within sight. Never leave a burning candle unattended. Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Read and follow all manufacturer instructions carefully. Trim the wick to ¼ inch each time before burning. Always use an appropriate candleholder placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents. Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame becomes too high. Cool, trim wick, check for drafts, and re-light. Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times. Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends. Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2 inch if in a container). Never touch or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid. Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge. Place lighted candles at least 3 inches apart from one another.
What kind of label information is required to be placed on candles? Currently there are no federal labeling requirements for candles, other than those required for consumer commodities under the Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (manufacturer’s name, commodity weight, measurements, etc.). NCA members typically place safe-use instructions on their candles or the candle packaging. NCA spearheaded the drive for candle fire-safety labeling, working with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to create voluntary labeling standards for the industry.
What sort of chemical reaction is created by burning a candle? When a candle burns, the flame "consumes" the wax to produce water vapor and carbon dioxide, the same harmless byproducts humans produce when exhaling. This is true for all types of candle waxes.
Are certain candle waxes better than others? No. All types of quality candle waxes perform well, burning cleanly and safely when formulated and used properly. Candle manufacturers select waxes or blends of waxes based on their characteristics and their suitability for specific types of candles.
Do scented candles burn differently than unscented ones? Not really. A well-made scented candle – like an unscented candle – produces harmless water vapor and carbon dioxide when burned. The only difference with a scented candle is that a fragrance is released as well. Reputable candle manufacturers carefully monitor the addition of fragrance to ensure a "clean" and proper burn. There is a maximum amount of fragrance that can be added to a candle before it will no longer burn cleanly or properly. There have been some reports of homemade candles containing too much fragrance, or fragrances not approved for candle use, which can cause improper burning.
What should I do if my candle smokes? A well-made candle will create virtually no smoke when burning properly. However, noticeable smoking will occur whenever a candle’s flame is disturbed, which allows minute particles of unburned carbon (soot) to escape from the flame. Any candle, regardless of formulation or wax type, can be made to smoke by causing the flame to flicker. To minimize candle flickering, trim the wick to 1/4 inch before lighting, and place burning candles away from vents, drafts and other strong air currents. If a candle continues to significantly flicker or noticeably smoke, it should be extinguished. Allow it to cool, trim the wick, check for drafts, and then re-light.
Do candles contain lead? There is no lead in candle wax, and no member of the National Candle Association (which accounts for 90 percent of all candles made in the U.S.) uses lead wicks. NCA members voluntarily agreed more than 25 years ago not to use lead wicks. Although some candles – primarily imports – reportedly contain lead wicks, the majority of wicks manufactured in the U.S. are made of 100% cotton or cotton-paper combinations. Although some U.S.-made candles contain metal wicks, these are typically zinc or tin wicks, which are known to be safe and non-toxic. The National Candle Association strongly supports the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in its effort to ban lead wicks from the U.S. market. Candle Safety Tips Candles are safe products, but may become hazardous when used improperly or in an unsafe manner. National fire safety agencies report that the bulk of candle fire incidents in the United States are due to consumer inattention to basic fire safety or to the misuse of candles. The National Candle Association recommends the following safety tips when burning candles: Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep. Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else. Read and carefully follow all manufacturer instructions. Trim candlewicks to 1/4 inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping. Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax. Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents and air currents. This will help prevent prevent rapid, uneven burning, smoking and excessive dripping. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire. Ceiling fans can cause drafts. Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times. Do not burn a candle for longer than the manufacturer recommends. Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains (1/2inch if in a container). This will also help prevent possible heat damage to the counter/surface and prevent glass containers from cracking or breaking. Never touch or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid. Extinguish pillar candles if the wax pool approaches the outer edge. Candles should be placed at least three inches apart from one another. This is to be sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly. One of the safest ways to extinguish a candle is to use a candle snuffer, which helps prevent hot wax from spattering. Do not extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to spatter and can cause glass containers to break. Flashlights and other battery-powered lights are much safer light sources than candles during a power failure. Never use a candle as light when you go into a closet to look for things. Never use a candle for light when fueling equipment such as a lantern or kerosene heater. REPRINTED FROM NATIONAL CANDLE ASSOCIATION WEBSITE