Meet our writers


Advice & More April 2012

Love Candlelight? Enjoy It Safely

By Barbara Newell

Candles should burn for one hour for each inch of diameter. If you burn the candle for less time, the candle core will burn down the middle and the burn time is thus shortened.

Candles came into existence over 5000 years ago. Even though the origin is not a known fact, it is believed that the ancient Romans developed the first wicked candle. From that point and throughout the Middle Ages, colonial times and up to the present, the candle has changed but still symbolizes celebrations.

Types and sizes of candles vary greatly. Tapers, also called dinner candles, are secured at the base in a candle holder. You will find sizes from six inches to 18 inches.

Pillar candles are usually at least three inches in diameter and have one or more wicks. They come in many shapes besides round. This type of candle should be burned on a base that is heat resistant.

Container and jar candles are those which have the wax poured into a metal container, a ceramic container or a jar. These containers are made to endure the heat from the burning candle.

Votive candles are small and cylindrical. They are placed in a small container, usually glass, to hold the melted wax.

Then there is the tea candle, measuring only about one inch and is presented in a metal holder.

During the holidays we see many luminarias placed outside. There are votive candles set in sand in a small lunch-size bag and are a beautiful illumination in the dark.

Gel candles are mainly made from gelled mineral oils or synthetic hydrocarbons and poured into a container to hold the shape. These are called soft gel. Hard-set gel candles have their own consistency and can be used as free-standing candles.

Uniquely shaped candles which include multi-dimensional and decorative artwork, are popular too. “Novelty” is another name often used for this type of candle.

The smallest candles would be birthday candles. No need to explain this one!

Some of us love to light candles on a daily basis and some of us use them periodically. No matter how often you select to have candlelight, remember, the beauty comes from fire. You must be smart and safe in the use of candles.


Some very useful information:

  • Candles should burn for one hour for each inch of diameter. If you burn the candle for less time, the candle core will burn down the middle and the burn time is thus shortened. So you should burn a candle 3 inches in diameter for approximately 3 hours at a time.
  • Candle color will fade if left in the sunlight for a long period of time.
  • If you refrigerate pillar or taper candles, they will burn more slowing and evenly. To prevent wicks from absorbing moisture, first wrap the candles in either foil or plastic wrap.
  • Use a candle snuffer to extinguish the flame. This will prevent hot wax from being blown onto furniture. If you do not have a candle snuffer, simply hold your fingers in front of the flame and blow.
  • If your candle is in a jar or container, do not burn if the container is cracked or even chipped, breakage may happen and you could have a fire. Do not burn the candle all the way down to the bottom -- stop short by at least ½ an inch.
  • Handle the container with care, it will be hot and do not replace the cap until all has completely cooled.


Safety tips:

  • Never burn your candle unattended.
  • Do not place the candle near flammable objects.
  • Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Make sure the resting area for the candle is heat resistant.
  • Do not drop matches or wick trimmings in the wax.
  • Do not set a candle in a drafty area or in front of a fan.
  • Do not walk with a lit candle.
  • If wicks are trimmed to ¼ inch, this will help avoid carbon build up on the wick, dark smoking, soot in the air and on walls and furniture.
  • Do not try to trim or relight a hot wick.


If you have problems associated with burning candles, the list below will be of help:

  • Clean soot from inside the container with glass cleaner and a paper towel, use water to rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • If your wick is off center, while burning, simply move it into place with a knife.
  • Run very hot water over candle holders to remove wax.
  • If wax is on washable fabric, scrape off the wax and run boiling water through the material. (Read fabric do’s and do not’s first).
  • On solid objects, wax may also be removed by chilling the object and popping the wax off.

Plan with safety in mind and then you can enjoy the pleasure of beautiful, peaceful candlelight.

Meet Barbara