Can A Candle Burn A House Down?

can candles burn a house down

A candle has a flame that always has the potential to spread and start a house fire. Although they are beautiful, fun, and aesthetically pleasing they also leave you with a lot to consider. Every flame candle carries with it the potential to start a fire. Let’s take a closer look. Can a candle burn a house down?

A candle can burn a house down if left unattended in the right situation. Certain types of candles are riskier than others but any flame has the ability to start a house fire. Candles should not be left unattended or left burning while you sleep.

Some precautions must be made to help prevent this from happening when you are using candles. It does not take a lot of work to prevent a fire, just some common-sense solutions.

According to CBS, candles cause 18,000 house fires per year. So this is a real threat that should be taken seriously.

Let’s dig a little deeper and see how you can avoid a candle burning your house down.

How Candles Can Burn A House Down

There are multiple ways in which a candle fire can start, but many of them can be prevented.

Ways Candle House Fires Can Start

  • Candle container breaks
  • Pet knocks over candle
  • Ignites something near it
  • Blinds or curtain
  • Spreading Wax

Candle container breaks

When a candle burns so long, all of the wax inside the container becomes molten. When this happens the wick can float off-center. An off-center wick heats one side of the container far more than the opposite side.

This can shatter the class container than the candle is in. This has actually had this happen to me.

I had a Buttercream Yankee Candle that I let burn far too long and the wick went off-center. I was sitting at my computer and suddenly half of my desk got covered in molten wax and shards of glass.

Thankfully I was sitting right there and blew it out and cleaned it up before anything bad could happen.

Pet knocks over candle

Pets can be trouble makers. Cats think that they own everything, and it never ceases to amaze me what a dog will go through to get a treat.

If you have a cat the number of places you can put a candle that it is safe are few and far between. Perhaps maybe a shelf halfway up the wall with nothing near it.

Imagine you have some dog treats or a good item on your table with a centerpiece candle burning while you run to the bathroom. The dog jumps up and knocks the candle over and suddenly your table and everything on it is in flames.

These scenarios are not as far fetched as they sound, and it happens every day.

Ignites something near it

If you have a candle sitting on a desk covered in paperwork or a kitchen counter that might have napkins or food bags near it you are asking for trouble.

Remember Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law – a supposed law of nature, expressed in various humorous popular sayings, to the effect that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Blinds or curtains

A candle sitting on a table near a window is also a fire hazard. Even if the window is closed, an older window may let air through and move the curtains when the wind blows hard enough.

The curtain blows into the candle, catches fire, ignites the wall, the ceiling, and next thing you know your house is burning down.

Spreading Wax

The candle has been burning unattended for a while, wax begins running down and dripping on to your table or desk. Suddenly everything the wax touches is potential fuel for a fire.

When the flame gets to the base of the candle, or gets to the point it could fall over and it lands on a stack of wax covered papers or clothes… They will start burning, and fast.

How can you prevent candle house fires?

How To Prevent Candle House Fires

  • Keep candles away from children
  • Keep candles away from pets
  • No candles in the bedroom
  • Use the proper candle containers
  • Never extinguish a candle with water
  • Never leave candles unattended
  • Burn on heat resistant surface

Keep candles away from children

A flickering candle sitting on a table is irresistible to a child that does not know any better. I have a four-year-old son that seems to be attracted to the candle so any time I get up and leave the room, I blow the candles out.

Keep candles away from pets

Pet’s and candles simply do not mix, this is one of the most likely causes of a candle fire. Your pets can be just as interested in candles as your children.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 1000 home fires per year are started by pets.

No candles in the bed room

Falling asleep with a candle burning has the potential to end very badly. More can go wrong than the candle simply starting a fire. Sometimes when wicks mushroom candles burn irregularly and create soot.

A candle producing soot while you sleep can put you in the hospital and even kill you. Look at what happened to this woman in the UK.

Use the proper candle containers

Use candles in their proper containers, taking a candle out of its container and burning it is a hazard.

If you make homemade candles make sure you use a candle safe container. You can look at my article about Glass Candle Containers.

Never extinguish a candle with water

Putting water in a candle can bust the glass container, spread hot wax and even spread the flame in certain instances.

Even if it doesn’t bust the candle, it can trap moisture in the candle so that the next time you burn the candle it might bust. This is a real thing that happens when candle wicks draw moisture.

Never leave candles unattended

Perhaps most importantly, do not leave candles unattended. Whatever happens, when you are near you have a chance to handle the situation. If you are nowhere near the candle and something happens, it will end badly.

Burn on heat resistant surface

You can get a decorative metal tray, mirror or piece of glass to burn your candles on. This will protect the surface of your table from the heat of a burning candle.

In addition, if the candle container does bust, the heat resistant surface will protect your table from getting covered in wax.

Choosing the safest candles

When I look for a candle container, I look at a few different things.

What Makes A Safe Candle Container

  • Non-flammable
  • Heat resistant
  • Contains the wax / prevents running
  • Unlikely to crack

My choice candle holder

With these things in mind, my choice of candle holder is a mason jar. Mason jar candles are non-flammable, heat resistant, doesn’t allow the wax to run and it is thick and heavy which makes it unlikely to crack. Can a candle in a glass jar start a fire?

A glass jar may reduce the chances of a candle starting a fire. However, all candles carry with them the potential to start a fire and no candle should ever be left unattended. Keep your candles away from combustible materials and on a heat and flame resistant surface.

While jars are one of the safest options, nothing is ever 100% when it comes to safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Candles Start Fires?

Candles start fires when they are placed on or near combustible materials and the candle container breaks, leaking liquid candle wax onto the combustible materials such as a book, wooden table, or a plastic table, creating a path for the flame to follow.

How often do Candles cause house fires?

Candles start approximately 2% of all house fires and roughly 37% of candle fires start in bedrooms according to information from the National Fire Protection Association.

Where should you not put a candle?

Do not put candles on nightstands, near curtains, bookshelves, or anywhere it is near potentially flammable material. Candles should be kept on heat-resistant surfaces away from drafts, children, and pets.


In conclusion, while candles are beautiful they can also be dangerous in certain situations and they can even cause house fires.

It is important to secure the areas around your candles and remove any extra flammable materials from the area. Try to shut your pets out of any room that you are using candles in and make sure they are out of the reach of children.

If you take some of the precautions above you can enjoy your candles without as much stress and relax a little better.

Do you have any candle fire safety tips to share in the comments?

Carl Adamson

Hi, I'm Carl Adamson, one of the founders here at Candleers. A few years ago I got really into the art and craft of candle making, initially with soy wax container candles. My friends started asking me to make candles for them and pretty soon it turned into a nice side-business. I started this website as a way to document what I've learned over the past few years and hopefully help others in the process. I still love candle making but I'm learning that what I enjoy even more is the business side of things - and for this reason I've started consulting others on how to start and grow their own candle-making businesses and side-hustles.

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