Can You Leave a Candle Burning Overnight? (What to Know)

This is a guide covering whether you can leave a candle burning overnight.

If you are a candle lover like us, you might have had this question in your mind for so long.

Can you leave a candle burning overnight?

There are times when you love the warm ambience of the candles, you are tempted to leave it burning overnight. Is it even advisable?

An unsupervised candle is always a fire hazard. According to the data published by NFPA, they have responded to 7610 home structure fires that were caused by candles, in the period of 2014-18.

That’s a large number of candle fires, isn’t it?

In short, a candle can’t be left burning overnight as it can cause serious damage to living organisms (humans or animals) and properties.

What Happens if You Leave a Candle Burning Overnight?

As we have mentioned above, it is not advisable to leave the candle burning overnight.

Always remember to blow out the candle before falling asleep.

candle burning overnight

Otherwise, it may pose several potential risks and serious health hazards.

We have listed a few of these hazards for you:

1. Candle Could Be Knocked Over

Let’s suppose you fell asleep with a candle burning overnight, there are a hundred ways how a candle can get knocked over.

Maybe due to the strong wind or a fluttering curtain or a huge insect or a pet, anything can knock the candle over.

When the candle gets knocked over, the less damaging consequence would be spilled wax on the things around.

But what if the things around the candle catch fire and the fire spreads around? This is how home structure fires start and spread.

2. Candle Flashover

A flashover is when all the combustible substances get ignited at the same time.

A candle flashover occurs when the candle wax catches flame of the wick and gets ignited.

This causes a bigger flame as the wax also caught fire.

Left unsupervised, candle flashovers are quite dangerous as the flame may spread and burn the things around.

3. Breakage of Glass Jar Candles

Glass jar candles can break at high temperatures.

When you burn the candles for a long time, this heats up the glass.

The glass may crack or break, leading to the wax spillage on the carpets and other surfaces.

When the glass breaks, the flame may also lead to the things around catching fire.

4. Emission of Toxic Fumes

Candles of low quality or which are made of artificial substances may emit toxic fumes when they are burnt for a long time.

This may lead to the accumulation of toxic fumes indoors.

They can cause lung problems and breathing issues.

How Long Can You Leave a Candle Burning Unattended?

It is safe and advisable to not leave a candle burning unattended, even for a short period of time, for the risks we mentioned above.

As a general rule of thumb, candles can be burnt, if attended, for not more than four hours.

If they are burnt for more than four hours, you may encounter the mushroom wick issue. The soot gets accumulated on the wick.

This carbon accumulated on the wick may fall in the molten wax and ruin the aesthetic appearance of the candle.

In addition, sometimes, the molten wax may combust, resulting in a wax flashover situation, thereby resulting in a fire hazard.

Always wait until the molten wax hardens to reignite the candle.

Do not burn the candle for very shorter time periods too. This may result in the tunnelling problem.

When the wax in the middle gets burnt unevenly forming a tunnel in the candle, it’s called tunnelling.

To avoid tunnelling, burn the candle for at least three to four hours.

Do Candles Self Extinguish?

This is a common question that a lot of people ask. We would say, Do not ever leave any candle to burn itself out. Let us explain why.

Only candles in the jars or containers with a wick that comes with a metal bottom can self-extinguish.

When you let the other kind of candles (pillar candles or taper candles) to burn themselves out, it becomes a safety concern.

The molten wax may fall on the surface or the floor on which you are heating up and burn the surrounding things.

Even with the candles with the containers that have a wick with a metal bottom, it’s a bit of a gamble.

When you leave your candles to self-extinguish, you are letting the glass jar get heated up for longer periods of time.

When glass jars get heated beyond a certain temperature, they crack before the candle burns itself out, splattering wax all over. This becomes another safety concern.

So, our advice is to not let the candles burn themselves out. Always snuff it out with a candle snuffer or an extinguisher.

If you are worried about the left-over wax at the bottom of the candle after it burns out until the bottom, break the leftover wax into cubes and reuse them as wax melts.

Whichever candles you are using, be it a self-extinguishing one or a regular one, always burn the candles on heat-resistant surfaces to prevent fire hazards.

You can burn the candles on granite, kitchen counter-tops, treated wooden floors, heat-resistant wooden floors, etc.,

Even if the molten wax falls or if someone knocked the candle over, there is less possibility of starting a fire.

Can Leaving a Candle Lit Cause a Fire?

It is always a huge gamble to leave a candle burning, unattended. It is an open flame and leaving a candle lit is like playing with fire (pun intended).

There are multiple variables involved when you leave a candle burning. Something might topple the candle.

If you place it on a wooden shelf or a cupboard ledge, the wax might drip down when you leave it for a long time and start a fire. It’s best not to leave a candle lit.

What to Do If You Realize You Left a Candle Burning?

Assuming you left a candle burning at home and went somewhere out, if possible, go back home and extinguish the candle.

If that’s not a possibility, call your neighbors or friends to check up on the house.

If they have a spare key, ask them to enter the house and extinguish the candle. If they do not, ask them to peek into the house to see if the candle has a lid and it’s safe.

Ask them to check for any signs of smoke. Ask them to call the fire department as soon as they see the first sign of smoke to prevent fire.

If it’s okay for you, ask them to break in and put the candle out. But this may alert the police for breaking in. Ask them to call a locksmith to open the lock and put the candle out.

If your neighbors aren’t available, call your friends who live close-by to do the same. Call the local fire department and inform them about the situation.

Next time, do not leave the house without double checking that all the candles are blown out.

Steps to Ensure Candle Safety

  1. Don’t leave any candle burning, unattended.
  2. Always burn the candles on a heat-resistant surface. Avoid burning them near any flammable or combustible things such as books, papers, curtains, etc.,
  3. Avoid burning the candles near drafts or vents.
  4. Keep the candles burning out of reach of children and pets.
  5. Don’t touch or move the candles while they are burning or when the wax is liquified.
  6. Keep the candles at least 3 inches away to avoid melting each other.

Final Remarks

Candles are a sure-shot way to increase the ambience of the place, boost the mood and unwind after a long workday or on a vacation.

It is such a soothing and calming experience. Nobody likes such a therapeutic experience to get interrupted by a candle starting a fire.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, it is important to follow certain candle safety rules.

Educate yourself about the do’s and don’ts and have a tranquil experience with the candles. We hope we helped you with the safety rules.

Let us know if you know any more tips to follow to ensure utmost safety.