Can You Leave A Candle Burning All Night? (and Why)

If you love scented candles, you probably have a lot of questions in your mind. One of the most frequently asked questions about scented candles is whether or not you can light them up all night. 

It is never okay to sleep with a candle lighted up anywhere in the house. There are numerous risks attached to this phenomenon(details later), and you must remember to blow it out before going to sleep or leaving it alone. 

If you want to know more about what might happen if you leave a candle burning all night, what else you should not do, and how to light a scented candle the right way, keep on reading.

Can You Leave A candle Burning All Night

The Risks Of Burning A Candle All Night

As mentioned earlier, there are several risks associated with unsupervised candles. A lot many things could go wrong and result in irreversible damage. Health care experts and professionals from the fire department have reported multiple cases of irresponsible candle-burning resulting in big fires and major damage to living and non-living items around it. 

The following are some of these risks and potential hazards.

  • The candle could not be knocked over

Even if you live alone, there are several ways that this could happen. A pet might be responsible for it, or even a large insect of the candle is light enough.

A blowing curtain or direct wind can do the job if it is lit near a window. If the candle knocks over anything that is ignitable, the fire may progress and reach a massive level before you even find something is wrong.

  • The glass breaking

If you know anything about glass, you must understand that glass tends to crack under temperatures higher than a particular threshold. If the candle burns long enough or reaches all the way down to the bottom of the jar, it can create an atmosphere that is hot enough for the glass to break. In such a case, the jar will burst, letting out the fire, and giving birth to a potential hazard.

  • Wax leak

In case if the glass breaks, there is also another way that damage can be done. As soon as the jar collapses, the melted wax will leak out. Hot melted wax can burn and stain the surfaces underneath it.

  • Secondary ignition

This concept means that if debris or other material falls into the fire burning inside the candle jar, it could lead to a secondary fire on the new material. This material could then spread the fire onto other areas, especially if it is connected to a nearby object such as a plant or a curtain. 

  • Candle flashover

When the melted wax catches fire from the candle’s burning part, it causes a quick flutter and tiny fire-blaze that lasts only a couple of seconds. However, if unsupervised, this small blaze or flutter can spread the fire and increase it by several folds. Because you will not be around, there will be no one to stop it.

  • Toxic candles

Certain candle waxes are toxic in the sense that when they burn they release harmful substances and chemicals into the air. This contributes to indoor air pollution and it can accumulate in a closed room or space. When you enter the space after a long period, sudden exposure to these chemicals can be uncomfortable for you. 

If you lit the candle in a closed room, you sleep and inhale many of it. Thus, this unawareness can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Although the chances of this happening are pretty small, it has happened before, and numerous such cases have been reported in the past. Hence, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

Also read: Can Candles Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Now that we have established that you should not leave a candle burning overnight let’s talk about a few other questions that might be arising in your mind. 

The Safe Way To Light A Candle

If you are fond of lighting traditional scented candles and want to do it right, there are several precautionary measures that you can take just in case. 

  • Make sure that you are lighting the candle somewhere stable. Doing this will remove the risk of it being knocked over due to an uneven surface. 
  • Make sure the candle is a significant distance away from the window and the curtains. Even if the wind blows harshly and the curtains move a lot, they will not knock over the candle jar. 
  • Keep the candle isolated, away from flammable objects and materials. It is vital to prevent any secondary fires resulting from the candle. 
  • Make sure the room is ventilated. If the wick is giving out smoke, it will accumulate in the room unless there is proper air circulation. 
  • Follow the recommended guidelines regarding the time of lighting the candle. Many candles have specific instructions on their covers and boxes. Make sure you read them correctly before lighting them. 

Read more about Where to Place Scented Candles.

How Long To Leave A Candle Burning? 

Four hours, and not more than that. This is the maximum amount of time that you can let your candle burn unsupervised.

The reason behind this is that after 4 hours, carbon will start accumulating on the wick and make it unstable. The flame will be too big for the wick, and it will start releasing soot in the air as well as around the container.

While it is not okay to light a candle overnight, it is also not the best idea to burn it for less than 30 minutes and blow out. If you light the candle for too little time, it will leave accumulating wax on the sides of the container, leading to wastage.

We call it candle tunneling. Learn more about Candle Tunneling here, and how to fix it.

Can Candles Burn Themselves Out?

Unless another living creature or the wind blows out your candle, they will not burn out by themselves. However, when the fire reaches down to the jar, and there is no more wick left, the candle will stop burning.

We have already discussed what happens when the fire reaches the jar’s last: it cracks the glass. It leads to further potential damage if not stopped and managed immediately. 

Use Candles Correctly

The best way to light a candle and get the maximum use out of it is to light it for about an hour while you are still around. Let the top layer of the wax melt evenly, blow it out by using a solid, non-inflammable material such as the back of a screwdriver.

Another valuable tip for using your candles the right way is always to trim the wick before you light it up. Excessively long wicks produce nasty smoke stains on the candle jar and give off a dull, uneven burn. Trimmed wicks are brighter and give off less annoying smoke. 

Candle Alternatives

If you are too scared to use a traditional candle or you are sure that you will leave it unsupervised, opt for other options that don’t have this problem. These options include the following:

These are basically battery-operated lamps in the shape of a candle. They have an artificial plastic or glass cover, looking like candle wax, and a small bulb inside in the shape of a fiery blaze. They run on batteries and are completely safe for unsupervised use. Worst comes to worst, the batteries will run out, and you will have to replace them. However, no serious damage is expected.

These are a low-profile and aesthetic replacement for candles. They provide subtle light that is low enough to create a soothing ambiance and bright enough to make sure everything is visible during the night. Plus, some salt lamps have various other benefits, such as purifying the air, improving symptoms of allergies, promoting relaxation and deep sleep, and improving one’s mood. 

Mechanical oil diffusers are a much better way to diffuse scent in a room without the risk of potential damage. All you have to do is turn them on, put a few drops of your favorite scent of essential oil, and let it do its job. It will turn itself off once the timer runs out or the oil finishes. These are mostly a one-time investment and can last you a very long time. 

Similar to an oil diffuser, liquid air fresheners are also an easy way to make your room smell nice without the risks associated with a candle. These come in battery-operated and plug-in designs. All you have to do is replace their batteries or charge them every once in a while. There are both high-end and low-end options available in the market.

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Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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