Are Candle Wall Sconces Safe?

Candle wall sconces are decorative light fixtures that are mounted on walls and hold candles. They come in a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, and can be made from different materials like metal, wood, or glass.

While candle sconces can provide beautiful, warm lighting, using open flames always carries safety risks. Candles have an open flame that can easily ignite nearby combustible materials if the candles are not used properly. With candle sconces, there are particular concerns about placement, supervision, home safety features, and fire risks that homeowners should consider before installing them.

Fire Risks of Candle Wall Sconces

Candle wall sconces can pose fire risks that are important to consider. The open flame of a candle near walls, fabrics, curtains, or other flammable materials brings an obvious hazard. If a candle is placed too close to these surfaces, the materials could easily ignite from the flame. This can lead to dangerous fires that cause severe property damage or even loss of life.

Additionally, having an open flame mounted on a wall leaves the candle vulnerable to being knocked over or tipped accidentally. Pets, children, bumping into the sconce, or even drafts could cause the candle to fall. If the candle falls while lit, the flame and wax can spread rapidly across the floor or furniture. The fire can quickly get out of control.

Another key risk is leaving a candle burning unattended. It only takes a small breeze or drip of wax to cause an unsafe flame. If no one is present to notice and intervene, the fire can grow and spread unchecked throughout the home.

Placement Considerations

Properly placing wall sconces is critical for safety. Consider the following when determining placement:


Install wall sconces high enough so they are out of reach of children and pets who may knock them over. The bottom of the sconce should be at least 5 feet off the ground.

Distance from Flammables

Maintain adequate distance between sconces and flammable materials like curtains, upholstered furniture, bedding and paper. There should be at least 1 foot of empty space all around the sconce.


Securely anchor sconces to the wall so they cannot fall off if jostled. Use the proper attachments for the wall material and don’t rely solely on adhesives.

Using the Right Candles

When using candles in wall sconces, it’s important to use the right type and size of candle. The general recommendation is to use pillar or votive candles that are specifically designed for use in wall sconces. These small candles often have self-extinguishing wicks to prevent burning down all the wax and creating a fire hazard.

Recommended sizes include:

  • 2 inch pillar candles
  • 1.5 inch pillar candles
  • 1.25 inch votive candles

Using large taper or jar candles that can produce tall, leaping flames is not recommended. The fire could extend beyond the sconce and ignite nearby things, especially if positioned too close to walls or other objects.

Additionally, be sure to use high-quality candles made specifically for sconces instead of general purpose candles. Specialized candle wax is formulated to extinguish on its own before the wax burns out, reducing the risk of excess heat and flame.


Lit candles should never be left unattended or burning when you go to sleep or leave your home. It’s crucial to always supervise candles that are lit and extinguish them fully before going to bed or leaving the house.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, over half of home candle fires occur because candles were abandoned or inadequately supervised. Staying in the same room as lit candles at all times significantly reduces the risk of fire. Check on candles frequently and keep them away from kids and pets.

Blow out all candles before leaving a room or going to sleep. It’s easy to forget about candles once they are out of sight, so extinguishing them fully is the only safe option. Don’t take any chances leaving candles burning overnight while you sleep.

Home Safety Features

Having the right home safety features in place is critical when using open flames like candles. These precautions will help contain fires if candles are tipped over accidentally.

Smoke Detectors

Working smoke detectors installed on every level of the home and inside each bedroom provide an early warning to danger. Test them monthly and replace batteries yearly. Smoke detectors sense particles in the air before a fire erupts into intense flames.

Fire Extinguishers

Keep an ABC-type fire extinguisher in an easy to access spot like the kitchen. Fire extinguishers rapidly spray a chemical that puts out the fire. Make sure all household members know how to properly operate one. Consider taking a fire safety class that teaches fire extinguisher use.

Fire-Safe Materials

Choose fire-resistant materials when decorating a home. Wool and heavy fabrics resist burning better than synthetics. Have fire-retardant coatings applied to draperies, cushions and other fabrics. Use wood, ceramics, cement and metals which do not feed flames. Keep flammable cleaning supplies stored away from candle areas.

Insurance Implications

It’s wise to discuss your use of candle wall sconces with your home insurance provider. Having open flame fixtures in your home, even when used carefully, may impact your policy rates or details.

Most standard home insurance policies do not specifically prohibit candle wall sconces. However, because they present an open flame risk, your provider may charge slightly higher premiums. The increase depends on your overall risk assessment.

You’re required to disclose candle fixtures to your insurance company. If you file a fire claim later and they discover unreported sconces, they may deny coverage. So transparency upfront prevents problems down the line.

Talk to your agent about candle safety steps you’re taking, like using enclosed sconces, placing them far from combustibles, and monitoring them when lit. Demonstrating fire consciousness may minimize rate hikes. Some providers may require you add extra liability coverage too.

If changing insurers, ask candidates if they restrict candle sconces and what impact they’d have on your policy. Companies calculate fire risk differently. So shopping around could mean savings.

Explore Safe Alternatives

If you’re concerned about the fire risks of traditional candles, flameless candles offer a safe alternative that creates a similar ambiance. Flameless candles use LED lights to mimic the effect of a real flame, without an open flame that can start a fire.

Wall lamps, string lights and other types of electric wall décor are also safer than traditional candle wall sconces. You eliminate the open flame and fire hazard by opting for electric lighting.

Modern lighting technology has advanced to where electric lights can achieve gorgeous effects that rival real candles, with the peace of mind of a much lower fire risk. And you won’t have to worry about supervising them or putting them out when you leave home or go to bed at night.

Safety Tips

Here are some key safety practices to follow when using candle wall sconces:

  • Place them on non-flammable surfaces and away from curtains or other fabrics
  • Use snuffers or lids to extinguish the flame instead of blowing them out
  • Don’t leave burning sconces unattended or near children/pets
  • Use enclosed candle holders and catch trays beneath them
  • Keep them out of high traffic areas to prevent accidental tipping
  • Only use the recommended candle size and material
  • Install and clean them according to the manufacturer’s guidelines

Following basic fire safety rules and supervising candle use can help make sconces a beautiful and reasonably safe addition to your home. Evaluate your specific situation to decide if alternatives like battery-powered faux candles are a better choice for you.


Are candle wall sconces safe to use? The answer is yes, with the proper precautions. By being aware of fire risks, carefully selecting candle holders, monitoring lit candles, and implementing home safety measures, candle sconces can be an enjoyable part of home decor.

To recap on managing risks for safe use: choose sturdy, non-flammable sconces mounted securely on non-flammable walls. Use unscented votive or LED candles, supervised at all times. Employ fire safety features like alarms, extinguishers, and escape routes. Confirm home insurance covers candle fires. With reasonable care, wall sconces with candles can safely accent your space.

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