Can I Leave A Candle On Overnight?

Leaving candles burning overnight has become a popular practice in many homes. The warm glow and pleasant aroma can create a relaxing ambiance before bed. However, it’s important to consider the safety risks of leaving an open flame unattended for extended periods. This article will examine whether it is safe to leave a candle burning overnight, looking at factors like fire hazards, precautions to take, and alternatives to consider.

The purpose is to provide a comprehensive look at the safety considerations around keeping candles lit overnight. With open flames comes risk, so it’s important to understand how to minimize dangers if choosing to leave candles burning while sleeping.

Fire Risks

Leaving a candle burning unattended for too long poses serious fire hazards. According to the National Candle Association, you should never leave a burning candle unattended. Common causes of candle fires include forgetting the candle is lit, falling asleep before blowing it out, or the candle tipping over if not on a stable base.

The FDNY warns that unattended candles are a major cause of preventable fires that can lead to tragic deaths and injuries. Burning candles produce an open flame, which can easily ignite nearby combustible materials like furniture, curtains, carpeting, books and paper if left alone for too long.

It’s critical to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on candles, extinguishing them before leaving a room. Don’t assume you’ll wake up if a candle tips over during the night. Take precautions like trimming wicks, using sturdy holders and avoiding areas where candles could be knocked over by children or pets.

Safety Tips

When using candles, it’s important to follow some basic safety precautions to prevent fires. Here are some key tips:

Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles before leaving a room or going to sleep. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should “blow out candles when you leave a room or home, or when you go to bed”.

Keep candles away from flammable items like curtains, books, paper, and decorations. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends keeping candles “at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn”.

Always use candle holders that are stable and won’t tip over easily. According to the National Candle Association, you should “avoid using a candleholder that does not securely hold the candle”.

Put candles on a sturdy, uncluttered surface. Don’t place them near the edges of tables or counters.

Keep candles away from areas where they could be knocked over by children or pets. The National Candle Association recommends keeping candles out of reach of children and pets.


While scented candles can make a home feel cozy and warm, any open flame comes with fire risks. Fortunately, there are many flameless alternatives that provide the same aesthetic and sensory appeal as traditional candles (La Promeneuse, 2022).

Battery-operated candles offer the flicker of a real flame without the danger. Newer electronic candle models have improved technology for more realistic flames and lighter flickering. These flameless candles come in various styles from taper to pillar candles (Apartment Therapy, 2019).

Essential oil diffusers are another excellent candle alternative to fill a room with fragrance. Popular for their therapeutic aromatherapy benefits, many models include accent lights to mimic the ambiance of a burning candle. Diffusers provide continuous fragrance without the fire risks of an open flame (Lore Perfumery, 2022).

Reed diffusers provide subtle room fragrance from essential oils soaked into rattan or bamboo reeds. The oil gradually diffuses into the air to scent an entire room. With no flame, reed diffusers are an ideal candle alternative for safety and continuous home fragrance (Lafco, 2022).

Location Matters

One of the most important safety considerations when leaving a candle burning overnight is its location. Candles should never be placed near anything flammable such as curtains, bedding, or furniture ( The flame can easily ignite these materials and cause a fire. Choose a location away from high traffic areas and make sure the candle is on a sturdy, non-flammable surface according to the National Candle Association.

Be especially cautious about leaving candles unattended in bedrooms or bathrooms where bedding and towels could be in close proximity. The best practice is to place candles on a metal, glass, or ceramic holder on a kitchen or dining table, countertop, or other safe surface. Check that the candle is stable and will not get knocked over by kids or pets. Never put candles directly on carpets, wood surfaces, or near other combustibles.

Wick Trimming

Before lighting a candle, it’s important to trim the wick to the proper length using scissors or a dedicated wick trimmer. According to experts at the Harlem Candle Company, wicks should be trimmed to 1⁄4 inch before each use to prevent excessive smoking and sooting [1]. Long wicks can create tall flames and dripping wax. Martha Stewart recommends trimming wicks just above the wax before each use and using sharp scissors to snip wicks vertically [2].

Trimming the wick to the proper 1⁄4 inch size helps prevent dangerous, sooty flames. The trimmed wick will produce an even burn and prevent excess smoke that could set off smoke alarms.

Candle Holders

Using proper candle holders is one of the most important safety tips when burning candles overnight. The holder should be made of a non-flammable material like glass, metal, or ceramic. Avoid using holders made of flammable materials like wood, plastic, or paper.

a person placing a candle in a safe glass holder on a heat-resistant surface

The holder should be sturdy and heavy enough to prevent the candle from tipping over. Top-heavy candle holders or holders made of lightweight materials can easily tip, increasing fire risks.

The holder should be the right size for the candle. There should be 1-2 inches of clearance between the candle and the edges of the holder so melted wax does not overflow. A holder that is too small can cause heat buildup. According to experts, the holder should be at least 2 inches taller than the candle.

Candle holders that are enclosed or have shades can help prevent drafts from impacting the candle flame. However, the enclosure should not restrict airflow around the candle.

It’s best to place candle holders on a heat resistant surface. Don’t place candles directly on surfaces like wood tables which could scorch or ignite. Place a coaster or small plate under the holder.

Popular safe candle holder materials include glass, metal, and ceramic. Look for sturdy but lightweight holders to prevent tipping risks.

Type of Candle

The type of candle can impact the safety of leaving it burning overnight. According to Organically Becca, container candles tend to be safer than taper candles or pillars. Container candles like jars are designed to hold the melted wax, while taper and pillar candles allow wax to drip as they burn down. Containers also help prevent drafts from impacting the flame.

Soy, beeswax, and coconut wax container candles are some of the safest options, as they’re non-toxic and burn cleanly. These natural wax candles don’t release harmful chemicals or soot into the air as they burn. Be sure to trim wicks before lighting to prevent excess soot.

Tealights and votives in containers are other safe options, as the small size allows them to burn out within a few hours overnight. Just be sure not to overload a candle holder with too many tealights, as this can lead to unsafe overheating.

Children and Pets

Extra precautions should be taken when burning candles around children and pets. Young kids are curious and may be tempted to touch the hot wax or flame. Tails and paws are also at risk for burns. According to Smart Kids 101, “Little fingers and fire don’t mix! Make sure to keep all candles up high—out of a child’s reach—and never leave a child unattended in a room with a burning candle.”

The Center for Environmental Health recommends avoiding scented candles around young children. Fragrances can cause asthma attacks or allergic reactions in some. Beeswax candles are a good alternative since they are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

It’s best not to leave a candle burning overnight in a child’s room or anywhere your pet has access. Extinguish the candle when leaving the room or before bedtime. Use candle holders that fully encase the flame. Also teach children to stay 3 feet away from an open flame and never touch. With some simple precautions, candles can be enjoyed safely around kids and pets.


Candles can seem harmless but do require care and caution to use safely overnight. This article has covered key factors to weigh when deciding whether or not to leave a candle burning while sleeping or out of the house. Fire risks, wick trimming, candle placement, and using appropriate holders can all reduce the chances of accidental fires. While candles add cozy ambiance, LED flameless candles are a safer alternative to consider. With proper precautions like keeping away from kids, pets, and flammable items, blowing candles out before bed, and never leaving burning candles unattended, they can be managed overnight in some circumstances. However, it’s smart to use good judgment based on your setup, home layout, risk factors, and personal comfort level with overnight candles. Care and common sense can go a long way to enjoying candles safely.

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