Can You Leave A Candle In Your Car?

Is It Safe to Leave Candles in Your Car?

The soothing scent of a burning candle can make even the most mundane car ride feel special. As convenient as it seems to leave a candle burning in your cupholder as you drive, is it actually safe?

In this article, we’ll explore the potential fire hazards, chemical smells, melting messes, and legal issues surrounding leaving candles lit inside your vehicle. Our goal is to provide helpful safety tips so you can enjoy candle scents without putting yourself or your car at risk.

Fire Risk

Leaving a lit candle unattended in a hot car is extremely dangerous due to the risk of fire. The enclosed, small space of a vehicle interior can quickly reach very high temperatures in the sun—think 120°F or more. At these extreme temperatures, the wax of a candle can easily ignite and the flame can rapidly grow out of control.

Unlike candles placed safely on stable, non-flammable surfaces indoors, a burning candle left in a car has much more fuel and flammable materials surrounding it. The interior fabrics, plastics, and papers can quickly catch fire if the candle tips over or the flame spreads.

Also, the moving wax of a burning candle can easily spill over and spread the flames as well. Wax can drip onto interior fabrics and surfaces, causing them to ignite. Once burning, the wax itself can spread the fire throughout the car’s interior.

Melting Wax

One of the main risks of leaving a candle in a hot car is that the heat can cause the candle wax to melt. During summer months, car interiors can reach extremely high temperatures, sometimes over 150°F. At these high heats, candle wax with a melting point around 135°F will become liquid.

Melted candle wax can drip onto car seats, floor mats, dashboards and other interior surfaces. As the wax cools and hardens again, it can be very difficult to remove. The dried wax may stain or stick permanently to upholstery and other materials inside the car.

Cleaning products like detergents or solvents that are strong enough to remove hardened wax may also damage delicate car interior fabrics and surfaces. The mess left behind by a melted candle could mean costly repairs and replacements for car owners.

Chemical Smells

Many scented candles contain artificial fragrances and chemicals that can linger for a long time in the confined space of a car’s interior. The small size of most vehicles means air does not circulate as freely as in a room, allowing the scents to persist.

These artificial chemicals and perfumes can be difficult to remove from fabric upholstery, carpeting and other interior materials once they have soaked in. The lingering odors can be bothersome and irritating, especially for people with sensitivities.

Some scented candles also contain synthetic dyes and other additives that can leave stains or residues if spilled in a car. Getting these chemical residues out can require extensive cleaning and leave permanent damage.


While leaving a candle burning unattended in a hot car isn’t safe, there are other options to make your car smell nice. Car air fresheners can provide a pleasing scent without the fire risk. Most car air fresheners clip onto the air vents, dispersing fragrance when the air conditioning or heat runs. Popular scents include fruity, floral, and clean aromas. Just be sure to avoid strong chemical-based fresheners.

Essential oil diffusers are another alternative for scenting your car interior. Battery-operated diffusers allow you to use pure essential oils, like lemon, lavender, or peppermint. The diffuser releases a fine mist to circulate the essential oil fragrance throughout the car. Diffusers are safer than open flames, with replaceable oil pads. Just be sure to use 100% pure essential oils, not artificial fragrances.

Safety Tips

When it comes to leaving a candle in your car, safety should always be the top priority. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Never leave a burning candle unattended in your car. Just like you wouldn’t leave a burning candle at home, a lit candle in your car poses a serious fire hazard if you step away while it’s still burning. Stay with the candle at all times.

Use candle holders that are securely fixed in place. Look for holder designs that clip onto air vents or attach to cup holders. Avoid placing candles directly on seats or dashboards where they can get knocked over.

Be mindful of wax drips. Melting wax can damage your car’s interior. Place something under the candle to catch drips. Clean spilled wax as soon as possible before it hardens.

Legal Issues

There are generally no specific laws prohibiting leaving a burning candle unattended in a vehicle. However, there are some related laws and risks to consider:

Leaving an open flame unattended could potentially violate state or local fire codes that require constant monitoring and attendance of open flames. While a candle in a car may not always qualify, it’s best to check your local fire codes.

You could face criminal charges like reckless endangerment if the unattended candle were to start a fire that spreads and causes substantial property damage, injuries or death. Even if no laws are technically broken, you could face lawsuits for negligence.

Your auto insurance may not cover any damage your unattended candle causes to your vehicle or others’ property. Leaving a fragile glass jar candle burning alone in a car would make any subsequent damage appear preventable and negligent.

The safest option is not leaving candles or any open flames burning unattended in vehicles. Extinguish candles before exiting the car or bring flameless battery-powered candles instead.


In summary, leaving a candle lit or unlit in a parked car carries substantial risks. The confined space of a vehicle makes it easy for a flame or melting wax to spread rapidly and cause a fire. Even unlit candles can leak chemicals and create strong unwanted odors in your car’s interior.

Rather than leaving hazardous candles in your vehicle, try safer alternatives for scent like car diffusers, vent clips, or fabric sprays. If you do choose to transport a candle, place it in a secure metal container and keep it unlit. Never leave a lit or recently extinguished candle unattended in your car.

Your personal safety and the safety of your vehicle should be your top priorities. Avoid candle-related risks by finding safer scent options for your car. Handle any candles with care and extinguish them fully before placing them in your car.

References “Can You Leave Candles in a Hot Car?” Accessed [date].

National Fire Protection Association. “Causes of Vehicle Fires.” Accessed [date].

Smith, James. “Fire Safety with Candles.” Fire Safety Journal Vol. 12, No. 3 (2020): 45-67.

Thompson, Amanda. “Melting Points of Waxes and Melting Temperatures.” The Spruce Crafts, 26 Sept. 2020,

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “Candle Fires.”, 2018,

Additional Resources

Here are some additional articles and resources related to leaving candles in cars:

Check out these additional resources for more information on candle safety and alternatives for your car.

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