Are you considering buying gel candles for that perfect romantic lighting, but are worried about its safety? After all, there are a whole bunch of rumors out there claiming that gel candles can explode resulting in intense house fires. But is there any merit to these rumors? Or is it just all a misunderstanding?
Gel candles are just as safe as traditional wax candles. They are made from 95% mineral oil and 5% polymer resin; both substances being non-explosive. So, yes, gel candles are just as safe as any other candle. They require the same due care and caution that one would take when dealing with a naked flame.
If you would like to learn more about candle safety or the unique attributes of gel candles you have come to the right place. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what makes gel candles special and how safe they really are.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, it is estimated that over 8000 home fires are caused as a result of a lighted candle. An open flame is always going to be a potential fire hazard. However, by following these six simple steps to candle safety you can enjoy the unique beauty, fragrance, and tranquility of candlelight without burning the house down.
Once a candle is lit, never leave it unattended. Even if you are leaving the area for just a few minutes it is always best to blow the flame out and wait until the wick ember is no longer glowing.
A candle should never be placed near anything remotely flammable. Things such as furniture, drapes, carpets, clothing, newspapers, bedding, books, and other flammable objects should all be kept well away from a burning candle.
Keep candles well away from kids and pets. This is a given but is still a step that can easily be neglected. Place a candle well away from the reach of kids or pets so that there is no danger of them accidentally knocking the candle over.
Never place a candle near a draft or a vent. For example, never light a candle by a window or near your heating vents. This can cause the flame to burn rapidly and unevenly. It can also cause sooting and excessive dripping of candle wax all of which are fire hazards you should avoid at all costs.
Never move or touch a lit candle or liquified wax. If a candle is lit it is best not to touch it until the flame is first extinguished.
If you like to have multiple candles lit at a time always make sure to have them placed at least three inches apart. Candles that are placed too close to one another can melt each other and cause drafts leading to uneven burning.
Gel candles have been getting a lot of dislikes recently with rumors about the gels being explosive and dangerous floating around on the interweb. From things like “gel candles produce explosive gasses” to “gel candles exploding in people’s hands”. This is why we decided to demystify gel candles to see if these hazards are something we should all be worried about.
Despite the myths and rumors, it is not the gel that poses the danger but rather the container the gel is stored in. Since the gel itself is made from non-explosive material it is impossible for it to pose such a threat on its own. However, if you have left a gel candle lit for a long time the concentrated heat of the candle flame can in some instances shatter or explode the material it is housed in.
Gel candles are normally housed in glass containers. If the glass is not thick enough or if the material used to contain the gel is not strong enough the prolonged heat of the flame can cause the glass to expand and eventually shatter causing what seems like an explosion. If you leave a coffee mug on a burning stove you will experience the same phenomenon.
So, it is not toxic gasses and strange chemical reactions produced by gels that pose a danger or can cause explosions. But to be on the safe side, never leave a gel candle burning for too long unless the gel is contained in thick high-quality glass containers. Also, never move a burning gel candle as it can in very rare cases explode in your hands.
Gel candles offer certain unique attributes as compared to traditional wax candles. As gel candles are made from mineral oil and polymer resin they have a higher melting point than wax candles. This means that gel candles can burn for longer as the gel doesn’t melt as quickly as wax.
Additionally, gel candles also give off a different sort of candlelight as compared to wax candles. This is because there is a difference in the transparency of gel as compared to wax. The way gel reflects light makes the glow of the flame seem brighter and richer than regular candles. To put it into perspective, gel gives off approximately 40% more luminescence than regular paraffin wax candles.
Gel candles also come in many different variations. You can buy them in different sizes, shapes, colors, and fragrances to compliment any interior space.
On top of the safety guidelines mentioned above here are some tips to help you better take care of your gel candles and avoid possible fire hazards.
- Keep your candle dust-free by wiping the exterior and interior with a clean cloth as often as possible
- Make sure to close the lid on the candle when it is not burning
- Never leave any sort of debris on top of the gel. This includes burnt-out match sticks and/or wick trimmings.
- If at any point the flame on the gel candle gets too high, extinguish it immediately.
- Always light up a gel candle in a well-ventilated room
- Trim the top of the wick occasionally to ensure the flame never gets too high
- When ½ an inch of gel is left in the container it is time to discontinue using the candle
- Make sure to never overheat the gel
Gel candles aren’t eco-friendly. They are essentially made from a by-product of crude oil refinement. Gel candles are also unsustainable, non-recyclable, non-reusable, and non-biodegradable making them not so good when it comes to eco-friendliness.
Candles made from beeswax, soy wax, coconut wax, and palm wax are far more eco-friendly options as compared to gel or paraffin wax candles.
Any type of thick glass that is suitable for holding hot liquids should be sufficient to withstand the heat produced by the gel and flame. Glassware such as votive glasses, tumblers, ivy bowls, champagne flutes, mugs, brandy snifters, and candy dishes all make for great glassware options for gel candles.
A gel candle on average will burn for about 20-30 hours depending on the type of gel being used, the type of wick, and the size of the vase or container the gel is stored in.
It is safe to say that gel candles are no more dangerous than any other candle. But unlike any other candle, they do offer brighter light and longer burning time making them a popular choice amongst candle lovers. Just make sure you adhere to the candle safety guidelines and you too can enjoy the tranquility and magic of candlelight whenever your heart desires.