Can Candles Explode? (And What Causes Them to Explode?)

candle-in-jar

Burning a candle can be quite charming. The flicker alone can be fascinating and relaxing. The reminiscence triggered by a specific scent promotes a particular mood. That said, candles can come in handy during blackouts and natural calamities to provide light and heat. 

However, burning a candle with an open flame can be hazardous, and regardless of the occurrence, ignorance is a woe. In a blink of an eye, candle fires can cause damages, severe scalds, and even house loss.

So can candles explode? Let’s find out! 

Is It Possible for the Candles to Explode?

Yes, candles can explode. However, it’s not the candle that causes the explosion but the fire resulting from the candles. Candles are typically contained in vases or glass bottles, but these vases and glasses will at one point explode if subjected to certain conditions. 

For this reason, many households are afraid of using candles. While this sounds crazy, candle explosions are real and have caused many damages in the past. Keep on reading to learn the science behind the explosions.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should dispose of your favorite candles. You just need to be cautious when handling candles to prevent any issue resulting from candle explosions.

Can Scented Candles Explode?

Yes, scented candles can explode. The fragrance is released once the candle turns into liquid. The melted wax carries heat that can cause fire on surfaces such as wood tables. Nearly all candle explosions are a result of igniting a candle close to flammable materials. Be mindful when lighting up a candle to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. 

Is It Safe to Breathe Scented Candles?

Breathing from scented candles is a bad idea. Scented candles incorporate toxic chemicals responsible for the charming aroma. In fact, most of their fragrances and dyes are synthetic, which let out harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) even at room temperature.

Formaldehyde, limonene, esters, alcohol, and petroleum distillates are the commonly released VOCs associated with candles’ scent. These poisonous chemicals can bring about health problems such as headaches, dizziness, allergies, asthma attack, respiratory tract infections, and even worse, cancer.  

Can Scented Candles Kill You?

No, scented candles cannot kill you unless they contain poisonous chemicals such as benzene, lead, and toluene. These chemicals are carcinogenic and can cause cancer over time. 

A study by scientists found that harmful chemicals released by scented candles were matched up to the risks of inhaling diesel exhaust fumes.  

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Most candle waxes are made of soy or beeswax, which means that the manufacturers will mention if the candle is free from these carcinogenic chemicals.

It’s also worth noting that a clean-burning candle will still emit soot that will require your lungs to process. Therefore, it’s best to burn a candle in a well-ventilated room, preferably near the window.   

Are All Scented Candles Toxic?

Yes, all scented candles are rendered toxic due to fragrance-related chemicals. However, the good news is that all these aromas conform to the International Fragrance Association’s safety standards.

Scented candles will emit volatile compounds like formaldehyde when ignited, exposing you to cancer risk.

While scented candles emit these compounds, there’s little to no information that proves their effects on your health. But you’re more likely to have allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, and sinus blockage.

What Causes Candles to Explode?

Candles explode when they interact with water. Candle wax and water are highly reactive; therefore, they stand a chance to explode when they come into contact. Candle wax melts at extreme temperatures, and this makes the area around it hotter.

The hottest part of a candle is going to be the core of the candle. And when the vase or glass container becomes hot, it will eventually explode because of the heat.

As you already know, this can be very hazardous, and you don’t want to be anywhere close to the candle as it explodes. The chances are that you’ll suffer severe injuries when the glass shatters.

How Do You Stop a Candle From Popping?

Prevent your candle from popping by trimming the wick. Long wicks tend to hang onto carbon and start to expand. This will also cause irregular flames, deforming the candle. To fix this, trim the wick ¼ inch from the candle’s surface.

And let’s face it; a candle with irregular burns is a turnoff to most people. It can result in all sorts of problems such as soot and wax tunneling. Always try to identify and fix the problem early enough for complete effectiveness. If you can’t find or amend the problem, you have no option but to dispose of it.

How to Keep Candles From Exploding?

The ultimate way to prevent candle explosions is to be mindful with your candles; nothing much. Ensure that you’re putting candles in the correct positions that aren’t exposed to water.

This means that nothing should leak on the candle, and you shouldn’t spill anything on the candle or close to it. These no-brainer precautions will go a long way to protect you and your entire household from candle explosions.  

Most candle explosions result from negligence. For example, someone might leave a burning candle unattended and crawl into a bed. Anything could happen during the night, exposing the candle to water. Perhaps a pet stumbled over something and knocked over the candle jar without your knowledge.

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In the unfortunate event that water interacts with hot wax from the candle, things will be fatal. You need to use candles responsibly to prevent such occurrences.

Once you’re done with the candles, make sure to blow them out and never leave burning candles unattended. It’s better to emphasize preventive measures than dealing with small fires from candle explosions.

Keep Out of Reach of Children and Pets

A good rule of thumb is to keep burning candles out of reach of children and pets. Even if your kids are aware of how dangerous candles are, accidents are still bound to happen. 

If your child accidentally spills water close to a candle, then that could be the reason the candle explodes. You can prevent all these accidents by ensuring candles are put in safe spots.

As for the pets, you can’t control their movements. If you’re a cat owner, you probably know that cats are fond of climbing, and they can easily reach higher heights such as the shelves.

You should be mindful of where you’re putting candles when you have cats around because you don’t want them to get injured in case of an explosion.

You also don’t want them to evoke the explosion by accidentally knocking something close to a candle or even the candle itself.

Can a Candle in a Glass Jar Start a Fire?

Yes, a candle glass jar can easily ignite a fire if it burns to the bottom . When the heat becomes extreme at the bottom of the glass jar, the chances are that it will crack or explode. The melted wax could also find its way out of the container, causing a fire.

As such, you need to be mindful of whichever surface you’re burning the candle on. Besides leaving a candle unattended, always use a heat-resistant surface when burning your candle. This way, there are minimum chances that the candle will explode even when it burns to the bottom.  

That said, candle fires are very rare. But if you see this happen, then your candle could be having a self-extinguishing wick. Unless you’ve DIY customized candles and you know the type of wick you used, don’t leave your candle flame to self-terminate.  

Why Did My Glass Candle Explode?

Your glass candle might have exploded due to the extreme temperatures of melted wax. Again, the hottest part of the candle will be the core of your candle, which gets hotter over time, causing the glass jar or vase to explode.

If that happens, the chances are that you’ll incur damages, or even worse, end up hurting yourself with the glass pieces. For this reason, you wouldn’t want to be far from the candle when it explodes to be able to put out the fire before it sets your home into flames.

Is It Safe to Put Candles in Glass Jars?

Yes, it’s completely safe to burn candles in glass jars. However, you need to be on the lookout should the candle burn to the bottom of the glass jar. Glassware and ceramic, even those that are marked heat resistant, are vulnerable to cracks when exposed to high temperatures.  

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Not all glass containers will crack, and that’s why most people trust them to the point of carelessness. Even those that are specifically designed for candles will at some point shatter if not monitored. That said, supervision is the key to a safe candle jar, no matter the brand or material.

What Happens When a Burning Candle Is Covered With a Glass Jar?

A burning candle releases carbon dioxide and water as water vapor. Therefore, when it is covered with a glass jar, it becomes misty due to the water. Of course, the flame will go out due to insufficient oxygen supply in the glass. A negative pressure is then created once the air inside the glass cools down and its volume decreases.

You will also notice the water level rising in the glass jar. Reason? The air is heated up as the glass rotates downwards. It also expands and finds its way out before the glass comes into contact with the water. Usually, it’s the external air pressure that drives the water inside the glass container.

Bottom Line – The Right Way to Put Out Candle Fire

There’s more to putting out a candle fire than just blowing it out. As you already know, water is likely to complicate things when they interact with candle wax.

Sadly, most people’s sentiments when they notice fire will be dousing it with water. This could end up causing a large fire if not careful. Not to worry, though, here’s a taster of how you’re going to put out candle fire correctly without hurting yourself or incurring damages.

First, interrupt the chemical process because the candle fire needs oxygen to continue burning. You will want to bring this procedure to a halt by suffocating it. You can use baking soda to extinguish the candle fire. Do this by sprinkling the baking soda around the fire to prevent it from spreading throughout the house.

When done correctly, this procedure should be able to solve the problem without making it worse. Being knowledgeable about candle fires and the potential damages will prevent you from making poor decisions when faced with such calamities.

With that being said, it’s best to prevent candle fires at all costs. But it would also help to learn how to deal with them should they occur. Make baking soda a pantry essential to help you smother candle fires around the house. Meanwhile, have some other options in mind that can come in handy for such emergencies. 

If you can’t find baking soda anywhere around the house, consider using dirt as an excellent replacement for baking soda. A tiny fire extinguisher can also help put out the fire. Just avoid interaction with water when handling candle wax for efficiency. Keep your intelligence and manage a burning candle like a prowess!

About Sarah Walker

Sarah is a homemaker and is passionate about fixing little things in and around her house. She loves to do DIY hacks and keeps on writing about those things in her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her twins Cathy and Mickey.