What Happens If You Leave Candles Burning Overnight And Unattended?

Candles are mainly used as décor in the living room, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

When you light your candles, keep in mind that they are open fires and might just cause a big house fire if mishandled.

You need to take precautions and ensure that you are not endangering lives when burning candles.

Even though candles improve your home décor, they should not be left lighting overnight.

So, What Happens If You Leave A Candle Burning Overnight?

When a candle burns overnight, carbon builds up and creates an unstable flame which can be hazardous. Additionally, the candle may produce soot, cause wax tunneling, damage the candle container, or cause a candle explosion.

Basically, a candle should burn for a maximum of four hours, after which it should be turned off. It is advisable not to leave a candle burning as you sleep to reduce fire risks and other damages like breaking the candle glass containers.

Even though candlelight is seen as a small fire source, it can be hazardous if carelessly handled.

This article will cover several tips on how to ensure safety when using candles in your home.

The Four Dangers Of Leaving A Candle Burning Overnight

It is generally dangerous to leave a candle burning overnight.

Always blow it out before going to bed or whenever you start feeling dizzy.

Otherwise, a candle burning overnight poses high fire risks and significant health hazards.

Some of the dangers of leaving candles burning overnight are;

1. The Candle Could Be Knocked Over

If you fall asleep and leave the candle burning, it can be knocked over by a strong wind, fluttering curtain, large roaches, house rodents, or even a pet.

Basically, anything can shake the candle and knock it over, however little it is.

At the lowest loss level, the candle will spill wax over the nearby items, while the extreme effects may be terrific.

For example, imagine what will happen if the candle is knocked and falls on your expensive carpet or linen curtains and start a fire. The results are obviously life-threatening.

2. Candle Flashover

When a combustible substance gets ignited by another burning item, the action is called flashover.

For candles, a flashover happens when the wax gets ignited by the flames of the wick.

The flames get bigger because two substances are burning, not one wick, like a regular candle burning.

Candle flashovers are very dangerous when unattended and can start a massive house fire.

3. Glass Candle Jars Can Break

Most items made of glass break at high temperatures; therefore, if you use a glass candle jar, you should not leave the candle lighting for many hours because the glass jar can easily break into pieces.

When it breaks, wax spills all over the place, giving you extra work to remove the wax. Flames may also fall on nearby flammable substances and start a large fire.

4. Emission Of Toxic Gasses

Candles made of artificial substances or low-quality material usually produce dangerous gasses when burned for a long time.

Even if the candles are made of good material, they will have accumulated carbon when burnt for over four hours.

When the gasses accumulate in the house, they become toxic to the people inside.

If you are profoundly sleeping, you may experience difficulty breathing, which can later lead to lung problems.

How To Extinguish Candles In The Safest Way

Even though candles can self extinguish, it is not always the safest practice to leave the candles self-extinguishing.

You are also discouraged from blowing out the burning candle to avoid wax spraying all over or burning your skin.

The best thing you can do is use the candle snuffer to extinguish the flames.

If the candle is burning in a candle holder or glass jar, extinguish the flames when the candle has burnt and left just about ½ inch of wax at the lower part.

Similarly, if the candle is not in a container, put out the flames when there is about 2 inches of wax at the bottom.

Seven Candle Burning Safety Tips

1. Use Long Reach Lighters Or Long Matches To Light Candles

Using a long lighter matchstick helps you safeguard your fingers while lighting the candles.

Keep loose sleeves away and tie your hair or just cover it because hairs catch fire very easily and fast.

2. Use Candle Holders

Use firm candle holders that will not topple and fall on nearby items.

In most cases, candle holders are made of glass or metals.

Place the candle on heat-resistant surfaces and not plastic furniture because plastics can easily get burnt in case you forget the candle to light for long hours.

3. Keep Candles Away From Flammable Items

Always keep a lit candle at least one foot away from any item that can easily catch fire.

Generally, candles are open flames and, therefore, a fire hazard.

Avoid keeping candles near beddings, curtains, drapes, paper items, and other flammable material.

The desk you keep burning candles should be decluttered to prevent nearby items from overheating or catching fire.

4. DO NOT Leave A Burning Candle Unattended For A Long Time

From several reports, candle fires are started when people sleep and leave lighting candles unattended.

If you are feeling sleepy, it is advisable not to light candles, or if you have already lit the candles and they are burning, shut the candle off before proceeding to bed.

If you are leaving the house, put off the candles, especially when you know that you will be going out for longer hours.

Similarly, if you have pets and children in the house, make sure to give close attention to your lit candles and discourage the children and pets from moving close to the candles.

Pets can accidentally knock down the lit candles and burn some of your priceless items.

5. Install Smoke Sensor Alarms

Put smoke alarms on all levels of the home and in all rooms you like by putting lit candles.

The smoke sensor alarms will alert you when there is a fire in the house and enable you to take haste actions before the fire gets worse.

Check the alarms every month to test if they are still functional.

6. Avoid Using Candles As A Source Of Light When There Is A Power Outage

When there is a power outage, it is advisable to use lanterns or flashlights but not candles.

You may be tempted to spread candles all over the house to provide adequate light when the power goes off.

In the process, you will forget and put the candles near flammable material that can cause an unmanageable fire if candle spaces fall on it

7. Avoid Touching Or Moving A Burning Candle

When the candle is lit, and the wax has liquified, avoid touching it or moving it to a different place because you may harm yourself.

Holding hot wax is unbearable; you can easily burn your skin or drop the candle on a flammable material and cause a massive house fire.

If you need to move a candle, do it before lighting or turn it off and wait for the wax to cool and solidify before you move.


When burning candles, whether for décor or lighting, you need to be more careful to avoid fire accidents.

Burning candles overnight is highly discouraged because of the risks to humans and property.

Always consider the above tips to protect yourself and your property when lighting candles.

Also, be cautious when putting the candlelight out to avoid unpredictable fires.