Is fall here yet? It’s hard to tell in Southern California. The only glimpse of it I’ve seen is our drastic weather changes; 100 degrees one day and 65 the next. Without the true signs of fall to signal a changing of the seasons – colorful leaves, cool, brisk air, a drop in temps –  I instead have to recreate them in my home in the form of fall scents. Yes, there are “fall or autumn” scents that bring back memories of the season (of course those memories for me are of SoCal, so what the heck am I thinking!?) but pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and evergreen forests come to mind.

Filling my home with scented candles is one of the easiest ways to reproduce that illusion. I’ve learned from experience that the more expensive candles are worth their money; they burn evenly and smell terrific all the way to the very end. Yankee Candles are my favorite and I can usually find them at a slightly lower price at TJ Maxx or Home Goods stores rather than the mall.

Candles also give off a warm glow – but beware, where there are candles, there’s fire.

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Here are a few safety tips when burning candles:

  1. Open spaces. Don’t place candles too close to a dangling curtain or set them next to anything flammable. I make sure there’s nothing near the flame or candle’s base.
  2. Harder is better -non-flammable when possible. Granite, stone, or concrete counter tops are safest for burning candles. Wood and glass are fine too as long as the surface doesn’t get too hot.
  3. Not too low nor too long. Most candles have a “burn time” of about 2-4 hours. After that, the base becomes incredibly hot and can scorch a surface. Free standing candles shouldn’t burn nearly as long as glass jar candles.
  4. Extinguish the fire. Even if you’re just running out to get the mail, don’t let candles burn unattended. Many-a-fires have been started this way.

It’s also smart to update your home insurance policy and make sure you’re covered in case of fires caused by burning candles – which technically would be classified as neglect. Having a couple of fire extinguishers on hand is also smart. Not long ago we had to use one of our own. The event wasn’t candle related, instead it was scented oil related – which we won’t be repeating anytime soon. Oil is flammable, don’t ya’ know? Well, now we know.

This is the season of fire hazards; candles, holiday lights, burnt-to-a-crisp turkeys, etc. so be safe!

What precautions do you use for preventing fires?


  1. When I was younger, my grama left a candle burning on a table near an open window – it caught her drapes on fire, and we were lucky the whole house didn’t go down in flames. Ever since, NO ONE in my family has lit a candle for any reason other than to go on top of a birthday cake!

    • @Elizabeth – Very scary. I’ve heard stories like this; candles lighting drapes or curtains on fire and the whole place is gone. That’s why I’m careful never to leave candles unattended. I walk around the house making sure all candles are extinguished before we leave or go to bed!

  2. I think you have listed some really sensible tips, and candles do burn down homes all the time. My former neighbor, a firefighter, seemed to delight in telling these stories.

    He offered another fire safety tip: always have plenty of buckets around the house. Theory being, if there is a fire, you need a bucket to quickly fill with water and throw on the flames. Seems like a good idea.

    • @Hunter – That’s a great tip. Sometimes I can’t remember where we’ve placed the fire extinguisher and I always think I might not react quick enough to get it and figure out how to use it. Buckets would be much easier.

  3. we burn candles all the time. i have several shallow glass bowls that we sit the candles in so if they are accidently tipped over the water extinguishes the flame it is common sense to ensure that there are no flammable materials near them.

  4. I don’t know why, but having a candle burning helps me focus when I write. In fact, there’s one burning now. It’s a cheaper candle…and you’re totally right on…not the same as a more expensive candle.

    • @Average Joe – We’ve burned candles for years and the cheaper ones never burn evenly. I don’t know why, but they don’t.

  5. Olivia Watson Reply

    I remembered one of the dreadful event of my life when I was 19. While I was going to the basement of our house with a candle in my hand, suddenly my hair caught fire. I noticed that immediately. Though there was a little burn injury in my hand but i was saved.

    Everybody please keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame during walking with the candle.

    Good post for sure.

    • @Olivia – OMG! How Scary! Definitely keep dangly things, including hair, away from fires. I always worry about burning my hair when I blow out candles, my hair hangs down much too close to that flame. I’ll make a conscious effort to avoid this disaster. 😉

  6. Joe @ Retire By 40 Reply

    We rarely light candles. It’s just too much trouble. The Mrs. light incense once in a while, but that burn out pretty quickly so I don’t think it’s as much of a fire danger as a candle.

    • @Joe -I’m sure that with a toddler in the house, safety is an issue as well. I also like incense, but it’s usually too strong for me or I just can’t find scents I like.

  7. Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter Reply

    Awesome tips! I really like Leannes bowl of water suggestion too. We never leave a room that has a candle lit until we extinguish it. But we will leave those night lights with the bowl of scented wax things on unattended…hope that isn’t super flammable…

    • @Crystal – another option is the flameless candles. They don’t have a nice scent, but they give off a nice glow. We purchased some that even flicker – it creates mood lighting and I don’t have to worry about fire hazards.

  8. Barbara Friedberg Reply

    I love candles but rarely burn them. I don’t trust myself to remember to snuff them out when I leave the room. I like decorative lights for a nice glow. Ikea has a nice selection.

    • @Barbara – I like decorative lights too. It creates a warm glow without having to turn on bright lights. Actually, Mr. LH wrapped our patio beams in clear twinkle lights (very carefully I might add) and I love sitting out there in the evening with the lights on.

  9. Amanda L Grossman Reply

    Fortunately the cool weather has come back here in Houston–it’s a hoodie weekend with highs in the 60s!

  10. Mmm, pumpkin spice. I’ve been thinking of stopping by to get one of those candles. I agree, it’s absolutely important to be aware of how easily unattended candles can start fires. I usually only light them for brief periods when I know I’ll be in the room the whole time. (Such as for a meal — which means when I do burn candles they’re usually unscented.)

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