There are three primary safety concerns in candle making:
- Wax safety - both in terms of fires, and in terms of burns
- Using fragrance and/or essential oils which can be irritants or even toxic in concentrated amounts safely
- Accidents, spills and such
Just Think Safety First
Before you start, and while you're making your candles - just keep safety in the back of your mind - think ahead - stay focused.
Prepare Your Workspace
No matter how quick your project is going to be, or how neat you usually are, always prepare your workspace. This includes:
- Covering your workspace with newspapers, a tarp or old tablecloth. (I like to get the picnic-table type tablecloths from the dollar store.)
- Keeping your workspace clean and organized. A big part of safety is in thinking ahead and being able to focus. Have everything you are going to use readily at hand...and within easy and safe reach.
- Being prepared for spills - have a bunch of newspapers or several rolls of paper towels handy in case of spills.
- Having your fire extinguisher nearby and a heavy pot lid right at hand.
- Assembling all of your tools, molds, ingredients, additives and accessories before starting.
Work Slowly and Methodically
- Start by creating a safe workplace - make sure all children, pets or other inquisitive parties are not going to disturb your set up.
- Follow instructions or a project guide – especially if you are just learning a technique, or trying a new variation.
- Go slow! Mistakes happen when we rush.
Be Careful with Ingredients
- Measure and pour essential or fragrance oils carefully. They are very concentrated and many will eat through plastics, cause stains, and/or cause irritation on skin. Wipe up any drips immediately and wash your hands if you get them on your skin. And if you measure them ahead of time so that they're ready to pour (a very good practice,) be sure that they can't easily be knocked over or spilled while you're working. This, I know from experience.
- Be sure you understand the safety requirements of the fragrances and/or essential oils you are using and be sure you have a good understanding of essential oil safety
- Be careful with dyes and colors. Dyes, especially liquid dyes, while not toxic, can stain things quickly and powerfully. One or two drops of liquid candle dye can color a pound of wax. Imagine what it does to your nice white shirt. This, I also know from experience.
Melt Wax Safely
- Treat wax with respect. Yes, it’s just a boring white block, but when it gets up to 180°, it can burn you very quickly. Also, wax won’t boil to tell you it’s hot. It just keeps getting hotter and hotter until it starts to smoke. (Of course, if you’re melting your wax properly in a double boiler, this won’t ever occur.)
- Always keep an eye on the temperature of your wax. Make sure you have an accurate thermomter nearby.
- Never leave melting wax unattended. Just don’t. I mean it.
My definition of unattended:
- Measuring your fragrance oil while the wax is melting = OK
- Heating your molds in the oven or with the heat gun = OK
- Answering the phone if it’s in the kitchen within sight of your wax = OK
- Answering the phone if it’s in the other room = NO
- Going to the bath room = NO
- Putting your wicks into your molds or containers = OK
- Going to the other room to find the wicks so that you can put them in the containers = NO
So you see - candle making safety isn't anything to complicated or scary. Following a few common sense rules will keep your candle making safe, and protect your kitchen.
If you have a safety tip or trick you'd like to share, submit it via the User Submission Form.
(And remember that once you've made your candles safely, you'll need to burn them safely too.)