Although not overly hazardous, candle making can be dangerous if you don't observe basic safety precautions. Failure to follow the safety rules may result in serious injury to yourself, your family, and / or damage to your home or shop. If basic safety precautions are taken, fire should not be a common problem, but you should be prepared anyway.
NEVER leave melting wax unattended. Not even in a double boiler. Not ever.
NEVER overheat wax. Know the flash point of your wax (usually about 375 degrees F. for paraffin). It will spontaneously combust when it reaches the flash point. If using wax of unknown flash point do not heat above 212 degrees F (such as in a double boiler). The fumes from overheated wax can cause severe illness - in case of an accident evacuate the area and ventilate it.
ALWAYS keep wax away from open flames - it is flammable.
ALWAYS use a thermometer. It is essential for both safety and good repeatable results that you always be aware of the wax temperature.
ALWAYS use a double boiler. Temperatures up to 200 degrees F. can be achieved this way. Most recipes use a temperature in this range. If you don't have a double boiler, use an old pot for the water and a smaller pot inside it to melt the wax in.
A few recipes call for temperatures higher than 200 degrees F. and will require heating directly on the heat source. Extreme caution is required for this. Be vigilant, and do not allow the temperature to go above 325 degrees F. Do not let your attention wander. If possible do it outdoors on a hot plate.
NEVER put water on a wax fire.Wax is essentially oil, and water may splatter the flaming wax. DO NOT use water based fire extinguishers on wax fires, and for safety these should not be kept anywhere near your wax melting area.
ALWAYS keep a pot lid, and a dry chemical (ABC Type) fire extinguisher handy when heating wax. Use the pot lid to smother tiny fires in the melting container. A fire extinguisher is useful if you set the curtains on fire, or have some other major accident. These items should be kept outside of any area that may be affected by fire but still within easy access. A FIRE EXTINGUISHER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF CANDLE MAKING EQUIPMENT YOU CAN OWN.
ALWAYS use a pot holder or pliers when handling hot pots or cans.
Wear loose clothing. If you are wearing tight clothes and wax splashes you it will be in immediate skin contact. If wax gets on your skin, run it under cold water immediately - then peel off the wax.
Don't pour wax down the drain unless you want an expensive visit from your plumber.
NEVER let candle making get so routine that you get careless.
Following these safety rules and taking precautions against fire will help you relax and enjoy your candle making even more.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF CANDLE MAKING EQUIPMENT YOU CAN OWN IS AN ABC TYPE, DRY CHEMICAL FIRE EXTINGUISHER.
Look for more instructions coming soon.
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Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing. Originally published in 1997 and updated in February 2008 and June 2011. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.
Author: Bob Sherman
Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.
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