what happens if you leave a candle burning overnight
Kristina Davis

If you are having trouble nodding off, lighting a candle before bed may help, but what happens if you leave a candle burning overnight?

Someone who likes fragrant candles likely has many queries.

âś… And whether or not scented candles should be left burning all night is a common concern.

The truth is that it is better to avoid leaving a burning candle unattended.

Aside from the obvious fire hazard, you may end up dealing with many other issues when leaving candles burning overnight.

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Wax leaking, burns, cuts, dehydration, and obvious risk of fire are some common things that may happen if you leave a candle burning overnight.

Reaping the Amazing Benefits of Scented Candles

benefits of scented candles

The aroma of the scented candle evokes a response in the area of the brain responsible for recalling and evaluating emotional states.

The fragrance can have various psychological impacts, from increasing energy and reducing stress to improving focus and concentration.

But you must learn how to burn those candles safely in your home, as failing to follow guidelines can put you in trouble.

đź‘Ť And one of the most important things to remember is to avoid burning candles overnight.

Burning Candles Overnight

burning candles overnight

It is not a good idea to leave a burning candle unattended overnight. If you let it burn through the night, it may cause the container to overheat.

Since the wax can melt, it can spread fire to nearby bedding, books, and drapes.

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Therefore, it is a good idea to avoid burning those candles overnight. In fact, you should not leave a candle unattended even if you light it up in the morning.

How Long Can You Leave Your Candle Burning?

how long candle burning

Ideally, you should not let it burn for longer than four hours. In other words, this is the maximum duration you can leave your burning candle unattended.

It is mainly because the carbon will likely build up on the wick in almost four hours.

It implies that the wick’s stability will be compromised once four hours have passed.

In fact, a wick that is too small for the flame will start spewing soot into the air and onto the container’s surface.

An Important Consideration

not recommended to leave

Yes, it is not recommended to leave a candle burning for more than a few hours.

âś… But burning them for less than half an hour before blowing them out is also not ideal.

Wax will accumulate on the container’s sides if the candle is lit for a short time, resulting in wasted candle wax.

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What Happens if You Leave a Candle Burning Overnight?

candle burning overnight

So, is it bad to leave candle burning overnight? Well, it definitely is!

Many things can go wrong if you are not around to supervise those burning candles. 

Here are a few issues that may arise:

You May Notice Candle Flashover

the candle flashover

This is called a flashover when all flammable materials suddenly catch fire.

âś… And a candle flashover occurs when the wax catches fire from the wick.

And in case the wax catches fire, the resulting flame is likely to be much larger than intended.

And you have to be around to deal with such a situation, which is why leaving a candle burning overnight is a big no-no.

Note: Unattended candle flashovers can be quite hazardous since the flame can quickly spread and cause extensive damage.

You May Notice the Container Heating Up

the container heating up

Even though many candles are designed to self-extinguish as they burn, the container can still become quite hot.

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When this happens, it can ignite the wax around it, resulting in a fire that might spread to nearby objects.

You May Knock It Over

may knock it over

If you love burning a candle at your bedside, leaving it unattended through the night can cause many problems.

There is always a risk of you knocking it over while asleep.

Even a pet can accidentally hit it, causing the glass container to shatter. If it happens, you might end up dealing with a fire.

Note: Data shows that over 7400 homes caught fire between 2015 and 2019 because of the unattended burning of candles.

You May Have Leaking Wax

you have leaking wax

If you have a glass container that breaks for whatever reason, there is always a risk of starting a fire.

But, it is also possible that the wax leaks out when there is a crack in the container.

Once the wax pours out, it is often so hot that it damages the surface underneath it. And if you do not react quickly, it can completely burn the surface.

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You May Get Burned

get burned in hand

This is quite obvious and a common issue associated with burning a candle.

You will burn yourself if you accidentally touch the container. The burn can be more severe if you let any melted wax spill on your skin.

You May Get Yourself Injured

your hand Injured

A cracked glass container can always cause serious injuries. Cuts are quite common and can often be quite deep and bad.

Data shows that over 8900 candle-related injuries are reported annually in the US alone.

Burns from the wax, candle holders themselves, and open flames are included in this category, as are lacerations from the sharp edges of the container itself.

You May Develop Migraines

you may develop migraines

You significantly increase your risk of developing headaches when sleeping with candles burning by your side.

It happens mainly because of the release of benzene and toluene. And toluene is especially dangerous in many ways.

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Toluene can have the same effects on your brain as alcohol does. It can impair your central nervous system.

also develop nausea

So, when you leave a candle burning and expose yourself to toluene, you suck it all up and fill your lungs with it.

Even a small toluene exposure can result in migraines, headaches, or fatigue. You may also develop nausea and even feel dizzy.

In case of severe exposure, you may develop issues like insomnia, poor coordination, and loss of consciousness.

An Important Consideration

its very important consideration

If you combine alcohol with the effects of toluene, you may develop some serious complications.

It can range from respiratory depression and seizures to even death.

You May Develop Dehydration

may develop dehydration

Candles are lovely, but their heat can dry out your skin and leave you feeling parched.

If you dig deeper, you will notice that wax is a hydrocarbon, a combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms.

And when burned, it releases a hot gas that reacts with the air and lights up the flame.

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The combustion process is maintained as more wax melts due to heat.

Because of this chemical reaction, you notice the temperature rise in your room.

This triggers water movement out of your body, mainly through sweating, evaporation, and breathing. Over time, it can lead to dehydration.

Is There a Safer Way To Light a Candle?

there's safer way

Fortunately, it is not hard at all to use candles safely by following certain guidelines.

Adhering to these simple guidelines may get a longer burn time, reduce the amount of soot produced, and prevent tunneling.

Trim the Wick

trimming wick candle

Ensure the wick is trimmed to no more than a quarter of an inch before you even begin to light the candle.

It is equally important to ensure that the wax pool is clear of any stray matches or wick scraps.

Debris is like throwing gasoline on a candle—it will cause it to burn faster and more intensely than it can tolerate.

Note: Trimming wicks improves the life of your candle and even results in a 25% increase in the burn time for your candles.

Check the Manufacturer’s Instructions

manufacturer’s instructions

Never burn a candle for longer than what is indicated by the manufacturer.

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Otherwise, carbon will build up on the wick, and the candle will “mushroom.”

A big, potentially deadly flame may be produced as the wick becomes unsteady.

In addition, smoke and soot will begin to emanate from your candle. This can be avoided by constantly following the guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

Tip: Candles should be allowed to cool for two hours before being relit after a burn time of four hours.


Learning what happens if you leave a candle burning overnight can save you from dealing with serious issues.

All sorts of things can go wrong, right from injuring yourself and developing headaches, to causing a huge fire.

Therefore, you must play it safe and always follow safety guidelines when burning a candle in your home.