Candle Safety

The safe use of candles is of utmost importance. Please read the following candle safety tips:

  • Place candles on nonflammable plates for safety. This can also prevent candle wax from staining your table.
  • Check the candle to be sure that it is well balanced on the base and not top heavy.
    Wicks should be kept trimmed to one-quarter inch.
  • Avoid placing candles in drafts where they burn unevenly and drip excessively. You can also use hurricane lamps to shelter them in drafty areas.
  • Stop using a votive candle when one-half inch of wax is left.
  • Snuff out tapers and pillars when they burn down to within 2 inches of their holders.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles.
  • Do not put a burning candle on a book shelf or under a kitchen wall cabinet; the heat produced from the candle may ignite whatever is above it.
  • Never use burning candles on a Christmas tree.

Candle Permits

The Fire Prevention Division issues candle permits for gatherings such as wedding receptions, Christmas parties, dinner/dances, and similar events held in public buildings. For example, if candles are a part of a table's decorative display, then a candle permit is required.


To obtain a candle permit, the candle display must be taken to the Stockton Fire Department Fire Prevention Division to be inspected by one of the staff members. A candle permit will then be issued if the candle and its display contents are deemed safe to use.  Please contact the Fire Prevention Division for information about the permit and applicable fees.


Candle and Open Flame Safe Use Guidelines

The following guidelines were established to ensure the safe use of candles and open-flame decorative lighting:

  • Class I and II liquids and liquefied petroleum gas shall not be used as fuel.
  • Liquid- or solid-fueled lighting devices containing more than 8 ounces must self-extinguish and not leak fuel at a rate of more than ¼ teaspoon per minute if tipped over.
  • The devices or holder shall be constructed to prevent the spilling of liquid fuel or wax at the rate of more than ¼ teaspoon per minute when the device or holder is not in an upright position.
  • The device or holder shall be designed so that it will return to the upright position after being tilted to an angle of 45 degrees from vertical.
    • Exception: Units that self-extinguish if tipped over and do not spill fuel or wax at the rate of more than ¼ teaspoon per minute if tipped over.
  • The flame shall be enclosed, except as follows:
    • Openings on the sides shall not be more than 3/8 inch in diameter, and
    • Openings on the top and the distance to the top shall be such that a single layer of tissue paper placed on the top will not ignite within 10 seconds.
  • Chimneys shall be made of non-combustible materials. Such chimneys shall be securely attached to the open-flame device.
    • Exception: The chimney need not be attached to any open-flame device that will self-extinguish if the device is tipped over.
  • Fuel canisters shall be safely sealed for storage.
  • Storage and handling of combustible liquids shall be in accordance with the California Fire Code, Article 79.
  • Shades, if used, shall be made of noncombustible materials and securely attached to the open-flame device holder or chimney.
  • Candelabra with flame-lighted candles shall be securely fastened in place to prevent overturning and must be located away from occupants using the area and away from possible contact of drapes, curtains or other combustibles.
  • When, in the opinion of the Fire Marshal, adequate safeguards have been taken, hand-held, flame-lighted candles can be allowed. Hand-held candles shall not be passed from one person to another while lighted.

The above guidelines are meant to establish a reasonable degree of fire safety while using candles or other open-flame devices. The Fire Prevention Division will attempt to assist you in the use of special candle holders on a case-by-case basis. You must bring in a sample for our approval before a candle permit may be issued. We will work with you to make your event a safe and memorable one.


External Links

Home Safety Council

This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/21/2011