If you are thinking about bringing candles on a plane, chances are you will be okay. However, there are a few things you should know about certain candles because some may not be allowed on a plane.
In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about getting your candles through airport security and also provide you with some insight into the flammability of candles.
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Can you bring candles on a plane?
You can bring solid wax candles on a plane in your carry-on or checked baggage but other types such as gel or liquid candles may have restrictions such as not being allowed in your carry-on bag.
Keep reading below for a full breakdown of the different types of solid candles.
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Different types of solid wax candles
Solid candles can come in many different forms.
Typically, a solid wax candle will consist of paraffin wax, which is made of saturated hydrocarbons. If you have a scented candle or dyed candle there is a high chance that it is made with paraffin wax.
But other substances could include:
- Soy wax
- Palm wax
- Bayberry wax
All of these in their solid forms will be allowed by TSA in both your carry-on and checked baggage.
As far as the wick goes, the substance shouldn’t matter and all of the following should be allowed:
- Metal within the wicks (trick candles)
- Wood wicks
In terms of the type of candles you might be bringing through the airport, there can also be quite a variety. Commonly found solid wax candles include:
- Birthday party candles (stick form, letter or number candles, trick candles, etc.)
- Tea Lights
- Taper Candles
- Cartridge Candles
- Wax Filled Glass Candles
Note: When it comes to odd or irregular items, sometimes TSA agents like to take a closer look as you make your way through security.
Candles are not the most uncommon items but some of the larger candles might appear a tad suspicious when going through an x-ray machine. Also, if you are carrying mass quantities of candles that might also raise a red flag for the security checkpoint.
For that reason, you might want to be prepared to remove your candle from your bag and allow a TSA agent to give it a close inspection.
So think about packing your candles at the top of your bag so that they can be easily removed. (You might be able to use a single item of clothing wrapped around your candle to provide some padding to prevent your candle from getting damaged.)
Tip: To get through airport security quicker, be sure to apply for TSA Pre-Check, which comes with the following benefits:
- Shoes can stay on
- Belt can stay on
- Light jackets can stay on
- Laptops allowed to stay in bag
- Liquids (3-1-1) can stay in bag
If you are bringing a candle that has some type of gel, then you cannot bring this in your carry-on. Instead, you will have to bring it in your checked baggage.
Typically, a gel-type substance is okay to bring as long as it complies with the liquids rule.
But something interesting to point out is that TSA doesn’t state that gel candles are subject to the liquids rule — they just state that gel candles are not allowed in carry-on items.
This is probably because they could pose a higher safety risk so don’t count on being allowed to bring them as a carry-on item even if they are in very small quantities that would comply with the liquids rule.
If you are bringing a candle that contains liquid such as a floating candle then it might be subject to the liquids rule. However, based on the restriction for gel candles these might not be allowed in carry-on bags, either.
Note: There may be some type of heightened flammability concerns with some liquid candles. So in some cases you may not be allowed to bring that candle on board even in checked baggage.
Electronic candles, such as flameless flickering LED candles, can be carried on a plane but you need to pay close attention to the type of batteries used.
If the candle takes something like AA or AAA batteries you can bring those in your carry-on or checked baggage.
If the candles have lithium ion batteries then you will want to transport them in your carry-on and NOT your checked bag because there are strict rules against lithium ion batteries in checked baggage.
Are candles considered flammable?
Candles are interesting because believe it or not the wax is actually “combustible” by OSHA standards.
For a traditional candle, the wax is heated and turns to liquid and then to vapor (gas) which is what actually burns and ignites the flame. (This is why you can re-light a candle that was just blown out with a lit match without touching the match’s flame to the wick.) This video outlines how the process works and it’s actually pretty interesting.
For paraffin wax to ignite it needs temperatures around 392 degrees Fahrenheit. If there are additives in the wax then the temperature might be closer to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. (A match flame is around 600 to 800 °F.)
You shouldn’t have to worry about encountering those high temperatures when strolling through an airport or riding in a plane so your candles should be safe which is why they are allowed.
And it goes without saying but do not ever light a candle while flying in a plane!
Lighters & matches
If you are bringing candles on the plane there is a good chance that you will also need a lighter. Lighters can be brought on a plane but there are some specific rules that you should be aware of.
According to the FAA, when traveling on a commercial airline you can bring one lighter that uses a flammable gas (butane) or that uses a flammable liquid that is absorbed in a lining (Zippo-type of lighter).
You can read more about bringing lighters on the plane here.
If you are wondering about matches, TSA states “One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are permitted as carry-on items, but all matches are prohibited in checked baggage.:
Birthday cakes and cupcakes
If you are headed to a celebration and thinking about bringing along a birthday cake or similar dessert you’ll be happy to know that you are allowed to bring food like this through airport security.
When bringing a birthday cake you should definitely have an enclosed container that closes securely. Chances are this may be too big for your carry-on bag so you may need to carry it separately.
The airline may consider this a personal item which means that you may not be able to bring a carry-on bag, personal item, plus a container with the cake.
However, that might depend on the size of the cake. If it is pretty compact the airline may not give you a second look. But if you were trying to transport a particularly large cake then that might be considered a bit of a problem.
If you have some type of packs consisting of gels and then those will be considered liquids which means you will be subject to the TSA liquids rule.
Most wax candles should not be an issue when bringing them on a plane in your carry-on or checked bag. But if you were trying to bring along gel or some sort of liquid candles then that could become an issue.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.