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User safety

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User safety

Now that we have talked extensively about your own safety as a hobby or (semi)professional candlemaker, there is another area that is at least as essential: the safety of those who are going to use your candles!

Whether you reside in Europe, in the United States or anywhere else, chances are that user safety is governed by a set of standards, either voluntary or mandatory.

Besides your own safety during the process of making your candles, the safety of whoever is going to light and burn your candles, whether it's your grandmother or someone you don't know at the other end of the world, is paramount.

In the European Union, candles must pass the rigorous requirements of the GPSD (General Product Safety Directive) in general and those of the following European standards: EN 15494 (product safety labels), EN 15493 specification for fire safety) et EN 15426 (specification for sooting behavior). Those three standards, created in 2007, have been revised and updated in 2018 and 2019.
Its is important to specify that all 3 standards are voluntary rather than mandatory. Nevertheless, failure to follow these standards can backfire on you if you are ever held responsible for an incident involving your products; for that reason, it is highly recommended that you follow and respect them.

In the United States, besides the CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Act), the "umbrella" law similar to the European GPSD, 6 ASTM (American Society for Testing Material) standards exist to make sure candles and their accessories are safe to use: ASTM F1972 (Guide for Terminology Relating to Candles and Associated Accessory Items), ASTM F2058 (Cautionary Labeling), ASTM F2179 (Heat Strength of Glass Containers), ASTM F2326 (Standard Test Method for Collection and Analysis of Visible Emissions from Candles as They Burn), ASTM F2417 (Fire Safety for Candles) and ASTM F2601 (Fire Safety for Candle Accessories).

Here again, these standards are voluntary rather than mandatory but in the States even more than in Europe, it is highly recommended for manufacturers, large and small, to comply with all of them if they want to stand a chance in court if anything bad involving their products happens and they get end up getting sued.

GPSD (General Product Safety Directive)

To view the English version of the General Product Safety Directive, click the icon.

The GPSD is a rather sterile series of laws commonly called "umbrella" laws that govern the general safety of products sold in the countries of the Europen Union. To make a very long story short, GPSD requires that only products that are safe to use in normal usage conditions are brought to market. If, from the get go, your candles tilt of their own accord because their base is not level, if you embed flammable materials like dried flowers close to the wick, if your container candle comes in a cardboard container or is made of glass that is not heat-resistant, if the wicks you use are completely disproportionate in regards to the size of the candle or if each and every candle you produce smokes like a coal-fired locomotive and spreads soot like crazy, don't look any further: you do not comply with the GSPR and no safety label is going to change anything about that.

CPSA (Consumer Product Safety Act)

To view the English text of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), click the icon.

Exactly the same rationale applies to the CPSA that governs the safety of products sold on the territory of the United States.

How to get the standards?

Whether out of curiosity or because you want to study and make sure you understand them in order to be fully compliant, you may be tempted to try and get the full text of the standards I've just talked about. A quick Google search and you will soon realize that you can't just download the standards, you have to pay for them... They are indeed copyrighted (funny when you think it's our tax money that pays for the European institutions) and I am therefore not allowed to share them with you.

But beware : a large majority of the companies allowed to sell you a digital and/or paper version of the standards do so for ridiculously exorbitant prices (if you were wondering why the image above, it's because that's what I think of them). Most standards are 9 pages long pdf files, for which Ansi.org charges 180$, Afnor 105$, Standard.eu 175$, BSI 165$, Normadoc 93$ and Beuth 133$. There are many more...

If you really want or need to obtain the standards, I highly recommend you pay a visit to the website of the Estonian Centre for Standardisation (www.evs.ee, in Estonian and English). There you can officially buy the exact same standards for less than 18$ a pop. You just need to do a search on the coveted standard name. Don't let the big guys rob you...

ASTM standards are mainly sold through the official ASTM website and also by a few other parties. Prices, wherever you decide to shop, average 50$ per standard.

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