Wondering if you’re allowed to bring candles on board for your next flight?
Perhaps you’re bringing one as a gift for a friend or relative in another state, or maybe you fell in love with a candle while on vacation and you’d like to take it home with you.
In this article, we’ll discuss what types of candles are allowed on planes and how to pack them safely in your luggage or carry-on.
Can You Bring Candles on a Plane?
Snakes, no. Candles, yes.
You are allowed to bring most kinds of candles on a plane if you’re flying from anywhere in the United States.
Solid wax candles can be brought along with practically no restrictions, according to the TSA website – as long as you don’t light them on board, of course.
When you travel with candles in your carry on luggage, it is best to remove them from your carry on and place them into a bin when going through security. In our experience, TSA agents often want to do an additional scan on the candles if they aren't able to identify them when scanned through the machine.
Here are TSA’s rules about bring candles on planes:
- Solid candles are allowed in both carry-on bags and checked luggage.
- Gel candles are prohibited in carry-on bags, but allowed in checked luggage.
- There is no limit on the size or number of candles you can bring.
You’re allowed to pack candles in both carry-on and checked luggage as long as they’re solid candles.
Solid candles refers to any candle made of solid, hardened wax. Examples include candles made with paraffin, soy wax, beeswax, palm wax, coconut wax, and more. They can be in any type of container – glass, metal, ceramic, or no container at all.
Gel candles (also called gel wax candles) use rubbery, transparent gel wax made of 5% polymer resin and 95% mineral oil. They’re designed to burn longer than solid wax candles, but there are enough stories on the internet about exploding gel candles that TSA decided they’re too dangerous to be inside your carry-on.
If you’re planning to bring gel candles on your trip, remember to keep them in your checked luggage.
TSA doesn’t impose any restrictions on the size or number of candles you bring. Generally speaking, you can bring as many candles as you want, as long as they fit in your bag.
The candles can also be in any size or shape – within reason. There’s a side note on the TSA website that says “the final decision rests with the TSA officer on whether an item is allowed through the checkpoint.”
What About Decorative Matches?
If you bought an Art Deco inspired matchbox to go with your favorite Harlem Candle Company candle, you may bring it with you in your carry-on bag, but not in your checked luggage.
Strike-anywhere matches are prohibited. These kinds of matches can light from friction against any hard, rough surface – and may inadvertently cause a fire while in transit. On the other hand, safety matches (like our Art Deco matches) will only ignite when struck against the special strip on the side of the box, which makes them safer to carry.
TSA rules allow passengers to bring one box of safety matches per person. But if you have more than one, you’ll have to leave the rest at home.
How to Pack Candles in Your Luggage
Now that you understand what’s allowed and what isn’t, let’s talk about how to pack candles for your trip.
Candles can be quite fragile, especially the ones with lovely glass containers. It’s best to pack them in your carry-on bag or bring them on board as a personal item, since you’ll be able to keep track of how they’re handled throughout your journey.
Packing them in your checked luggage, on the other hand, is riskier. You’ve probably seen videos of airport workers chucking suitcases on and off the plane – that’s not a good time for any candles nestled inside.
If you need to pack candles in your checked luggage, here are some tips to keep them safe:
- Place candles inside clear, zippered bags in some of the wax softens or melts in transit.
- Pack your candle as close to the center of your suitcase as possible.
- If you have a glass or ceramic candle, place at least 1-3 inches of packing material (bubble wrap or crumpled paper, ideally) around all sides.
- Clothing can also make great packing material, but don’t wrap them in direct contact with the candle to avoid melted wax or oil staining your clothes.
- Fill up your suitcase so that there isn’t any empty space inside for things to move around.
- Slap a “Fragile” sticker on your suitcase. It won’t guarantee that your bags will be treated gently, but it’s better than nothing.
How to Pack Candles in Carry-On Bags
Fragile items like candles are best kept in carry-ons.
But despite being allowed in your carry-on bag, candles are often the target of extra scrutiny from airport security. Maybe it’s the way candle wax looks as it’s going through the x-ray machine, or maybe the gate officer has formed an exaggerated cognitive association between candles and fires.
Either way, having your candle flagged for a security check can lead to unwanted delays. If you plan on packing a candle in your carry-on, here’s what we recommend:
- Pack your candle near the top of your bag so you can take it out quickly if needed.
- Leave your candle in a clear zippered bag or opened candle box that’s accessible for security to inspect.
- To streamline the process, take it out of your bag before sending it through the x-ray.
- Don’t gift wrap your candle before the flight, as security might ask you to unwrap it.
And that’s it — everything you need to know about bringing candles on a plane.
Hopefully these tips will ease some concerns and make it more convenient for you to bring your favorite candles with you on your next trip.