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Article: Why You Shouldn't Put Out Candles with the Lid

Why You Shouldn't Put Out Candles with the Lid

After an indulgent evening with your favorite candle fragrances, the last thing you want is to blow out your candle and have the smell of smoke ruin your luxurious atmosphere. 

You might have read an article or heard from a friend that putting out candles with the lid is a neat trick that minimizes the amount of smoke and soot produced. And with our new Ceramic Gold luxury candles that come with decorative lids, you might be thinking of giving it a try.

But wait! 

There are better ways to extinguish a candle that will keep your candles looking beautiful and lasting longer. Here's why we don't recommend putting out candles with the lid, and what you should do instead.

Can You Put Out Candles with the Lid?

Technically, yes. Putting the lid on a burning candle deprives the flame of the oxygen it needs to keep going. 

A candle flame is essentially a continuous combustion reaction between oxygen and hydrocarbons (wax) to form water vapor, carbon dioxide, and heat. When you remove oxygen from the equation by putting a lid on the candle jar, the reaction stops and the flame extinguishes.

The benefit of doing this is that it produces less smoke than if you blew out the candle. It also prevents smoke from circulating into the room and mixing in with the nice fragrance you've got permeating your space. As long as the candle lid itself isn't made of a flammable or heat-sensitive material, it doesn't pose a safety risk either. 

Even so, we don't recommend putting out your candles this way.

Why We Don’t Recommend It

It's true that putting out candles with the lid is better than blowing them out. However, there are better ways to extinguish the flame (we'll get to that later). Here are the reasons why you shouldn't use the lid to put out a candle.

First, not all candle lids are meant to be used that way. Some candle lids are purely decorative, made from wood or plastic, or contain rubber seals that can melt or deform when exposed to heat. 

Second, the lid traps smoke and soot within the jar when the flame goes out. While it's great that it stops smoke from escaping into the rest of the room, the downside is that it leaves black, sooty residue on the underside of the lid and on the insides of the container. 

Third, in addition to making your candle jar turn black, the trapped soot can also settle into the wax. If you enjoy the pristine look of clean, white-colored soy wax, you're not going to like it when you open up the lid again and the top of your wax looks dirty and sooty.

Fourth, trapping smoke under the lid can gradually alter the original fragrance of your scented candle. If you do it several times, you may start to notice that your candles may start to smell smoky. 

And last, your lid might get stuck. If there's a lot of empty space in the container, the flame will continue to burn for a some time until it uses up all of the oxygen inside. When the oxygen gets used up, it can create a vacuum seal that suctions the lid tightly to the candle jar, making it difficult to open again. 

How to Extinguish Scented Candles

At the Harlem Candle Company, we recommend 2 methods for extinguishing candles. Both will minimize smoke while also maintaining the health and appearance of your candle. 


A wick dipper is a long piece of metal with a flat handle on one end and a thin tip with a bent hook on the other. You use it to gently press the lit candle wick into the wax pool, which instantly snuffs out the flame, before pulling the wick back up into a straight position.

This method of extinguishing a candle produces the least amount of smoke — almost none, in fact — which makes it a favorite among people who find the lingering smokiness unpleasant. It also re-coats your wick with a fresh layer of wax after each burn, giving you a nice, beautiful flame when you relight it.

The only drawback is that some of the burnt wick residue might fall off into your wax pool. And if you're not careful when pulling the wick back out, you might end up with a buried wick.

If you don't have a wick dipper, you can do this with any long, metal tool such as a spoon or an unbent paperclip. However, the bent hook at the end definitely makes it easier to bring the wick back up after it's been put out. 

2. Using a Candle Snuffer

A candle snuffer is a long stemmed metal rod with a small cone or bell dangling at the end. You hover the cone or bell gently over the candle flame and lower it until the rim of the bell barely touches the surface of the wax pool.

Like putting a lid over your candle, the snuffer cuts off the supply of oxygen to the flame, which quickly extinguishes it.

This produces slightly more smoke than the wick dipper method, which you'll see wafting out as you lift the candle snuffer back up. However, it's pretty minimal, and visually it looks quite elegant and sophisticated.

The main benefit of using a snuffer over a wick dipper is that it prevents debris from falling into the wax pool, especially when you've been burning it for a while and the wick has started to mushroom. If this happens, extinguish the candle with a snuffer and then trim the wick. You can use a dipper afterwards to coat the wick with melted wax. 

Why Do Candles Have Lids Then?

If the lid isn't there to be used to put out the candle with, what is it for? 

Besides being decorative, lids help keep your candles clean by keeping dust and debris out. They also preserve the lifespan of scented candles by preventing the fragrance from escaping, which happens whenever the wax is exposed to open air (you might recognize this phenomenon as "cold throw").

About the Harlem Candle Company

The Harlem Candle Company is a luxury home fragrance brand that makes beautifully scented candles that celebrate the Harlem Renaissance. Our mission is to continually capture the beauty and essence of Harlem of yesterday and today as we illuminate spaces around the world with our soft glows and exquisite scents.