Beitrag Fire hazard - the underestimated danger of tea lights

Fire hazard - the underestimated danger of tea lights

They look so beautiful, the arrangements of tea lights in the shape of hearts or stars. But they are literally a fire hazard.

They look so beautiful, the arrangements of tea lights in the shape of hearts or stars. But they are literally a fire hazard.

The editors of the SWR programme "Marktcheck" commissioned a scientific study in December 2019. A large star arrangement made of tea lights was examined in the fire laboratory of the University of Wuppertal. The temperature inside the star rose to 250 degrees in a very short time. If the tea lights are close together, as in this experiment, a very large flame can develop very quickly. Therefore, it is essential to keep to the manufacturer's safety distance, which is indicated on the packaging and is at least 3 cm.

Extinguishing such a fire is also not easy. Since tea lights are usually made of paraffin (a petroleum product), such a fire cannot be extinguished with air (blowing it out) or water. It will even be fanned and can spread uncontrollably. Extinguishing with a blanket does not work either, because today many blankets are made of synthetic fibres and these give additional food to the fire.

Prof. Roland Goertz from the fire laboratory of the University of Wuppertal compares such a fire with a burning pan or a deep fryer filled with oil.

For extinguishing, one should therefore use a special fire extinguishing spray that is effective against fat fires.

The household insurance is the right contact in case of fire damage in the home. The benefit is often reduced if fire damage occurs due to negligence. That is why experts recommend not leaving candles and tea lights burning without supervision and never placing them on highly flammable surfaces such as napkins or fir branches.

If you tend to forget to extinguish candles or fall asleep with a burning candle, it is better to use wax candles with LEDs, advises Heidi Schneider, head of the consumer advice centre in Korbach.

Further information on this topic or other consumer issues is available at our consumer advice centres.

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