Can You Bring Candles on a Plane?

If you've traveled by plane in the last year, you know there have been many changes. But what hasn't changed are the regulations set by the Travel Security Administration's (TSA's) rules on what you can carry on a plane. 

Of all the rules, liquids seemed to be the easiest for most to remember. No more than 3.4-ounces of liquids allowable in one carried-on bag. Plus, if 3.4-ounce wasn't already enough to remember, each 3.4-ounce container must fit into a single one-quart bag.

But what does that have to do with candles? Candles may seem like a specific item that the TSA would clear, but it comes down to what material the manufacturer used to make the candles.

Unfortunately, that means that the answer is not a simple yes or no answer.

Types of Candles

There are five primary candle forms that most people own or use candles every day in their households.

  • Solid wax (most common)
  • Container
  • Tealight
  • Battery operated
  • Liquid

In short, the answer to the perennial question of “can you bring candles on a plane?” is a mixture of yes and no.

Solid Wax

Paraffin, palm oil, soy wax, or beeswax are the most widely used materials for making candles. Each has a high flashpoint of 390 degrees and is more likely to melt under rising temperatures greater than 122 degrees.

If the candle is a gift, TSA recommends travelers loosely wrap the candle(s), so TSA can visually inspect the item after clearing the x-ray review. If it’s wrapped up in gift paper, you’re just going to have to wrap it again as TSA will need to inspect the contents.

Solid wax candles come in a variety of shapes and lengths. The most common are outlined below and include used wax for making these varying candle shapes and the material safety data sheet (MSDS) on the wax type.

  • Tapered: Paraffin or beeswax
  • Celebratory: Like the sparkler cake candles (made using paraffin) remain undefined by TSA but may classify as a firework. It is therefore unsafe for transport in-cabin or in the haul of the plane
  • Religious: Paraffin

If you bring a wax candle that isn’t a sparkler, you should be able to bring it on your plane with no issues.

Container Candles

Candles manufactured from the same wax material used to create solid wax candles are also processed using granulated wax beads.

In-glass means the candle manufacturer uses glass or some other type of breakable material like ceramic or terracotta to create their candles.

While the TSA states candles are safe in a carry-on bag, they don't address whether you can take candles on an aircraft in a container. However, as long as there is a removable lid that allows for TSA to inspect your candle, you should be fine.

Tealight Candles

Solid tealight candles and encased wax in a votive are both safe for transportation in your carry-on or your checked luggage.

Battery Operated

Battery-operated candles are lightweight and often come without batteries. Therefore, battery-operated candles are safe for carry-on and checked bags. Of course, the final decision is always in the capable hands of a TSA agent.

Liquid Candles

Liquid candle states are not likely to be allowed on a plane if it’s more than 3.4 ounces. No other candle will concern a TSA agent like these: lamp oil and essential oils (like Citronella or lavender). Lamp oils are excellent for use in hurricane lanterns and tiki torches, but they can’t travel via carry-on.

Gel candles get classified by the TSA as fluid because the material is a blend of mineral oil and polymer resin and can only transport in your checked baggage—just like lamp oils and essential oils.

Prohibited, Banned, Restricted Candles

TSA guidelines are better classified today but will continue to be an evolving resource as new technologies become available. As an easy reference, TSA classifications are below.

Paraffins, beeswax, soy wax, and wax beads

  • Carry-on Bag: Yes
  • Checked Baggage: Yes

Glass

  • Carry-on Bag: Yes
  • Checked Baggage: Yes

Fireworks (i.e., sparkler cake candles)

  • Carry-on Bag: No
  • Checked Baggage: No

Gel-wax

  • Carry-on Bag: No
  • Checked Baggage: Yes, 3.5 ounces

Concluding Your Pre-flight Check-in on Candles

So, if you're looking for the perfect candle to gift, don't worry; most candle types are safe for transport in your carry-on bag or your checked luggage.

However, gel candles and anything containing oil will have to go in your luggage itself, and then you run the risk of getting your other items stained. It’s better to just buy these things when you land rather than risk ruining your luggage.

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