Packing your suitcase prior to flying away on a trip is not always as simple as it seems. Some everyday items can be classified as potential threats onboard a plane and, therefore, have restrictions. Candles are one of the things that people are unsure where to pack. Each country sets its own guidelines, so it can be tricky trying to work out the rules. To add to the confusion, different kinds of candles have different regulations.
Why Wouldn’t You Be Allowed to Take a Candle in Carry-On Luggage?
The regulations controlling what you can and cannot pack in your hand luggage or suitcase have been established to protect passengers on planes from potential threats. Some of the rules are to provide protection from the chances of accidental injury and damage, and some of these rules are to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks.
The concerns with candles on a plane fall into several different categories:
Candles are flammable. While it may seem obvious, candles are made of material that can easily catch fire. Every precaution possible is taken to reduce the risk of a fire onboard an airplane. For this reason, you may find you are not allowed candles in your hand luggage.
Candles can be viewed as a liquid. Liquids in hand luggage are limited to 100 ml (3.4 oz). Some candles are categorized as liquids, such as gel candles and candles containing lamp oil. However, the reason the 100 ml (3.4 oz) limitation exists is as much about the size of the container as it is about its contents. If you have a candle in a decorative container in your cabin bag that is more than 100 ml (3.4 oz), it is very likely a security officer will confiscate it.
Candles can be made of beeswax. Some countries are very strict about what kind of animal products can be brought in by plane. They have laws to protect their native species from foreign organisms that could harm them. Some countries consider beeswax as a potential threat, so they require beeswax candles to be declared at customs to be checked.
So, Can I Bring My Candle on a Plane as Carry-On Luggage?
If you are traveling with candles, especially if they are expensive, it is always wise to check the rules of the countries you are flying in and out of. Most airlines also have guidelines, and your airline would gladly offer advice if you contact them.
America – What Does the TSA Say About Candles?
In America, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) decides what you can and can’t bring on a plane. If your candle is solid, then the TSA has no issues with you packing it in either your carry-on or checked bags. If you plan to put it in your carry-on bag, the recommendation is not to wrap it up, as the security officer will have to inspect it.
Gel-type candles can only go in your checked bags because they are categorized as fluids. Likewise, any kind of liquid candle or lamp will have to go in your suitcase if it is more than 3.4 oz (100 ml).
Battery-operated candles without the batteries can go in both your carry-on and your checked luggage. If they have batteries, it would be best to put them in your carry-on, especially if they are rechargeable.
The UK – What Are the UK Government’s Regulations Concerning Candles?
The UK allows solid wax candles in both your hand luggage and your hold bags. However, although not classified as a liquid, in practice, you will find that a security officer will not be happy with large candles in your carry-on bag.
Gel-type candles are included under liquid, aerosol, and gel restrictions. If your gel candle is over 100 ml in volume, it has to go in your suitcase. Battery-operated candles, on the other hand, should go in your cabin bag.
Europe – What Are the EU’s Guidelines Regarding Candles?
The EU’s regulations for what is banned on European planes do not specifically mention candles. Their website says that if you are packing anything not mentioned on their list of prohibited items, you should check the websites of the airports you are flying in and out of. However, most of the major airports do not mention candles in their list of restricted items, and most of them refer back to the EU’s list.
This lack of guidance means that it is impossible to be definite as to whether you can pack candles to take on a plane in the EU. Looking at the rules of other countries, you could presume that solid candles under 100 ml (3.4 oz) would be allowed in your carry-on baggage. However, the safest thing way to travel with candles in the EU would be to pack them in your suitcase that is going in the hold. The exception would be battery-operated candles, which you should put in your hand luggage.
Australia – Does the ABF Have Laws About Candles?
According to their website, the Australian Border Force (ABF) does not classify candles as dangerous goods. They are, therefore, allowed in both your carry-on and checked baggage. They highlight that associated items like candlesticks and candlestick holders may be considered a security risk.
The exception would be gel or liquid candles. The ABF defines a liquid as ‘a substance that is liquid at room temperature and a gel as ‘a jelly-like substance. If your candle fits either of these descriptions, it must be 100 milliliters or 100 grams or less to go in your cabin bag.
There are restrictions on batteries on Australian flights, so if you have battery-operated candles, it would be advisable to put them in your hand luggage and not your suitcase.
You also need to be aware that if your candles are made from beeswax, you must have them inspected. Beeswax products, including candles, are allowed into Australia for personal use, but you have to declare them. Security officers need to inspect them to verify they are clean and free from insects, seeds, or other contamination.
New Zealand – What Are the CAA of New Zealand’s Rules About Candles?
The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) does not include candles on its list of items prohibited and restricted from being on a plane. So you could presume that, in line with other countries, they would allow solid candles in both hand luggage and checked bags. The CAA limits liquids to 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less, so any candle with gel or liquid components must comply if they are in your cabin bag. Batteries are also subject to limitations, so if you have battery-operated candles, it would be advisable to pack them in your carry-on baggage.
New Zealand strictly controls any animal products being brought into their country. They list ‘honey and honey products, including cosmetics, health supplements and medicines’ as animal products. While they do not state that beeswax is also viewed as an animal product, it would be sensible to err on the side of caution and declare any beeswax candles you have in your luggage. This is a simple and quick process; you fill in a card and go through the appropriate queue. If you don’t declare an item that a Customs officer considers you should have, you may have to pay a fine.
Canada – What Does the CBSA Say About Candles?
If you are flying into Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will allow you to have candles in both your carry-on and checked baggage. If your candles have liquid or gel parts, then they will be limited to 100 ml (3.4 oz) if they are in your hand luggage. If you have battery-powered candles, you should know that batteries, especially rechargeable lithium batteries, cannot go in your suitcase.
The Rest of the World
As you might expect, different countries have variations in the regulations regarding taking candles on a plane. If you are traveling in regions such as Asia, South America, or Africa, there is not one law that applies everywhere. The best thing to do is to check with the airline you are flying with, as they will have the most up-to-date advice.
Generally speaking, flammable solids that are easily ignited are not permitted in hand luggage. Whether this applies to candles is up to the interpretation of the security officer checking your bags. Liquids are limited to less than 100 ml (3.4 oz) in cabin bags, which would include any kind of lamp oil but usually would also include gel candles. Most countries also require lithium batteries to be in your carry-on baggage.
What’s the Best Advice for Travelling on a Plane with a Candle?
There’s no easy answer to what is the best way to travel with a candle. If you pack it in your suitcase, then you don’t have to worry about it being taken away at the security checkpoint at the airport. However, candles can be fragile, and suitcases can be manhandled and thrown about during transit. If you plan to put candles in your hold bag, you need to wrap them well in layers of bubble wrap and put them in the center of your case to protect them.
If you decide to bring a candle on a plane in your hand luggage, you should be prepared to have it inspected at the security checkpoint. On a scanner, a candle could look like a liquid, even if it is solid. To save time, it would be practical to put your candle in a clear plastic bag and take it out of your cabin bag, and put it in the tray to make it easier for a security officer to check it over. If your candle is a gift, do not wrap it, as you may have to open the packaging for the security officer to examine it.
If your candle has any liquid, such as lamp oil or gel, it must conform to the regulations regarding liquids; i.e., it can only be 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less if it is in your carry-on bag. If your candle has a battery, the guidelines about packing batteries apply, and it would be safest to put it in your cabin luggage.
Regardless of what the regulations may say, it is up to the security officer examining your bags to decide if your candles are allowed on a plane. You cannot be sure that if you put your candles in your hand luggage, they will not be confiscated.
What Happens If Your Candle Is Flagged by Airport Security?
You may find that even though the guidelines say that solid candles are allowed in your hand luggage, you still get flagged when going through the security checkpoint at an airport. On a scanner, a candle can appear to be a liquid. You may also have your candle in a decorative container that is more than 100 ml (3.4 oz).
Whatever the reason, if the officer scanning your bags thinks there is an area of concern, the tray or bag containing your candle will be removed from the conveyor belt and taken to a holding area to be inspected. Usually, they will wait for you to arrive before examining your belongings. If your candle is in a bag, they typically ask you to empty it. The security officer will explain to you why there is an issue. If you have a solid candle, especially if it is still in its original packaging, you will most likely be able to keep it. However, if the security officer decides that your candle is a potential threat, he has the right to confiscate it. Arguing and being rude will not achieve anything, but you may possibly be fined.
If you have a candle removed at an airport’s security checkpoint, you can arrange to reclaim it. The usual practice is to pass any items taken away from passengers to the airline they are flying with. If you contact the airline, they will explain the process for returning your property. It is best to take action quickly, though, as most airlines only hold onto confiscated items for a couple of days.
What Types of Candles Are There?
As you can see, where you can pack your candle to take it on an aeroplane depends on what type of candle it is. There are:
As the name suggests, solid candles are made of wax that is solid at room temperature. This is the most common kind of candle and includes tea lights, votive candles, tapers, pillar candles, and wax melts. Although they are technically flammable material, because they usually need a wick to catch fire, they are not viewed as a danger in hand luggage.
However, some circumstances could mean a security officer would not let you keep your solid candle. If your candle is in a decorative container, especially a metal container, that is over 100 ml (3.4 oz), it is very likely you will not be allowed to keep it. If your candle has decorative items embedded in it, you may find that it creates a problem. Anything organic, such as flower petals, seeds, leaves, or fireworks, will not be permitted in a carry-on bag. You will often find that security officers are also likely to object to larger candles.
If your candle has any kind of liquid component, it will not be allowed in your carry-on baggage if it has more than 100 ml (3.4 oz) of liquid. This would include lamp oil and essential oils. This type of candle would have to go in your suitcase in the hold.
Gel candles are made from a mixture of 95% mineral oil and 5% powdered polymer resin. They have a slightly jelly-like texture that gives when you poke them, unlike the solidity of a wax candle. All gel candles are classified as liquids, so they can only go in your cabin luggage if they are 100 ml (3.4 oz) or less.
These are the long, thin candles that sparkle as they burn. They are usually used to decorate cakes. These candles are not allowed to be taken on a plane. You cannot put them in either your cabin bag or your checked luggage.
You can get candles that use a battery to produce a fake flame. You can also have candles that combine batteries and wax together in a candle. There have been concerns about batteries catching fire in suitcases in recent years, mainly rechargeable lithium batteries. While the batteries in candles are likely too small to cause any concern, it would probably be best to carry any candles with batteries in them in your carry-on baggage.
If you are packing a solid candle, then most countries will allow you to put it in both your checked and carry-on bags. However, if your candle is a gel candle or has any kind of liquid, it will have to go in your suitcase if it is more than 100 ml (3.4 oz). If your candle is in a container that is more than 100 ml (3.4 oz), it must go in your suitcase. On the other hand, if your candle has a battery, it should go in your hand luggage. However, the security officer checking your bags has the final decision, and if he thinks there is an issue, he can confiscate your candle. You also need to check if you are flying into a country that requires you to declare beeswax at customs.
See other articles in this series:
- Can You Bring Nail Clippers on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Tweezers on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Hiking Sticks on a Plane?
- Can Your Bring Shampoo on a Plane?
- Can You Bring a Lighter on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Curling Irons on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Razors on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Deodorants on a Plane?
- Can You Bring Scissors on a Plane?