Bringing candles on a plane is not something I had ever considered. After all, you don’t generally get too many power outages when you are flying! I jest of course but it seems many people do want to bring candles on a plane with them anyway, perhaps as a gift.
The TSA rules state that you can bring candles on a plane, either in a carry-on bag or in checked baggage. However, due to the TSA liquids rules, you cannot take gel candles or liquid candles in your carry-on.
People often buy candles when on vacation to take home as gifts for friends and relatives or are traveling to friends or relatives for Christmas so want to take a special candle for the table with them.
Naturally, it is not surprising that they may want to check that they can actually bring candles on a plane, rather than get them confiscated by airport security.
Obviously, it should go without saying, you are not allowed to actually set the candles alight while onboard the flight though! But the obvious is sometimes not so obvious for certain people.
Types of candles that are allowed on a plane
You may bring all of the following different types of candles with you almost without restriction, provided they will all fit in your hand luggage:
Solid wax candles
These solid candles or regular candles include:
- Taper candles – tall solid candles which narrow upwards and which must be held in a candle holder as they cannot stand on their own.
- Pillar candles – these are the thicker solid candles which can stand without the need for a holder.
- Birthday candles – the small thin ones we light on top of a cake that actually can also come in the shape of a number or a letter these days.
- Religious/church candles (also known as votive candles)
- Scented candles
These are the type of solid wax candles that come in a glass jar. (Note – gel candles in a glass jar are not allowed)
These are similar to the glass jar candles but in a ceramic or earthenware or terracotta pot
Tea light candles
These are the little candles that come in a small metal container.
Lightweight and usually made of paraffin or palm oil wax which float in a bath or a bowl.
Flameless LED candles
These are designed to look like candles but which have a small led light inside together with a battery to power them.
Types of candles that are not allowed on a plane
You cannot take a gel candle on a plane in your carry on luggage as gels are considered to be liquid by the TSA airport security liquids rule.
If they are smaller than 3.4oz/100ml then they are allowed and must go in your clear, resealable, quart-sized liquids bag but larger than that are prohibited. They can however be carried in your checked luggage without a problem.
These cannot be taken on a plane either in hand luggage or checked baggage as they contain some explosive materials. They are therefore considered hazardous so they are not permitted.
These are normally in a glass container and inside is liquid paraffin and a taper or wick. Since they contain a liquid they fall under the TSA liquids rule so must be smaller than 3.4oz or 100ml in order to be taken on board in a carry-on bag and must go in your clear, resealable, quart-sized liquids bag.
TSA rules on candles
Candles in your carry-on will pass through the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint. A TSA agent may wish to carry out further screening but the final decision rests with the TSA agents.
If you have any doubts about whether a particular type of candle is allowed you can access the TSA website and check on there – tsa.gov or you can go onto Twitter and use the very useful and efficient @asktsa service.
They will answer any specific questions you may have quickly. You can even post a picture of the candles to make absolutely sure.
As an example of the sort of question that is asked and @asktsa’s reply to whether the passenger can bring wax candles:
This is the TSA’s reply regarding taking gel wax candleswhen flying:
Why are candles allowed when they are flammable?
It is true that candles are flammable, well they are designed to be just that of course. But they are actually no more flammable than paper, some plastics, wood, clothes and any number of other materials that could be set alight using a match or some other form of flame.
The main difference between candles and some banned flammable materials, such as petrol or certain gases, is that they are not explosive. Basically, they have to be deliberately set on fire.
The airlines I have checked do not have any further restrictions on the type of candle you can carry onboard with you when you fly with them, provided the airport security rules have been followed of course.
You may wish to check with your particular airline to get complete clarification.
Once you are through airport security and in the departure lounge you would be able to buy gel candles (assuming any stores there sell them) and take these on the flight with you.
Do candles count as liquids?
Gel candles are considered to be liquids by the TSA. All wax candles are treated as solids so can be packed in hand luggage.
What size candle can you take on a plane?
Solid (wax type) candles can be any size, provided they will fit in your hand luggage or your checked bag. Gel candles must be no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) in order to be packed in your carry-on luggage.
Can I bring Yankee Candles on an airplane?
Yes, you are permitted to take Yankee candles on a plane in either your carry-on luggage or your checked bag provided they are the solid type (not gel).
Can you take citronella candles on a plane?
You can take citronella or any other type of scented candle provided they are solid candles and not gel candles (which are treated as being a liquid).
Can you take soy candles on a plane?
You can take soy candles on a plane in your carry on provided they are of the solid type and not made of gel. Soy gel candles are treated as liquids so they can only go in a checked bag unless they are smaller than 3.4 ounces (100 ml).