Today, most homes have fire alarms installed due to the safety they provide. With so many potential flammable materials inside one’s house, a home without such an alarm can pose a serious risk when it comes to home fires. We all know the obvious causes of fires but what about candles?
The smoke from a single candle won’t trigger a fire alarm. If the alarm goes off, chances are that candle fell over and caused a bigger fire. If you have multiple candles lit at once, it is possible for enough smoke to be created that will activate the fire alarm.
Although the safest thing to do is to always take the necessary precautions like ensuring a candle is never left unattended too long, there are other things you need to consider too. Let’s take a deeper look into the dangers a lit candle can pose and how you can make sure that it doesn’t trigger the fire alarm.
Table of Contents
Will Candles Trigger a Fire Alarm?
A candle can trigger a fire alarm, however, such cases are very rare. In the extremely rare cases they do, it will be either because the candle is too close to the sensor or if multiple candles are all kept close to each other.
When a single candle is lit, it doesn’t produce enough smoke to trigger the fire alarm and whatever amount of smoke it generates will dissipate pretty quickly too. The amount of smoke created is often negligible unlike in the kitchen where there might be a thick cloud of smoke while cooking food.
While a single lit candle doesn’t generate much smoke, blowing it out might. Fire alarms get triggered mostly when there is a consistent amount of smoke reaching the device. The smoke from a candle not only lacks volume but also reduces in intensity by the time it reaches the ceiling. However, when you blow the flame out, a large amount of smoke will be produced and if it’s near the fire alarm, it will get triggered.
So, if you have a fire alarm nearby, do not blow the flame out as it might generate enough smoke to trigger the alarm. Instead, use a lid, a snuffer, or a wick dipper to extinguish the flame.
4 Ways to Prevent Candle Smoke from Triggering a Fire Alarm
Here are some of the ways how you can prevent the smoke from your candles from triggering your fire alarm.
- Ensure that none of your candles are placed right below a fire alarm or smoke detector. Even if only one or two candles are lit, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- Never blow out a candle if it is placed near a fire alarm as the candle produces more smoke when you do so.
- Do not lite multiple candles near one another. The combined smoke from all the candles may be enough to trigger the alarm.
- Make sure that ceiling fans are not turned ON if you have multiple candles (spaced out from one another) as the wind may increase the amount of smoke generated by the candle.
Apart from the above-mentioned points, you also need to regularly check your smoke detectors or fire alarms for any issue. Sometimes the sensor might develop problems that may lead to it being extremely sensitive to smoke and trigger the alarm.
So if your candle is not near the smoke detector and it still triggers the alarm anyways, it might either have a faulty sensor or there might be another source generating smoke.
How Smoke Detectors in Fire Alarms Work?
To better understand why a single candle won’t trigger the alarm, it’s important to know how it works. There are two main types of smoke alarms seen in most homes. One utilizes ionization and the other one uses a photoelectric receiver.
The ionization smoke alarm is ideal for detecting fast fires whereas the photoelectric one is best for smoldering fires. Do note that a smoke detector and a fire alarm are not the same. Smoke detectors can only detect smoke whereas a fire alarm can detect and set off an alarm. Some fire alarms also come with a sprinkler to put out any detected fires in the home.
Ionization smoke alarms detect smoke by making use of an electric current. They come with an ionization chamber that ionizes the air entering it and produces an electric current. Smoke is different from air and so when it enters the device, it reduces the amount of current generated, which leads to the alarm being triggered.
Photoelectric or optical smoke alarms, on the other hand, utilize a photoelectric receiver, a lens, and a small light-emitting diode. When smoke enters the device, the light beam scatters and gets detected by the sensor, which then triggers the alarm.
A lot of homes use either one of the above devices but neither is as efficient as having both. Therefore, it would be not only wiser but also significantly safer to install both in your home.
For the most part you shouldn’t have to worry about a candle setting off a fire alarm. Really, it just comes down to using common sense. Don’t put out the candle too close to a fire alarm and don’t have too many candles lit in one spot near the alarm.
To be safe, always put out your candles with a lid, a snuffer, or a wick dipper. This will make sure no smoke is created so you can rest assured the fire alarm will not go off.