TSA allows bringing solid candles on planes without any restrictions. You can pack them in hand or checked luggage in any quantity and size. Pillar candles, tea lights, birthday candles, taper candles, votives, and floating candles are all allowed. That’s because candle wax by itself can’t keep an open flame, so it’s considered completely safe.
Solid candles are usually made from beeswax, paraffin, soy wax, palm wax, and bayberry wax. To determine if a candle is solid or not, touch it with your finger to see if you’re able to easily transform its shape.
It doesn’t matter if the candle is in a glass, ceramic, or metal container – all of them are allowed. Candles also don’t need to be commercially packaged to be allowed on the flight. Homemade or handmade candles are also allowed.
Liquid or gel candles, on the other hand, are banned from hand luggage, even in quantities below 3.4 oz (100 ml). Instead, you have to pack them inside checked bags.
The reasoning for why gel candles are banned is unclear because gel candles are generally considered safe, and not a fire risk. The gel substance by itself isn’t can’t produce a flame. They’re most likely banned because they usually aren’t packed in sealed containers and there’s no easy way to determine if they’re under 3.4 oz or not.
Cartridge candles that use liquid oil or paraffin as fuel aren’t allowed in hand or checked baggage. You can only bring new candle cartridges empty of any flammable residue.
Another type of prohibited candle is sparkler cake candles. Due to the fire risk of the sparkling effect, they’re treated as fireworks. And fireworks are banned from hand and checked baggage.
Flying With Candles Internationally
Candles are generally allowed on planes all across the world and the rules are similar to TSA. Solid candles are nearly always allowed without any restrictions.
The only difference from flights within the US is that there isn’t a specific ban on gel candles in hand baggage. Instead, gel candles are limited to 3.4 oz (100 ml) quantities and have to be packed in your toiletry bag with other liquids. In checked baggage, larger quantities are allowed.
How to Pack Candles in Your Luggage
Theoretically, you shouldn’t have to remove candles from your hand baggage when going through airport security. But in reality, the situation is different.
In a carry-on or personal item, you should pack candles somewhere on top where they’re easily accessible. That’s because candles show up as liquids in airport X-ray scanners. Often the security agents will ask you to take them out of your bag to do a separate inspection. If they do, take them out of your bag and follow their instructions.
When packing candles in checked baggage, you should wrap them in paper or plastic packaging first to avoid transferring the wax to your clothes. You should also be mindful when packing candles in glass containers because they may break. Avoid packing them near the edges of your bag and wrap them in soft clothing. Also, pack your suitcase full so that the candles can’t move around your bag.
Bringing Matches or Lighters May Be Prohibited
When flying through the US, you’re allowed to bring one book of safety matches, disposable lighters (including long, disposable candle lighters), and zippo lighters. They’re only allowed in hand baggage and you can’t bring them in checked bags.
In other countries, the rules may be different. For example, in Australia, bringing safety matches on planes is banned. In the UK, one lighter per person is allowed if you keep it in person and in a plastic bag.
Summing Up – Traveling With Candles
Flying with candles is generally allowed. So if you’re planning on bringing scented or handmade candles back from your vacation, feel free to do that.
We recommend packing candles in checked baggage whenever possible. That’s because even though they’re allowed in hand baggage, sometimes the security agents will ask you additional questions. This can be inconvenient and cause minor delays. Plus, candles aren’t expensive and they won’t get damaged very easily, which means they’re perfect for checked bags.
But they’re also allowed in hand baggage. Just remember that each security officer always has the final say of whether they’re allowed on the plane.