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Candles Can Explode-Fiction!
The eRumor: This is a warning from a
person who says his former secretary's house burned down after a gel
candle exploded. It says the fire marshal told the lady this
was not the first time it has happened and that the gel candle emits
a gas that can then explode and set the room on fire. The
story says the fire was so hot it melted the smoke alarm and that
nobody noticed anything wrong until her toilet blew up. The
email then has a message, apparently from a different person who
forwarded it, saying that a friend of her actually saw the explosion
from a gel candle and suffered burns when she grabbed it, but saved
her home from burning.
We have not found a source or
validation for this particular story and there are no official reports of gel
candles "exploding." There were some gel candles
pulled off the market in 1998 (see below) because of excessive flame
that could be dangerous, but no reports of explosion and, according to
the Consumer Product Safety Commission, no reports of damage or
Some of the description in this email
does not seem credible. Whether a fire melted a smoke alarm or
not is not relevant because any hot room fire can melt the typical
home smoke alarm. The alarm is not intended to survive a fire,
but to warn of one ahead of time. Also, it is possible to blow
up a toilet by putting something explosive into it, but whether a
gas escaping from a candle would accomplish that is questionable.
Even if the gas was heavier than air, what would ignite it in the
Gel candles have been in the news, however. There was a
voluntary recall in 1998 of hardened gel candles from GLADE by the
S.C. Johnson & Son company, of Racine, Wisconsin.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, some of
the candles could burn with a flame higher than normal, as much as 3
inches above the container. At the time the recall was
announced, the CPSC said there had not been any reports of damage or
There is at least one recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission involving candles with breaking or "exploding"
glass, but not in connection with gel candles. That was with
regard to a more conventional wax candle.
There are numerous warnings around the country from various consumer
protection organizations and fire departments about the dangers of
using ordinary candles around the house. The National Fire
Protection Association says that during 1997, there were more than
11,000 candle-related fires in the United States, including several
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
My former secretary had a terrible thing happen to
her and her family last
week, and I wanted to share it with all of you so that you could
and warn your friends and family as well. She had a gel candle
her bathroom...it exploded and caught her house on fire...the house
down and they have lost everything. The fire marshal told her that this
not the first incident where a gel candle has exploded and caused a
said that the gel builds up a gas, and often times it explodes and sets
to the room it is in, which is what happened to her.
The fire was so hot it melted the smoke alarm, and they didn't
the fire until there was an explosion, which was her toilet
blowing up, and
then it was too late...the entire upstairs was engulfed in
damage and water damage have destroyed what wasn't destroyed by
I know that there are roomies and friends that I don't have on
because I can't remember how to spell their screen names...please
along to anyone I missed. I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone
Her family is devastated. All their mementos and everything of
meaning are gone.
I'm not trying to bring anyone down...just a friendly warning to
all of you
about the use of gel candles left unattended.
Thanks and take care!
NOTE: I know a lady who loves the gel candles. She had one
burning on her
mantle and it caught fire just like in the message above.
She was at home
at the time and saw it happen and grabbed the candle to keep it from
setting her home on fire and it came apart in her hand. She saved her
but suffered 3rd degree burns to her hand and 3 fingers!
Please, if you or anyone you know have these candles, don't light
they are dangerous. Please, pass this on.
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