Candles are simple yet timeless decorative elements in many homes. That’s besides being a great source of light during a power outage, warming up the mood, and throwing fresh scents.
And because humans are instinctively attracted to twinkling objects, it is not uncommon to see candles dazzled with glitter. You might even be considering glitter as bling for your homemade candles.
Glitter is no doubt spectacular as it is memorable and reflects fun, playfulness, and glamor. It remains some crafters’ favorite embellishment bringing dull things to life and making them pop.
It is generally safe to use products made with glitter at home. Think fashion accessories, bath bombs, body oils, hair sprays, and make-up as common beglittered choices.
However, it’s a little different with candles. A candle is a potential fire hazard already when lit – it is an open flame after all, albeit a small one. Adding anything flammable to it, either in the wax pour or as a topping, can be very dangerous.
It’s hard to think that something as tiny and darn cute as glitter could actually be dangerous, right? Well, whenever open flames are concerned, you can’t afford to take chances, raising a critical question.
Is glitter flammable? Yes, some of the most common types of glitter are flammable, however some types are not. The constituent material as well as the particle size of the glitter determine the flammability of glitter. Crushed glass, crushed crystal, and mica glitter are the safest glitters to use in candles.
To ensure your candles are both sparkly and safe, we’ve curated this post on the different kinds of glitter. Read on to find out which glitter is flammable and which one is safe on a burning candle.
What Is Glitter, And What Is It Made Of?
Glitter needs no formal introduction. It is such a spectacle, loved across genders and generations. Glitter manufacturers wouldn’t be making hundreds of thousands of tons of glitter annually if it wasn’t booming business.
You’ve probably interacted with glitter several times yourself. Perhaps you are even obsessed with it. But have you ever wondered what glitter really is?
From its appearance, glitter can be described as shiny and shimmery particles. These are created with any of the following light reflection effects: iridescent, neon, holographic, metallic, or prismatic.
Particles sizes ranges between microscopic (0.05 mm) and confetti chunky (2.5 mm). The shape of glitter is not distinct and can be geometric or a special cut. You already knew that, didn’t you?
The critical question is, what is glitter made of? A lot of glitter in your local craft store is manufactured using a combination of paper and plastic. However, glitter is also minted from one or a fusion of various other materials including, metal, glass, mineral crystals, and even biodegradable matter.
Each of these materials reacts differently with heat. Some will ignite and burn. Others will melt, smoke, or not react at all.
Deciding what decorations, herbs, and other little niceties you can safely put in your candle can be difficult. Therefore, before glamming up your candles with glitter or reaching for the irresistibly beautiful glitter candle in the store, you should have an answer to this next question.
Is It Safe to Burn Glitter Candles?
It is unsafe to burn glitter candles if the glitter is flammable.
Your glitter candle will definitely catch on fire if the glitter particles are flammable, chunky, and applied too generously, posing a serious fire threat. There are, however, non-flammable glitter options made from materials that will not burn when the candle is ignited.
So, let’s look at the different types of glitter, their constituent material, and whether they are flammable or not.
Craft glitter is the most affordable and ubiquitous kind of glitter. It is usually the choice of adornment for school projects, DIY paper crafts, costumes, party decorations, and other short-term use items.
You can easily identify craft glitter by its weight, size and shape. It comes in very thin flakes of small, medium, or chunky size cut into stars, hearts, squares, hexagons, or circles.
This type of glitter is made out of paper and PVC, which makes craft glitter flammable. It has a low burn point of 212 F, and when introduced to a flame, it burns sporadically.
You may be tempted to utilize some of the cheap leftover craft glitters from last Christmas to add glitz to your candles. But now you know what a terrible idea that is. Craft glitter would only be safe on a candle glammed up as part of room décor with no intention of ever being lit, but why have a candle and not burn it?
Also known as poly glitter, polyester glitter is a better alternative to craft glitter in durability. It is structurally stronger, remains stable in the long run, blends with most solvents, and has higher heat resistance than craft glitter.
Of course, all these perks come with a higher price tag. It stands up to repeated use and external environmental factors without deteriorating aesthetically. Therefore, it is preferred for automotive paint, ceramics, fashion accessories, nail polish, and other long-term use applications.
Polyester glitter is fabricated from polyester or PET. Current manufacturing trends treat PET to be flame retardant making this glitter safer for burning candles.
The glitter has a high burning point of 350 F and the particles’ fineness makes this type of glitter inflammable in most cases. If they are affected at all, the pieces will simply melt into the wax.
However, there’s the air pollution aspect to think about. PET contains micro plastics that release potentially toxic fumes when burnt. Such emission may be detrimental to the air quality, and you are likely to inhale it.
While you may be able to burn a candle with polyester glitter without an additional fire hazard, this may not be such a good idea for your health.
Cosmetic Grade Glitter
Cosmetic grade glitter is just about the same as polyester glitter, only that it is colored with non-toxic pigments and is certified to be skin-safe. The particles are ultra-fine and rounded with smooth edges to reinforce their safety for skin application.
Non-toxic PET, sometimes lined with aluminum, makes up cosmetic grade glitter. Both of these materials are ordinarily not flammable. Though a flame is nothing ordinary, so one must exercise caution.
This type of glitter is primarily used in make-up, but if you stumble upon some, you could use it on candles too. Being ultra-fine and a solvent-resistant kind of glitter makes it generally safe for burning candles. It should, however, be explicitly indicated as safe for that purpose.
Crushed Glass Glitter
Another type of glitter is made from crushed glass. This glitter has irregularly sized and shaped particles and is often added as a topping or embedded to the sides of the candle.
Though not at the top of the glitter popularity list, crushed glass glitter is the safest glitter for burning candles. The glass is inflammable in a candle flame, and its sparkle is quite gorgeous in the firelight. It may or may not be coated with real silver.
Notwithstanding, sometimes, the crushed glass glitter is painted or lacquered instead to amplify the twinkle so make sure that any added coat of paint is inflammable as well before applying.
The same inflammability properties apply to crushed crystals glitter. This glitter is made of crushed rock crystals such as quartz, fluorites, garnet, zircon, tanzanite, etc. Both these types of glitter are more expensive, but also way safer for candles than the other types of glitter.
Mica powder isn’t exactly your ordinary conventional glitter. However, it is a safe glitter alternative for candles if you are not really after a brilliant shine but rather a safe shimmery option.
The powder is made of colored minerals with a subtle glisten. It is inflammable and perfectly safe to burn in candles.
Mica powder must be mixed into the wax melts to give candles a hint of shine. You don’t want to sprinkle it superficially at the top or sides of the candle, or it won’t work as desired.
Candles will not show any shine initially, and the mica powder appears as a solid color. You only get the distant glittery charm once you light it up. The twinkle is visible on the wax pool once the candle begins to melt.
Glitter in Candles – What to Know
As you know by now, putting glitter in a candle is not as simple as dumping it into the wax melt or even on top of the candle. It’s also not as simple as avoiding it completely!
In a nutshell, when it comes to trying to use glitter in candles:
1. All glitter is not made the same and some are unfit for use in a burning candle. Some glitter is flammable. Others are not. It is up to you to determine what type of glitter to put on your candle. Research any glitter you intend to add to your candle recipe before making it.
2. The constituent material used to mint the glitter determines its flammability and, consequently, safety for a candle. This does not apply to the base material for the glitter only, but also the paint and other coatings, sealant, or finishes applied on it.
3. Crushed metal or crystals glitter candles are the safest candles to burn. Mica powder is an equally safe choice, but will produce more of a subtle shimmer than an outright glitter effect. Poly-glitter and cosmetic glitter are potential safe options if indicated as safe for use with candles. Plastic-coated paper glitter is the worst.
4. The particle size is also significant. A candle lightly touched with ultra-fine glitter is less likely to be explosive than one laden with chunky glitter.
5. If you are making your own glitter candle, do not be too liberal with the amount of glitter. A little goes a long way. A touch of fine glitter dusted on the candle will pose no serious harm. Sprinkling heaps of glitter may clog the candle or, worse, cause a fire. Lightly accented glitter candles are the best.
6. Always double-check the constituent particles and instructions for use of a glitter type. If there’s no indication of the glitter’s composition or whether the glitter is flammable or safe for use in a candle, do not buy it. Unless, of course, you only want it for decorative use and not to light it up.
7. Choosing inflammable glitter isn’t a gateway to absolute safety. Glitter candles, even inflammable ones must be monitored closely when lit. There’s always the possibility of a fire to become dangerous, if only because it’s an open flame.