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Let’s talk about candle fires and recall procedure


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With the holiday season approaching, and lots of new chandlers to the craft with hopes of giving their candles as gifts, or turning the candles into a business accidents are bound to happen.  
 

Scanning candle groups I see no fewer than  one new post about a customer who experienced their candle catching fire in their home. The damage ranges from a scorched table to an entire blown out glass jar. The stories all have a similar ring. The replies in these groups is what is so concerning.  The overwhelming majority of the comments blame the customer for doing something wrong.


examples common to all of the threads include:

-the warning sticker says to not burn the last half inch of wax, it is their fault for not blowing it out as that point.

- someone was not paying attention to the candle during their party.

- they should have set a timer to blow it out at 4 hours

- someone fell asleep, Implying they got what they deserved.

- the sticker says to burn within sight, so that candle fire in the bathroom was not the makers fault.

 

the list goes on. And on.  The common lack of empathy toward the customer that the potential fire could have caused physical injury feels almost sociopathic.  Rarely one person will raise their hand and say the candle was not properly made, or tested. The lone wolf gets eaten up, and the cycle repeats itself. 
 

making a candle and giving or selling it to someone to burn in their home is an awesome responsibility.  Following ASTM and Wax/FO manufacturer guidelines is a good first step to keeping yourself and your customers safe. understanding the types of containers needed for candles, and the need for safety wick tabs is a must. Safety First.


in the court of law, how well would the list of excuses absolving the maker hold up? The internet lives forever, so it is not hard to find a screen capture of the incident on social media to Use as evidence that the maker might not have been in the clear at all. 
 

what none of the groups talk about is recall procedures. if a big candle maker/seller, like Pier One, Yankee, Hallmark, etc. experiences an event like this, the next step is to investigate, and issue a voluntary recall. 

https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2020/pier-1-recalls-three-wick-halloween-candles-due-to-fire-and-burn-hazards

 

https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/blog/yankee-candle-announces-recall-luminous-candles-due-laceration-hazard/


https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/hallmark-recalls-candles-due-to-fire-and-laceration-hazards-1028780096


https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/product-recall-your-yankee-candle-jar-could-crack-n694946


what process do you have for being able to track your candles and issue such a recall? 
 

 

 

 

 

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Yes please let’s talk about this 🥺😣

FB candle groups are terrifying me with all the posts of broken jars customer are sending to these makers ....anywhere from a scorched dresser to full blown _blown up jars black as black can be to the point I thought some were colored black jars 

I am seeing zero accountability on these chandlers part or the rest of the group participating in the discussion ...it’s the consumers fault - always 

It makes me mad, it makes me sad. These people could literally kill someone and they don’t even think about that, it’s always they didn’t-  they didn’t-  they didn’t 

 

I haven’t been selling candles as of late but my process always was after I test burn and power burn each lot I make I log it with the date, what it is with each lot of wax-wick-fragrance and jar and assign it a number- that number goes on the bottom of the jar on the warning label and then that number went on the receipt with contact information from the customer  - after seeing these pictures people are posting lately I now think that’s not enough 

Accidents can happen so I’m thinking that number needs to be somewhere else on the jar or even under the lid in case it’s scorched beyond reading 

 

 

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I know whatever I'm about to say is probably going to come off wrong to some, but here it goes. 

 

It seems that there are WAY too many new candle makers who are not paying attention to the very basics of the craft ... not about containers; not about wick sizing; not about wick centering; not about mushrooming; not about air pockets; not about temperatures; not about fragrance oil percentages; not about all of those things that contribute to making a candle safe with a nice burn.  What so many seem so much more concerned about is labels; scent names; smooth tops; jar adhesion; full melt pools real quick; adding stuff on top that shouldn't be there; taking pictures.  It's as though they don't understand that they are making a candle, which could explain why they don't seem to put enough emphasis on safety concerns and making sure the recipient knows exactly what to do in the safest way possible. If some are not feeling responsible for making a safe candle, how are they going to feel responsible for any hazards?

 

 

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3 minutes ago, birdcharm said:

I know whatever I'm about to say is probably going to come off wrong to some, but here it goes. 

 

It seems that there are WAY too many new candle makers who are not paying attention to the very basics of the craft ... not about containers; not about wick sizing; not about wick centering; not about mushrooming; not about air pockets; not about temperatures; not about fragrance oil percentages; not about all of those things that contribute to making a candle safe with a nice burn.  What so many seem so much more concerned about is labels; scent names; smooth tops; jar adhesion; full melt pools real quick; adding stuff on top that shouldn't be there; taking pictures.  It's as though they don't understand that they are making a candle, which could explain why they don't seem to put enough emphasis on safety concerns and making sure the recipient knows exactly what to do in the safest way possible. If some are not feeling responsible for making a safe candle, how are they going to feel responsible for any hazards?

 

 

 

 

Those noobs don't even know what ASTM is, and like you said, they have no idea about the science of the actual candle, but they don't care about that. Remember these people are all fighting in the lion's den trying to have the prettiest candles and lowest prices to get that Etsy money. Forget about anything to do with actually burning them, lol. People are hard up for money and they think starting a candle business is going solve that problem, and when you got people on YouTube with these verbal diarrhea videos how they make loads of money doing it, everyone else thinks they can do the same.

 

The whole 'find a wick that will burn a full melt pool in 3 hours and you're golden' motto is what they believe as gospel, and long as they are getting that then they think they're a pro that has it all 'figured out'. They also use defensive answers when you question about the safety. If you ask them about any kind of temperature testing they will just say 'you're not supposed to pick up or move a candle when it's burning so it doesn't matter'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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i know. It's awful. They use the same wick for everything. Don't test nothing. One took on a huge wholesale account that's well known in her town. Hasn't even made the products and asking how to. Nobody is curing wax. A few are buying pallets of fragrances and jars before selling anything! Some said they are charging their fragrances before selling anything for their launch. I'm talking about hundreds to over a thousand dollars. Then saying why is it not happening yet? I launched. Ugh then a lady said she's been testing forever, a month! I had to laugh

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Yes, absolutely, safety first and tracking. Even though I only make candles as a hobby for now, I assign SKU #s & batch #s to my products. That way I know the exact product, when it was made and exactly what it was made with. And that's where that Soap Inventory Software comes in real handy.

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I've been thinking about this a lot since the original post. 
I keep batch records using a date code that coordinates with my purchasing records, so I can trace a candle back to it's particular batch.  Do I need to be able to track customers?  This is something I have never considered.  In the event I would need to issue a recall, is it enough to send out a mass email, post alerts on our business website and use social media posts alerting customers of the recall?  How would I handle a recall for candles that were sold to resellers?  Candles are only a tiny part of our main business.  Just something I make to sell in our store and I have a couple of local accounts that sell in their store.  We don't collect any personal info when a purchase is made. Every candle sold is an in store purchases only.  IDK.  I am a compulsive tester, I wick conservatively, and I am very particular about our glassware, but I am paranoid as heck about this stuff.

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5 hours ago, jmspgh said:

Thank you for this post...I am still in the early phases and this is great information to have. @TallTayl what are your processes?

Background:

Before I share my process, I should probably explain a little about my background. The bulk of my professional career was in aerospace. Every airplane requires a process that is centered around "traceability", shortened to "trace", for every single thing used to build, maintain or operate a plane. Every rivet, coffee maker, seat belt latch, everything requires a "back to birth" record so if any one thing fails on a plane every other plane in the world with that same trace can be quickly identified, inspected and repaired as needed to prevent accidents. Once that is baked into your brain it can never come out, so my personal process follows that model. 

 

A related model is "Human Factors", which at its heart professes that, "Every accident is preventable." We look for potential for human error and redesign procedures to best minimize the risk of accidents that pertain to humans being humans and making mistakes.

 

If you think about it, candle making follows suit, doesn't it? We make and sell things to be set on fire in people's homes. If we make a mistake someone could suffer injury, lose a possession/home or life. We cannot blow that off by putting a sticker on the bottom of a candle and calling it good enough.

 

Process:

Traceability starts with identifying items, such as wick lot, wax lot, container, etc. You can do this on an index card, spreadsheet or something more fancy. 

Example: I order a pack of 100 wicks from CandleWic. When that item arrives it gets a numbered sticker or sharpie ID number, and is logged into my system with:

1) a simple ID number so I can easily track on my lists

2) The supplier

3) The date it arrived

4) The cost of the items (really helps with cost of goods sold)

5) The quantity purchased by some universal unit of measure, like quantity, ounces, etc). Helps with inventory and batch planning... 

6) Apportioned shipping cost (divide the total cost of shipping the item among all items in the order)

7) The lot number - if provided - of the item. Not many suppliers provide this, but cases of wax will have it, and WSP, i noticed, puts it on their FO botles.

😎 any notes of observations like if the item arrived frozen, etc.

9) The accounting category for taxes (packaging, wax, FO, etc.)

 

When I make a candle, I record the lot numbers of everything that goes into that batch on a different list, a batch sheet. The batch sheet uses an ID number/code that gets printed on my labels. The ID can be a sequential number that is written or stamped on the warning label.

1-Fullscreen capture 10212020 111315 AM-001.jpg

The red arrow points to my coding.

20 = the year manufactured

A = January

02 = the second day of the month

-002=the batch made that day.

 

I chose this system so I could quickly look at labels while at an event and see when something was made. This is super helpful with soap to rotate stock. And, in the case of Faire where so many of my items sat in brutal storage conditions, I could pull any that were suffering damage quickly. 

 

In my case I wrote a system to do this for me, but a spreadsheet that you can query works really well. A paper binder or folder works also. The batch sheet is like a recipe. I programmed mine to calculate the actual cost of each item made, the wholesale price, retail price and profit/margins on a single sheet of paper so I am rarely caught "losing money".

 

I can go into more detail about the batch sheets if anyone is interested.

 

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Follow up to the tracking is the recall process. This is where things can get challenging.  If we have done our homework, we will have little worry about accidental fire. We choose appropriate wicks and sizes that do not require absolute perfection from the people who burn them. We test new wax lots, new FO lots and new wick lots without cutting corners. We plan so we never need to activate a recall process.

 

To announce a voluntary recall, we can:

 - email to our mailing list from our order systems (etsy, web site, etc.)

 - Post on our business Facebook (and other social media) Page

 - Post on our business web site.

 

The posting will indicate the batch ID number of items we are asking to recall for either refund or replacement and where to find that number. My plan also calls for indicating the reason for the recall so people are clear about the need.

 

I do not as a general rule record batch numbers for items supplied to individual retail customer orders. I will note batch info on wholesale orders in case I need to follow up with the reseller on any issues. In the wholesale file I put a copy of the batch sheet and labels for future reference. The batch sheet has the formula/recipe in case I need to reformulate due to supply chain issues.

 

Hope this helps!

 

This seems like a great topic in a blog/vlog series.

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For what it's worth, I've got a blog post about it

https://armatagecandlecompany.com/blog/basic-burn-test/

 

You may also find some of my verbal diarrhea on the tube as well.

 

Safety always trumps performance/hot throw.  Great testing sheet!  And I feel like we need to encourage others in our industry to build more tracing into their product lines.  Freaks me out how easy it is to get into candle making.  I'm not a huge proponent of regulation, but I can't for the life of me figure out why these ASTM standards didn't become mandatory.  They seem to have died before a council a few years back.  Calling them Voluntary makes people think they have a choice, if they even know it exists at all lol

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1 hour ago, Kevin Fischer said:

For what it's worth, I've got a blog post about it

https://armatagecandlecompany.com/blog/basic-burn-test/

 

You may also find some of my verbal diarrhea on the tube as well.

 

Safety always trumps performance/hot throw.  Great testing sheet!  And I feel like we need to encourage others in our industry to build more tracing into their product lines.  Freaks me out how easy it is to get into candle making.  I'm not a huge proponent of regulation, but I can't for the life of me figure out why these ASTM standards didn't become mandatory.  They seem to have died before a council a few years back.  Calling them Voluntary makes people think they have a choice, if they even know it exists at all lol

There are more regs to sell a cupcake than a candle.  The worst a cupcake might do is induce a bout of food poisoning.  A poorly made candle, well...

 

I used to ask if someone would open a bakery after making their first pan of cupcakes.  Then realized people were enthusiastically saying they would. Sigh. 
 

no idea why the safety measures were dropped, but am sorry they were. All we can do is keep teaching how to protect ourselves. In these days of frivolous lawsuits, proof of excellence in manufacture can save our businesses.

 

I’ll be writing loads more about traceability in manufacture to help.  And, hear me universe, the CraftServer channel will be populated with all of it. 
 

 

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@Kevin Fischer, can you please help me boost the signal that a, “melt pool is a limit, not a goal!”? I’m seeing the double-wick trend for  HT, on top of 12%+  FO loads ending in candle fires. Another one just popped up.
 

Everyone has somehow been convinced that if they don’t get FMp within an hour it is a fail.  This is the most dangerous trend right now. Overscnting is the second. Adding FO too low (by flash point) is the third. Let’s turn that ship around. 

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@Kevin Fischer I came across your site last week as I was researching and found your articles very easy to read and very informative. So thank you for taking the time to do that. I agree with @TallTaylon getting the word out about some of those mentioned. I’m curious about the double wick trend you speak of. I double wick but my jar is over 4” diameter. Are you talking about the people that double wick really small containers? I ended up leaving all the FB groups. It was too much. 

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5 minutes ago, Marisa11 said:

@Kevin Fischer I came across your site last week as I was researching and found your articles very easy to read and very informative. So thank you for taking the time to do that. I agree with @TallTaylon getting the word out about some of those mentioned. I’m curious about the double wick trend you speak of. I double wick but my jar is over 4” diameter. Are you talking about the people that double wick really small containers? I ended up leaving all the FB groups. It was too much. 

WRT double wicking, they are double wicking pretty much everything. Triple wicking larger than3 in some cases.  And encouraging FMP and deep melt pools on first burns. I’ve never seen anything like this phenomenon. 

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@TallTaylYeah I’ve seen pictures with like an inch melt pool on a first burn and I’m like NO! I think they see these things with BBW candles and try and go by that. I would get huge melt pools and the jars were so hot. I have a 3 wick somewhere that was way too strong maybe I’ll light it and perform my first wickotomy. 

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12 hours ago, TallTayl said:

@Kevin Fischer, can you please help me boost the signal that a, “melt pool is a limit, not a goal!”? I’m seeing the double-wick trend for  HT, on top of 12%+  FO loads ending in candle fires. Another one just popped up.
 

Everyone has somehow been convinced that if they don’t get FMp within an hour it is a fail.  This is the most dangerous trend right now. Overscnting is the second. Adding FO too low (by flash point) is the third. Let’s turn that ship around. 

 

@TallTayl definitely.  It wouldn't hurt to dedicate an entire series to safety. 

 

@Marisa11 thank you!  I agree - some of the BBW candles I've had were alarmingly hot.

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