Candles imported to and manufactured in the European Union are subject to various regulations, safety standards, chemical restrictions, labelling, and testing requirements. In this guide, we cover the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation, EN standards, REACH, GPSD, and other compliance requirements for various types of candles in the EU.
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General Product Safety Directive (GPSD)
The General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) establishes a regulatory framework for consumer products, including candles, in order to make sure that they are safe before they enter the EU market.
It also provides a list of harmonised standards that offer a presumption of conformity with the technical requirements of the directive. If there are no harmonised standards relevant to a specific product, then the safety of the product in question can still be assessed using EN, national, and international standards.
The GPSD covers candles, as well as a wide range of consumer products that can be used in the household such as the following:
- Decorative oil lamps
Importers and manufacturers of products intended for the EU market might be required to provide one or more of the following documents:
They should also provide a product traceability label that includes the following information:
- Batch ID / SKU
- Company name and address
- Company contact details
To ensure that their products are safe enough for sale in the EU, importers and manufacturers should have them lab tested by companies that can test candles against applicable EN standards. Below we list a few labs that offer candle-testing services:
We cannot find any EN standards for candles harmonised under the GPSD. As mentioned, there are various non-GPSD harmonised standards applicable to candles that cover sooting behaviour, labels, and fire safety.
You can find EN standards that cover candles using the CEN/CENELEC’s search function. Below we list some of these standards.
EN 15426 – Candles – Specification for Sooting Behavior
EN 15426 provides specifications for the sooting behaviour of candles. The standard covers indoor candles with only one wick and a maximum diameter of 100 mm. It requires candles with a diameter of up to 100 mm, and a single wick, to be tested using the methods specified within.
EN 15493 – Candles – Specification of Fire Safety
EN 15493 provides specifications for the fire safety of indoor candles. The standard covers candles and specifies requirements and methods of testing the fire safety of candles that are meant to only be burned indoors.
EN 15494 – Candles – Product safety labels
EN 15494 specifies labelling information regarding how to safely burn indoor candles and the requirements for displaying such safety information.
EN 17616 – Outdoor candles – Specification for fire safety
EN 17616 includes fire safety specifications for outdoor candles. It specifies the methods for testing candles meant to only be burned outdoors.
This standard does not cover the following:
a. Frost-prevention products meant to protect vineyards or fruit orchards
b. Oil lamps on sticks
c. Fuel-soaked cardboard, fabric, or paper for wrapping sticks
EN 17617 – Outdoor candles – Product safety labels
EN 17617 provides safety information regarding the burning of outdoor candles and specifies requirements regarding the display of the aforementioned safety information.
REACH regulates the content of chemical substances in general consumer products, including candles. Candles can contain and generate several kinds of toxins that might harm human health.
For example, the paraffin wax used to make the main body of the candle might generate benzene and toluene when burned, which are known as carcinogens and are restricted by REACH. Further, some candle wicks contain lead, which might damage the brain development of children. Lead is also restricted by REACH.
Additionally, scented candles might contain phthalates, which are also regulated by REACH.
Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)
According to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) are substances that have the potential to negatively and permanently affect the environment and human health.
REACH regulates any substance on the SVHC Candidate List by requiring registration of the substance on the SCIP database if a product contains more than 0.1% by weight of said substance. This includes substances that might be found in candles, such as the following:
- 5-tert-butyl-2,4,6-trinitro-m-xylene (musk xylene)
Annex XVII to REACH lists hazardous articles, mixtures, or substances that are either restricted or banned for use in consumer products for sale in the EU. Some substances listed in Annex XVII are prohibited from use, while others may be used if they are restricted to weekly migration limits or certain concentration levels.
Examples of restricted substances that might be present in candles include the following:
- Azo dyes and azo colourants
To ensure that their candles don’t contain substances that are restricted by REACH, importers and manufacturers should arrange lab tests for their products. Companies that offer REACH compliance tests include SGS, QIMA, and Intertek.
You can learn more about REACH lab testing in this article.
Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation
The Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation goal is to ensure that articles, chemical substances, and mixtures containing dangerous substances can be transported without restriction within the EU, as well as to make sure that the environment and human health are protected.
The CLP Regulation does this by setting labelling and other requirements for hazardous substances and articles that might contain such substances.
The CLP Regulation covers many substances, some of which may be found in candles that contain essential oils or fragrances.
For example, the Classification and Labelling Inventory Database includes essential oils that are extracted and obtained from walnut plants because they are highly flammable.
Other examples of regulated essential oils that might be used in candles include the following:
- Orange essential oil
- Parsley seed essential oil
Fragrance candles may also contain toxic chemicals such as benzyl benzoate.
Article 17 of the CLP, Title III – Hazard Communication In The Form Of Labeling, requires dangerous articles, mixtures, substances, and products containing such, to bear a label providing information such as the following:
a. The supplier’s name and contact details
b. A number specifying the amount of mixture or substance in the package
c. Details regarding product identification
d. Hazard pictograms, where appropriate
e. Signal words, where appropriate
f. Hazard statements, where appropriate
g. Relevant precautionary statements, where appropriate
h. Supplementary information, where appropriate
The CLP Regulation requires the usage of a safety data sheet (SDS) to provide information about ingredients, hazards, manufacturer contact details, and more.
While the label serves to provide the consumer with basic information about the product’s hazards, the safety data sheet provides in-depth information about the harmful chemicals and substances within, including how dangerous they are and how to avoid being affected by those substances.
Testing might be required to:
a. Determine potential physical hazards
b. Classification and labelling purposes (e.g. determine the flash point for flammable liquids such as essential oils, in order to assess the flammability category and thus the pictogram that should be used)
Here is how flammability categories are set (see Table 2.6.1 in the CLP Regulation):
RAL: Candles Quality Standards
The RAL German Institute for Quality Assurance and Labelling has developed its own voluntary quality standards for paraffin candles, wax candles, and other related products, as well as a related quality mark.
The RAL GZ-041/1 determines the content, testing method, soot index, and labelling and marking requirements for household candles, tapered candles, pillar candles, and other candles.
The standard set requirements for several factors, including:
- Burning properties
- Position of the wick
- Sooting behaviour, which must comply with EN 15426
- Dimensions of the candle and the candle’s burning time
RAL-GZ 041/2 establishes similar requirements, for indoor candles.
RAL-GZ 041/3 establishes similar requirements, for tea lights.
RAL-GZ 041/4 establishes similar requirements, for graveyard lights.
RAL Quality Mark
Products that meet the requirements set by the RAL standards can affix the RAL Quality Mark on both their products and labelling. Today, according to RAL’s website, there are 38 European manufacturers that can display the mark. These manufacturers have produced roughly half of all the candles in the EU.
Directive 94/62/EC: Packaging Regulations
In addition to the product itself, importers and manufacturers should also ensure the compliance of product packaging materials. The following summarized packaging materials and waste requirements in the European Union.
Heavy Metals Restrictions
Directive 94/62/EC restricts the use of heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, and cadmium in packaging materials, including wrappers and printing inks of the packaging.
To ensure the safety and compliance of product packaging, importers can conduct relevant lab testing.
Some companies like Intertek, SGS, and QIMA provide testing services for product packaging.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)
The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a European policy that requires EU Member States to meet the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’s recycling targets by setting up collection systems for consumers to return their used packaging.
The policy ensures that producers extend their financial responsibility beyond the post-consumer stage of their products so that they can meet environmental safety and national recycling requirements, by contributing a fee to an EPR organisation, such as the ones below:
- Citeo (France)
- FOST PLUS (Belgium)
- Sociedade Ponto Verde (Portugal)