Laws for Selling Candles in the US: Legal Basics for Your Candle Business

Updated April 19, 2021
Serious owner checking candle

When used safely, a candle gives many hours of beauty and atmosphere. The twinkling candlelight combined with elegant colors and sophisticated fragrances provide a great sensory experience. Although candles are pieces of decoration in their own right, don't forget these lovely works of art are also potential health and safety hazards. If you plan on selling candles in the United States, you need to understand the legal requirements for selling homemade candles, which include industry standards and safety regulations.

Legal Requirements for Selling Homemade Candles

The National Candle Association (NCA) has played an important part in the creation of a set of candle industry standards. These standards have been developed and published through ASTM International and clearly outline important legal requirements. They are designed to help combat the increase in the number of fires due to candles.

Six Key Standards

The six key standards and full information, plus a detailed description, can be found at the candle subcommittee page of the ASTM Information Web site. In brief, the standards include:

  • Standard Guide for Terminology Relating to Candles and Associated Accessory Items
  • Standard Specification for Candle Fire Safety Labeling
  • Standard Specification for Annealed Soda-Lime-Silicate Glass Containers That Are Produced for Use as Candle Containers
  • Standard Test Method for Collection and Analysis of Visible Emissions from Candles as They Burn
  • Standard Specification for Fire Safety for Candles
  • Standard Specification for Fire Safety for Candle Accessories

Summary of Candle Safety and Labeling Guidelines

The standards provide candle manufacturers with fire performance requirements for candles all candle accessories. For example, you're required to use a fire safety warning label on each candle. This labeling cannot be obscured in any way. The label must include the official fire alert symbol along with the word WARNING that is then followed by fire hazard and safety information.

Standard for Candle Glass Containers

Glass containers used for candles have a standard for transparent or non-transparent soda-lime-silicate glass. Candle manufacturers using glass containers must conform to the standards for specified annealing and thermal shock of the glass.

Standard for Candle Emissions and Testing

The candle emissions must be tested by following the standards testing and evaluation. One of the goals of the testing is to reduce visible smoke emissions. The standard provides guidelines for candle performance and the procedures for the test.

Additional Information for Seller Responsibilities

The onus is on the seller of the candle to ensure that the candles have been manufactured to meet the required standards and are labeled correctly. More information about the laws for selling candles in the US and general candle safety can be found at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Aroma colorful Candles in a market

Other Important Legal Considerations

In addition to safety issues, there are other legal aspects that need to be considered when you're planning to start your own candle business. These include trademarks and copyright as well as website legalities.

Trademarks and Copyright

Trademark and copyright protection is another important consideration when starting to sell candles to the public. Large candle manufacturers and other companies have their own unique fragrances and designs that they have spent many thousands of dollars in developing. These companies trademark, patent, or copyright their fragrances and designs to stop other companies copying them. This affects small businesses as well as large ones and is something that a new business should be aware of.

Avoid Using Similar Candle Company Names

It would be very easy to market and sell handmade candles with names similar to those owned by larger companies. The company owning the copyright would be completely within their rights to send a 'cease and desist' notice to stop the sale of copy-cat candles, even in the case of an inadvertent breech of copyright. The onus is on the candle manufacturer as well as the seller to ensure that the copyright and trademarks of other companies are not infringed upon.

Website Legalities

Many work from home candle businesses can be operated through a website. There are important aspects you need to consider when selling through a website. Sites should have a terms and conditions page that clearly outlines applicable law (detailing what the governing US state is), any trademark or copyright limitations, whether prices are subject to change, and a disclaimer of warranties and liabilities.

Do You Need a Business License to Sell Candles?

There isn't any requirement for a candle-making business license, but you do need general business licenses. The requirements for business registrations and licensing can differ from one state to another. However, you will need a Federal Employer's Identification Number (EIN) that is a tax identification number strictly for businesses, regardless of which state and county you live. You local Small Business Administration (SBA) can provide you with the necessary state and county sales tax permits, any required business licenses, and business liability insurance.

Selling Candles as a Small Business

There are also many small business consultants who offer advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. However, before seeking the help of a consultant, it would be advisable to check his/her credentials when it comes to knowledge and experience of selling candles.

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Laws for Selling Candles in the US: Legal Basics for Your Candle Business