Candles are light sources made from wax with a wick in the middle. Candle poisoning occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally swallows candle wax.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
- Paraffin wax
- Synthetic wax
- Vegetable oil-based wax
Candle wax is considered nonpoisonous, but it may cause intestinal blockage
if a large amount is swallowed.
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
A trip to the emergency room may not be necessary. The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.
A laxative may be given to help the wax move quickly through the gastrointestinal tract and prevent a bowel blockage.
How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Because candle wax is considered nonpoisonous, recovery is very likely.
Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.