With the holidays coming up, you may be wondering if you can bring candles in your carry-on luggage when flying to visit family or go on vacation. The rules around traveling with candles are a bit complex, so read on for a breakdown of what the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows.

The main concern around candles and air travel is fire safety. The TSA prohibits anything that could ignite a fire on board an aircraft in your carry-on bag. This includes matches, lighters, and flammable liquids like fuel and paint. At first glance, it would seem candles would fall under this prohibited items category. However, the TSA makes a distinction between lit and unlit candles.

Solid candles are permitted in carry-on luggage as long as they are not lit. This includes votive, pillar, container, and taper candles. You can pack these carefully wrapped in your clothes or in plastic bags. Sea shells and decorative candle holders are also allowed. The wick and wax cannot be exposed during the security screening process.

On the other hand, lighter fluid and combustible candle waxes like gel wax are considered hazardous materials. These are not allowed at all in carry-on or checked baggage. Packaging also matters – if the candle is in a gift set with matches or a lighter, it will not be permitted.

You may be able to travel with candle making kits in your checked luggage, not your carry-on. These contain prohibited items like matches and fragrances with flammable alcohol. Make sure to package the kit very carefully and notify the TSA officer during screening. They can inspect it further and determine if it can fly.

If you want to bring scented candles for aromatherapy, look for battery-operated flameless candles. These mimic the look and scent of real candles without the fire hazard. You can find flameless candles at many major retailers. Just be sure to take the batteries out during flight if they are loose.

What about birthday cake candles? Technically, the TSA rules prohibit lighting fires and carrying flammable liquid wax. However, a few small birthday candles with the wicks embedded in frosting are generally permitted. Be prepared to remove them if asked by security.

While you can transport unlit solid candles in your carry-on, use caution if you plan to light them at your destination. Be sure to keep them away from flammable materials and never leave them unattended when lit. Consider battery-operated candles as a safer option for guest accommodations.

With some creativity and careful packing, you can bring decorative candles with you to set the mood on your next trip. Just remember to follow the TSA guidelines and focus on fire safety. That way, you can enjoy the ambiance of candles without any inflight fires or hassles going through airport security checkpoints.