Fire and Emergency New Zealand warns against making 'butter candles' as TikTok trend takes off

  • 21/12/2023
Fire & Emergency warns against making "butter candles" which can superheat, causing the melted butter to ignite.
Fire & Emergency warns against making "butter candles" which can superheat, causing the melted butter to ignite. Photo credit: TikTok / @erin_dittmer.

New Zealand authorities are warning against making the latest "viral" food trend - butter candles.  

Despite the trend appearing months ago, content creators have recently gained widespread attention by making candle sticks from butter, with a wick and placing them lit inside a hollowed-out bread bowl. 

One guide by TikTok user Erin Dittmer has attracted more than 13 million views and shows how to make the strange "edible" item step-by-step. 

"If you still haven't tried the viral butter candles, you're definitely going to want to save this," she said in the clip. 

"All you need is butter, a paper cup and a wick." 

But a spokesperson from Whakaratonga Iwi/Fire and Emergency New Zealand said it recommends against using fire in an unsafe way and "which may endanger people. 

"As butter releases a huge amount of energy when it burns, as the candle burns down it can superheat the remaining butter, causing it to ignite. 

"Once that occurs it will burn the bread and potentially things like the tablecloth, placemats or napkins," the spokesperson added. 

Dittmer also added dried rosemary into her candle - a highly flammable plant due to its oil content. 

She also said she used a "food-safe" beeswax-coated wick. 

Most candle wicks are sold coated in paraffin wax - a petroleum product - unless specifically labelled as beeswax, soy wax or another type.

TikTok users had a mixed reaction to Dittmer's video. 

"Why not just pour melted butter into the cup and dip?" one user asked. 

"We did this and it all caught on fire. Merry Christmas indeed," another said. 

On the other hand, one person said they tried it and "it made the butter taste like wick". 

Another was happier though, writing, "I did it. It was soo [sic] good and fun." 

Foods containing high amounts of natural oils such as bacon, garlic, or butter can be flammable in certain conditions - and some fine powdered foods such as wheat flour.