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Pilot light color flame safety

Updated April 17, 2017

A pilot light on a gas-burning appliance should be blue. Another flame colour, especially yellow, means the appliance's gas-to-air mixture is unsafe and needs to be checked.

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When natural gas burns, energy is released in the form of heat. Three things are required for this process to work correctly and safely in an appliance: a pilot light, the right amount of fuel, and the right amount of air, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Blue Color

Appliances are carefully adjusted to provide the correct mixture of gas and air. A normal flame should be blue, steady and cone-shaped. The Riverside County Fire Department says a pilot or burner flame should be about 90 per cent blue. Flecks of orange are OK, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Company. However, "if the flame is yellow, large, and flickering the appliance may need a safety adjustment."


Decorative gas appliances such as fire logs are designed to have a yellow flame.

Newer Appliances

It used to be that a pilot light burnt constantly, but in some newer appliances, the pilot light is a spark that occurs only when you turn on the appliance.


A slight odour of natural gas means a pilot light may have gone out, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Warning signs

If natural gas is burnt without enough air, it may produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas. The Louisville Gas and Electric Company says that a person exposed to carbon monoxide "may complain of dizziness, headache, nausea, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms."

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About the Author

Kirsten Sorenson has been an online, print and television reporter, and a columnist since 1994. Her work has appeared in the "Washington Post," "Parade Magazine," the "Arizona Republic," the "Cincinnati Enquirer," KSL Television, Associated Press and the "Deseret News." Her areas of expertise include health and medicine, education and parenting. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.

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