Do Candles Expire?

lit orange candles

Before the invention of the light-bulb in 1878, candles were instrumental in providing light during dark nights.

While nowadays most of us light our homes with a simple flick of a switch, the functionality of candles has not yet diminished. A scented candle in the bathroom brings a relaxing and cozy feel to the space, and a citronella candle will chase away the bugs when you’re sitting out on the porch on a summer evening.

While candles can technically be used for ages, it might surprise you to learn that they do degrade in quality over time.

This post unpacks everything you need to know about whether candles expire.

Factors Affecting Candle Shelf Life

Wax Type

Candles are made from various types of wax, including paraffin, soy, beeswax, and palm wax. Each type has a different shelf life, depending on its composition and properties. Paraffin wax, for example, is known to have a longer shelf life than natural waxes like soy and beeswax. However, even with a longer shelf life, paraffin candles can still deteriorate over time.

Scent and Additives

Scented candles are often made using essential oils, fragrance oils, or a combination of both. Over time, the fragrance in candles may weaken or change, especially if the candle is exposed to heat, light, or air. Additionally, candles with additives like colors or decorations may have a shorter shelf life, as these elements can affect the overall quality and performance of the candle.

Storage Conditions

Proper storage plays a crucial role in preserving the quality and shelf life of candles. Exposure to direct sunlight, heat, or moisture can cause candles to warp, melt, or lose their scent. Conversely, storing candles in a cool, dry, and dark environment can help extend their shelf life and maintain their quality.

Types of Candles and How Long They Last

There are countless candle varieties and manufacturers use many different materials when constructing candles.

Here are some of the world’s top-selling candles and the shelf-life of each type.

Soy Candles

These candles feature formulation with organic materials and no preservatives.

Soy candles typically last around 18-months before the wax starts to degrade and turn bad.

Some manufacturers add preservatives to their soy formulations to extend shelf life; check the packaging for details.

Citronella Candles

These candles have a unique formulation that bugs despise, and they’re great for outdoor areas around the home or camping. These candles have shelf lives of around 24-months before they start to degrade. Lemongrass oil is the primary ingredient in these candles and gives them their characteristic citrus scent.

Yankee Candles

These aromatic candles feature formulation with paraffin wax. As a result, they have a shelf life of five years or longer, depending on the storage conditions. If stored in a cool dark place, they can last for decades.

Beeswax Candles

Beeswax candles have the longest-lasting formulation available. The organic substances in beeswax have natural preservative properties. When stored correctly, they have an indefinite lifespan. Look for candles featuring genuine bees propolis in the formulation.

How to Extend the Service and Shelf Life of Candles

Regardless of the type of candle you have and the conditions of use, there are a few things you can do to extend the service life of your candles.

  • Make sure you burn your candle correctly during the first use. Burn the candle, so the wax melts to the edges, forming a protective ridge. This strategy traps any scent in the candle, decreasing the rate of the scent evaporation from the candle.
  • Burning your candle incorrectly also protects the wax from moisture in the atmospheric environment.
  • During the candle’s lifespan, keep the wick to no longer than ¼-inch.
  • To ensure this shielding layer remains intact, do not move the candle until the wax fully sets after this first burn.
  • Make sure the wax fully hardens after the first burn to form the protective layer.
  • During your candle’s lifetime, keeping the wick no longer than 1/4 inch will elongate its burn time.
  • Store your candles in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

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