Do Candles Expire?

Many products come with expiration or “best by” dates, leading some people to wonder if candles can expire like other items. Below, we explain whether candles can expire and why and then offer advice for storing and taking care of your soy wax candles to prolong their lives.

Los Angeles Candle

Do Candles Expire?

No, candles don’t expire in the same way that food products do. However, they may lose their color and/or scent over time, especially if not stored properly. Candles are made by blending fragrance oils with a carrier wax. Usually, the fragrance oil will be the first to dissipate. In that case, your candle will still burn like normal, but it will produce minimal scent–if any fragrance at all. This is more likely to happen to candles that are left in direct sunlight or that are not stored in a container. If you’ve ever left pillar candles out on display and noticed that they lost their color and scent over time, then you know exactly what this looks like.

In some rare cases, your candle can go bad, especially if it’s made with plant-based waxes (such as soy wax) or natural fragrance oils. This is because plant-based products can degrade over time. For the best results, burn these candles within 12 to 18 months of purchase. The candle manufacturers may also provide guidance for how long their different types of wax last, so check with the individual brands if you have lots of different candles made with different types of waxes.

Various Fun Candles

How to Store Your Candles

You can take certain steps to lengthen the life of your candle, especially if it’s made with natural waxes or fragrance oils. The first step is to keep it out of direct sunlight. This is because UV radiation breaks down materials over time, causing colors to fade and scent to dissipate. You may have noticed that objects left outside or near a window will fade over time, and this follows the same principle. If your favorite candle placements expose them to sunlight, move them to a more shady spot once you are finished burning them.

Storing your candles in an airtight container will also help keep the fragrance from fading. Some candles already come with a container and a lid, in which case you can just replace the lid after you’re done burning it. For candles that don’t come with a container or a lid, you might want to get an airtight plastic box that can hold the candles when not in use. If you get an opaque box, it will also protect the candles from sunlight so you can leave it out. But if you get a clear one, you’ll need to find somewhere to store it.

Louisiana candle

Other Candle Care Tips

Storing your scented candles properly isn’t the only thing that you can do to prolong the life of your candles. Here are some other candle care tips that will help you make the most of your candles and maximize your burn time:

  • Keep the candle away from drafts and vents while it is burning. This will ensure an even burn and keep the flame from sputtering or being blown out.
  • Trim the candle wick before each burn. This will also help it burn evenly and reduce its chances of smoking, which will discolor the container. If soot marks do accumulate, do clean them regularly–though wait for the glass to cool first to avoid burning yourself.
  • On the first burn, make sure that the entire first layer of wax melts (this may take several hours). This will help set the candle wax’s “memory” and prevent tunneling, where only the center of the candle burns down.
  • On subsequent burns, don’t leave the candle burning for more than four hours at a time to prevent the wax from superheating, which will reduce the candle’s scent. Allow the candle to completely cool and harden before burning it again.
  • Keep the top of the candle clean and dust-free. If you store it in a container like the instructions above, you won’t have to worry about this.

While most candles don’t truly expire, their scent and color will fade over time. You can prolong their lives with the proper care and storage. Follow the tips above to get the most of your candle and enjoy its scent for many months to come.