Do Candle Fragrances Expire? Read It Here!

Updated on July 15, 2021

If you are burning a paraffin candle, then obviously it is going to be used up. However, not burning the candle can still have expiratory effects on the fragrance oil contained in the oil.

Do Candle Fragrances Expire?

Do candle fragrances expire? Well, not exactly. Candles don't expire per se, like foods and other products might. Instead, they degrade over time and act more like a best before date.

As a rule of thumb, even luxury candles will degrade over time. An unlit candle degrades as chemicals and compounds in the scented product break down naturally. 

There are a number of candle care tips you can apply to a beautiful luxury candle to extend its life, but they rarely expire in the traditional sense of the word. 

Instead, an unlit candle wick can become more difficult to light, or the natural fragrances in a scented candle wax can become much weaker and harder to notice. 

Keeping a candle clean, following guidance from candle companies themselves, and keeping the products away from harsh lights can protect a candle over a period of time. 

However, this is still a best before date rather than an expiry like food products, although some candles are classed as a plant based product. 

So how can you care for an unlit candle? What do candle makers suggest when it comes to storing a candle for a long period of time? What happens when a candle degrades?

We have all the answers for you right here, so let's get right into it. How do candle fragrances expire and degrade?

Does a Scented Candle Expire Without Burning?

Exposure to direct sunlight is the main cause of expiration and rapid degradation in most types of candles. They are stored on shelves, windowsills, and otherwise in the open. 

Finding a candle container instead is suggested by most candle manufacturers. Storing them in a box or otherwise cool, dry area will preserve some life in the candle. 

Your favorite candle placements around the house won't really do the trick, unless you plan on burning them soon. Exposure to UV light damages the bond with fragrances and the wax.

As this bond weakens and breaks, the molecules of fragrance oil separate and begin to degrade. This is true in both synthetic fragrances and natural fragrance oils. 

Over time, the original fragrance thus decays, leaving you with a weaker scent over time. Depending on the length of this time period, you can also see some color degradation. 

Color shifts into an unattractive color are common for artificially colored candle waxes. If you are used to white candle wax however, this is unlikely to be a visible problem you are facing. 

Does a Scented Candle Expire Without Burning?

How Long Will a Candle Last?

For most wax candles, the life of fragrance oil in the waxes is about a year. When combined with natural waxes, this can be shorter however as chemical and artificial products have a greater shelf life. 

Direct sunlight, not fitting candle jar lids or using a candle topper, and different types of waxes can also affect the shelf life and color degradation of your candle. 

The degradation of materials over time can affect the quality of fragrance oils, even if you light the candle before they fully expire. 

Getting a weaker scent over time, you may be barely able to notice a smell by the time you decide to light the candle wick. 

As such, if you want to make the most of the strongest, most full-bodied fragrance then you should burn the candle as soon as possible and get the most out of it. 

Indoor lights can also negatively affect the candle, depending on the type of light you have installed inside of your home. 

Protecting candles from sunlight is one thing, but all light is another. We suggest a corner of your pantry or maybe even a small box for storage of unlit candle waxes. 

How Long Does a Candle Burn?

People burn candles at different times of day and throughout the year. The length of a candle’s lifespan depends on several factors such as its type and how it’s burned.

The type of wax and wick affects how much a candle burns; if the wick is old or damaged, it may burn less or not at all.

Additionally, burning too much wax at once can cause the flame to go out early. Candles with long lifespans tend to be small specialty candles, such as tea lights.

The average burn time for candles depends on the softness of the wax, the age of the wick, and the temperature of the room in which you are lighting it. 

If you want your candle to burn longer, you can lower its temperature slightly by keeping it far from any warm surfaces such as windows or radiators during winter.

Overheating will cause your candle to go out sooner than normal, but this can also happen if you place it too close to warm surfaces like an electric tea light holder or an open fireplace during colder months.

How to Make Candles Last Longer?

Burning candles at low temperatures extends their lifespan, and cleaning around them extends their burn time even further. However, burning candles too close to warm surfaces can shorten their lives.

Unfortunately, plant based waxes also tend to last less time than artificial and chemically produced paraffin based waxes. 

How to Make Candles Last Longer?

Organic, vegetable based waxes are plant products and will expire as such. There are organic alternatives with longer lives however, that can substitute paraffin. 

Beeswax candles are a natural remedy that can have your home smelling lovely and fresh, without worrying about a shelf life. 

Smell is one of the human senses which can flow through the whole body. I am the Founder of where we talk all about scented candles. Known as Candace the Candle Girl, I know pretty much all there is to know about scented candles. I make and sell them on Etsy and Ebay - so be sure to ask if you have any burning questions :) (pun intended ;) )

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