How Long Do Scented Candles Last?
When you purchase a scented candle, ideally you want it to last as long as possible.
Whilst we tend to focus a lot on the colour, fragrance, size and shape of the candle, we tend to neglect this important fact.
Many candle lovers have a tendency to stock up, and often end up with several candles stored away for months that may expire.
So, have you ever considered that candles may have an expiry date as well?
- Store in a Dark Place
- Keep Cool & Dry
- Wrap Your Candles
- Avoid Drafts
- Trim the Wick
- Don’t Burn Too Long
- Keep It Clean
Do Candles Expire?
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The short answer to this question is - yes, candles can expire.
However, there’s various factors at play.
To answer the question more accurately, we need to explore the reasons why some candles last longer than others.
There’s a number of reasons why a candle may expire, and some types of candles show signs of expiration differently.
Signs a Candle Has Expired
First of all, it’s important to note that while candles can expire, they will not spoil like food.
In some cases, expired candles could lose some of their original colour.
More importantly, their fragrance may not be as strong as it originally would have been at the time of purchase.
In some cases, both the fragrance and colour loss can demonstrate that the candle has expired.
Reasons Why Candles Expire
Most candles are made from a type of wax.
Some waxes have a longer lifespan than others.
Paraffin wax or petroleum wax for instance, tends to last more than other kinds of wax.
Conversely, soy wax tends to expire more quickly as it is a natural type of wax.
Soy wax is made from soybean, and being a plant-based product, it should not be left unused for too long.
The scent of the candle comes from the use of synthetic or natural fragrance oils, and in some cases a combination of both.
If the candle is not used for too long, the fragrance oils will start to dissipate, and the fragrance will thus become fainter.
It is also worth mentioning that different types of wax will bond with the fragrance oils in a different way.
As a result, the type of wax might contribute to a longer lifespan, or speed up the dissipation process of the fragrance.
And, as with any other natural ingredient, if the fragrances in the candle are natural, they will degrade more quickly than synthetic fragrances, leading to reduced scent throw.
Possibly the scent may also change from what it originally smelled like.
Each type of essential oil will have its own particular ageing profile, and so it’s very difficult to say exactly how long it can last.
Some candles are coloured by means of a dye.
Naturally, the colour can start to fade if the candle is located in a place where it is exposed to direct sunlight and strong UV rays.
The colour might also change as in fact, colour shifts are quite common with candles.
How They're Stored
The way in which a candle is stored also impacts its lifespan.
Avoid leaving candles in a place where they are in direct sunlight.
It is best to store candles which will not be burnt for extended periods in a dark, cool place, such as a drawer or cupboard.
To prolong their lifespan, it is also a good idea to wrap them up.
Which Types of Candles Last Longer?
Different types of wax have diverse properties, and they also differ in how long they can last.
Soy wax is a very popular type of wax for candles, because it is natural and does not contain any toxins.
It is relatively affordable and can burn at a lower temperature than beeswax for example, so naturally it can manage to last longer.
Beeswax is a natural ingredient which is popular in candle production.
It is a bit more expensive than other kinds of wax, but is a good alternative option.
Since it requires a high temperature to start melting, a low flame can manage to keep a candle made from beeswax to melt for a fairly long period of time.
Paraffin is a cheap ingredient, and many candles are made from this petroleum based material.
However, besides being synthetic, and causing toxic fumes, it burns very quickly.
So if you want a scented candle that lasts long, you’re best advised to avoid candles made from paraffin as they have the shortest burning time.
They are also not considered to be environmentally friendly either.
Size of Wick
The size and thickness of the candle’s wick also plays an important role in its longevity.
The longer the wick, the bigger the flame, and consequently more wax will be used up more quickly.
So to improve a candle’s burning time, you can trim the wick a little to make it burn more slowly, effectively by reducing the size of the flame.
Burn time is also affected by the candle’s weight.
However, the wick size is also a major factor, so both should be taken into consideration.
In fact, you can calculate the burn time of a candle depending on its weight and wick number.
For instance, a candle that has a large wick will burn in for around 7 hours for every ounce of wax it is made from.
Whereas a candle with a smaller wick could last for 9 hours per ounce of wax.
There’s also numerous environmental factors that affect a candle’s burn time.
You would need to take into consideration the room temperature, the movement of the air in that room, and the levels of oxygen present.
Candle Care Tips
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You can prolong your candles’ life and improve its burn time if you use the following tips:
Store in a Dark Place
It is best to store candles in a dark place, mainly to avoid having direct light affect their colour and fragrance.
UV rays will basically break down the materials composing your candles over time.
As a result, the candle’s fragrance will start to dissipate and the colour of the candle can fade.
Keep Cool & Dry
It is important that the storage place is as cool and as dry as possible.
Changes in atmospheric conditions and temperature will negatively affect the lifespan of a candle.
Hence, opt for a storage space that is cool and dry.
Also, use an airtight container that closes properly with a lid to retain as much of the candles’ original fragrance as possible.
Wrap Your Candles
It is also recommended to store candles by wrapping them up, to help prolong their lifespan.
In this way they will be well protected from the elements, particularly light and air.
Zip-up bags work well to store candles, or if you have you can use plastic tubs.
Whilst burning, always keep your candles away from drafts and vents.
Otherwise the flame will start to sputter, causing the candle to burn more quickly and unevenly.
Besides, a draft could blow out candles unnecessarily.
Trim the Wick
Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to trim the candle’s wick slightly before each burn.
It can help to have a smaller wick, which will result in a smaller flame burning more slowly and more evenly.
This is also a helpful trick to reduce the chances of smoking, which could lead to soot marks and discoloured containers.
Don’t Burn Too Long
Another helpful tip is to avoid leaving a candle to burn for too long.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to leave a candle burning for more than four hours.
If you do, the wax will reach a very high temperature, and consequently the candle’s scent will suffer.
Prior to burning the candle again, always allow it to cool down completely.
This ensures the wax on the upper part has hardened completely.
Keep It Clean
It’s advised to keep candles as clean as you can.
Candles that are not stored will most likely accumulate some dust on the top surface.
Make sure to wipe away this layer of dust each time before burning the candle.
A candle’s lifespan can vary considerably.
There’s so many factors involved, from the way you store it, to how long you burn it and where.
It also depends a great deal on the size and how the candle was manufactured.
It is highly recommended that you follow the above-mentioned tips and tricks to prolong the life of your candles.
It’s also best to avoid stocking up on candles as if they are stored for too long they could actually expire.
Ideally, you should use a candle within 12 months of purchase.
If you notice that a candle looks or smells somewhat differently, then most probably it has started to degrade.
A candles’ colour can fade or turn into a different colour over a lengthy period of time.
Fragrances on the other hand could differ to how they smelled originally, or you may notice that the scent is fainter or even gone entirely.
To avoid this, make sure to store candles properly as outlined above, and use them shortly after you purchase them.