Do Candles Expire Or Degrade? Get Your Answers

Whenever you shop for any edible item, the first thing that knocks on your mind is to check the expiry date. It’s just being cautious! But would you do the same when buying scented candles? Do candles expire or degrade over time? 

Yes, candles do have an expiration date like most of the stuff we buy. Unlike edible foods and medicines, they show different signs of expiration. 

This sets the chain of queries like, what if you burn an expired candle? How do you know that your favorite candle has completed its shelf life or is unfit for burning? Well, being a conscious consumer these questions are valid on your part and the article seeks to answer all these queries. Read below to unlock the answers.

How Long Can You Store Candles And Do Candles Expire? 

Candle lovers engross in the beauty of candles. Be it the classic white slender candles or scented candles, you burn them for different reasons. 

If you are passionate about imparting a classy and sophisticated look to your home then there’s a good chance those expensive candles will lie unlit on an embellishing wall for a long time. Some candles we purchase are stored safe, waiting for the much-awaited occasion where we bring them out. 

In situations like these, unlit candles may cross the expiration date easily. Expired candles often have a degraded color and scent. 

My suggestion is to burn your candles within a year or sixteen months to make the best of your money. 

To be more precise about the dates, many candle brands mention the expiry date, or better, a “use by” date. But, the general recommended period is within 12 to16 months of manufacture.

Wax Type Can Determine The Longevity Of A Candle

When you buy any organic wax candles like soy wax, coconut, palm wax, or similar, it’s best to use them within six months of purchase.

  • Soybean, coconut, and palm oil are organic products and are often used without preservatives. As a result, they can have a very limited shelf life.
  • Paraffin wax has a very long shelf life because it’s a petroleum by-product. These simple, regular candles can last years or even indefinitely if stored properly. 
  • Beeswax tops the list as it has the longest shelf life. Its natural wax has conservative properties which add to its longevity.

Now that we know that candles expire, I will talk about the signs that indicate your candle is putrefied.

Does Your Candle Show These Signs Of Decay?

The ingredients that make up a scented candle are wax, fragrances, colors, and the wick. They decompose and break down in different ways. 

Visual Inspection Can Show Discoloration 

The first and foremost sign is discoloration. To cite an example, an orange-colored candle stored for too long might have discolored into a pale yellow color. Of course, its shelf life is over!

crystallization and degradation of wax in tealight candles
I did not store these tealights properly. Note the crystallization of wax and the discoloration.

Is There A Foul Smell When You Burn It?

Scented candles with essential oils or artificial fragrances lose their potency within a few months. We buy scented candles for their pleasing fragrance. So, if your candle has a poor smell even before you burn it. 

In fact, knowing how scented candles work, we can say that the cold throw is a part of the oils floating away and can contribute to scent degradation. To be clear, the presence of cold throw is natural, but it’s also a part of the candle’s aging. Similarly, when a candle gives out a bad smell while burning it (hot throw), it might have lived past its use. 

Sometimes, you may smell more of wax than fragrances, it’s also indicative of the candle being beyond its expiry date.

These Signs Too Tell About The Expiration Of Your Candle

When you notice that the top half part of a candle has turned into a yellow color, crystallized, or caked, It’s a sign of degradation. If the candle wax looks dry and rough it’s indicative of its decay. 

Crystallization around the edges of the candle wax suggests decomposition. If the wick is clogged and doesn’t burn easily, it’s time to say goodbye to your candle.

Well, we talked of candles in general that are white classic candles and dyed candles. 

Let’s go into a bit more detail on scented candles and see what signs they show of degradation.

Do Scented Candles Expire Or Go Bad?

Scented candles also have wax as the base material and sometimes added dyes for color. As compared to the non-scented candles they go bad quite early. This is because essential oils used for aroma can also degrade quickly

If you keep them unlit for a few months, they end up giving either a fainter scent, wax smell, or in some cases, a foul smell.

Regular essential oils can last for a fairly long time. However, when used with scented candles, they are mixed with other ingredients, including wax. Besides, the candle may not always be in an airtight container stored away from light and moisture. So, the degradation of the oils happens faster than it would in a bottle of essential oils. 

Unused scented candles lose their puissance over time because the molecules of oils keep evaporating and lose the strength of the aroma. That’s why the robust aroma of essential oils is at its heightened state during the initial months of purchase.

It’s best to check with the manufacturer’s recommendations of “use by” dates, but conventionally, these candles may last for about 18 months.

Is There Any Harm In Burning An Expired Candle?

It is dispiriting to part with your expensive candle, especially when it’s unused and stored for a special occasion. So should you throw the candle away or just burn it anyway? 

It might be okay to burn an expired candle, if you are comfortable with its distorted visual ambiance. An expired scented candle too can be burnt if it emits a fainter smell of essential oils or just the wax.  But, if it gives a foul smell, discard it. Your best judgment and your nose can be guides in such a situation.

However, when the flame appears to be too small and goes off after every few seconds, then your candle is expired to burn anymore. 

Ways To Enhance Your Candle’s Longevity

Candles have a limited shelf life but a few care and storage measures can make them last longer. Here are a few ideas.

  • Store the candles in a dark place away from sunlight.
  • Room temperature is the best temperature for candles.
  • You can store scented candles in an airtight container to preserve their aroma.
  • Keep the surface of the candle clean and dust-free.
  • When you burn the candle for the first time, melt the first layer completely before putting it out to prevent tunneling.
  • Let the wax cool down and harden before burning a candle again.
  • Trim the wick each time before you light a candle.

Burn The Candles Within The Prescribed Time

Adding candles to your home softens the space, is great for your well-being, and creates a welcoming impression. So don’t let these beautiful, quite useful items expire by using them as decorative items, or hoarding them. 

If you’ve ever wondered do candles expire, you have your answer. Yes, they do, and the same applies to scented candles as well. Make the best of their scents and light within the prescribed time limit. 

You can prolong the life of candles by taking care of their storage and maintenance. Scented candles go bad quite early, therefore, instead of hoarding them for long, burn them or you will be disappointed to miss their delightful vigorous aroma.