Candles: Do They Have a Shelf Life to Follow?

There are plenty of products out there that comes with expiration and best before dates. So, you may wonder if candles have their own expiry date, just like any other items that you may have in your home. It is best that you get the most out of your candles, and knowing their shelf life is very important.

Yes, candles do expire, and you can tell by seeing the color fading as well as diminishing scent. Some candles may hold their color longer than others, while some scents remain fresher. It is best to know what are in your candles so that you can determine how long is the shelf life of your candles.

If you want to enjoy your candles from the last drop of wax, it is important to know when they expire. In this article, I will talk about how to know when your candles have gone bad. Also, I will discuss the different shelf life of each type of wax that is used in candles and how you can store them properly using different containers. Lastly, I will talk about the different factors that you need to consider on how you can prolong the shelf life of your candles.

How to Know When Candles Has Gone Bad: What to Know

When you leave your candles unsealed or exposed to direct sunlight will lose their scent and color. If you leave your pillar and taper candles for a long period of time, they are most likely to lose their scent over a period of time. Now, if you have candles with covers, they are most likely to retain their scent and preserve when they are sealed and stored properly.

Another factor that can break down the wax and create a chemical reaction is exposure to UV Radiation. UV rays will weaken and destroy the raw materials and chemicals that are present, as well as bonds within the candle.

There are also other additives that can be placed in the wax, which will lessen this said reaction. However, it is not completely avoidable. The said UV absorbers protect candles from any chemical reaction from happening. These absorbers work by collecting the UV radiation and releasing the energy as heat, and this would prevent the candle from discoloration.

They will absorb more of the UV light or energy rather than the candle itself. The loss of color can also be caused by indoor or artificial light such as fluorescent lights.

No matter how many UV protectors or additives you will add to your wax, a candle will never be fully protected from UV radiation. You can add dye or fragrance combinations to alter the wax too, which will also cause discoloration or oxidation.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction with oxygen, and it is an exothermic reaction which means energy is produced in the form of heat. However, it doesn’t always have to involve oxygen. In scientific terms, oxidation is actually the loss of elections that causes an increase in the oxidation state of an atom.

Wax contains plenty of dyes and fragrances that are less thermally stable. It is more sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and heat temperature and heat than candles that are not dyed or scented. For a more thermally stable candle, it is best to include anti-oxidant that can be included in the candle-making process.

Properties of Different Candle Waxes: Make Sure You Are Aware

Technically candles don’t expire, but they deteriorate and weaken over time. As mentioned above, UV light can break down the colorant, and the candle will eventually fade. Heat can break down candle scents as well. The following will tackle the specific candle wax type and how long each of their shelf life will be.

Soy Candle Waxes

Soy wax is an organic material that is made from soybeans. Since soybeans can rot and go rancid, the same thing goes for candle soy waxes. Now, it’s true that you can use different additives to prolong the life of your soy candles, and if it is scented, the fragrance could counter the additive.

Due to the chemical reactions, it can hasten the deterioration and breakdown of your soy candle. It will usually have one to two years of shelf life. Plenty of soy wax candles come in jars, and when your candle has a lid, then you can keep it sealed until you are ready to burn it to make sure you get the best throw and burn time.

Paraffin Candle Waxes

Paraffin wax is made from petroleum which means it has a shelf life that you need to know. The estimated shelf life of paraffin candles is about five years, but there are plenty of paraffin candles that can last so much longer. When your paraffin candle waxes are colored and scented, then both of these properties can fade over time.

Plenty of candle fragrances is great when burned no later than one year after you have bought them. All you have to do is store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight so that you can prevent the color from fading.

Beeswax Candle Waxes

One of the natural wax that has the longest shelf life among all types of candles is beeswax candle waxes. It is believed that beeswax candles can be kept indefinitely. Plenty of people argues that beeswax will never expire, and they refer to the Egyptians’ way of using honey. They use honey to embalming fluid, and the beeswax will seal the sarcophagus.

Though indeed, honey never spoils, for your beeswax candles to look good as new, it is best to store them properly in 100 percent cotton or tissue paper. Also, you need to make sure you store your candles away from direct sunlight.

Palm Candle Waxes

Another natural wax that is used in candles is palm. However, it doesn’t break down quickly since palm wax has a higher melting point than soy wax. The reason for this is because of the large crystal molecular structure of palm oil that wax clings longer to than oil fragrances. Also, the wax’s higher melting point will allow for the fragrance to have a better throw that is released at a slower rate over time.

These factors provide palm wax candles longer shelf life than soy wax candles. Usually, palm candle waxes should last between two to three years.

Gel Candle Waxes

Gel candles are actually not wax, but they are polymer resin. The melting point is higher than waxes, which will give these types of candles a longer burn time. The degradation of gel candles is also less so when you decide to store it, keep it in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

If your gel candle doesn’t come with a lid, you can place it in a self-sealing plastic bag or cover the jar with plastic wrap. When doing this, your gel candles can last for several years. When the candle is scented, then you should consider how the fragrance can react with polymer resin and mineral oil as time passes.

Storing Your Candles Properly for A Long Shelf Life

There are plenty of ways how you can store your candles properly so that they can last longer when they are not in use. Also, storing candles properly is crucial for people who have a candle business so that they can have a long shelf life.

Now, storing unused candles is not a difficult task, but it is crucial to take a few simple precautions so that you can reduce the risk of fire-related accidents and maximize the lifespan of your candles. The primary rule in making sure you are storing your candles properly is to place them in a non-flammable container where they can lie flat, wrapping them individually so that they won’t stick together when needed.

When you are done packing them, make sure to place them in a cool, dry, dark location until you are ready to break them out again.

Find A Safe Location Storage for Your Candles

Candles will last longer when they are placed in a cool, dry place with a low to moderate temperature. You can place them in cupboards, closets, and dry basements as these are the best locations for them. When you don’t have these kinds of spaces available, try placing them in a extra drawer, away from lighters and matches, or under your bed.

Your candles should be in a place with temperatures between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 29 degrees Celcius). Once you bring a new candle haul to your home or transport your candles from one place to another, make sure that you don’t leave them in your vehicle for too long, especially when it is hot outside.

Be sure to never leave your candles near an open flame or source of direct heat like space heaters, kitchen appliances, and radiators, even if it is temporary.

Keep Candles Away from Pets or Children

No matter where you store your candles, it is important that you keep them away from your pets or kids. It is best to place them in a container with a locking lid, hide them, or perch them on a high shelf where they will be out of reach from children or pets.

The reason why you need to do this is some candles may look appetizing to curious young kids and animals. Also, it is possible for older children to start accidental fires by lighting them or placing them near lighters or matches.

Now, plenty of candles are non-toxic, but if it is ingested in a large amount, the wax used can make them sick and can still pose significant health risks. These risks are intestinal blockage or allergic reactions.

Keep Your Candles Away From Direct Sunlight

As mentioned above, sunlight is not the best friend of candles. It has a tendency to bleach dyed candles after a long period of time, which will then lead them to look faded or discolored. There are many potent rays that can also sap the fragrance from scented candles.

It is also even possible for candles to partially melt when they are left in direct sunlight. This doesn’t only apply to direct sunlight but also to other kinds of harsh light such as spotlights and desk lamps.

Don’t Freeze Your Candles: It is a Myth!

Now, there is little truth to the common myth of storing candles in your freezer, which causes them to burn slower. It may seem like a good idea; in theory, when you lower the temperature of the wax it only hardens, and it will lead to cracking permanent changes in texture or splitting.

It can also be hard on the wicks when you repeatedly thaw candles as it can absorb small amounts of moisture in between burns. It is fine to stick a candle or two back into your fridge but only do this if you have no available space to place them into.

The only time that you should place a candle in the freezer is when you are trying to break up the wax so that you can reuse the jar for another purpose.

Choose the Right and Proper Container to Place Your Candles

Place your candles in a metal tin for maximum safety and protection. The metal container won’t let in any moisture, catch fire accidentally, or rot over time. With this said, there is less chance your candles will get smooshed when they happen to end up at the bottom of your other stored items.

You can purchase metal storage boxes in different shapes, sizes, and styles online or at home goods stores. They are often priced at less than $10 per unit. Things like old toolboxes, empty coffee canisters, lockboxes, and cookie tins are great to repurpose so that you can save money instead of buying new containers.

Plastic Storage Containers: Great for Sizing Options

The major advantage of using these types of containers, aside from being readily available and low price, is they come in different sizes. It makes them ideal for managing even the most out-of-control candle collections. Plastic storage containers are made with strong stuff, though they may be vulnerable to melting if the temperature gets too high.

It is best to double-up your storage security by placing your candles in a small container for added safety. Once that is done, fit that container inside a second and larger one.

Sturdy Cardboard Box: When You Don’t Have Anything Sturdy to Use

Find a sturdy cardboard box if you don’t have any suitable containers available. Usually, it would be your last resort when it comes to storing your candles or other flammable items that you may have. However, it is best to make do with an ordinary cardboard box as long as it is in good condition.

Then, place your candles in a cool, dry, and dark spot. You can scavenge for free cardboard boxes in restaurants, coffee shops, liquor stores, and bookstores. Shoeboxes are the perfect balance of capacity and compactness since they can be used to hold a few large candles or plenty of little ones.

Compartmentalized Containers: Great for Tea Lights and Votive Candles

When you have tea lights and votive candles, it is best to place them in boxes with built-in dividers. It will keep your small candles from becoming lost or ending up in a chaotic jumble. You can browse storage solutions at your local home good stores, office supply centers, or online.

If you are looking for a more economical alternative, it is best to get an old egg carton or ice cube tray since it can serve the same purpose at no additional cost. It is also a great way to store your wax melts, vent stacks, and other wax-based air fresheners that you may have.

Storing Different Types of Candles Properly

Candles that come in their own containers, there is no need to do anything special to store them. You can just slip their lids on them and make the same room for them in your cabinet or an available open shelf that you may have in your home. You can stack them properly to save space, as long as they are not in danger of falling or breaking.

When you want to keep your jar or timber candles together and be able to tote them from place to place at the same time, be sure to group them side by side in a large box or even a basket. For candles with mason jar lids, they can make excellent makeshift candle covers when you have lost some of your original lids.

Pillar Candles: Maintaining Their Shape While in Storage

Pillar candles should be laid loose so that they can maintain their shape. It will be less likely to warp, bend, or droop whenever they are supported from underneath. Make sure that you arrange your candles in an even row at the bottom of your chosen container.

When you have enough to form more than one layer, it is best to stack them in an offset pattern so that the candles settle neatly in the gaps between the candles. It is also important for your candles to be resting nice and flat when they are placed in a container.

If you don’t lay them flat, they might experience drastic changes in temperature or when you are putting them away shortly after you burn them. Decorative, votive, and scented candles are missing. Their original containers should be stacked well too.

Taper Candles: Wrap Them in Tissue Paper to Prevent From Sticking

If you are worried about your tapers sticking from each other inside their storage container, roll each of them up in a piece of tissue paper, and then lay them out in a single flat layer to store them. The tissue can be a bit of a buffer between the tacky wax, making the candles easier to remove and separate later on.

Now, keep in mind that tissue paper is flammable itself, so you need to be extra careful about where and how you store them when you have wrapped them. It is best to avoid stacking or piling long taper candles as well since their shape makes them a bit fragile, as it can increase their chances of breaking.

It is also best to wrap the candles in some kind of soft fabric when you are worried about starting a fire. Heat-resistant fabrics like silk and wool are the safest choice for you. Synthetics like nylon and acrylic are also hard to ignite and tend to burn slower if they catch on fire.

Place Scented Candles Inside Plastic Bags: Great Way to Smelling Fresh

Here, you need to make sure to use a bag with a zip or snap enclosure to make sure that there is no potentially-damaging air or moisture that gets inside. When you don’t have either of these types of bags, you can use a large sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. It will do rather than do nothing about it.

You just have to be sure to bind the candles tightly with rubber bands or tables after you burn them. The longer scented candles stay exposed to air or any environmental moisture, the faster they will dry out and lose their fragrance.

Factors For How Long Your Candle Will Last: Take Note!

The first factor in determining how long a candle would last is the type of wax used in the candle. As mentioned above, each wax has its own different burn rate and shelf life. The waxes that have the longest shelf life are soy and beeswax, but soy has a shorter shelf life than beeswax.

Another factor that goes into the shelf life of candles is additives. Any additives that are included in the wax can impact the burn time of the candles. As mentioned above, UV inhibitors and other additives on the candles to increase cold throw, optimize hot throw, and preserve the color are used factors in the shelf life of candles.

However, these additives will affect how the candle burns, and these may prolong the shelf life or display time of the candle. It will ultimately affect the burn time or effectiveness of candle burn as well as increase shooting.

Any fragrance or essential oils that are added to the candles for scent or aroma can affect the burn rate of the candle. The scent or aroma is the main component of the candle that most people consider. Plenty of people is looking for candles that smell nice, which is why people buy them.

Now, the fragrance load can have an impact on the burn rate of the candle, how the candle will burn, and how long it can last. When you put too much fragrance into the wax, it can cause the candle to not burn properly by clogging the wick.

The last factor is the candlewick. Choosing the right candle wick is crucial and making sure that it is proper in size, burns at a steady pace, as well as not clogged, then you got a good candle going.


Candles do go bad when the color and scent are off due to UV light deterioration, chemical reaction, heat, and improper way of storage. Once you know the shelf life of the different candle wax types retains these attributes, you can choose candles based on their shelf life. Knowing the shelf life is important, especially for those who have a candle-making business and those who like to haul candles. If you want more in-depth information about storing candles, here is an article that I have written.

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