How long do candles last?

Nothing like a candle makes your house smell like pumpkin pie or lavender after a long day at work. However, if you don’t know how long candles can last, they might waste away on your shelf before you actually get around to using them. So when do they expire?

A candle should be used within the first year to 16 months to have the optimal experience. The average lifespan changes based on the type of wax used; organic candles expire sooner than their synthetic counterparts. Also, added additives that have a shorter shelf-life affect the lifespan. With good storage practices, deterioration can be slowed down.

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We all have our favorite candles. But what if I told you that there is an expiration date on your favorite scented candles? You might, in fact, be surprised to learn that many popular brands have a shelf life that will expire after two years. This means they won’t burn as well or not even release their scent. So when do they expire?

How long does the average candle last?

When buying a candle, its shelf-life and how long it will burn are some of the main factors you’d look at, especially if it is expensive. 

Hopefully, with the tips and tricks, we’ll share in this article, you’ll have all the information you need to help you calculate the expected burn time of a given candle. 

In most cases, the manufacturer mentions this info, but sometimes you may have to do some research or guesswork to get the necessary information. 

It is the responsibility of the manufacturers to calculate the approximate burn time of a candle and mention it on the label. This helps customers make buying decisions and builds their trust in your brand. But some manufacturers don’t bother with it, or in some cases, they just don’t want to share this info at all. 

The burn time of a candle depends on several factors that are involved in its making. It includes

  • The size of the candle
  • The type of wax used
  • The type of wick material
  • The size of the wick
  • Amount and type of dyes and fragrances used
  • The shape of the glass jar used
  • The quality of the glass jar

However, some other factors will impact a candle’s burn time too. These are,

  • The movement of air in the room
  • The amount of oxygen present in a room
  • The temperature of the room

The type of wax used:

The type of wax used to make candle influences the speed with which the candle burns. 

Soy Wax: This popular vegetable wax burns out quickly but is inexpensive.

Beeswax: Beeswax has a relatively higher temperature, burning very slowly if the flame is small. However, beeswax is quite expensive. 

Paraffin: Paraffin is the cheapest wax available and burns out quickly too. But the downside of paraffin is that it produces toxic fumes while burning. 

Candle Wick Numbers and Size:

The candle wick numbers and sizes also determine how long a candle is going to last. The candle wick number should match the size of the candle. If the candle wick is too large or too small for the candle, it will die out due to curling or mushrooming, or your candle wick might lean, which would cause the same thing. 

Candle Weight:

The weight of the candle also determines the time you can expect a candle to last if the candlewick number is appropriate for its weight. You can expect them to last for 7 to 9 hours per ounce of their weight, depending on the size of their wick. If you’re unsure how much candle wax is needed for your candle, check out this guide.

Environmental Factors

The environment of the room where you have lit the candle will also determine its burn time. The air circulation and amount of oxygen in the surrounding air directly impact the burning of a candle. Sometimes, it may also cause problems, such as candle soot

Calculating your candle’s burn time:

You have just ordered an expensive candle – and now you are really curious about how long the candle will last. You can directly ask the candle makers or calculate it yourself. Some online candle burn time calculators give the exact measure of how long a candle will last. They will ask you about the candle material, wick size, and weight of the candle. 

How long should you keep your scented candle burning?

If you want your candles to last longer, you should not burn them continuously. Even though it’s possible that homemade candles do burn longer, you should still be careful with their burning time. For example, you can blow out a candle after three to four hours. During this time, the candle will have released its scent to make your space fragrant enough. 

Burning a candle beyond this time will waste your money. In fact, it also increases the chance of serious fire hazards. The surrounding objects may catch fire if you forget the burning candle. Therefore a candle should not continuously burn for more than four hours. 

Why not let your candles burn just a little?

A candle should burn for at least one hour to adequately release its pleasant scents in the surrounding. Burning for a too-short time may cause the surface diameter to melt unevenly, forming a candle tunnel. To prevent this tunnel from forming, ensure that you burn a candle for at least one hour. 

Why do Candles Expire?

Candles also expire, but differently from your food or cosmetics. An expired candle can’t make you sick like spoiled milk. It will just lose its fragrances and tints. It means that if you have bought the candle because of its great appearance or mesmerizing fragrance, it is essential for you to use it before it expires.

In order to see how candles expire, we need to know the ingredients that the candles are made of. If we know how these ingredients will degrade with time, we can preserve and utilize our candles in a better way. 


Different types of wax have different life spans. Petroleum-based paraffin wax has a longer lifespan than others. Kathy LaVanier, CEO of Renegade Candles, says, “Paraffin is inert, non-reactive, and very stable” She also added that Paraffin wax can lasts for years without going bad. 

However, natural waxes such as soy wax or beeswax have a lower life expectancy because it is derived from soybean oil. Therefore we cannot forget a soy wax candle in our pantry forever. 

Fragrance Oils

We love the candles for their soothing aromas. Manufacturers use various natural and synthetic fragrances to make their candles different from others. These essential oils and synthetic fragrances have different shelf lives and tend to fade with time. 

The type of wax used in making candles and how they bind to the fragrance or essential oil also determine how long it will last. Natural scents are derived from different botanicals. They are likely to fade away quickly or change their smell. This is, of course, if you’ve added enough fragrance to your candle.


Beautifully shaded candles contain different dyes. These dyes are susceptible to fading upon exposure to direct heating or exposure to sunlight. If it is left unused, you must have seen a candle changing its color with time. 

The change in color of a candle makes it look unpleasant and will not complement your décor. Therefore it’s recommended to use up all your candles within 12 months of buying them. 

How to tell if a candle has expired?

The first sign that you will notice in an expired candle is a change in its aroma or appearance. If the candle no longer retains the color that it actually was, it has probably started degradation. 

Secondly, you can smell the candle to determine whether it is still worth keeping or not. If there is a change in its aroma or the scent has faded away, it will not give the desired fragrance upon burning. 

At this point, you may be thinking, “Can we burn a candle even if it has an altered color and aroma?”. We evaluate the lifespan of a candle based on two factors – aesthetics and burn performance. 

Some waxes may undergo so much deterioration that they will not even burn properly. In that case, you have the only option of throwing them in the garbage bin. 

If there is a change in the integrity of the fragrance oil, it may clog the wick. When you light up such candles, you will notice some other factors will their flame is very small; it may sputter or go out frequently. This sputtering flame is a sign that the candle’s burn performance is severely damaged. 

However, if the change in color or aroma has not affected the burn performance of your candle, it would be totally fine to burn it. It will not serve its aesthetic purpose, but it’s somewhat functional. But if you are concerned about the looks and smell, you should discard them right away. 

Do some candles last forever?

A brand named Lucid claims that its candles last forever. These candles are refillable with a Lucid Liquid Paraffin that burns but does not have any end date. You need to refill it again and again. But it’s not expensive at all. 

A 16oz bottle of Lucid Liquid costs just around $9.99. one bottle is likely to give 100 hours of burn time. It is a hassle-free, mess-free candle that will imitate the glow of real candlelight. 

Another expensive brand, Yankee candles, also claims to have long-lasting candles (not forever, though). The consumers of Yankee candles believe that Yankee candles have something special about them. That’s why the customers are willing to pay more for them. 

Yankees claim that they use superior quality natural materials in their candles. Extraordinary craftsmanship makes these candles worth their price. Therefore if you are thinking of stocking them while they are on sale, go ahead and save your bucks. 

Which scented candles last the longest? 

Candles have a different composition that determines their possible shelf life. A paraffin candle made with synthetic oils will probably last for many years. On the other hand, candles with essential oils and vegetable wax have a very short shelf life. 

Buying candles from reputable brands may cost higher while buying. However, these candles have a greater life expectancy than those made by cheap companies. 

If you’ve bought the candles for their scents, you should use them within 12 months of purchasing. The top notes of ascent are dispersed in the air by most of the candles. Keeping them unburned in an open space will make you miss the heart and base notes of the scent. 

You need to wait for a while when you light your candle but don’t find its scents. Let it burn for longer because some candles need a full-melt pool to release their scents. 

How do you store candles long-term?

Here is some good news for you. You can extend a candle’s lifespan by following the tips and tricks. In case you are interested, check out this guide on how to store your candles, which goes into detail.

Store your candle in a dark place:

Exposure to light may quickly deteriorate a candle. It disrupts the fragrance and may also cause discoloration. The UV light may rapidly break down both color and fragrance oils. It is necessary to keep your candles in a place with no light source to prevent their beauty and scent. 

Keep your candles in a cool, dry place.

Temperature fluctuations may affect the chemical components of a candle. And if the candles are exposed to constant or extreme heat, they will definitely expire too soon. A low-temperature and humidity closet is the best place for storing candles.

Wrap your candles up before putting them away

No matter how tired you are from your grocery shopping, don’t dump your candles into a drawer without wrapping them properly. 

Sometimes when we are placing things in their places, we think, “ok, I will wrap it tomorrow,” but then it slips from our mind until the day when we actually need to use it. And till then the product has already deteriorated enough. 

The best way to extend the lifespan of a candle is to wrap them in a plastic Ziploc bag and then cover the lids (if there are any), or you can also keep them in your own airtight containers or plastic tubs. 

Do candles lose their fragrance over time?

By now, we’ve covered this topic a little bit. But let’s dive a little deeper to see why and how candles lose their fragrance over time. 

Even though scented candles tend to lose their fragrance over time, the process is really slow. A candle may lose its fragrance in months. With good storage practices, you can preserve the fragrance of candles over a much more extended period. It is, however, important to note that adding too much fragrance to your candle when making it is not the answer to a long-lasting scent.

If you are buying candles just for their scent, keep them in tightly covered jars. Every ingredient of a scented candle affects the retention of fragrance. 

For example, your candle is made from organic material. If that organic wax undergoes degeneration, the candle will release the scent. Similarly, this degenerating organic base can create an unpleasant aroma that overcomes the fragrances of a candle. 

If you have purchased a candle where the fragrance oil is not mixed correctly with the base wax, the fragrance will evaporate soon. A candle made with care can retain its scents for even up to five years. 

Here is our time to make the fragrance oil last longer. When you first burn the candle, make sure the molten wax coats all sides. In this way, a protective layer will form between the scented oils and air. 

The Final Verdict

There is no definitive answer to “how long do candles last?”. The life span depends on the type of wax and other additives used in it, such as dyes and scents. Candles made from organic material are expected to expire sooner than synthetic ones. 

Though you can not stop the degradation process entirely, you can slow it down with good storage practices. Storing candles in airtight containers away from heat, moisture and light is the best practice that increases the life of your candle. 

With a little bit of effort, you can determine the expected burn time of a candle. You can do certain things to increase the burn time of your candles. 

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