How Long Do Candles Last And Do They Expire?
It’s no secret that candles can make any space feel more inviting. Not only do they emit a warm, cozy glow, but they also fill the room with a delicious scent. Whether you’re looking to relax after a long day or celebrate a special occasion, these versatile decorations are the perfect way to set the mood.
However; not all candles are created equal.
Have you ever lit a candle and then wondered how long it would last? Or maybe you’ve stored a candle for over a year and are wondering if it still works? You’ve probably even noticed that some candles burn quicker than others even though they are the same size.
When it comes to the question of ‘how long do candles last?’ there are really two questions to ask:
- How long will my candle burn for?
- How long can I keep my candle before it expires?
We are going to shed much-needed light on both of these questions. But first, we need to understand the factors that influence a candles burn time.
The Factors That Influence A Candles Burn Time
Burn time refers to how long a candle will burn after it is lit. There are several factors that influence burn time. The main factors are – the candle size, type of wax, and wick size.
When it comes to size, a general rule of thumb follows: For every ounce of wax, you can expect about 4 – 8 hours of burn time.
The larger the candle the faster an ounce of wax will melt. This is mainly due to the fact that the wick will be larger and therefore generate more heat.
Pillar candles are the largest type of candle which also translates to the longest burn time.
They can range from a lower end of 40 hours of burn time, all the way up to (and exceeding) 100 hours.
Jar candles are classic candles that can be used in any space and occasion. Their classy look makes it great for most homes. Jar candles come in non-flammable containers with a lid which makes them easier to clean and store. This makes them a go-to choice for many candle lovers.
A small 4-ounce candle jar will last about 25 hours whilst a large 20-ounce jar should last around 100 hours.
Votives are small jar candles that are often used for aromatherapy purposes. They are often scented with essential oils or other fragrant materials to create a relaxing atmosphere. They are about 2.5″ high and 1.5″ in diameter.
Votives have a burn time of around 12 – 15 hours.
Tapers are a unique style of candle that comes with a long, thin shape that allows for easy decorating and melting. Although taper candles are quite long, they have a small diameter. A 10-inch taper candle will last approximately 10 hours.
Tea lights are the smallest and most lightweight of candles and are small enough to fit in almost any setting. They usually come in a standard size and hold less than 20 grams of wax. As such, you can expect them to last about 4 – 6 hours.
The Type Of Wax
In regards to wax, it’s the melting point of the wax which heavily influences the burn time of a candle. The higher the melting point, the higher the temperature required to melt the wax. So, a higher melting point will mean the candle will last longer.
Here are the melting points for the most common waxes used in candles:
- Paraffin wax approx. 131° F
- Beeswax approx. 149° F
- Soy wax approx. 124° F
- Coconut wax approx. 100° F
Not that these temperatures are not exact but rather a general guide as additives in the wax can decrease or increase the melting point.
However; all things remaining the same, a coconut wax candle will burn the quickest whilst paraffin and beeswax candles will last the longest. Paraffin wax candles lie somewhere in between.
This also makes coconut and soy wax candles great for burning in low temperature environments since they don’t need to be heated as much.
The length and diameter of the wick plays a significant role in a candles burn time. The larger the wick in proportion to the candle will result in a hotter (and quicker) burn. The opposite will take effect if the wick is too small.
If a wick is too long or short, it will likely create too much soot and a poor flame. This could either speed up or decrease the burn time depending on how the flame interacts with the candle.
Do Candles Expire?
The short answer is yes, candles do expire.
Most manufacturers suggest using candles within a year of purchase. Generally speaking, candles can last from 12 to 18 months.
However; different elements of a candle expire or begin deteriorating at different rates. There are three key elements to consider when it comes to the freshness of your candle.
- The scent throw
- The color fade
- The candles ‘light-ability’
The scent throw or fragrance of a candle will begin deteriorating as soon as it is made. The fact that you can smell a candle when it is unlit (referred to as a cold throw) means that the fragrance molecules are slowly but surely evaporating from the candle.
Rest assured, most candles will have a consistent smell from 6 to 12 months after purchase. Those this timeline varies depending on the type of fragrance and its quality.
For best results, burn your candle closer to its purchase date. Otherwise you may be using your candle without a fragrance!
One of the reasons we all buy candles is for aesthetic reasons. They can just look so pretty and really add some color or mood to a room.
The main cause of color fading or degradation is due to exposure to UV lights from sunlight. Keeping your candles hidden from direct sunlight when not in use will keep the color vibrant for longer.
The Candles ‘Light-Ability’
The most important function of your candle is if you can still light it. The expiry date for this is not set in stone. In fact, most candles will be able to be lit for many years after the purchase date. However; the quality of the burn and how easy it is to be lit will be degraded as time goes on.
This is due to degradation of the wax and wick itself. Sometimes the wick can be become clogged making it hard to draw up wax during a burn. In other cases, the wax may simply begin breaking down.
The quicker you use your candle, the better the burn will be and the easier it will be to light.
Signs That Your Candle Has Expired
By understanding the previous factors, it’s pretty easy to identify when your candle has expired (or degraded).
- For colored candles, you’ll see a fade in the colors. Where once the colors looked vibrant, perhaps now they look discolored or yellowish.
- For scented candles, the scent is less powerful or completely absent.
- If the candle is hard to light, doesn’t light, or has a weak burn, this means the wick and/or wax has degraded.
If your candle shows these signs, it is a strong indication that it is passed it’s prime. You can probably still use the candle but it won’t perform as well. Your best option may be to throw it in the bin.
Factors That Influence Candle Life
There are three key factors which directly influence the lifespan of your candle. The wax, fragrance oil and dye all influence how long your candles last before they expire.
When it comes to the lifespan of a candle, wax is super important. The type of wax you choose for your candles can make all the difference in how long they last.
A softer wax with a lower melting point, like coconut wax will melt easier and more likely be damaged during storage. Natural waxes like soy wax will also naturally degrade quicker than something artificial like paraffin wax.
The strength of the fragrance oil, the type of oil and how this oil combines with the type of wax will determine how strong the scent lasts and how quickly it degrades. Ensure the candle has a high enough fragrance load (6% – 10%) and the fragrance is from a quality source.
Dye is added to most candles to make them look more aesthetically pleasing. However, candles with dyes have a shorter burn time than those without. In addition, the chemical makeup of dyes adds unnecessary weight to the wax and can reduce the melting point.
How To Make Your Candle Last Longer?
The longevity of your candle is determined by how it is manufactured and stored and how well you maintain it.
- The first thing to keep in mind is to purchase high-quality candles. While these may cost a little more than the average candle, they last much longer and will produce a better fragrance over a longer period of time.
- It’s also important to know how to properly store candles so they can last longer. As a result, keep your candles away from strong odors. Strong odors can make your candles stale and dull. You can mask the smell with a few drops of lavender oil, but do not place your candles near curtains as they will absorb the scent.
- Ensure you store your candle in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and other harsh lights to prevent it from melting. Sunlight will also cause the wax to crack and color to fade, and if the temperature is too hot, the wax might melt.
- When using your candle, place it on a stable, flat surface with minimal air flow in the area. Placing your candles on top of uneven surfaces, like books or boxes, will cause the wick to bend as it burns, which will make the candle burn unevenly. Uneven burning will cause the candle to burn faster.
- Trim your wick regularly to keep it around 1/4″ in length and ensure an initial burn time of 4 hours. Keep the candle clean before every burn to help remove impurities which can disfigure the flame.
It’s essential to burn a candle as soon as possible if you want to enjoy its strongest, most full-bodied scent along with a healthy flame. By choosing the make up of your store bought and homemade candles, you can extend both it’s life and quality.