Do Candles Ever Expire?

different candles colors

It might sound old-fashioned but as a prepper you should always have candles as a backup source of light.

They come in handy if your other heat or light sources have failed you, and they’re user-friendly because they prevent you from having to burn through fire tinder, matches, or other useful fuel.

How long do candles last?

Candles generally last for between 12 to 18 months, and some candles do come with expiration dates, although looking after them correctly can ensure that they last longer.

There are some important things to know about candles. For example, do they ever go “off”? Here’s what you need to know before you buy them in bulk and store them in the home.

Do Candles Expire?

do candles expire

The question of whether or not candles expire really depends on what materials have been used to make them. Generally, though, candles don’t expire in the way that foods do.

It’s important to consider the type of wax that’s used to make the candle. Plant-based candle wax, such as soy wax, can go bad. This is because plant ingredients and materials will break down over time. It’s therefore better to stock up on paraffin wax candles as paraffin is non-reactive and stable, so there’s no life expectancy to worry about with candles made of this wax.

That said, there are two things that can degrade with any type of candle: its fragrance and color/dye.

Candles are usually made by blending wax with fragrance oils. These scented oils do expire. When candles lose their fragrance, however, this won’t necessarily cause them to not burn properly anymore.

Fragrance aside, the color or dye used in candles can also degrade over time. You might see that the colors become dull or that the wax changes color. Again, this shouldn’t affect the way the candle burns.

To ensure that your old candles are in good condition, it’s good to check the candle label to see if the manufacturer has provided advice on how long the wax they’ve used will last.

Can You Still Use A Candle That’s Expired?

temperature for storing candles

If your candle is looking or smelling different, these are signs that its ingredients are starting to expire. You might wonder if you can still use it. You should try to light it to find out.

If the candle has changed a lot so that you can’t light it anymore, such as that it’s badly warped or misshapen, then it won’t be able to burn at all and you won’t be able to use it.

While a degraded fragrance oil shouldn’t affect the ability of the candle to burn, it could clog the wick of the candle. Light your candle and see if the flame is strong. If it’s flicking a lot, is very small, or keeps blowing out, then the candle has expired and you won’t be able to use it.

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How To Properly Store Your Candles

How To Properly Store Your Candles

While your candles don’t usually expire, especially if they’re not made of any plant-based ingredients, how you store and care for them is important.

Not following some important tips can result in your candles not working properly. Here are some ways to look after and store your candles properly.

  • You should trim the wick before you light the candle. This is important to ensure the candle burns evenly and it prevents it from smoking. Make sure the candle wick measures a quarter of an inch in height. This will prevent soot from collecting in the votive and it keeps the wick upright so it doesn’t fall over in the wax.
  • When you light the candle for the first time, keep it burning for several hours. This ensures the first layer of wax melts properly and it prevents the candle from only burning in the center.
  • The next time you burn your candle, don’t leave it on for longer than four hours. This prevents the wax from getting too hot, which will diminish its fragrance. Always let the candle cool down and harden before burning it again.
  • Don’t leave your candles out in the open. UV light damages the color and fragrance of candles, both of which reduce their lifespan, so you want to keep your candles stored in a dark place.
  • Keep your candles in an area of the house where the temperature doesn’t change too much. Drastic temperature changes affect the candle’s ingredients’ molecular composition, which causes them to expire faster. Keep your candles away from sources of heat, such as the oven and fireplace.

Related Questions

How can you remove dust from the top of a candle?

If dust has collected on the top of the candle, this can affect the candle’s fragrance so you want to remove it. To do this, use a cloth when the wax is hard to wipe it away.

What’s the best temperature in which to store candles?

Ideally, store your candles at a temperature that’s between 65 and 75 degrees.

What’s the healthiest candle wax?

Although it degrades over time, soy wax is the healthiest wax with which to make candles. Other healthy waxes are beeswax and palm wax. All of these need to be in 100-percent pure form so that they don’t contain potentially harmful additives.


If you’ve stocked up on a variety of candles, because you never know when there’ll be a power cut, make sure you keep them in good condition.

While candles can expire, you can delay them from reaching the end of their lifespan with some important hacks so that they continue to burn and give you light when you need it.


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