Candle wicks do not expire in the way food products do. However, the wick will lose its color and scent over time, which may happen faster if the candle or candle wicks are not stored correctly.
It’s best to keep candles out of direct sunlight as this can cause them to age faster, and you should try storing them in a container if you know you will not be using them for some time.
How Can You Tell if a Candle Has Gone Bad?
The easiest way to tell if a candle has gone bad is to see if it’s lost its colours and/or its scents.
Directly sunlight causes the most damage as it creates a chemical reaction in the wax and causes it to start breaking down, resulting in discoloration. UV Radiation causes the chemical bonds to weaken in the candle.
Some candles have additives in their wax that can counter this reaction to some extent but not avoid it altogether. The additives collect the UV Radiation and release it as heat which prevents discoloration.
It’s not just sunlight that can have this effect. Artificial light, such as fluorescent lights, can also cause discolouration.
No matter how well you protect a candle from direct light, it will age over time. Added dyes and fragrances change the wax, which can cause oxidation, a chemical reaction with oxygen. So even well stored and protected candles will discolour and lose their scent over enough time.
How Long Does Unused Candle Wax Last?
In general, wax last for about a year after removing the packaging.
However, the specific life span of a candle depends on what kind of wax is in the candle. If there are organic materials, then they can last between one to two years if stored correctly.
Be that as it may, some organic materials last longer than others and react differently to environmental factors.
What Is the Shelf Life of Candles?
While candles don’t expire exactly, you should use them within a year of opening them from its packaging. However, the shelf life of a candle largely depends on the candle’s wax.
The one-year rule applies even more if the candle is natural wax such as palm wax. Palm wax comes from palm berries which, while being more environmentally friendly, contains organic materials that can rot over time.
If these candles are appropriately stored, there is a chance of extending their shelf life. They also burn much slower since palm wax is harder than most waxes and has a higher melting point.
Palm wax can also hold onto added fragrances longer, thanks to its chemical structure. It has large, crystal-like molecules that attach to fragrances more efficiently, resulting in scents lasting longer.
However, candles made with soy wax have a shelf life of two years maximum, even if you do store them correctly. The shorter life span is because they come from super-hydrogenated soybean oil, much like vegetable shortening, so it cannot last forever.
Paraffin wax can last at least five years, but the maximum number of years it can last is harder to determine because it comes from petroleum.
Beeswax has no expiration date and can last for a significant period in perfect condition if it is wrapped and stored correctly.
If longevity is the key factor determining which candles you’re looking to get, then beeswax is the best choice.
To learn about the other potential impacts of beeswax, check out this article from WebMD.
Essential oils also come from organic matter, but it takes less guesswork on your part to tell when they’re past their best. Manufacturers usually include an expiration date, so you can check whether an essential oil is worth using after being in a cupboard for a while.
The actual shelf life of essential oils depends on what components are in them, and they can last anywhere from one to eight years. After their expiration date, the chemical structure starts to change and impact the scent.
Tips for Storing Candles
The best way to avoid your candle going bad or losing its scent is to store it correctly. Here are some quick tips on how you should be keeping your candles to get the most out of them:
- No sunlight. It can be nice to have candles out simply for decor, but sunlight and even artificial lighting will age your candles faster and leave them looking dull. Consider only putting them out when you plan on using them.
- Sealed or Wrapped. Since oxidation is a critical factor in candles losing their colour and scent, keeping your candles in a sealed container will help prevent the chemical reaction from ageing your candles as quickly.
- Waterproof. Humidity can affect the wax, so keeping it somewhere dry and in a waterproof container will keep it in good condition longer.
- Keep it cool. It shouldn’t be surprising that candles are sensitive to temperature and can melt if kept in too warm an area. Keep them somewhere that is room temperature or lower, and be aware of the melting point of your candle to ensure it’s stored properly.
What Can I Do With Leftover Candle Wicks?
If you find yourself with leftover candles, here are some ideas for what you can reuse instead of just throwing them away.
To check the current price and availability of candle wicks, click here to view the listing on Amazon.
Make a New Candle
You can find yourself a candle mold or simply a glass and add your wick while making sure the wick reaches the bottom. Then melt down all your pieces of candle wax, melt them, and pour them into the mold or glass. Let it sit for about six hours, and you’ve got yourself a new candle to enjoy.
For a step-by-step guide on how to make your candles, check out this article from ProFlowers.
Freshen Your House
If you have scented wicks lying around, you can use those to add a fresh fragrance to your house. Put the leftover wax in a glass jar and place it over a radiator. The wax will melt and fill space with a lovely scent.
All you need is leftover wax, dryer lint and an old egg carton to make your fire starters. Fill each egg carton cup with dryer lint, then pour the melted wax over each pile. After letting it sit overnight, you can break apart the cups and use them to fuel your next fire.
How Many Times Can You Reuse Candle Wax?
You can reuse the wax itself as many times as you like so long as all you want is a candle to burn.
If it’s the scent you’re after, then there is a limit to how many times you can reuse the candle before the scent fades. Generally speaking, the smell will last even after three uses and disappear with each reuse.
The best way to keep your candle in the best condition possible is to know how to store it correctly. While candles don’t expire the same way food does, there is a shelf life for them to be at their best.
Knowing what wax, dyes, and fragrances are in your candles will help you determine how best to store them and what kind of chemical reactions will affect their overall life span.