Understanding Candle Longevity: Burn Time and Beyond

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How Long Do Candles Last, and Do They Expire?

Candles have been a constant in human history, serving as sources of light, ritual aids, and mood enhancers. With the resurgence of interest in home décor and ambiance-setting, candles have once again found a cherished spot in modern homes. However, one question often arises among candle enthusiasts and those new to the world of wicks and wax: How long do candles last, and do they expire? Let’s illuminate the answers.

Candles: A Brief Overview A candle is essentially a block of wax with an embedded wick. When lit, the wax melts, vaporizes, and reacts with oxygen to create flame, light, and heat. The lifespan of a candle largely depends on its size, composition, and how it’s used.

Poet in Hangzhou luxury scented candle pink Nomad Noé

How Long Do Candles Last When Burned? Several factors influence the burn time of candles:

  1. Size: Naturally, a larger candle will last longer. Votive candles might last 10-15 hours, while larger jar candles can burn for 60-100 hours or more.

  2. Wick Type: The thickness and length of the wick play a role. Thicker wicks burn faster than thinner ones. Wooden wicks, being wider, often result in a faster burn as well.

  3. Wax Type: Different waxes have different burn rates. Soy wax, for example, burns slower and cooler than traditional paraffin wax. Beeswax has an even slower burn rate.

  4. Environment: Drafts or breezes can cause a candle to burn unevenly and decrease its lifespan. Conversely, in a still environment, the candle will likely have a longer, more consistent burn.

  5. Care: Regularly trimming the wick to about ¼ inch before lighting can prolong the candle’s life. A longer wick produces a larger flame, which means the candle will burn faster.

Do Candles Expire? While candles don't "expire" in the same way food does, they can lose their scent and vibrant appearance over time. Here's what you should know:

  1. Fragrance Fade: Scented candles can lose their aroma over time, especially if stored for extended periods. The essential or fragrance oils within the wax can evaporate or degrade, reducing the candle's scent throw when eventually burned.

  2. Texture and Appearance: Over time, especially in temperature-fluctuating environments, the wax can undergo "blooming." This refers to a white, powdery appearance on the candle's surface, resulting from the crystallization of the wax. While it affects the aesthetic, it doesn’t impact the candle's burning properties.

  3. Optimal Shelf Life: While candles never truly 'go bad', they do have an optimal shelf life. Most candles, when stored properly, retain their scent and burning properties for up to a year. Beyond this, you might notice reduced fragrance potency.

Rebel Poet scented candles Nomad Noé

Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your Candles:

  1. Store in a Cool, Dark Place: Prolonged exposure to light and heat can degrade the scent oils in the candle and affect the wax's consistency. Storing candles in a cool, dark place preserves their quality.

  2. Keep Them Covered: For jarred candles, keeping the lid on when not in use prevents dust accumulation and protects the fragrance.

  3. Avoid Rapid Temperature Changes: Storing candles in an environment with consistent temperature is ideal. Rapid temperature fluctuations can cause the wax to crack or become discolored.

Conclusion: While candles might not have an "expiry date" per se, they certainly have a prime period of performance. Whether you’re a dedicated candle collector or just enjoy the occasional ambiance of a flickering flame, understanding the longevity and optimal care for your candles ensures that you get the most out of each luminous experience. So, the next time you pick up a candle, remember: with a bit of care, its glow can last longer and shine brighter.

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