Do Scented Candles Lose Their Scent Over Time


Scented candles can be an amazing attribute to your home. Just grab your favorite candle and the lovely smell will immediately disperse all around you. However, a scented candle can stick around for a long time. After all, it’s not lit all the time. This makes you wonder, does a scented candle lose its scent over time?

The scent in a scented candle will weaken over time. It can take up to a few months or even years depending on how you store your candle. To prevent fast degradation of the scent, you can best keep your candles stored away from sunlight and in an airtight container. An airtight container will keep the top notes of the scented candle from evaporating when not used.

In this article, I will cover how scented candles can lose their scent. We’ll also discuss the best ways to store and light your candles to keep them from losing their scent. This way, you can enjoy your scented candles for a long time without any worry!

How Do Scented Candles Lose Their Scent

Scented candles will rarely go bad or expire. However, a scented candle can lose its scent over time, which is often a sign of your candle starting to go bad anyway. Scented candles are made of all different kinds of products, such as wax, scented oils, and a bunch of other chemical or organic products. Every ingredient put into a scented candle will affect the longevity of the scent and degradation of the candle. Organic materials, for example, will decompose after a while and the scented oils can evaporate over time, causing the degradation of the scent.

Hand in hand with the loss of scent is the loss of color. Most scented candles have some sort of dye in there that gives it a nice color. This, just like the scented oils, will fade after a while. Proper storage can prevent or prolong this and we will discuss that here shortly.

There are also some scented candles out there that are not properly mixed. Properly mixing your scented oils with the candle wax is from great importance to your scented candle lasting longer. The candle wax and fragrance will have to be mixed well in order for the scent to disperse evenly and far.

Scented candles differ from normal candles because they disperse a scent (when lit). This scent is made from a bunch of scented oils, just like a fragrance or perfume is. These scented oils can either be natural or created in a lab. Either way, oil can evaporate over time, causing the scent to grow weaker. Just like with fragrances, most candles have top, middle, and base notes and all evaporate over different timespans. 

A Breakdown Of Top, Middle, And Base Notes

With a scented candle, the story begins when you open it. Just like opening a regular fragrance, upon opening your candle, you’ll be greeted by a scent. This first scent that you smell is usually a result of the top notes. You could say the top note is the most important part of a fragrance as this gives you either a good or bad first impression. The same principle is applied to scented candles. When you open a scented candle the top notes will evaporate into the air and this will be your first impression of the scent. If you don’t like the top notes, chances are you won’t bother with the candle, and vice versa.

After the top notes have evaporated into the air you will get a sense of the middle notes. The middle notes are basically the heart of the fragrance and make up most of the scent. These middle notes last a bit longer before than the top notes and will gradually fade into the base notes. The main function of base notes is to keep the scent around a little longer along with ending your fragrance smoothly. 

When you understand this principle of a fragrance consisting of top, middle, and base notes, you can understand that the same principle is applied to scented candles. 

One more thing to note: the top notes of a fragrance or candle are usually some of the lighter, weaker of the scented oils. They serve mainly as a great opening and to add a lightness and freshness to a scent. The base notes, on the other hand, are the longest lasting and strongest of oils. The middle, or heart notes, are in between the two.

This is important to know, as thee oils don’t wait out there turn to start dispersing. All notes come out at once, it’s just that the top notes appear the strongest in the opening and when they fade away, they make room for the middle and base notes.

How To Keep Your Candles From Losing Their Scent

You just bought yourself a gorgeously scented candle. Now, you want to do everything possible to keep its scent around for a long time. Maybe you don’t even want to burn the candle just so it can stick around for a longer time. I get it… But then again what’s the whole purpose of the candle?

Luckily, there are ways to prolong the lifetime of your candles greatly. To make sure you can enjoy the amazing smell of your scented candle as long as possible, here are the best ways to keep your candle from losing its scent: 

  • Store your candles in an airtight container (like this one found on Amazon)! Notice how I’m not just saying keep the lid on or store it in a cupboard. The exposure to air and oxygen will cause the scented oils to evaporate faster.  With an airtight container, you’ll keep the scented oils from evaporating, thus prolonging the lifetime.
  • Make sure you store your candles in a cool and dry place and away from direct sunlight. Sunlight will melt and loosen up the wax, which can release the scent and make your scented candle degrade faster. It also quickens the evaporation process of both the dye and the scented oils. Heat will also cause the candles to release their scents, so storing them in a cool and dry place will prevent the candle from unnecessary dispersion.
  • Make sure you burn your candle correctly the first time. Burning your candle correctly is more important than you might think. Your first burn should be long enough for a layer of molten wax to cover the whole candle from side to side. When this hardens again, you’ll have a protective layer of wax between the scented oils and the air. This slows down the evaporation of the scented oils.

These three tips are a great start, but there are many more precautions you can take to prolong the lifetime of a scented candle. To learn more, you can read this article I wrote here!

Difference In Scent Dispersion: A Lit Candle And An Unlit Candle

As mentioned before, keeping your candle unlit and without any seal will still allow the air to evaporate the scented oils. This is why you can still smell a candle even when it is not lit. The scent will be a bit weaker, but it will be there.

This is one of the main reasons why many people like to keep their candles unlit. There’s already a scent, so no need to burn it for it. However, this is not the right approach. A little earlier I discussed the importance of your first burn and how it will protect the candle and its scent. Never burning the candle will, in fact, contribute to a shorter lifetime. 

Most scented candles also only disperse the top notes when unlit. Not lighting your candle will make you miss out on the complexity and depth that the heart and base notes provide.

When you do burn a candle, the scent will be more intense and often times a lot stronger. The scent will be able to be smelled all throughout the room, plus you get the cozy vibe of a lit candle. 

Even though there is no right or wrong, there are proven benefits to lighting your candle at least once. Furthermore, strong them properly will prolong the lifetime as well. However, organic materials will always decay, no matter what. Even though it can take up to 5+ years, it will happen. Therefore, make sure you use your candle and take care of it. This way, you’ll enjoy it much more and much longer.

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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