How to Properly Store Candles to Make Them Last Longer

Keep your candles looking and smelling like new with these safe storage tips.

geometrically shaped colorful wax candles
Photo: Carson Downing

Whether you receive them as gifts, bought a bunch during a recent sale, or have seasonal selections, it's easy to accumulate an expansive collection of candles. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know the proper method for storing them. Keeping your candles organized not only avoids clutter, but it also keeps them in perfect condition until you’re ready to light them.

Learn where and how to store candles, along with mistakes to avoid while decluttering your collection.

linen closet storage shelving containers
Lincoln Barbour Photo

1. Decide Where to Store Your Candles

First, determine a storage spot. Keeping like items together is one of the top organizing rules to follow, so be sure to implement it for candles as well.

“The number one rule of storing candles of all types for short or extended periods of time is in an enclosed, dark cool place," says Raffi Arslanian, owner of Thompson Ferrier, a New York-based luxury candle company. The consistent temperature of the room should range between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, ideally erring on the cooler side. A basement storage room with low humidity, a shelf in a guest room, a linen closet, or an under-the-stairs closet are all perfect places to keep extra candles. This keeps them out of the way while also being within reach when it’s time to use them. Use storage bins (like these Better Homes & Gardens Cube Storage Bins, $9, Walmart) to help keep things organized.

The reason for storing candles in a cool space ? “Warm temperatures will cause the candle to sweat and separate from the fragrance,” says Arslanian. Additionally, keeping them in the dark prevents sunlight from oxidizing the fragrance and wax. Oxidation can cause both the scent and the color of the candle to change over time. 

Arslanian also notes that, depending on the type of jar, oil can leak if the temperature is too high. “For instance, a ceramic candle jar has a tendency to absorb the oils through micro cracks in the vessel, seeping through the ceramic, and damaging the furniture if stored in warm areas,” he says.

2. Protect Candles and Fragile Containers

If you're concerned about oil leaking onto the shelves of a closet or perhaps dripping onto items below if you have wire shelving, you’ll want to take this extra step. “Ceramic or cement candle jar holders should be stored in a plastic bag to contain the fragrance but, more importantly, to avoid damage to furniture in the event of oil seepage,” says Arslanian. 

Glass containers with a lid can sit on a shelf but avoid stacking them as they can easily fall over and break. However, for open glass jars, placing them in a plastic bag will better maintain their scent. For added protection, consider using an organizer with dividers, such as those used for storing holiday ornaments, to keep jars from touching one another.

If you own a candelabra or taper candles, Arslanian recommends holding onto the box they came in for storage as it will help maintain their form. Backstock wax melts and tea lights also benefit from staying in their original packaging. Try storing the boxes in a sturdy basket, like this Better Homes & Gardens Woven Water Hyacinth Tank Basket ($19, Walmart).

For pillar candles, he strongly advises against wrapping them as “they have a tendency to stick to the wrapper and deform the surface.” There’s also the possibility of melting, so stand them upright in a bin (stick with plastic or acrylic, which are easier to clean) to protect the shelf they’re on. "It is always recommended to use a coaster under all candles that are being used or stored," adds Arslanian.

3. Declutter Candles as Needed

For the most part, if you store candles properly, you don’t have to worry about them spoiling. “It is very common to have a candle that is stored properly still performing like new after 5 years,” says Arslanian. If you’re the type of person to display or light candles on special occasions only, you don’t have to worry about wasting good wax.

However, there are types of candles that can break down while in storage. Anything infused with essential oils will have a shorter shelf life; these candles tend to degrade after about two years. Since it’s difficult to tell if the oils have broken down over time,  it’s best to avoid burning a candle after a long period of time. 

When it comes to candles made of soy or beeswax, Arslanian says that while they can last a very long time, "they do have a tendency to begin to crystallize on the surface.” However, “the crystallization does not affect the performance of the candle [but simply] the visual appeal.”

As for the type of candle wax known to last the longest? Arslanian says paraffin wax has the longest shelf life when stored properly.

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