US consumers spend around $3.14 billion buying candles every year, using about 1 billion pounds of wax. Many candles come in glass jars or candle holders, so wouldn’t it be better if we could get more use out of them?
Read on for creative alternatives to throwing out your old candle jars, and tips for how to reuse candle jars easily and safely.
How to get wax out of used candle jars
If you want to learn how to reuse candle jars safely, you’ll first need to clean them. There are a few different ways to remove the leftover wax from inside the jar so that it’s ready to reuse or recycle.
Method 1: Put it in the freezer
This is the quickest and easiest way to get every bit of the wax out of a container. When frozen, wax becomes brittle and easy to remove.
Note that this method works best with Beeswax candles.
1. Put the empty candle jar in the freezer for an hour or two.
2. Once frozen, take out the jar and use a knife to remove the remaining wax from inside the container. Alternatively, you can gently remove the wax with your fingers.
3. Once you have taken out the large pieces of wax, clean the jar with warm water and a mild soap solution.
Method 2: Wash it out
Soy wax and other candle wax with a low melting-point can be washed out with soapy water. Like the freezer method, you should remove as much wax from the jar as possible first.
1. Fill the jar with warm water and a detergent such as dishwashing liquid.
2. Let the jar soak for a while.
3. Scrub the inside of the jar gently with a microfiber cloth to remove the wax.
Method 3: Use hot water
The above methods will remove large quantities of wax, but you may still see some residue even after a thorough cleaning. You can then use hot water to remove the final traces of wax that remain after freezing or washing.
1. Pour hot water into the candle jar and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
2. The wax should float up to the surface of the water after a few minutes.
3. If there’s any stubborn wax still stuck to the glass, dab it gently with a clean cloth to loosen.
This should remove all wax residue, giving you a sparklingly-clean container!
Never pour boiling water into the jar immediately after taking it out of the freezer, as the sudden change in the temperature may cause the glass to break.
Method 4: Use a bain-marie
If none of the above methods work, you can try a bain-marie. This one is a bit more complex, but it works for nearly all types of candles.
- A medium or large bowl
- Boiling water
- Plastic spatula (for pushing wax off the sides)
- Paper towels or microfiber cloth for removing large pieces of wax
1. Remove as much wax as you can manually. Most candles are made of soft wax blends, so you can remove it with a spoon.
2. Boil water in a medium or large saucepan, then reduce to a simmer. Once the water is simmering, put the candle jar into the saucepan, making sure not to submerge it. Keep the jar in the saucepan for an hour.
3. The wax, even the most stubborn bits, will melt. Then wipe away the softened wax with a clean cloth or paper towels. Use a knife if necessary.
4. If there’s any wax residue left in the jar, you can use the hot water method above to remove it.
Clever ways to reuse candle jars
Candle jars are made to be reused and repurposed, and there are plenty of interesting ways to do this! Once you’ve removed the wax, here are some easy and clever ways to reuse your old candle jars.
Make new candles with old wax scraps
Scented candles are a go-to choice for a gift these days, so why not make your own? Making new candles is not only a great way to reuse old wax straps, you can also create your own unique scents.
- Step 1: Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and reduce it to a simmer. There should be enough water to come most of the way up the candle jar without completely covering it.
- Step 2: Carefully place the candle jar into the hot water bowl. Make sure the water is not so hot that it will break the container. Preferably, have the jar float in the water rather than sitting on the bottom.
- Step 3: Once the wax has melted enough for the wicks to loosen, pull them out with long tweezers and set them aside. Pick out any glue and set this aside also. This jar will be the jar that will house your new candle.
- Step 4: Prepare three wicks, making sure they’re longer than the height of the jar.
- Step 5: Using skewer sticks as guides, put the wicks into the jar so that the clip rests on the bottom. Drape the wicks over the skewers.
- Step 6: Melt other candle jars by repeating steps one to three above. Once the wax is liquid, pour each into your new candle container. Keep pouring until the jar is almost full, making sure you leave a small gap at the top so you can light the wicks.
You will get approximately one reasonable size candle out of scraps from around eight old ones, depending on how much wax is left in each jar. This is also a great way to create your own scents by mixing fragrances.
Upcycle them into something new
If you already have plenty of scented candles, there are tons of other cool ways to reuse old candle jars. Here are some creative ideas for upcycling your old candle jars.
Turn them into storage containers
Candle jars are perfectly suited to store daily items such as cotton wool, cotton buds, bath salts, candy, or pet treats. Not only do they look super cute, but they’re great for keeping your stuff organized.
All you need to do is attach a reusable label on the front, write on it, and you’re good to go!
Create a hanging lantern
You can use a necklace to turn an old candle jar into a vintage-style lantern.
Take an old necklace (one with a pendant or jewel works nicely), cut it to size, and secure it with a big chain link so that it sits around the top of the jar. Add two chains that you can use to hang the lantern, and attach these with chain links also.
Secure the necklace with a glue gun, making sure you glue it down well. Then, simply pop a tea light inside and hang it by the chain to use as a cute outdoor lantern.
Make a night light
Once you’ve cleaned your jar thoroughly, grab a string light and circle it inside. Keep pressing the lights down until the whole string is inside the jar.
Screw the lid back on top, and you’ll have a gorgeous, decorative piece light to put on your nightstand or in your living room. They also make great decorations for an evening garden party!
Create a glitter vase
Grab your favorite biodegradable glitter and pour some glue into the jar along with some craft glue. It’s best to use glue with a built-in sealant and don’t use too much, or it will take forever to dry!
Mix the glue with the glitter until it is smooth with no visible clumps. Once you’re done mixing, spread the glue around the glass jar with a spatula or any flat stick, so it coats the inside evenly.
Be sure to coat the entire jar. Let it dry overnight, and you’ll have a sparkly homemade vase! Put a bunch of flowers in it to brighten up your desk or dining table.
You can also decorate the jar in other ways to turn it into a vase.
For example, put some masking tape around the jar and cover it in spray paint. Remove the tape and you’ll have a fabulous, geometric pattern.
Things to keep in mind when reusing your candle jars
Reusing and upcycling old candle jars is pretty easy and doesn’t require any specialist tools or equipment. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Remove the wick and wick holders
Once you’ve melted the wax and removed it from the candle jar, take the wick and wick holder out as well – you’ll normally need a knife to do this.
If you still can’t get the wick holder out of the jar, put the jar into boiling water to heat and melt the remaining wax. This will loosen the wick.
Don’t reuse dirty wax
When you burn a candle, the wax turns into vapor, which you then inhale. Therefore, dirty or contaminated wax can cause respiratory issues.
Check for soot or any wax that looks dirty or discolored, and be sure to throw it away. Only reuse clean wax for making new candles.
Don’t wash chunks of wax down the drain
If you’re not going to reuse it, always dispose of wax pieces responsibly – never wash it down the drain! Not only could the wax clog your drains, but it could also pollute waterways and become an environmental hazard.
Use warm (not boiling) water
Always heat your wax in warm rather than boiling water. It only needs to be hot enough to melt the wax, and there’s a chance the glass will break if you use boiling water.
Similarly, once you take the wax out of the boiling water, don’t place it in the freezer immediately. The sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack or shatter.
Don’t put candle jars in the microwave
Wax is flammable, so there’s a risk it may catch on fire if you put it in the microwave. Additionally, candle jars often contain wick holders that are made of metal so could damage your microwave.
Plus, not all candle jars are microwave-compatible, so might be prone to shattering. You can heat the wax in a saucepan of simmering water or in a bain-marie, but avoid the microwave.
We love the idea of zero waste containers like glass candle jars. However, if you don’t do anything with them, they’ll probably end up in landfill in any case.
This is why it’s important to clean out the wax and put your old candle jars to good use! There are plenty of fun and easy ways to reuse candle jars, from using them as storage containers to upcycling into glitter vases and lanterns.
If you’ve enjoyed this post on how to reuse candle jars, be sure to share it with your eco-conscious friends and take a look at our favorite eco-friendly candles.