Lit candles in jars sat next to a modern bathroom sink.

How to reuse candle wax and jars

A candle’s flickering flame and scent can soothe an anxious mind and trigger a meditative state.

It’s no wonder candles are such a popular purchase for home décor, with their atmospheric low light and rich, relaxing fragrances.

Unfortunately, burning candles results in leftover containers and wax, but there are ways to make your passion for candles environmentally friendlier.

Let’s take a look at how we can reuse and recycle candle wax and jars, and fix a broken candle wick.

How to reuse candle wax

Candle wax is ideal for reuse as it doesn’t reduce in quality after its first use.

You may be wondering how to get the wax free of its container.

You can often remove most of it with a spoon or butter knife but, if you want it all, you may need to heat the jar in a bain-marie.

Be patient, as this could take a while — the exact time will vary depending on the wax used.

Next, carefully pour wax where you want it to go.

Make wax melts

Wax melts can be any size, so why not use your leftover wax to create one or more of them?

To make wax melts from old candle wax, heat the wax and pour it into silicone moulds. You don’t need to buy specific moulds for this — use an ice cube tray.

If you’re feeling creative, add colouring and fragrance.

Bag the melts up once solidified — they’re a great handmade gift to give to a loved one.

Make a fragrance pouch

Broken pieces of scented wax are ideal for placing inside a pouch to bring life and fragrance to stale areas of the home, such as inside drawers or wardrobes.

A wax pouch is an eco-friendly alternative to disposable car air fresheners, too.

Make a new candle

Make a tealight with your leftover wax using a tealight cup and wick.

Alternatively, collect scraps of wax over time until you have enough to create a candle in a larger container with a full-sized wick.

There’s a simple step-by-step method for making a new candle from old ones, which is relatively easy once you have wicking, a wick tab, and a wooden skewer to hand.

Create wax seals

A close-up of manicured hands completing a wax seal on a brown envelope with a heart stamp.

If you’ve got a special letter to send, such as an invite or birthday card, you could purchase a wax stamp and create a gorgeous seal on the back of the envelope.

To melt the wax, place it in a metal teaspoon and heat it over an open flame. Once the wax is liquified, carefully pour it onto the envelope to create a circle.

After a few seconds, firmly place the stamp into the centre of the wax and leave it there until it cools.

Remove the stamp slowly, and you should have a beautiful wax seal.

How to reuse candle jars

Candle jars come in many shapes and sizes and are ideal for reuse due to their versatility.

Before you reuse your candle jar, you’ll need to clean it.

There are several ways to clean wax from a glass jar:

  1. Fill the container with boiling water and leave it to cool. The water will melt the wax residue, which will float to the top. Once cooled, empty the water, and you’ll have a jar ready to wash and reuse.
  2. Place the container in the freezer for a few hours. If your jar has a narrow mouth, break any large chunks of wax up first using a butter knife. The wax will harden and shrink, making it very easy to remove. Then, clean your jar with soapy water.
  3. Create a bain-marie by placing your glass inside a saucepan and then surrounding the glass with boiling water. Once the wax has softened, you’ll be able to scrape it out easily with a butter knife.

Please note that paraffin wax mustn’t contact hot water as the two can have a strong reaction.

Once you have a clean, wax-free container, it’s ready for reuse.

Here are some uses for old candle jars:

  • Displaying flowers
  • Storing pens and pencils
  • Planting cacti or succulents
  • Storing toothbrushes
  • Storing make-up brushes
  • Serving desserts
  • Storing cotton wool products
  • Collecting dry goods from a zero-waste store
  • Storing cat or dog treats
  • Growing plants from seed

If you have multiple candle containers to hand, discover even more exciting reuse opportunities in our blog post on 25 ways to reuse a glass jar.

A man using an old jar at a zero waste store to buy red lentils.

How to fix a broken candle

If you have a candle that has a broken wick, it can usually be fixed.

Firstly, check if the wick is truly broken or just buried under the wax.

If the wick is buried, you need to melt the wax that’s burying it. Do this carefully with a long lighter and pour the excess wax out until you have recovered enough of the wick.

Consider melting some of the surrounding wax, so your next burn starts well.

If your wick is broken, it needs replacing. Using an apple corer, remove the candle’s centre and the old wick. Press the corer down firmly and gently wiggle and twist to remove it.

Finally, thread a new wick through the hole the old one left and replace the candle’s centre in the glass.

If you don’t own an apple corer, you can try threading new wicking down to meet the original wick instead. Trim the fresh wick and then light it as usual.

How to recycle candle jars

Candle containers are usually glass jars or aluminium tins, and both are easily recycled if you don’t want to reuse them.

You can recycle glass jars in a glass waste recycling bin alongside bottles. If you don’t have a household glass collection, you can take empty candle jars to your local bottle bank instead.

If the candles are used within your business, you can recycle the jars with your usual glass waste once they’ve been cleaned.

Aluminium tins can be recycled alongside your grocery food cans — often in mixed recycling bins.

Glass and aluminium are processed through closed loop recycling, so they are both 100% recycled.

Published by

Lucy Ravenhall

Lucy is a long-standing editor of the Forge Recycling blog and loves writing about her environmental passions.

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