You’ll never burn all of the wax in your jar candle.
Whether you’ve made your jar candle or bought it, there will always be at least a little wax left over at the bottom after the wick has run its course. Store-bought candles, which often have inferior and/or improperly sized wicks, are especially prone to this. I often have a LOT of wax left inside a spent store-bought candle!
It’s tempting to simply toss that mostly empty glass candle, but where? Glass is so recyclable that it’s criminal to add it to the waste stream. But that leftover candle wax will almost certainly raise the level of contamination over the 10% maximum that most recycling facilities will accept.
If you love DIY, there are also very compelling reasons to clean the wax out of your jar candle, beyond simply prepping the materials for disposal. You can pour another candle into that empty glass jar. You can also re-use that leftover wax for any number of projects, including pouring another candle.
My go-to process for cleaning wax out of jar candles used to be tedious and time-consuming. But now I’ve successfully used the Power of Science to come up with THE quickest and easiest go-to process. It took me less than five minutes of hands-on time to get two candle jars completely cleaned of their leftover wax. Here’s how to do it!
You will need:
- used jar candle. It’s very possible to use this method with any jar candle. The less wax that’s in the candle, the less hands-on labor you’ll have to perform. A jar with a lip to the inside will also give you a little more trouble.
- freezer. The one with your refrigerator is perfect for this project!
- blunt tool. A butter knife or screwdriver work well.
- old towel. You’ll use this to pad your work surface.
The secret trick to making this the quickest and easiest technique is to pop your jar candles into the freezer. Then, forget about them!
You want the wax inside the jar candle to freeze completely solid all the way through. If the layer of wax is on the thicker side, leave the candle at least overnight. I personally just pop jar candles in as I finish them. I leave them all there until I’ve built up both a little collection and the desire to spend a few minutes dealing with them all at once.
Lay an old towel over your work surface, and grab an old butter knife or screwdriver.
The first thing to try is setting the jar candle upside down over the towel. Firmly thump on it a few times with your fist. With a wide jar candle that has a thin layer of wax, that wax may just fall right out!
All I had to do with the jar candle above is wipe it down to remove any last crumbs of wax, then wash the soot off the rim.
The thicker the wax and narrower the jar, the less likely it is that the wax will just plop right out, sigh. Instead, you’ll likely have to chip away at it with your blunt tool. Fortunately, frozen wax is brittle, so chipping large chunks away is actually quite easy. When you get an especially large chunk chipped away, try turning it over and thumping it again.
You can see that with the novena candle above, I had to chip away quite a lot of wax. This novena candle jar is narrow, with a lip to the inside. Its poor quality also meant that the wick stopped working with quite a lot of wax left inside. Be warned that this was messier than I had anticipated! Thank goodness for that old towel to catch all the wax crumbs!
However, it still only took a couple of minutes to get all the wax out. Then I could wipe the jar candle down and wash the soot off. I am VERY excited about upcycling this particular jar candle into a novena candle of my own design!
To upcycle the wax, I like to melt it, sift out the contaminants, pour it into small molds, then empty the hardened and molded wax pieces into a storage container. I wouldn’t use this wax to make “nice” candles (I prefer a beeswax/coconut oil combo for those), but it’s handy to have when I want to make something just for fun, or to experiment with dyes, scents, new molds, or different wicks.
Recycle the glass jars, or upcycle those, too, into new jar candles. Re-theme the candle by creating a new wrap using tissue paper, kite paper, or transparency film, or paint or draw with Sharpies directly on the jar. Upcycle the wax to make furniture polish, homemade crayons, or new candles.
It will be your own never-ending candle!