How to Recycle and Reuse Candle Containers

Candle containers
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Reuse and Recycle Empty Candle Containers

Dirty, used candle containers. David Fisher

What does this collection of stuff look like to you?

If it looks like a bunch of dirty jars that need to be thrown out, then this article is probably not for you. If it looks like a collection of dirty, but still wonderful candle containers, just waiting for a frugal, green-minded, candle-loving crafter, then we're ready to go.

Spread newspaper out onto your counter or table, and be sure that you're wearing old, craft-clothes. I guarantee you, you will get melted wax on your clothes, and there will be drips of wax onto your work surface. Trust me on this one.

Another note: Before you even get started trying to reuse or recycle some candle containers, please be sure you understand how to choose a safe candle container

Scoop Out as Much Wax as (Reasonably) Possible

Scoop Out as Much Wax as (Reasonably) Possible
Scooping out any leftover wax. David Fisher

The first thing to do is to get out as much of the old wax and gunk from the jar. Luckily, most container candle wax blends are soft, so you should be able to get it out with just a spoon. If you're trying to get the wax out of a votive container, or you've got a firmer wax blend, you can use a butter knife to help chip the wax out. (Putting the jar into the freezer for an hour or so can help with removing wax from votive containers.)

Unless there is a lot of good, clean wax leftover in the candle, it's not recommended to recycling this candle wax. It's generally got too much soot, burned wick tips, and other cruddy stuff to really make it reusable.

Arrange the Candle Containers Onto a Baking Pan

Arrange the jars upside down. David Fisher

Once the container is as clean as you can reasonably get it (don't spend TOO much time scooping--just get out most of it), place the container on top of one to two sheets of brown or parchment paper (to absorb the wax) on a cookie sheet, baking pan, or another shallow container.

Make sure that pan or cookie sheet is solid enough to steadily hold the weight of the containers as you're putting it in and out of the oven.

Put the Candle Containers Into the Oven

Candle containers in the oven. David Fisher

Place the pan(s) into an oven set at about 180-190 F.

Let the candles warm up in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Check on your containers. If it appears that almost all of the wax has melted, go ahead and carefully take them out of the oven and put the pan onto a heat-safe surface.

This is where you'll be either delighted or overwhelmed by the mixture of scents coming from the melted wax. 

Note: If you've got some metal votive molds that need to be cleaned, you can just add them to the same pan and heat them up!

Take the Candle Containers Out of the Oven

Containers with wax melted out. David Fisher

When you take them out of the oven, you'll see that all of the wax has melted and most of it has run down onto the brown paper.

Wipe Out the Candle Containers

Wiping the wax and soot out of the container. David Fisher

With one hand, hold the candle container/jar with a towel or hot pad. With the other hand, take three to four paper towels and wipe out all of the wax, soot, and burned wick pieces. Be sure to wipe out both the inside and the outside, as well as the bottom of the candle container.

While you're wiping, be sure to inspect the candle container thoroughly for any chips, cracks or other imperfections. Sometimes little hairline cracks will become apparent when the jar is hot and you're wiping the wax out of it. If you find a crack or imperfection, throw it out!

Let Them Cool and You're Ready to Make Some New Candles

Clean and ready to use candle containers. David Fisher

The last step is to set the jars aside to cool. After inspecting the candle jar, if it's still in great shape, it's ready to reuse. You're ready for an entirely new generation of wonderful container candles.