For the last few months I’ve been holding on to some old jar candles. There comes a point when jar candles aren’t safe to use anymore, when they’re about halfway down and the top of the glass begins showing burn marks, but there’s still half a candle’s worth of wax left inside. I knew I wanted to repurpose the old wax, but the idea was on the back-burner. That is, until I was walking the glass aisle at Salvation Army.
The glass section is the most over stocked and under priced section of any thrift store. I’ve been collecting glass for a while now, and I love the molded and etched designs of vintage and vintage-inspired glassware. So when I happened past a few embossed water glasses, I thought about how pretty they’d look with candle light reflecting off all the edges in the designs. Not to mention it was a whopping total of five bucks for 6 of the glasses. Score!
So here’s what I started with. I tried googling around for the best ways to melt candle wax, but it nearly sparked a fire (more on that in a bit…) so I came up with my own way instead. I mean just look at the jar candle, too. It melted straight down without reaching the edges, so it didn’t even give off light anymore!
Step one: Clean the stickers off the glass. A quick check online told me that you can use a slurry of coconut oil and baking soda to remove sticker residue, so I tested it out.
It worked perfectly. If you have stubborn residue, let it sit a few minutes and the concoction will melt it right off. Then use dish soap to get the oil off the glass and wash and dry them like normal.
Step two was to melt the wax. So the blurb I read online told me to put the candle in the microwave. I was hesitant, but figured I’d test it out. NOPE! My fears were affirmed. The candle has a metallic finish around the label, and it immediately cracked with blue light as the microwave powered up. But even without the label, the wick of a candle is usually weighed and glued down by a metal disc. So, do NOT put any candle int he microwave.
I tested out two methods. A double boiler, and the oven.
I put the bigger candles I had into a COOL oven. Remember, heating up glass too quickly can cause it to crack, and cleaning wax out of an oven is NOT something you want to do. I brought the temperature up to 350, then waited. After 20 minutes they were mostly melted, but not entirely. There were still big chunks in the middle of the jar.
The double boiler turned out to be the method I’d use in the future. It took a little longer, but the heat coming from from below and on all sides of the candle melted it consistently. And, added bonus, the glass wasn’t even all that hot to touch. Too hot to handle, but not nearly enough to burn someone’s skin. For this method, again start at cool temperatures to prevent the glass from cracking. Place the candle into a pot as close as you can get to the candle’s size, fill the pot with room temperature water (avoid getting water in the actual candle) and heat it over a flame. Once it came to a boil, this smaller candle was melted in about 20 minutes.
Next you have to prep the wick. I used a bit of cotton yarn I had on hand, but any cotton string should work. Submerge the string in melted wax, then set on wax paper to dry.
Then, using a towel, pick up the jar and pour it carefully into whatever glass you’re using.
So what’s with the utensils? Once you pour the wax, you need to set the wick inside. You have a few seconds to figure out if it’s lined up properly, before the wax around the wick melts and you’re left with limp string again. (If this happens you can shine a light through the wax to see the wick, but it’s easier when it’s hardened by the wax). Set the wick so it just barely touches the bottom of the glass, then hold it upright in the center of the candle. It’s going to take a while, so something has to hold it up while you work on the rest!
The fork was a decent idea but it wasn’t quite the right length. It was poorly balanced and off center. If you have chop sticks, these worked much better. Just line up the wick against one stick, then press hard into it with the other. Perfect wick holders!
It’s going to take some time for them to dry, but once you’re certain they’ve set well enough you can remove the chopsticks and finally trim the wick down, making it right at the height of the glass. Keep in mind you don’t want too long of a wick, or you’ll end up with too big a fire. So, the top of the glass or just above the wax. And check out the finished product!
I think they came out great! I can’t wait to see what they look like when the candle light burns below the embossed part of the glass. Another tip, be more patient than I was. I got so excited to light them, I nearly ruined them! You need to wait until the wax is entirely hardened before attempting to light them, otherwise the wick sinks down back into the wax and becomes uncentered again. But I do love how they look while burning, too.
I tend to buy red candles. I like how they look and usually they’re my favorite smells. Apple, cinnamon, etc. If you had multiple colors you could layer them the way you would jello in a mold, for a neat visual effect! Just be sure that the bottom layer cools entirely before attempting to pour the next layer on top, or they’ll mix and you’ll ruin your colors.
Well that’s it! Three new candles from three old ones, all reused and repurposed material. I can’t wait to see what you make your new candles out of!
For convenience’s sake, I’ll also give a condensed tutorial below.
Step 1: Collect materials. Old candles, old glass, tea cups, jars, whatever. I suggest buying a real wick from the craft store because it will hold up straighter, but you can use any cotton string.
Step 2: Remove sticker residue by using a slurry of one part coconut oil and one part baking soda, then wash.
Step 3: Melt the candle wax using a double boiler. Starting with room temperature water, place the candle in a pot and surround all sides with water. Bring to a boil for 20-30 minutes (more for larger candles). Remove the old wick from the candle.
Step 4: Submerge and soak the cotton string in wax, then remove it to dry on some wax paper.
Step 5: Pour the melted wax into your glassware. Place wax paper under your glassware to protect your work surface.
Step 6: Quickly place the wick and prop it up with chopsticks to keep it straight.
Step 7: Wait for the wax to harden. Use your fingernail to chip off any rough edges or splatters. Cut the wick down to size.
All done! Leave comments and questions in below, and remember to follow me on Pinterest!