Updated: Oct 30, 2022
Your old candle jars don’t have to be wasted. You can clean them and repurpose them in your home!
Wasting as little as possible has always been part of my candle-loving journey. I started to learn about candle making by recycling old candles! Today I’d like to show you how to clean your old candle jars, so that you can repurpose them in your home.
Try the freezer method first
The freezer method works best for getting wax unstuck from your candle holders. I am adding it to this article for completeness’ sake, so that you know how easy it is to remove stuck wax from your candle holder, and clean the holder for next use. You can also try it with your candles jars, but I personally haven't had that much success with it for jars.
Simply put the candle holder with leftover wax into the freezer for 10 – 20 minutes. When you take it out, the wax will have shrunk and it will be easy to get the wax out. Sometimes, you need to give it a bit of a wiggle, or even a little push with a wooden chopstick, or plastic single-use cutlery (so that you don’t scratch your holder with a metal knife or another metal utensil).
To clean the holder, you can pour hot water over it and clean off remaining wax with a paper towel.
Use heat to clean old candle jars - Precautions first
To clean actual candle jars, I find it’s better to use heat. Please, be very careful with all of this. You are working with hot wax/water/glass. Always touch-test the jar before you fully grab it with your fingers. Use a cloth or oven mitten to protect your skin.
Keep in mind the properties of glass. Even though candle jars are quite resistant to heat, there is a limit to everything. Heat the jar up slowly and gradually. Do not put a hot jar in the freezer, or a cold jar in hot water.
Another important thing is that wax always solidifies at room temperature. Therefore, do not pour wax-infused water down the drain, or put wax-containing vessels or dishes in the dishwasher. The wax will clog your pipes.
Only use old pots and utensils when you are manipulating anything wax related. There is a chance that some wax will escape the containers and will end up in the water we are using to heat up the jar. And even though it is possible to wipe any extra wax off, it is never a 100% perfect job. You do not want to cook your food in a pot that contains tiny wax speckles.
I also strongly recommend to line your working space with sheets of baking/parchment paper. Even if you are very careful (and skillful), a couple of drops of wax are most likely to end up on your surfaces. Parchment paper protects the surface, plus you can use it to collect wax leftovers, if you wish to remelt and repour them!
Heat up your candle jar to melt wax leftovers
Now we have all the necessary precautions covered, we can get to the actual jar cleaning process. To clean your candle jars, you need to heat up the remaining wax so that it liquefies, and can be poured onto parchment paper (to be collected and thrown away, or recycled). I recommend you watch the whole video first, so that you have a better idea of what needs to be done.
You will need the following items:
- Old pot
- Baking/parchment paper
- Oven mittens or old cloth to pick up hot jar with
- Paper towel
- (Wood chopstick or skewer to encourage potential wax leftovers to slide down to the bottom of the jar)
1. Take an old pot. You will use it to create a water bath in which you will put the old candle jar.
2. Fill it with a few centimeters of water and put on the stove.
3. Place candle jar into the water bath.
4. Switch the stove on to medium heat. Let water (with the candle jar in it) warm up gradually.
5. While wax is heating and liquefying, prepare a sheet of parchment paper next to your pot. Fold it once to create a thicker layer.
6. When wax in the jar has liquefied, use oven mittens or a cloth to very carefully pick the candle jar.
7. Pour the remaining, now liquefied, wax onto the parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper is horizontal and flat, and a large enough surface, so that the liquid wax does not run off the paper.
8. Wipe the still hot candle jar with paper towels until the desired level of cleanness.
It may happen that you will not be satisfied with the results on your first try. Remember, practice makes perfect! Depending how comfortable you are holding a hot jar using a cloth (or oven mittens), you will work at varying speeds. You goal is to wipe off all the leftover wax when it’s still hot and runny. If it doesn’t happen that easily on your first try, don’t worry. You can always “reheat” the jar (and wax) by dipping it into the hot water for a second or two, and then continue wiping with the paper towel.
You can use a plastic or a blunt knife to get the metal wick tab off the sticker on the bottom of the jar. Also, use a label removing solution to get the remainders of the wick sticker off the glass. You can also use this solution, or rubbing alcohol for a final wipe to make the jar extra shiny and clean.
With time, you will get more experience and will be able to better judge how much heat you can use. Still being very careful, you can turn up the heat a bit higher at the beginning to speed up the heating up process. Once small bubbles start appearing in your water bath, it is better to turn the heat to medium again. With harder waxes, you may need to use more heat in general. Just keep in mind that once the wax starts liquefying, the whole process speeds up because the hot wax will help the melting of the still solid parts. Once I see wax liquefying, I always turn the heat down. You should never get to a point where your water is boiling!
Cleaning up after the job is done
Let me repeat once again: Do not pour wax infused water down the drain, and do not put wax-containing vessels or dishes in the dishwasher. Wipe everything off with paper towel, and if you can, dispose of your water in the garden.
As far as parchment paper goes, it will be easy to peel the solidified wax off the parchment paper, and throw in the bin. You can keep the parchment paper for next time you are cleaning your candle jars!
If by accident you spill some hot wax over an unprotected surface, you can clean up easily. First, scrape off as much as you can with a plastic knife. Then pour a bit of hot water over the remaining wax, and use a paper towel to wipe it off.
We are offering candle refills!
If you pick up your candles in person, you can get your candle jar refilled! (And yes, I will clean the jar for you.) Check out our Candle refill product for more information. You will find more information about candle refills and more, on our Zero Waste page!
That is all for today’s candle jar cleaning tutorial. Let me know if you have any additional questions! Next time, I’ll tell you about alternative methods you can use to clean your candle jars.
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Enjoy your candles, and until next time!