Sunday, April 5, 2015

Guide: How to Recycle Candle Jars 101

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Not only is it environmentally friendly to recycle candle jars, but also economical! :-)

I don't know about you, but I don't have the heart to throw out nice candle jars. So, lose it or keep it? Definitely keep it! And you can use the candle jar for something else, or make a new candle.
Different candle jars, candle wax removed from some of them
Different candle jars, candle wax removed from some of them



Step 1: Remove residual candle wax

Probably the most effective way (and the most environmentally friendly) of removing the candle wax is to put it in the freezer for at least 1 hour. I believe that the duration of time in the freezer depends on how much wax that is left and maybe type of wax.

In my experience, the freeze-technique has worked quickly on candles that had little residual wax (1,5 hour), while other candle jars with much more residual had to stay much longer in the freezer. The longer, the better.

Why put in the freezer? Unlike pure water, wax shrinks or contracts under low temperature, making it easier to remove the leftover wax.
The candle wax has contracted from the jar
After 7 hours in the freezer, this is the temporary result. It needs more time!

The boiling hot water method

The first time I removed candle wax, I poured boiling hot water into the jar. After 30 minutes, I managed to scrape out most of the wax with a spoon. It was difficult to remove the grease, so I re-filled the jar with boiling water and left it for another 30 minutes.

The process finally worked, but it was messy and there was hell a lot of water that was used.

After more research, I found out that I should have left the jar for a couple of hours, preferably overnight (and not just 30 minutes). Then I would have gotten the float-to-the-top effect. But I imagine that the process would still have been a greasy business in the sink because of the melted and oily residue.
The pros and cons of freeze method compared to pouring boiling water - removing candle wax from jar
The pros and cons of freeze method, compared to pouring boiling hot water into the jar

Is type of wax a decisive factor?

According to eBay, the freezing method works for paraffin wax (which is the most common candle wax) and beeswax. For soy wax, which typically has a low melting point, it should be sufficient to fill it with hot tap water.

Type of wax might explain why using the freeze method works, and sometimes it doesn't.

Read: The plastic-free challenge part 3.

Step 2: Knock out the wax

Use a spoon or a (butter) knife to break out the frozen wax. No scraping should be needed, and the wax should just slide out. If the wax doesn't 'pop', put it in the freezer for another hour or two.

The candle shown below was a tough bastard, but I managed to extract the wax by carefully using a small Victorinox vegetable knife, along the crack. The wax was ready, so there was no need for force. I only had to loosen the wax from the sides.
Frozen candle wax removed from the jar
Result after 11 hours in the freezer! The candle wax finally gave in :-) 

Step 3: Clean and prep

Remove the wick holder by using a butter knife. If that doesn't work, pour a little hot tap water over it so that the water covers the wick. And then jiggle it out with the knife. Then clean the jar thoroughly with soap and lukewarm water. Try to use as little water as you can :-)
Recycle candle jars - the final touch
The final touch - recycle candle jars

When I washed the jar, the turquoise layer started to fall off. I decided to scrape some of it away, and keep some color on the bottom. Cool, eh? ;-)

A personal tip is to use some window cleaner spray to give the jar a squeaky clean final touch ;-)

Read: Simple ideas on how to reduce the plastic in your everyday life.

Ideas for reusing the candle jar

Use recycled candle jars for potpourri and jewelry storage
Use recycled candle jars for potpourri and jewelry storage
  1. Storage: jewelry, pencils, clips, make-up brushes, spices, cotton balls, q-tips, small nail polish, hair band, small scrapbook stuff, foreign coins

  2. Decoration: shells, stones

  3. Plant a mini herb plant

  4. Melt the residual wax and make a new candle

  5. Make potpourri

  6. Use as tea candle holder

  7. 'Visitors bowl': use the jar for snacks, candy and chocolate

Continue to read:
Earth-friendly and non-toxic alternatives for your dental care. 

A nomad's green moving tips and a free moving checklist.


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