How can I reuse or recycle old candles?

A burning candleA few years ago, I went through a spate of buying candles. We don’t use them much any more but have been known to have the old candle-light game of Scrabble or lit by candles, eat soup inside a den built out of cushions and quilts in the middle of the living room (we possibly not as mature as we should be at our age and still like building dens).

Anyway, from those times when we have used them, we’ve got a number of chunky candles still around the place but while their external wax is still fine, they’re insides are all melted away and the wick is pretty much non-existent.

So what can I do with old candles?

Can we make new candles by reusing the wax from the old ones?

Or are there any other good/fun things we could do with them?

(Photo by jilted)

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60 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old candles?”


  1. dancing girl says:

    I have recycled the wax from candles many times to make new candles. You just need a saucepan and a mold. Old pretty tea cups make great candle holders. You should be able to buy new wicks from a craft store or just use a natural cotton string. Mixing bowls make good molds for larger sized modern looking candles. You could add extra wicks for this shape. Any mold shape that you use just wipe a very thin layer of vegetable oil over the inside with a tissue.

    Heat the waste wax slowly on a gentle/medium heat. Fish out all the dead wicks. Be carefull don’t get burnt. This is a good time to add some scented oils if you wish. Measure the wick length for the whole height of the candle, add extra for the top. Soak the wick in the melted wax until it absorbs the wax. Hang the waxed wick over the mold tied around a chopstick, wooded spoon or skewer. Ensure it is hanging straight down to the bottom.
    Slowly poor the melted wax into the mold and let set overnight. Trim wick. Pull out of the mold by wick. Should look reasonably professional. The larger width candle mold shapes may result in a sunken appearance in the middle. You can always re-melt and try a smaller shape.

    I have always found my homemade candles burn with a slightly more dynamic flame so you do need to light them in a safe place.

    You can also revive unburnt candles that have become dirty and dusty by quickly dunking them in a pot of boiling water. Clean candles!!

    DONT make your plumber rich by pooring excess melted wax down the sink. Just don’t do it!
    Clean up your tools with lots of boiling water.

  2. graham says:

    Hi!

    The best use is probably a “buddy burner”- a large wick candle using corrugated cardboard, old tins and wax stubs. It is refillable with wax so is known as the everlasting candle in our house. Instructions are detailed at link but is basically a swiss roll of corrugated cardboard in a 200gm fish tin with melted wax to fill up. Keep lid as snuffer. IT IS SMOKEY. IT GETS HOT. IT WILL NOT BLOW OUT EASILY. IF LEFT IN RAIN WILL SPLUTTER++ NEXT TIME IT WARMS UP.

  3. Joan says:

    Reuse the wax to make garden candles ( doesn’t mattter if they are a bit smoky out there- you can add citronella oil (from the chemist) to keep bugs at bay too. All you need is some wick string from the craft shop (soak this in the melted wax first before pouring the wax and it will burn better. You can use terracotta plant pots for the containers – cover hole first though!

    If it is wide pot you’ll need multiple wicks.

  4. Amanda Kerik says:

    Of course you can recycle wax!

    Either melt the wax down to make the candle or cut the wax into cubes and fill the mold with the chunks – add molten wax.

    Tip: I find that adding a wax embedded wick to a slab of solid wax a LOT easier than trying to keep the wick straight and taut when the wax is molten.

    I just use a screwdriver (flathead) as a drill.

  5. jo Ellen says:

    I have a passion for candles and have recycled with much success but now that I have these soy candles there’s nothing left to rcycle. They burn much cleaner and smell better. My candle of choice these days is Kathy Ireland Spa candle

  6. ELAINE says:

    i have lots of old candles, & my husband is allergic to the scented candles.
    Is there ANY projects for using the candle wax,BESIDES making more candles from the old ones?
    Any ideas will be appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Elaine

    • Kathy says:

      I use my old candles, melt them down in candy molds and just set them out at different holidays.I have a leaf mold snow man and bears.

  7. Juli says:

    With old wax you need to get rid of, you may sell it on ebay to the fact that some ppl look for that kind of stuff to make other candles.
    Also another ideal is to fill in mouse holes or bug holes in house with mush wax, they wont eat threw it, or go threw.Or even try art teachers for projects. Just a few thoughts to share with you.

  8. KatyH says:

    I make fire starters from them.
    Save your cardboard egg cartons. Fill each cup and the top with dryer lint.
    Melt your saved wax/candles in a clean can (I don’t recommend coffee cans due to the rim) in a larger pan of medium-hot water.
    Pour the melted wax over the lint, drenching each cup so that it sticks to the cardboard.
    You’ve now recycled 3 items and can get a wood or charcoal fire started easily without the danger & smell of lighter fluid.

    • Anonymous says:

      WOW this is a terrific idea….thank you.

    • Susan says:

      just a note on fire starters; my neighbor makes them with empty toilet paper rolls filled with dryer lint and used dryer sheets in the ends to keep it all together. They work great and also recycles several items. These are without the work of melting wax, sorry it’s not a reusing wax idea!

  9. Rene says:

    Melt them down into muffin tins and you will have kockey puck sized wax pucks. Then sell them to your local skateborders so they can wax up their curbs.

  10. Julie xx says:

    You can easily melt down all your left over candle wax which i did a few months ago and now i make all my own candles. I use a website at http://www.4candles.co.uk to get all the candle making materials that i need.

  11. ruth says:

    Can I melt the wax in a double boiler if it is still in the glass jar it came in? I don’t want to break it – I want to melt/remove the wax, add a new wick and repour it back into this jar. Thanks!

    • renae says:

      I have melted wax that was still in the glass container. I keep my burner on the lowest setting and carefully pour out wax as it melts. I have not had any problem with the jar breaking. With that said, I think it is important to take into consideration how heavy the glass is. If the glass is delicate or thin, I would not try it. If this is the case, maybe it would be better to dig out the wick from the jar, replace it w/a new one, and then create a new candle in that container w/different candle scraps.

      • Anonymous says:

        To get the old wax out of a jar, place it in the freezer. The wax will just slide out….may need to break it into smaller pieces but it won’t stick to the jar.

      • fibro says:

        What about soaking the glass container in a bowl of boiling water to loosen up and slowly pour wax out until it all comes out then melt down and pour back in. If pouring anything hot in to glass place a metal spoon in glass container this will prevent glass braking.
        Have fun.

    • Karen says:

      Would like to know the same thing. How do I get wax out of the glass without breaking the glass.

      • shelly keepence says:

        boil the kettle
        pour the water into the glass and leave
        the left over candle will melt rise to the top and set for you to easily remove from the glass
        wash the glass and use for new things
        it really is very easy
        Shelly

    • Anonymous says:

      You can pop the old candle in the freezer, and the wax will come right out.

  12. Angek says:

    Wow! These are great tips, thank you! My partner and I are trying to be pro-active in our care for the planet and had been distressed at the candle waste problem…now we have a solution! Hooray! I am showing her this website and acquiring the required resources as part of her eco-Christmas gifts…your help has been much appreciated!
    Merry Christmas! :o) xxx

  13. Ann_Chanted says:

    I recycle my old candles all the time and it’s amazing how long you can get the wax to last if you keep recycling it. I burn candles every night and haven’t bought any in months. For holders, I will use anything from soup cans to pickle jars and decorate them appropriately with fabric, spray paint, ribbons, flowers, anything I have lying around. For wicks, I have a pair of old 100% cotton flannel pants that I’ve cut up and I just take a small strip (about a quarter inch wide) and twist it and then dip it in hot wax while it’s twisted and that works out wonderfully as a wick.

    On a side note, when I use glass jars, I try to use the ones that are heat tempered, like pickle jars or canning jars, and then I will pour in three or four intervals just to be on the safe side. None have broken on me yet, so I guess I’m doing something right.

  14. Anne says:

    Can anyone local to Buckingham make use of used white and red church candles

  15. Janet says:

    Put them on FREECYCLE, you will be amazed by what people want.

  16. Andrew Walker says:

    You can use them as the waxy coatings for cheese if you make homemade cheese, and vice versa.

  17. elle says:

    there is a type of art called “encaustic” which uses colored wax or crayons or wax that you add color to. you have to use a small torch or some heat source. this art goes back a few centuries, but you can still buy items to do this, just google encaustic art and check it out.

  18. Minaretmuse says:

    If you have a lot of leftover wax from a container candle, try replacing the expired wick with one from a tealight. Extract the wick & metal holder from a tealight. Melt the wax in the bottom of your candle with matches and remove old wick and poke the new wick into the softened centre. Crumble a bit of wax around your new wick before lighting it. Once the wax softens reshape it a bit closer to the wick by poking it in with a pencil. Burn as usual until all the wax is gone. A little more wax-poking and reshaping may be required depending on how much candle is left.

    • Debbie M says:

      Put the (glass) candle container in some HOT water to above the wax line. When wax is melted, set container out to cool and insert a toothpick in the center when wax is pliable enough to hold it up. When wax is hard (or nearly hard), remove toothpick and insert new wick. You now can continue to use the candle. (I haven’t done this for several years, but am ready to try it again, as I have a newfound interest in using scented candles).

  19. I have tons of old candle that have lots of wax still to be burned, how can I recycle these candles and make new ones?,

    Thanks

    Deja Vu

  20. Louise says:

    Save all the odd ends of candles. Save or scrounge a pringles crisp tube (or any similar, will do). In an old saucepan (it’s good to have one that can be used for messy jobs like wax melting or dying) gently melt all the bits until they are liquid. Fish out the bits of wick. Take a small pebble and tie a new wick longer than the tube (c/o handcraft shop for instance) you can use a little wax to anchor it in place. Tape a piece of string across the top of the tube and fix the wick so it’s straight up. Pour in the warmed wax. I used a couple of slightly scentled candle bits and the smell was much better than the original candles! it takes a time to cool so don’t rush removing the tube’s cardboard. Hey Presto – a long life recycled candle.

    • renae says:

      To add to this idea: I made a candle once like this. I poured 2 – 3 inches of wax into the tube and just as it started to harden, I added a few ice cubes pieces. I repeated this process until the tube was filled. When the tube is cut away from the molded candle, there is a Swiss cheese-like effect and it is very pretty! You will have to do this over the sink because the ice will have melted and will drain from the holes that have been created.

  21. janet says:

    How do I reuse pringles tubes

  22. lynn wilson says:

    My grandfather used to make colorful christmas candles. I think he used my old crayons to drip colors down the sides of large wax cylinders which I think he made from old candles. I wonder if I could use melted wax dripping from used candles of different colors to decorate the outside of the recycled candles? I have boxes of used candles.

  23. Mathew Joseph says:

    I have lot of used wax with dust, ash, burned wigs etc. When melted, it has a blacking colour. Is there any way I can get rid of all this blackish substance?

    Thanks,

    Mathew

  24. Caroline says:

    Hi all,

    I once say a nifty candle recycler on a camp site. Someone had this burning on a fairly breezy evening and the flame was burning really well. She told me she bought it on a market while she was on a trip in Europe and it was called an everlasting garden candle. A nephew of my bought one for me while he was in France and I love it! I know of only one place where you can buy these on the internet. There is a listing on Ebay that has the same kind of candle recycler: http://shop.ebay.com/smarter_deals/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p3686

    Cheers, Antoinette.

  25. Emma says:

    Hi,

    I wanted to colour the candles I’m making (but I don’t have coloured crayons) – was wondering if I could use food colouring, or will this not work?

    Thanks

  26. Judy says:

    For white candles – grate the wax, use in a brandy snifter or glass bowl, fill about 1/3 ot 1/2 up, decorate with trees or figurines. Grated white wax is your snow in the scene.

  27. Debbie says:

    I have been using one of those candle warmers for my scented candles, but after a while the scent seems to disappear, and once you use them in a candle warmer, the wick is useless.

    So, once the smell is gone from the candle, I just take the hot melted wax and leave it in its jar to start cooling. Once the wax started to solidify, and the wax is still soft enough, I just push an emergency candle down the center.

    Long burning candles, clean containers, nothing wasted!

  28. Cindy says:

    Sand candles! Go to the beach, build a bonfire and melt your leftover wax in coffee cans. While they are melting, dig your “molds” in the sand. You can press in sea shells, rocks, driftwood, etc. You can poke your fingers into the sand to create “legs” and do all sorts of fun things. Then carefully place your wick in the bottom tied to a stick resting across the top. Carefully pour in your wax. Let harden. After they have hardened, dig them out of the sand and brush off the loose sand. You can “paint” melted wax over the surface to seal or leave them natural. I use them on our deck for evening mood lighting.

  29. johndoe says:

    pearsonally i melt the old wax in a tea-candle holder and pour into buddy burner small amounts at a time.

  30. Jeri says:

    I use it for a mini stove when I am camping. Fill a tuna can with sawdust then poor melted wax over the sawdust. Let harden for 34 hours then volia your own camping stove for no money cause it’s all recycled

  31. ducky says:

    if you melt the wax down and paint it onto old t shirts and things, then dye them, the wax sections will not dye, you can get some cool designs for pillows and such. to get the wax off after you cover the cloth with paper towels then iron over it a few times.

  32. fely says:

    in our parish church i am the one who recycle all the used candles in the altar. how can i whiten the wax due to some dirt and soot if i recycle them for the second time.

    • Addled State says:

      I have used a couple of different methods to remove some the debris (dust, ashes, bits of burnt wick, etc.) from used wax. You can put the wax into a boiling bag and let it heat for a long while in a pan of very hot water. Many of the unwanted particles will either float to the top or settle to the bottom. This may take two to three hours (or longer) depending on how dirty is the wax and how fine the particles of debris. It may take some of the finer particles a long time to settle out, which is why you may need to keep the wax in a heated, liquid state for a long time. Once the wax is as clear as you want (or as clear as it appears it will become), allow the wax to cool without moving it or disturbing it in any way that may tend to mix the particles of debris back into the main body of the wax. Once cool, peel away the boiling bag and use a knife to cut away the parts that contain the debris which settled out while it was melted. Another method is by filtering the melted wax through a coffee filter, paper towel, piece of tightly woven cloth, etc. I prefer to use the coffee filter. Make sure the filter and funnel are hot so that the wax will remain liquid and pass through without hardening. I usually do this by placing the filter and funnel in a glass canning jar (any container that can stand the heat will do) sitting on a steaming rack (or other improvised support) in a pan of slowly boiling water. Wait until the glass jar and funnel have been warmed by the steam from the boiling water before pouring the wax through the filter lining the funnel, allowing the wax to pass through the funnel and collect in the glass jar or other container. If you prefer not to get the wax into a jar or pan, line the jar with a plastic boiling bag which you can remove while the wax is still liquid once it has been filtered. I usually find the coffee filter method faster and often more effective compared to letting the particles slowly settle out as described in the first method, though the filtering requires a bit more effort and cleanup. You can clean up the funnel by putting it into hot water and allowing the wax to melt and float to the top of the water. You can recover this small amount of wax if you like by then letting the water cool and lifting the thin sheets of hardened wax from the water. Goo Gone, or a similar solvent designed for oily or waxy substances will clean up any small drips of wax you may get on your counter top or stove when working with the wax. I do not know of any way to “bleach” or otherwise remove the dye from colored wax so I am careful to keep different colored wax leftovers separated, unless I don’t mind the recycled wax coming out some random (and usually very ugly) color once I am done.

  33. Liizziie says:

    For something Art related – Melt the candle and pour into old chocolate containers (Such as thorntons or Milk tray, im talking about the tray the chocolates sit in) Now you can use already hardened pieces of wax to stick in before the wax hardens or like i have, use Match sticks to create a visual meaning to each little piece, after they have hardened they pop out very easily and stand on their own! And for an even more creative twist put dye in the wax or use melted scented candles for a double sensual hit :)
    For pictures contact me at – e.homer2@sky.com

  34. Kimmie says:

    I use the old potpourri burners & let the wax that I’ve accumulated, melt in it. I use very good candles & MOST of the time, they burn to nothing but the metal “button” on the bottom. If you have wax at the bottom of your glass container & want to change it out for a different fragrance here is another tip. Put the COLD glass votive holder in the freezer for 1/2 hour. gently smack the bottom of the container & it will pop out. If it doesn’t, put it back in the freezer for 1/2 longer & try again. If that doesn’t work, try using a butter knife to break up the wax into smaller pieces & take the wax out that way.

  35. andrea says:

    I don’t buy candle wicks. I have a stash of cheap household candles. I melt down my stubs of vanilla scented candle and when it’s all melted I pour it into a glass jar, let it start to firm up, then prop up a candle in the middle and let the wax set around it. it doesn’t matter if the candle pokes out of the top, it burns down quickly enough and then will melt the wax around it as well as any new scented candle.

  36. Victoria says:

    My favourite tip is to gently melt the end of a candle over a flame and drop onto an envelope. Using a personalised letter stamp (find this at Hobby Craft or online), stamp into the wax to make a personalised, old-fashioned letter seal!

  37. leroy says:

    If you are a camper you can make very good campfire starters of old candle wax. All you need is old egg cartons, a container to melt the wax, I use an old metal coffee pot. Also lint from the dryer.
    Stuff the lint into the holes in the egg cartons then pore the meted wax in to the drier lint ,allow to set, then I break them into sections of 4. They burn very hot so you do not need much kindling to start your camp fire

  38. Bob Finney says:

    I went to the restaurant supply store and bought a box of grease filter cones and the wire holder for it. I leave the wax in its glass containers and simply melt the wax in simmering water, When it is completely liquid, I pour it through the filter cone into another container. If I am making candles, I use it right away while it is liquid. If I want to use it later, I pour it into various containers. I have found half gallon cartons to be very good, as I can get the wax out easily. If I only have about a pint or so, I pour it into part of a plastic milk jug that I cut off below the handle. It is easy to get out and is a free container.

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