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How To Clean and Recycle Candle Jars

There are two types of people:

A) Those who simply throw away their old jars; or B) Those who can't bear not recycling their old jars and hold on to them, even with a bit of wax left at the bottom and a wick nub that's impossible to light. Sound familiar? Which one are you?

If you answered A, we hope to convert you into someone willing to return your old candle jars to the manufacturer. Recycling candle jars reduces factory waste, inventory costs (which ultimately lowers consumer costs), and overall shipping costs.

If you answered B (hooray!)—continue reading because this article is for you.

Now is a great time to start reusing and upcycling your old candle jars. Every year for my son's birthday, I create a beautiful hot chocolate bar display by reusing my candle jars. I also use them for parties because they make cute candy dishes and centerpieces.

When I recommend reusing and upcycling candle jars, the number one question I get is: how should I remove the wax? Continue reading for a few different ways to get that stubborn wax residue out of your glass candle jar.

How to get wax out of a candle jar using the freezer

If you have more than one candle to dispose of (and some freezer space), this might be easier than the stovetop method. Place the candles in the freezer for a couple hours, or until the wax is frozen, and then use a butter knife to pop the frozen wax out of the container. To make this process easier, try to break up the wax a bit before freezing to make it simpler to pop out once it’s frozen.

How to get wax out of a candle jar using your stovetop

Similar to the technique used for melting chocolate over the stove, this method requires putting the candle jar in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water, which ensures the wax melts without the jar getting dangerously hot.

Alternatively, place the candle in a separate pot and slowly pour boiling water around the candle (making sure the water doesn’t go in the candle jar itself).

Once the candle melts, pour the old hot wax into something that you're already going to toss in the garbage. Don’t pour melted wax down the drain—wax dries quickly and it will clog your pipes. After that, clean the jar out and recycle or reuse it.

How to get wax out of a candle jar using a kettle

With the candle on a heat-safe surface, pour boiling water directly into the candle jar and leave some room at the top. The hope is that the melted wax will float to the top. Wait for the water to cool and the wax to harden a little, then simply pick it out. Scrape out any remaining wax and wash out the jar with soap and water.

How to get wax out of a candle jar using a candle warmer

Candle warmer lamps melt wax—instead of burning it—to release its scent, and can also be used to melt down the remaining wax in a candle jar. As with the double-boiler method, pour it into something that you’re planning on tossing in the garbage. Or, if you don’t want the wax to go to waste, top off another candle with a similar scent by pouring in the melted wax.

How to clean the jar of labels after the wax has been removed

The ideal method for removing labels and other adhesive from your candle jar is to soak your jars in a bowl or sink filled with dish soap and hot water. Once the jar soaks for 10-20 minutes, you should be able to easily remove the label stickers. If the adhesive is stubborn, use hot water and gently remove the adhesive with a sponge. Using hot water and dish soap will also remove any remaining wax residue inside of the jar. Wash and repeat until all residue is removed. 

Upcycling ideas for your new jar vessel

  • DIY Planter
  • Flower Vase
  • Makeup Brush Holder
  • New Candles 
  • Christmas Snow Globes
  • Desktop Organizer
  • Centerpiece
  • Party Decor 



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