How to recycle old candles into new ones

This post was originally published October 27th 2020, and has been updated October 27th 2022.

Today’s post is more of a guide, as it’s all about creating new candles from the wax of old ones you already have. This is a great little project that can be used to either make gifts for friends and family or for yourself.

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If you’re not thinking about it, candles are really wasteful when you just throw it away as soon as it has burnt out, but usually there is also a large amount of wax that is leftover from the candle. Because of this, it means that not only can the jars not be recycled from the excess wax, but they waste a lot of resources if they’re thrown into landfill.

Candles are very popular at the moment, for all kinds of aesthetics and because of the cosy feeling they give off. Trying to be conscious with how many candles you buy in the future and what kind of wax they contain is a great way to not only lessen your impact on the environment, but also to appreciate the ones you own!

Making candles from ones that you already own is super easy, although little time consuming if you’re using lots of different colours/types of wax, but a fun and chilled out project none the less.

In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to make these recycled candles!  

What you will need:

  • Old candles
  • Candle wicks and wick sustainers – some wicks come with the sustainers attached too
  • Moulds or jars to put the candle wax in – you can also reuse the ones they were previously in
  • Pan and bain-marie*I did use a glass jug for this project, but it later cracked from the heat so I would recommend a metal bain-marie instead
  • Wick holders – these can be anything from a stick or a pencil
  • Stirrer – I used plastic spoons I already had, or you can use a metal one and save it for future projects
  • Knife – a butter knife is super helpful for cutting up the wax if it’s too big
  • Newspaper
  • Kitchen roll/paper towels
  • Apron – to protect your clothes from any wax
  • Pliers
  • Scissors or a wick trimmer

Please be aware that any stuff you use that comes into contact with the wax cannot be used again for food or eating purposes, so only use stuff you won’t need again – but you can keep them aside for making more candles in the future.

Step 1: Collect up all your old candles

What you need in this step:

  • Apron
  • Newspaper
  • Old candles
  • Candle wicks and sustainers
  • Pliers
  • Scissors

The first thing you wanna do is find all your old candles, then you can get an idea of how much wax you have and how many candles you can make. Once you have all of your candles together, you can decide which waxes you want to put together in a new candle and what jars you can reuse.

You want to make sure you’re wearing your apron and have some newspaper spread out on the worktop next to you as you work so that you don’t get any wax everywhere.

When you know which jars you are going to use, you want to get your new wick (you can get these off Amazon or eBay) and measure it up against the jar – you want to make sure it’s about 2cm taller than the jar so it’s long enough.

Then, you want to thread your wick through a wick sustainer (the little metal bit) and then squeeze it shut with a pair of pliers.

Step 2: Separating the wax from their jars

*If you are worried or a young person, for these next few steps please make sure you have help from a friend or parent/guardian, as you are handling hot wax and this can be quite dangerous. Please do not leave any of the hot wax unattended while you are doing this.*

What you need for this step:

  • Apron
  • Newspaper
  • The candles you’ve chosen to use
  • Pan and bain-marie
  • Butterknife

Next, what you want to do is boil the kettle, then fill up your pan or bain-marie so it’s about 1/3 full. Put the pan on the hob and turn it to the lowest heat/setting so that the water will stay hot. Then, place your first candle into the pan of water for a few minutes to loosen the wax from the jar.

Once the wax is moveable from the jar, you want to take the jar out of the hot water. At this point, if there is a lot of large pieces of wax you can try to break or cut them into smaller pieces with your butterknife, as well as making sure you remove the old wick from the candle too.

Next, put your pieces of wax into your cold bain-marie for a second – make sure you haven’t put this onto the heat yet, so your wax doesn’t start to melt. Once your jar is empty, if the was has started to harden inside it again, put it back into the hot water till the wax is soft and then wipe out any of the excess with a paper towel.

This isn’t necessary, but you can then clean the jar in hot soapy water if you wish, as this can get off any wax you missed and any labels.

Step 3: Start melting your wax

What you need for this step:

  • Apron
  • Newspaper
  • The candle wax in the bain-marie
  • Prepared wicks and sustainers
  • Pan and bain-marie
  • Stirrers

Next, you can place the jug/bain-marie into the pan of water and let it melt – you may need to top up the water level to make sure it is higher or the same level as the wax, or it won’t melt fully on the top and leave a half-melted skin of wax on the top. Use your spoon or stirrer to move around the wax, making sure to always keep an eye on it.  

You want to make sure this is completely melted before pouring into your chosen jar, but while you wait you can attach your wick sustainers to your jars.

For this, you want to use your stirrer to dab a little bit of hot wax into the centre of the jar and press your wick sustainer on top of it – *Please use your stirrer to press it down and not your fingers, as you will get burnt!

Once the wick sustainer is held in place, you want to attach the other side of the wick to a wick holder or pencil, so it can rest on top of the jar and hold the wick in place. If you’re having a little trouble getting the wick to stay taught against the holder, you can use a little bit of tape to hold it down.

Step 4: Pour the wax into the jars/moulds

Next, you want to carefully pour your wax into the jar, but make sure you go quickly because as soon as the wax gets in contact with a cooler part of the bain-marie it will start to harden!

Once your wax is in the jar, you can straighten your wick to make it more central and then leave it to cool for a few hours – if you want to do another layer, you can place the candle in your fridge to let it cool faster.

When you’ve transferred your wax into the jar, you’ll want to wipe out your bain-marie with a paper towel while it is still hot, to make sure you get out any of the wax before you melt a different colour.  

 Step 5: Finish off your candle!

*If you want to do multiple layers of wax in your candle, repeat steps 2 – 4 until you are happy and your jar is full.

Once you have filled your jar with wax and made your new candle, make sure to let it cool for at least 8 hours so that it has fully set in the mould and around the wick.

After letting it cool, you can trim off the excess wick from your candle, and it’ll all done and ready for use! *You want to trim the wick to be about 1/4 inch, this way it’ll have a cleaner burn and reduce soot marks on the jars.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it inspired you to recycle some of your old candles to make new ones! Let me know if you would like me to write more posts like this, I’d love to hear what ideas you have!  

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