Dolores is an avid candle-burner who likes to save money by creating DIY jar candles using recycled wax.
Save Money by Making New Candles From Old Wax
I love candles—especially the expensive, scented kind. My family never has to wonder what to wrap up for me at gift-giving time—a Yankee Candle always fits the bill. But at $21 for a 14.5-ounce jar, I am not usually inclined to buy them for myself. Even thrift store candle prices have gone up—two bucks for a dusty, used candle? What are they thinking?
Instead of spending an egregious amount of money on new candles, I prefer to create my own using leftover wax salvaged from candles that have burned out. With most candles, when the wick has run down and the candle is pretty much finished, there is still some wax left over. Why not reuse it to create a new candle? This simple practice is sustainable, thrifty, and easy to do. Read on to learn how to stretch the life of your candles by saving and reusing your leftover wax.
Tips on Color, Scent, and Consistency
- Much of the candle wax I reuse comes from jarred scented candles. The wax in these types of candles is usually pretty soft, so I like to mix in hard candle stubs to make sturdier wax. As long as you are making your candle in a jar or solid container, it is ok to use softer wax.
- Since you'll be mixing wax from a variety of candles, you'll want to make sure the colors you choose will mix well. If you mix colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel, you could wind up with a brown, murky, unattractive mess.
- In my experience, brown blends well with orange and red. Greens and blues go well together, as do yellows and oranges. Mixing pink with yellow or orange can produce a nice peachy hue. Adding white wax to the mix will lighten up the other colors you incorporate.
- Don't mix scents that might not match. You can produce a wonderful new aromatic mixture if you blend similar scents or scents that naturally go together. Yankee Candles are so strongly scented that their aroma tends to dominate when mixed with other scented candle waxes.
- Certain scents have special attributes that can be used to create a mood or feeling. The concept of using scent to relax or energize is called aroma-therapy.
- Double boiler: This is a two-tiered pot used to heat material in the top tier by heating water in the bottom tier.
- Jars: Find a nice, sturdy, thick glass. Jelly and jam jars work well, as they tend to be able to handle a candle's heat without cracking. Be sure the vessels you choose are clean and free of debris before adding wax.
- Candle wicking and wick anchors: These can be purchased at a craft store or online. They are pretty cheap and will last a long time.
- Wax from burnt-out candles: For this batch, I used brown, yellow, red, and orange. Both the brown and orange were spicy scents. The yellow was a very strong ginger scent, and the red was odorless. The brown was very soft and came from a Yankee Candle.
- Remove all paper, old wicking, and all other debris from your leftover candles and wax. If your leftover wax is from a container-style candle, use a butter knife or other tool to scrape it out.
- If any of your wax pieces are large, break them down into smaller pieces. This will help the melting process go smoothly.
- Put some water in the bottom tier of your double boiler and place it on a stove burner on low heat.
- Add your wax pieces to the top tier of the double boiler and monitor them periodically as they melt.
- Prime your wick by dipping it into the melted wax. Let it harden before inserting it into the jar or glass. Priming helps wicks burn more evenly.
- Feed some of your primed wick through the hole in the center of your anchor. Keep the wicking longer than you need. You can cut it to the appropriate size later.
- Drip a small bit of melted wax into the center of the bottom of your glass jar. When the little blob sets, press the metal anchor into the wax pointy side-down. Smash it so that the metal points grasp the wick.
- Gently pour more melted wax int the jar, reserving some of the wax.
- Make sure the wick is oriented straight up from its anchor. You can wrap the top of it around the center of a pencil and set the pencil horizontally on the top edge of the glass to keep the wick straight as you add more wax.
- As the wax sets up, a depression will appear around the wick. fill it in with the reserved wax. You may have to melt your wax again.
- When the jar is as full as you want it to be and the wax has set up, unroll the wick from around the pencil and trim it to about 1/4 of an inch above the candle's top.
- When cleaning up, never pour excess melted wax down the drain. If you have enough left over, let it harden and save it for your next candle. Clean the top tier of your double boiler by repeatedly filling it with boiling water.
- Enjoy your new homemade candle!
© 2009 Dolores Monet
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on June 24, 2015:
I've never actually done candle making but it seems to be an interesting hobby.I like the idea of reusing old candles. Maybe it is a result of being born during the depression but I hate seeing anything go to waste. When I feel the need for a new activity, I will have to try this.