Condo Blues: How to Recycle Wax Candles the Quick and Easy Way!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

How to Recycle Wax Candles the Quick and Easy Way!

There is nothing I enjoy more than an evening on the sofa snuggling with Lacey, enjoying a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and the sight and smell of a candle burning in the living room. Hygge at its finest!

Also, burning a scented candle clears after dinner cooking smells which means I’m content and practical. Go me.

I always seem to have a decent sized chunk of wax left when my candle wicks burn out. I’d look at the candle jar and think someday I should melt the wax down and make a new candle out of it. A few times I did but mostly I didn’t. 

Making new candles out of old candle wax usually involves rigging up a double boiler with a can in water in a pot on the stove or digging through the hard wax to remove the metal wick tab so I can melt the leftover soft vegetable candle wax in short microwave bursts. It was much easier to put the spent candle in a box with its comrades and light a new candle from my small stash and invoke a Someday that never comes.

Quick, Easy, and Cheap DIY Candle

how to recycle old candles into new ones

Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

Someday came in the form of a crazy freak storm that took down electric power lines all over the city and we sat in the dark for days on end. Naturally, I had more used up candle nubs than I had candles to burn for light during that time. I figured it was time to come up with a quick and easy way to recycle old candle wax into new candles so I wouldn’t be sitting in the dark again. Also, it would allow me to enjoy the scented candle wax I never can seem to find the next time I need to buy candles.

When burning jar candles, I learned to let the attended candle burn long enough so the entire wax surface melts. This prevents tunneling (which leaves you with even more dead candle wax in the jar) and allows the candle a better scent throw (fancy candle maker talk for hey! This candle fills the room with a lovely smell very nicely.) This also makes the candle last a little longer and is much easier to turn into a new candle.

how to keep a candle from tunneling

Sometimes a jar candle will tunnel if you do not have the correct size or number of candle wicks for the jar like this candle. The candle maker should have used three wicks for this jar not two.


For this candle wax project you will need:

A heat resistant candle jar or container – I clean and save my old candle jars and votives to use to make new candles

A jar candle with a wick on its last burn

A pencil or candle making wick holder like this kind

A tabbed candle wick – I use these exact tabbed candle wicks  

(Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

A word about lead candle wicks: 

The United State banned the import, manufacturing. and selling of candles with lead core wicks in October 2003 even though most US candle wick makers removed lead from their wicks in the 1970s.

Some candle wicks have a stiff a core made of either of either paper, cotton, or zinc that allows the wick to stand up when it is inserted into a metal candle tab. Zinc has been tested and is considered safe to burn.

We good? Then let's go!

How to Quickly Make Old Candle Wax into New Candles

I use this candle making method with leftover wax from candles or when I need to change the wax in my wax warmer when loses its scent after many uses. Sometimes I get a little crazy and put leftover candle wax and nubs in my wax warmer so I can enjoy the scented wax a little longer and then repurpose that wax into a new jar candle when it loses its scent. 

While enjoying the last burn of your candle and before the wick burns out, prepare to make your new candle by putting a tabbed candle wick(s) into a new empty candle jar/container. Use the same number of candle wicks for your new candle that were used in the old container. If you are using an old three wick candle jar use three wicks, an old one candle wick jar uses one new tabbed wick, etc. 

how to recycle candle wax
I am making a layered candle in this example. If you want to make layered candles from old burned out candles make sure either you are using unscented wax or two scented waxed that coordinate. In this case, the white candle wax is from an unscented candle. 

Tip: If you want to make sure the tabbed wicks stay in place while you are pouring the first layer of candle wax over the candle, you can adhere them to the bottom of the container with a glue dot. (Glue dots look like this.)  Some people use hot glue but I avoid it because the tabs can move around if the hot wax melts the hot glue.

After the candle wick burns out and while the leftover wax is still melted, pour the melted candle wax (or melted wax from a wax warmer) into the prepared candle jar. If you have soot and candle ash in your old melted candle wax, you can pour it through a strainer and into your candle container to remove it from the final product. 

how to make new candles out of old candle wax

Keep the wick in place by wrapping it around a pencil or threading it though a wick holder and allow the wax to completely harden.

I try to use a candle jar that is smaller than the original candle so it fills to the top when I have enough wax (or the wax is still scented and won’t work well with the other scented waxes I have on hand.) 

For small amounts of used candle wax that will not fill a votive candle jar, I use the same technique and keep adding layers of spent wax warmer wax until the candle jar is full of wax. Since I'm not giving it away as a present or will have it sitting in my living room when company visits (unless the power is out) I'm OK with these candles looking a little weird.

how to make quick easy cheap emergency candles
I admit this homemade emergency candle isn't pretty but when I need to burn it I will be more concerned about function than fashion.

Looking for more candle recycling and making tools and ideas? Checkout the following options – and more! - below!

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Life as a LEO Wife said...

I love candles, and I hate the waste at the bottom of the jars. I save my candles, but I've never done anything with them. Thanks for sharing this tutorial with us on Crafty Creators!
Niki ~ Life as a LEO Wife

Unknown said...

Great post, and similar to my post from nearly 16 years ago! It never occurred to me to pour-as-you-go, but it'd be a less intensive effort than my process was. I've since heard that if you can slow the cooling down, you don't get dips in the middle around the wick. One way is to put the just poured jar in a bucket of hot-but-cooler water bath and let it all cool to room temperature; just keep water out of the jar. Another way is to put the still-liquid candle in a lidded box or cooler to trap the heat and slow the wax hardening.

BTW, I'm not implying you're a copycat! Great minds think alike, and we aren't the only two to think of making striped jar candles! This was a little blast from the past for me today; thanks for that!

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