This is such a simple thing to do that I can’t possibly make a tutorial out of it. It’s a great little money saver, and a great way to recycle something which otherwise would have ended up in the trash. It can also be fun and creative, if you put some artistic effort into it.
You know how candles rarely burn down all the way, so then you’re left with these wax stumps at the bottom. Don’t throw the wax stumps away: collect them somewhere, and when you get enough of them, all you need is a wick (buy one at a craft store or make your own) and a jar or something to hold the candle in, and you can make a new candle out of the leftover pieces of old ones.
Removing the old wick
The most difficult part of this process is getting the old wick out of the old candle. If it’s just a wick, you can just chip the wax away from it. But often the wick will be attached to a little metal square that isn’t as easy to get rid of. There are a couple of ways to go about this.
- Insert something like the flat end of a screwdriver under the metal tab at the bottom of the candle and pop it out. This works frequently, and pulls the wick out neatly, leaving nothing behind but the wax.
- If that doesn’t work, use your screwdriver to break off chunks of the wax and then throw away the wick at the end. Note: this craft works best if you break the wax into little chunks, anyway.
Making your new candle
The first step is to put your wick into the bottom of the jar. There are a couple of different ways to go about packing the wax in around the wick.
- While holding the wick upright, drop the wax chunks in around it. Try to pack it tightly so there aren’t many gaps in the wax. This is the simplest method, but it doesn’t burn as efficiently as the next method. This method does, however, have the advantage of letting you get creative by arranging the wax chunks according to color, size or shape.
- Melt some of the wax. Follow the instructions for the first method, but after you’ve packed in a layer of wax chunks, pour in some wax around them to fill the gaps. Keep doing this row by row, like mortaring bricks (sort of), and you’ll get a candle which burns efficiently. It might be pretty ugly, though.
The best method is to melt all the wax and pour a whole new candle.
- Use a double boiler, or make one by putting one pan inside another, or even a coffee can inside a pan.
- Put the wax chunks in the inner vessel.
- Fill the outer vessel halfway with water.
- Set the heat to high.
- Stir the wax as it melts.
- Once it’s pourable, carefully pour it into the jar around your wick.
- Use some kind of tool to grip the wick where it sticks up from the hot wax and move it into place (center, standing up straight). I use a little pair of pliers for this, but in a pinch you could even use a pair of scissors, with the blades turned to the side to avoid cutting the wick.
- Hold the wick in place for a moment. The wax will start cooling immediately, so you won’t need to hold it long. You’ll be able to tell when the wax is cool enough for it to stand on its own.
I’ve used all three methods over the years. Obviously, the melt pour gives you the most efficiently burning candle, but sometimes it comes out a very strange color. I actually prefer the first method, where you just break the wax into small chunks and really try to pack it in. It has a really cute patchwork, homemade sort of look. These recycled candles tend to burn down a bit faster than brand new candles for some reason, but I still consider them cost-effective – besides, it’s fun.