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Make new candles out of old ones

This is such a simple thing to do that I can’t really call it a tutorial. It’s a great little money saver, and a great way to recycle something which otherwise would have ended up in the trash.

It’s easy to make new candles out of old ones, and it can also be fun and creative, if you put some artistic effort into it.

Recycled Candles

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 (you can get them at a craft store, or make your own) and a jar or something to hold the candle in (get some DIY candle holder ideas), and you can make a new candle out of the leftover pieces of old ones.

Candle burning in red holder

You can also learn how to make candles from scratch.

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 or disc that isn’t as easy to get rid of.

There’s a very simple way to get all the wax off of a candle holder. Once you do that and then let the chunks of wax dry, you can chip the wax away from it until you’ve got just the metal disc.

Make new candles

Two Easy Methods

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. You can make really pretty mosaic candles this way.
  • 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.

Best Method

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.