How to Reuse Old Candles

Candles are so incredibly expensive. Too expensive in my opinion, but I’m obsessed with them. I love to have candles lit at the end of the day to make the house smell really nice and relaxing, but also provide some nice relaxing low light to wind down. During my season of getting laid off and being unemployed a few years ago, I really wasn’t able to justify purchasing new candles for my house at full price. For many of them, I used coupons, but sometimes I would be out and didn’t have any coupons to buy any more. It also frustrated me that I would have a decent amount of wax left at the bottom of some of the candles. It seemed like a waste to throw that wax and jars away. I knew that people would get out the wax and reuse the jars, but I still felt guilty about throwing the wax away, so I figured out a way to reuse that wax and make new candles from the leftovers.

1. Gather all of your old Candles.

Ask your friends and family for more if you can. You’ll be surprised how many people have hoards that they’re happy to give. You can also ask in Facebook groups, like your local Buy Nothing Project, or on Nextdoor. Again, you’d be surprised how many of your neighbors keep these.

2. Order cheap prewaxed wicks on Amazon.

I like these.

3. You need to get the wax out of all of the old candle jars.

You can freeze the jars and try to pop the wax out with a knife once they’re cold. I don’t find that method super effective myself and I feel like I’m going to accidentally hurt myself that way. Instead, I boil water and put boiling water in each jar, filling it up to as close to the top as I can. The wax will heat up and bubble up to the top. Let the wax cool at the top and then just pop it out. You may need to do some of the jars more than once to get all of the wax out. Sometimes they’re stubborn.

Brilliantly Frugal Tip: Put the jars on a few old towels. I tend to spill a bunch water when I do this.

4. Clean the Jars.

You’ll need to scrape or pop out the leftover wicks and any bits and glue at the bottom. Then scrub the jars inside and out with hot water and dawn dish soap. This may take some scrubbing to get all of the glue, wax, oil, stickers, and soot off. I also then like to run them through the dishwasher after for good measure.

5. Gather Your Other Supplies.

You need an old pot that you don’t mind getting wax in, pencils to prop the wicks, and a clean tin or aluminum can (I used an empty and cleaned refried bean can with the label taken off), and tongs. And any of the empty jars that you want to reuse as candle jars

6. Group Your Waxes.

You want to try to put like waxes together. For example, you want all of your soy wax together, regular wax, and then beeswax separate. Then group again by scents. So, you want summer scents together, winter or fall scents separate, etc. The reason for this is that different wax types don’t necessarily mix well. Also, you’ll probably have to layer the scents to make one whole new candle unless you got a bunch of the same scent with enough leftover wax of just that one scent to make a new candle.

7. Put a cup or two of water at the bottom of the pot.

Then put the first chunks of wax that you’d like to be the base of your first candle into the tin or can. Then put the can into the water and pot to melt the wax. Use the tongs to maneuver the can if you need to, because the can will be HOT. You may need to swirl around the hot wax every once in a while to help the wax melt down.

Pro Tip: Put a lid over the tin can to push it down to the bottom of the pot and keep it from floating. This will help the wax melt faster.

8. Place your candle wicks in the empty jars.

While the wax is melting, take out your candle wicks and place them in your jars. You may need to prop them against pencils that are laid across the top of the jar to keep them from falling. Try to follow the pattern that the previous candle used for the wicks. For example, if it was a 3 wick candle from bath and body works, make sure to put three wicks in the jar in that triangle pattern again. This will ensure that the new candle burns properly.

Pro Tip: You can also use holders specifically made to hold candle wicks. I like these from Amazon.

9. Pour your wax.

As the wax melts in the can, use the tongs to lift the can and pour the hot wax periodically in the jar. Keep melting wax and pouring the waxes in layers into your jars until you run out of wax or the jars are full. This takes a while, so put on some TV or music while you do this, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the melting wax! This is a project that I usually do on a weekend over a couple of days and I listen to podcasts, or music, or play netflix on my laptop while I’m doing it.

10. Enjoy your new candles!

Feel great about the fact that you recycled and reused instead of throwing all of that away or your friends, family, and neighbors throwing it all away. You also saved at least $8-$20 per candle that you didn’t buy depending on the brand!

Candles are also a great way to elevate your space with very little money. You can read more about decorating on a small budget here.