How To Recycle Your Favorite Candles

Get ready for candle-making fun!
Get ready for candle-making fun!

My husband and I have spent the holidays pretending to have a fireplace by burning big pillar candles on a small tray on our coffee table.  It’s so festive and cozy!!

Note the comfy glow from the small candles on the coffee table

The problem is that when you burn 5+ candles on a small serving tray, the flames tend to melt the candles into each other and dramatically reduce the life of your candles.  We went through the first set (which had been sitting around in my apartment for 3 years) in two weeks.  Still on my campaign for changing the world through responsible consumerism, I went onto Ten Thousand Villages and ordered 5 more candles.

2" x 3.5"  is much smaller than you think in person
These gorgeous candles are fair trade and smell amazing.

They started at $10 for a 2″ x 4″ candle and went up to $30 for a full sized 3″ x 7″ pillar. They were gorgeous and hand made by artisans in Honduras. The total for the set was $64.  I panicked a bit, but remembered that my last set had lasted 3 years!  This was an investment.

Of course, my last set weren’t burned 3 hours each night for a week straight.  At the end of the week, this was the state of my candle set:

What $64 in fair trade candles looked like after a week
What $64 in fair trade candles looked like after a week

I panicked again!  $64 LITERALLY up in smoke! I took a second look at the wax, now siting in a pile at the base of the candle tray.  Perhaps I could melt it down and reuse it…

The thought had never occurred to me because:

  1. I had never seen so much leftover wax all at once
  2. I had never spent $64 on candles

For the thrifty, candle-obsessed among you, here is my super-duper easy recipe for recycling left-over candle wax into new candles.

You will Need

The materials you will need to make recycled candles
The materials you will need to make recycled candles
  • Double-boiler
  • Cotton String
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Mold: Tempered drinking glasses or plastic containers with sides tapered out.  For a comprehensive list of different household containers you can use, see
  • Bits and ends of old candles
  • PAM cooking spray

Sort your candle wax based on how you would like your final candles to look and smell.  This is especially important if any of the candle pieces are heavily perfumed.  Put water into the bottom portion of the double-broiler and put your candle pieces in the top.  It’s ok if one of them still has a piece of wick in it – you can pull that out later

Put the double boiler over high heat until the candle wax melts completely. Use the pliers or a slotted spoon to pull out any black bits or left-over wick.  Don’t worry too much about getting everything out.  The bits will sink to the bottom of your candle after you pour it anyway.

Measure out the cotton string for your wick – it should be the height of your mold plus 4″ or so.  Cut the wick and drop it into the melted wax.  Leave it there for a minute.  Pull it out with the pliers and lay flat to cool on a hard, level surface.

Knot the end of the wick around a pencil.  You want to knot it at the exact height of the mold so that the wick is suspended into the mold, all the way to the bottom.  This is a nice visual of what you are going for:

Suspend the wick into the mold

Set the wick aside.

Spray your mold with PAM cooking spray.  This will make releasing the candle much easier after it cools.  Pour the hot wax into your mold.  Suspend the wick into the mold.  Set aside in a corner where the candle will not get nudged while it cools.

Let the candle cool completely.  This may take a while.  A general rule of thumb would be one hour for every inch of thickness.   For very large candles, let them them cool overnight.

When you are ready to release the candle, pop it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  Cut the wick free from your suspension rod. Turn the mold over and pop it out. Trim the wick to be about 1/4″ tall.

I used a yogurt container to mold this beauty!
I used a yogurt container to mold this beauty!

Slender candles should cool evenly with a slight depression around the wick.  Larger candles may end up with a significant sink hole.  Don’t panic!  Just drop a few pieces of left over wax into the hole and light the wick.  You should see the sink hole fill in as the wax melts.   When you blow out the candle, the wax will cool evenly

Look at that cozy glow!!
Look at that cozy glow!! Can you guess which one is home made?




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