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Jars for Things

In addition to the cigar boxes, I had this idea of on-display storage for most of my Pet Shop items. With the studio housing white furniture and soft pink walls, my color-loving heart wanted my crafty supplies on display in clear vases, jars and the like, using the built-in shelves as the backdrop. Between my product packaging (shades of blue-green and goldenrod like our logo) and ready made art prints, I have plenty of color to show for.

Over time, we’ve stashed “dead” candles in our cupboards, saving the ones with the prettiest jars to use later. (For a vase, I would tell Scott. We have the cabinet space, I argue; this is an obvious lie.) To save pennies on the numerous clear vessels I have in mind, we finally have a use for them – upcycle the jars for on-display studio storage.

While in California, I asked Kalli for tips on how to get the hardened wax out, and she suggested placing the jars in boiling water, then scooping out the wax. A quick Google search confirmed her simple instructions, and I pulled up even more tips from Wikihow. Thinking that pouring or scooping out the hot wax could be messy (and handling the hot jars with oven mitts could get complicated), I opted to try Wiki tip #2: Pour boiling water into the jar.

The red candle is soy, and it immediately began to liquify. Very lava lamp-esque:

For the others, the boiling water allowed the wax to soften without separating, and I was able to gently lift the wax loose with a butter knife. It floated to the top, I cut it in two and easily pulled the halves out.

Now, here’s where I got ahead of myself.

If there’s one thing you take from this post, remember this: If you get the wax out before the water has completely cooled, do not pour the hot water down the drain. Stupidly, I did this. The water still had melted wax in it (although in my defense, it was clear, and I was excited), and it was no different than pouring warm, liquid wax right down the drain. I proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes scraping the mess before Scott found me, alternating my scrapes with hot water clean up.

There is no photo proof, as I had out-stunned myself. Sometimes I don’t know about me.

If you wait for the water to cool completely (as Wikihow instructs; I could not outsmart the Wiki, oh no), you can then pop all the cold wax out, dump the cold water and wash the jar in warm, soapy water – and be done.

After my initial mistake, I refilled the jars with hot water again and started over. Then I did exactly as the Wiki told me to. I actually let the water cool overnight, and the next morning, the wax floated to the top and hardened. At this point, you can cut it in two, and, well, look at that!

Tip: if there are still remnants of wax on the sides of the jar, warm water, a soapy brillo pad and patience helped me to dislodge the last stubborn bits.

Do you do this with your candle jars? (Clean them, I mean. Not the pouring-water+wax-down-the-drain thing.) What methods have you used? Scott insisted on saving the leftover wax to create a mega candle (yes, Scott insisted), and when I resisted, he made a hefty promise to make the candle himself. A man full of surprises, I say.

We hope you’ll take a moment to read our guest vignette over at Courtney Out Loud today!

  • Jen - April 21, 2013 - 8:10 PM

    The freezer method is FOOLPROOF! It works all the time and you only need to have it in the freezer for about half an hour! It comes out clean and easily!!ReplyCancel

  • Kat - May 2, 2013 - 9:00 PM

    If you put alittle water in the bottom of the candle holder before you put the candle in. It will come right out.ReplyCancel

  • Annette - May 3, 2013 - 11:10 PM

    How do you get out the wick? My last two glass jars, the wick was glued to the bottom. Any recommendations to remove it when it is glued?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - May 4, 2013 - 11:24 AM

      Hi Annette, you can try doing the hot water trick a few more time to loosen the glue, or perhaps some Goo Gone. We had luck getting the stubborn wick out with a spoon or butter knife.ReplyCancel

  • Reilee - May 16, 2013 - 6:38 PM

    This looks like a lot of work. It’s 1000% simpler to place your jar in the freezer for 5 minutes then break the wax out with a fork or butter knife. It comes out clean and you can salvage the wax if you want to.ReplyCancel

  • [...] cleaning the jars, I used this tutorial.  The boiling hot water did its magic and the hardened wax rose to the surface of the jars.  It [...]ReplyCancel

  • Helene - June 7, 2013 - 12:36 PM

    I put them in the freezer, or even the refrigerator, and it comes out so easy, then wash out with warm soapy water. You might have to break it to get out of jar, but its so easy when its cold, not sure how it would work with soy candles, but I think I did one and it was fine, but the hot water made it a big mess.ReplyCancel

  • Lydia - June 7, 2013 - 2:09 PM

    I would reuse the wax for what I call emergency candles, They need no fragrance and are kept for power outages for me, which unfortunately happen quite a lot where I live.ReplyCancel

  • Laura Kovach - June 8, 2013 - 3:06 AM

    I use the freezer method. Then I separate the leftover wax according to color into leftover ice cream buckets. When I have enough I make new candles, adding “virgin” wax from the craft store for “stability” and I use paper milk cartons with new wicks. Then it begins all over again.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - June 11, 2013 - 12:23 AM

    I also use the freezer easy. Sometimes the wax will fall out on own or a butter knife around the edge works great. Along with the jars, I also save all the wax in a container, along with egg cartons, and dryer lint. Once I have enough “trash” saved I will make fire-starters for summer camping. Just open egg cartons, fill each spot with dryer lint, pour melted wax (I remelt inside a foil pie pan over boiling water)over the dryer lint. Can be cut apart or used whole. I love repurposing trash!ReplyCancel

  • Roberta - June 13, 2013 - 8:14 AM

    I put the candle jars upside down on a tray lined with aluminum foil and sitting on kabob sticks. Then I put them in the oven on the lowest temperature until the wax melts out. Then I use paper towels to wipe them clean while they are still warm.ReplyCancel

  • Jocelyn - July 3, 2013 - 12:22 PM

    I’ve used the hot water trick before too. I find it works well. My mom tried to microwave it to soften the wax slightly, and the candle actually lit in the microwave – we figure it was because the wick was a wired wick.ReplyCancel

  • Elly - July 5, 2013 - 9:49 PM

    This is great! The only thing I still haven’t figured out is how to then remove the little metal bit that held the wick.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - July 6, 2013 - 8:53 AM

    Elly, a bit of Goo Gone should help to get that metal bit out!ReplyCancel

  • trish davisson - July 8, 2013 - 3:11 AM

    Elly… I use a coffee mug warmer to melt the wax and pour it into another jar… at that point you can pick the metal wick thing right up. And then I just wash the candle holder or jar in soapy water and its like New :)ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie - July 11, 2013 - 10:48 AM

    Wow, thank you SO much for sharing, I have a Ton of jars and had come to the same conclusion, oven mitts ect, like Way too much work and mess, this is awesome, can hardly wait to try it out, easy ones I have cleaned out, soak in hot tap water in sink, and wipe and wipe and wipe with paper towels. I probably have more than 20 jars…I’m almost scared to count them, been saving them over 20 years…might be a lot more than 20…ReplyCancel

  • Liz - July 17, 2013 - 10:11 AM

    I usually just put the candle jar upside down in the freezer overnight, sometimes a bit longer, and the wax and metal wick holder release from the bottom of the jar. Then clean the jar with warm soapy water for any small bits left on the inside of the jar.ReplyCancel

  • Gloria - August 6, 2013 - 6:28 PM

    I did the oven mitt method once. I dropped the jar on the tile floor, spent hours cleaning up the mess. I now let the water cool before getting the wax out. Recycle all the old melted wax into fire starters.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - September 1, 2013 - 9:58 PM

    I haven’t tried the freezer idea, but I have used baby oil… It works awesome too!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - September 15, 2013 - 1:16 PM

    If your container has no metal, pop it into the microwave for a bit and then wipe it out with a paper towel. After that you just need to wash it. Nothing down the drain, no waiting for hours freezing or cooling. But be aware that it could come out of the microwave very hot so you may need oven mitts.

    For the person wanting to get wax (candle wax, crayons, etc) off furniture, just use your blow drier and paper towel or a soft cloth.ReplyCancel

  • PENNY WALKER - October 3, 2013 - 5:05 PM


  • Gail - October 21, 2013 - 5:52 PM

    I tried this way, and while it did work, I found that placing the candles in the freezer, they will “chip” right apart! It even works when there is a lot of wax left…I did some up to a couple of inches!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy Segafredo - November 13, 2013 - 10:46 AM

    I put my candles in the freezer for 5 minutes. The wax pops right out.ReplyCancel

  • Candace - December 20, 2013 - 9:21 PM

    I like to break the left over wax into small chunks. Then I put a taper candle in a recycled jar to use like a wick. I fill in around the taper with the chunks of wax. As it burns the melted wax fills in the spaces between the chunks, or you can pour melted wax in the gaps if you catch a candle at the end of its life with that little bit of melted wax left. It’s sort of like the layering method but there’s much less melting and pouring. And less accidents.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - December 21, 2013 - 9:50 AM

    Candace, I love that idea!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - January 4, 2014 - 3:13 AM

    You can put the candle jar in the freezer
    For a few ours. Then its quite easy to take a knife and cut it in quarters and then take it out. :)ReplyCancel

  • Neva - January 31, 2014 - 3:57 PM

    I break up my candle remnants, into chunks, freeze them, then put the frozen chunks in a container. You can then melt other remnants in a jar (inside a pan of water, like a double boiler type thing) then pour the melted wax over the frozen chunks. Because the chunks are frozen, they keep most of their shape and make nice different colored shapes/chunks in your candle.ReplyCancel

  • amanda - February 8, 2014 - 1:59 PM

    i actually freeze my jars untill the wax hardens up, cleaning is usually a breeze, i never really have to srub the jars (it depends on the wax) clean i just wash them bc when the wax freezes it kinda just pops right out of the jar once you cut it upReplyCancel

  • Libby - February 21, 2014 - 10:07 PM

    To reuse the wax chunks, lay out 2-3 layers of newspaper, put the chunks and bits down the center and roll, twist the ends (like a tootsie roll) and use as a fire starter for a regulae fire place or when camping. The paper starts on fire, the wax drops into the kindling, and helps the wood to burn. If melting out the wax, you can pour it onto layers of newspaper with your surface protected and small amounts of course.ReplyCancel

  • jean jones - March 12, 2014 - 2:20 PM

    put old candle holders with wax in freezer the run hot water over themReplyCancel

  • Bobby - March 30, 2014 - 10:42 PM

    So do you think you could take the wax from the old candles set in a form like the ice cube trays or wax melt containers and use them for scentsy burners?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 31, 2014 - 8:52 AM

      Hi Bobby, yup, a lot of commenters have said that they’ve done this!ReplyCancel

  • […] pringles can used as cookie canister gifts mason jars used as cupcake wrapper storage getting wax out of old candle jars for reuse CD case as a bagel carrier crayon nibs melted into new crayons old headboard used as a […]ReplyCancel

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