It's a shame when a good candle burns out --- especially when there's plenty of wax left behind. Fortunately, you don't have to throw out the candle just because the wick is gone. The candle wax itself is completely reusable, and will burn just as well after being melted and re-formed. Making candles can be a fun and creative project for kids and grown-ups, and it's an environmentally friendly craft that helps you make more with less.
Items you will need:
- Large pan
- Small saucepan, metal bowl or coffee can
- Candy thermometer
- Stiff cotton string or candle wicking, available at craft stores
- Spoon or fork
- Glass or ceramic container (optional)
- Fishing weight, small nut or a few pennies (optional)
- Broom handle or clothesline (optional)
Preparing Used Wax
Assess the amount of wax you have available. If it is enough to fill a bowl or coffee can to a depth of 6 inches, you may want to dip your candles. If it is a smaller amount or if you prefer an easier method, you should pour candles into a container.
Fill a large pan with about 1 inch of water. Heat to a simmer.
Place a saucepan, metal bowl or coffee can inside the larger pan. Add your used candles, being sure not to mix different types of wax, such as beeswax, paraffin and soy wax. It is safe to mix two candles made from the same type of wax, even if they have different colors or fragrances.
Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, with the sensing end in the wax. When the temperature reaches 185 degrees F, your wax is ready to use.
Skim charred bits, unused wick and other debris from the melted wax with a spoon or fork.
Clean and dry a glass or ceramic container, such as a shot glass or teacup.
Cut a piece of string or wicking so it is at least 2 inches more than the height of your container. Wrap your wick around a spoon or fork. Dip it into the wax briefly to coat it.
Place the utensil across the top of your container, so the wick hangs down into the container's center. Adjust so the wick just touches the bottom of the container.
Pour a small amount of wax into the bottom of the container, and then adjust the wick so it stays in the center. Repeat, filling the container to about 1/4 inch below the rim.
Let stand for about an hour to set, and then cut the wick so about 1/4 inch sticks out from the top of your new candle.
Make sure your melted wax is in a deep, slender container. Ideally, your dipping wax should be at least 6 inches deep.
String a clothesline or place a broom handle across two chair backs or other steady supports. This is where you will hang dipped candles to dry.
Cut your string or wicking to a length of at least 16 inches. Tie a fishing weight, metal nut or a few pennies to each end.
Hold the string in the center, and dip both ends into the wax to your desired candle length. Remove and let cool for four seconds.
Repeat this process, making sure your candles cool for several seconds between dipping, until the candles reach your desired size.
Hang the candles on your line or broom handle, making sure they don't touch. Let them stand for a full day, and then cut off the weights from the ends and trim the wick to about 1/4 inch.
- The first time you light your new candle, let the wick burn for two hours. This will make it easier to light the next time.
- Different types of wax have different melting points. Pay attention to your wax when you're melting it: If it starts to smoke, it is too hot. You may need to lower the temperature to 165 degrees F for better results.
- Don't mix different waxes together, or you may have inconsistent results.
An award-winning blogger, Jessica Blue has been promoting sustainability, natural health and a do-it-yourself attitude since graduating University of California, Berkeley in 2000. Her work, seen in a wide variety of publications, advocates an environmentally-responsible and healthy lifestyle.
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images