Melting wax for candles can be an intimidating project if you've never made candles before. Getting the fragrances and colors just right takes some trial and error. Melting old candles to make new ones is a handy shortcut since you can use wax that's already tinted and scented. Plus, it's an eco-friendly way to use up all the end bits of old candles and glass jars you've collected over the years. You can even experiment with layering multiple scents in one new candle. Just be careful to only mix together old candles that are made of the same type of wax.
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While melting old candles to make new ones is generally a safe DIY craft project, working with hot wax and a double boiler is too risky for kids, so melting wax for candles is a project for adults only.
Things You'll Need
Large tin can
Medium cooking pot
Pre-tabbed candle wicks
Skewers or disposable utensils
New glass containers
Skewers or pencils
Melting Old Candles to Make New Ones
Step 1: Prepare the Old Candles
Any burned wick in your old candle will contaminate your new candles, so start by cutting off any exposed wick. Scrape away wax from any areas at the top of the candle that look cloudy from previous burnings.
Put old candles in a clean tin can. Wax needs to be melted slowly and with indirect heat over a double boiler. A metal or oven-safe glass mixing bowl can also be used for a double boiler, but you might not want to melt scented wax in a bowl that you're going to use again for food. So, a used metal can is a perfect vessel for melting wax for candles, and it can be reused.
If you're using old candles in glass jars, set the jars in a pot of very hot tap water and let them sit for a few minutes. The wax should soften enough that you can pull it out with a butter knife or skewer and transfer it to a can for melting. This is safer than lowering jar candles directly into simmering water. Some glass containers can't withstand a sudden temperature shift and may break if used in a double boiler.
Step 2: Melt the Old Candle Wax
Fill a pot with a few inches of water and set it on a burner set to high heat until the water boils. Then, turn the heat down to low until the water is simmering (just barely bubbling). Lower the can of old candle(s) into the pot of simmering water. You can start preparing candle wicks once the wax starts to melt but don't leave the double boiler unsupervised.
Step 3: Prepare the Candle Wicks
A dot of melted wax will keep the wick in your new candle in place as the poured wax dries. Once the old wax starts melting, dip the bottom of the wick's tab into the wax. You can also use skewers or disposable utensils to transfer a little bit of wax to candle wick tabs.
Press the tab into the bottom of the container you're using for the new candle and let it sit for a few minutes until the wax hardens. Always center the wick in a single-wick candle to allow for even burning.
Set two skewers or pencils on top of the container on either side of the wick. Even if you're using pre-waxed candle wicks that stand up straight, the wick may start to fall as you pour in hot wax. Propping up the wick allows it to stay at a 90-degree angle to the bottom of the container as the new candle cools.
Step 4: Remove the Melted Wax From Heat
When the old candle wax is completely melted, turn off the burner and remove the double boiler from the heat. Use tongs to carefully pull any old wicks and metal tabs out of the melted wax. Wearing long oven gloves, swirl the can gently in the water to make sure the wax is evenly heated and completely melted.
Step 5: Pour the New Candles
While still wearing oven gloves, slowly pour the melted wax from the tin can into one side of the new candle container. Try to avoid pouring wax down the side of the container or over the wick. Fill the candle to your desired height, up to as high as an inch below the opening of the container.
Step 6: Let the Wax Set
Let the new candles set undisturbed at room temperature for at least four hours or preferably overnight. Keep the skewers or pencils in place as the wax hardens. Trim the candle wicks to about 1/4 inch long.
If you want to make layered candles with multiple colors, plan on a multiday project. Each layer has to harden completely before you pour in a new layer.