How to Melt and Reuse the Leftover Wax from Candles
Our easy melt-and-pour method saves the last bit of this home essential.
If you want to use scent to create a soothing atmosphere in your home, lighting a candle achieves this effortlessly—that is, until your candle burns down to the very last traces of wax. No one wants to toss candles when there's still some wax left, but it's nearly impossible to burn the wick when the scent wax won't be able to melt evenly. So, can the wax from nearly depleted candles be salvaged? The simple answer is yes. The best thing to do is melt down the remaining wax and pour it into a smaller votive—et voilà, you have yourself a new candle. Make sure you combine all the same type of wax (beeswax, paraffin, or soy).
Before tackling this do-it-yourself idea, keep in mind what type of wax you are melting from the candle. According to Kathy LaVanier, President of the National Candle Association (NCA), candles come in paraffin wax, synthetic wax, soy wax, coconut wax, palm wax, beeswax, stearic acid, and gelled mineral oil varieties. The candle expert also notes that liquid paraffin can be helpful to prep for candle wax removal. "Simply put a little on a paper towel and use it to wipe away [excess] wax," she says. "Also, never use a knife or a sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass votive holder. It might scratch or weaken the glass, causing it to break upon subsequent use."
First, melt candles in a small pan set over a large pan of simmering water. (The melting point of different waxes ranges from 100 to 145 degrees.) Once the wax is melted, remove old wicks with tongs and toss them out. Cut a piece of wicking (available at crafts stores) two inches taller than the votive holder. Knot one end and thread through a wick tab (also available at crafts stores); tie the free end around a wooden skewer. Dip wicking and tab into the melted wax to coat them. Remove, then press the tab to the bottom of the holder. Rest the skewer on the votive's rim. Pour melted wax into the votive holder, stopping a half inch below rim. Let stand until it sets, about one hour. To even the well at the center, pour more wax into the center until it's one-fourth inch below rim.
If you prefer another tactic to salvage wax instead of the melt-and-pour method, you can also try these best practices: "Wax drippings can be removed from most candleholders by running hot water over them," LaVanier says. "Some home care experts prefer removing wax by first placing the candleholder in the freezer for an hour or so. This allows the wax to shrink and easily pop out when the candleholder is removed from the freezer." If you simply want to find new ways to use the remaining wax from candles, you can recycle into different homemade projects. "If that leftover candle end happens to be beeswax, there are all kinds of uses for it. Rub it on a toboggan, a sticky drawer, or wooden window sash to ensure it slides smoothly. Use it to preserve bronze and copper objects, or wax string before sliding beads on it when making a necklace or bracelet," LaVanier shares.