There’s nothing quite like the scent of a lavender candle burning in your bathroom after a stressful day. So much so that it seems you literally burn through the candles on a weekly basis and then you find yourself with a bunch of empty candle jars that will just end up in the trash — what a waste. Luckily it doesn’t have to be. All you need to do is learn how to get wax out of a candle jar, clean it out and then you can reuse those jars for new homemade candles, storage, crafts and more.
How to get the wax out of a candle jar
So you’re ready to re-use your candle jars. The first step is getting the wax out and there are a few different ways to clean out the jars, depending on what’s left inside.
How to get the wax beneath the metal wick out of a candle jar
Even if you have burned your candle to the very end, “it’s normal for candles to be left with a layer of wax at the bottom of the container,” shares Kate De Palma, owner of woman-run candle company Scented Designs. “This is because the wick tab (the metal piece holding the wick) elevates the wick 1/4″ or so above the bottom of the glass, so wax beneath it generally doesn’t get used up.” In many cases, all you need is a little force to get rid of what’s left at the bottom.
How to get the wax on the sides out of candle jar
‘To remove this wax layer — especially if it’s soy wax, which is a softer wax than paraffin — you can use a plastic spoon or knife to scoop or scrape most of it out,” she adds.
If the sides of the jar have wax on them (also known as tunneling), you can start by trying the knife or spoon method to pry it away from the glass. If that doesn’t work or you still find some wax remains, then it’s time to try the heat method.
“For trace amounts of wax stuck to the sides of the glass, boil water in a kettle and pour it into the container,” advises De Palma. “Boiling water is highly effective at getting rid of any leftover wax residue, as well as removing the metal wick tab attached to the bottom of the container.”
To do: Fill the jar about halfway with the boiling water and let it stand until completely cool. The hot water will help melt the wax so it can all eventually float to the surface.
Another trick that can get wax out of glass votive holders: the low-heat oven method! The pros at Old Pine Candle Co recommend the following steps which you can see in action in the YouTube video below.
- Set your jars on a cookie sheet and place in an oven that’s been pre-heated to 180°F.
- Let them sit in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then remove.
- Once melted, carefully discard the wax and wick tabs.
- Use an old rag to remove any remaining wax and wash the jars in warm soapy water.
How to get a small amount of wax out of a candle jar
The amount of wax left in the holder helps determine how to clean candle wax out of jars. “If you have a small amount of wax left in your holder, you can pop the holder in the freezer after the wax has cooled,” says Amanda Ullmann, from the Quick Candles blog.
After letting the holder sit in the freezer for about 30 minutes, the wax should shrink and pop right out, Ullmann says. This method also helps remove the base of the wick from the holder. If you are reusing the holder, let it warm back up to room temperature before its next use.
How to get tiny pieces of wax out of candle jar
“Thin wax residue can often just be wiped off with a paper towel or a rag,” says De Palma. “For stubborn residue, you can use rubbing alcohol or a wet, hot rag.” Rubbing alcohol in particular is great at dissolving tiny wax particles and separating it from the glass.
How to get a whole candle from a jar
Wondering how to remove a whole candle from a jar? Ullmann says you might want to think twice about even trying. “We don’t recommend removing a whole candle from a jar since jar candles are often meant to liquefy entirely,” she says. “If you remove the candle from its jar, you will have a giant mess of melted wax on your table,” she adds.
But if you’re determined to figure out how to remove a whole candle from a jar, Cameron says this method might be your best bet:
- Place the jar inside your freezer.
- Let it stay there for a couple of hours.
- Take it out, and turn the jar upside down to get the wax out. If the candle is big, it should fall out by itself; if not, gently tap the bottom of the jar to loosen it.
How to deep clean candle jars once all the wax is out
Once you get all the wax out, it’s time to give your candle jar a proper cleaning. “Many containers like basic glass jars can be run through the dishwasher and will come out just like new,” adds De Palma. “If you have a decorative container and you’re not sure if it’s dishwasher safe, it’s probably safer to handwash it with just some warm soapy water.”
Ullmann adds that while you can use soap and water on plain clear glass, if the holder has a metallic or colored finish, soap may remove part of the finish. A damp paper towel is your best option in that case.
If your jar has a label on it click through here to learn how to get sticker residue off of glass.
What *not* to do to get wax out of a jar
Though removing wax from a jar is quite simple with the right know-how, you want to be careful of enlisting the help of certain tools.
“Avoid using something sharp that would scratch the glass or container,” advises De Palma. If you need to use anything, stick with a plastic knife or spoon.
Another thing to avoid? Putting water in the bottom of your holder to try to keep the wax from sticking as you burn it. Ullmann says the idea that water will help is a myth. “It will just result in candlewicks getting wet and not burning properly,” she explains.
6 genius uses for your clean candle jars
Need some inspiration as to what to put in your newly cleaned candle jars? Read on!
1. A craft caddy
From thread to buttons, beads and more, you can corral any small pieces in a jar with ease.
2. An herb grower
Add a little water, some soil an herb or seeds and watch them grow.
3. A small flower vase
Fill some jars with water and small flowers and use the as centerpieces, place on bedside tables or use them to decorate your living room.
4. A candy gift holder
No gift box? No problem! Just toss some candies into an empty jar, decorate it with a bow and voila!
5. A pickling jar
Learn how to make pickles in a jar with this easy YouTube video from @wholefedhomestead
6. A bathroom items organizers
Give your bathroom a clutter-free makeover by lining shelves with toiletry-filled candle jars.
For more on cleaning and using glass jars, click through these stories: