4 Hacks for Cleaning Out a Candle Jar

By Brooke Ressell


Finding a candle with just the right scent is one of the quickest ways to upgrade your decor and create a cozy vibe at home. From a pleasant lilac bouquet in the spring to a beachy perfume in the summer, a cinnamon fragrance in the fall, and a pine aroma in the winter, candles are a must-have in every season.


Of course, you eventually get to the end of the wick and the candle just won’t stay lit anymore. But nowadays, candles come in such gorgeous jars it feels like such a shame to just throw them away. The good news is that you can actually clean out candle jars quickly and easily, giving them a whole new life. And who doesn’t like a good DIY project for repurposing materials you already have at home? Here’s our guide to cleaning wax out of a candle jar after a candle burns out.

how to clean out a candle jar

Photo via BrightNest


How to Clean Wax Out of a Candle Jar

Cleaning a candle jar after you burn down the wick can definitely seem like a difficult and time-consuming task at first. After all, as your candle burns, it leaves a filmy residue all over the glass and there’s often a hard wax disk stuck to the bottom of the jar. You may have even tried to wipe the jar out with a wet, soapy cloth only to discover that it didn’t get you very far at all. And now you’re left wondering how to clean out old candle jars like you’ve seen so many other people do.


Fortunately, there are several tricks to cleaning out candle jars that are much simpler than trying to wash and scrub them out.


Method 1: Freezer

The best way to clean out a candle jar is by using the freezer method. That way, you don’t have to worry about any potential spills or burns that could result in a big mess or an accidental injury. The freezer method also requires the smallest amount of clean-up afterward which is a huge bonus.


Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Old candle jar
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Soap 
  • Water


Step 1: Collect Jar

Gather an old candle jar that you’d like to clean and repurpose. If you’ve recently burned the candle, be sure it returns to room temperature before you get started.


Step 2: Freeze Jar

Place the old candle jar into the freezer and leave it in there overnight. As the wax freezes, it will shrink and pull away from the surrounding glass jar.


Step 3: Remove Jar

Remove the old candle jar from the freezer and use a butter knife or spoon to break up the wax disk at the bottom of the jar. Set the wax bits aside (we’ll show you how to reuse candle wax below) or throw them in the trash.


Step 4: Wash Jar

Wash the jar with soap and warm water in your kitchen sink or run it through a dishwashing cycle. Your old candle jar will now be clean and ready to use.


Method 2: Microwave

Wondering how to clean out a candle jar faster than placing it in the freezer overnight? Look no further than the microwave method, which can help you clean out an old candle jar in a matter of minutes.


Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Old candle jar
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Microwave
  • Potholders or oven mitts
  • Trivet
  • Soap
  • Water


Step 1: Collect Jar

Collect a candle jar that you wish to clean out in a short amount of time.


Step 2: Fill Jar

Fill the old candle jar with water. Be sure to fill it up to near the surface but not overflowing.


Step 3: Microwave Jar

Place the old candle jar in the microwave and heat it for 1 ½ to 2 minutes. As it heats, the wax will melt and rise to the surface of the water.


Check Your Wick Holder

Make sure the wick holder in your candle isn’t metal (you should be able to see it through the melted wax when the lit candle is lit and near the end of its life). Remain in the room to monitor the old candle jar as it’s heating up in the microwave.


Step 4: Remove Jar

Open the microwave door and carefully remove the old candle jar while wearing pot holders or oven mitts on your hands. Be careful not to spill any of the hot water onto yourself or other surfaces.


Step 5: Set Jar Down

Set the candle jar onto a trivet or other surface that is heat-safe.


Step 6: Wait for Jar to Cool

Wait until the jar and the water inside have cooled down. Then remove the wax from the jar with a butter knife or spoon and dump out the remaining water. Place the wax in another container to be used again or throw it in the trash.


Step 7: Wash Jar

Wash the candle jar with soap and water or run it through the dishwasher. The candle jar will be clean as new.


Method 3: Hair Dryer

Want to know how to clean wax out of a candle jar without completely melting it? The hair dryer method allows you to soften the wax so that it can be easily removed without liquefying it and exposing yourself to potential injury. It only takes a few minutes with an appliance that you probably already own.


Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Old candle jar(s)
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Potholder, oven mitts, or trivet
  • Soap
  • Water


Step 1: Collect Jar

Find the old candle jar that you wish to clean out and gather it with all of the other materials.


Step 2: Place Jar on Hot Pad

Place the candle jar on a hot pad such as a potholder, oven mitt, or trivet.


Step 3: Heat Jar

Plug the hair dryer in and heat the jar with it until the wax starts to soften.


Step 4: Remove Wax

Using a butter knife or spoon, scoop out the softened wax and set it aside for reuse or discard it in the trash. Depending on how much wax is left in the candle jar, you may need to repeat this step until all remaining wax has been removed from the jar.


Step 5: Wash Jar

Wash the jar by hand with soap and water or wash it right in the dishwasher with your other dishes.

how to clean wax out of a candle jar with an oven

Photo via Katie Nathey


Method 4: Oven

If you’re looking for how to clean out candle jars in large batches, the oven method may be the right choice for you. It’s a simple and easy process that allows you to clean out an entire batch of old candle jars in just 15 minutes.


Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Old candle jars
  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Microwave
  • Potholders or oven mitts
  • Trivets
  • Soap
  • Water


Step 1: Collect Jars

Collect all of the candle jars you wish to clean out from around your home.


Step 2: Preheat Oven

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.


Step 3: Cover Baking Trays

Cover one or more baking trays with aluminum foil depending on how many jars you wish to clean.


Step 4: Place Candle Jars

Place your old candle jars upside down on top of the aluminum-covered baking trays.


Step 5: Heat Candle Jars

Slide the baking trays carefully into the oven, making sure not to drop the candle jars, and heat for 15 minutes. The oven’s heat will melt the wax down onto the aluminum foil.


Step 6: Remove Baking Trays

While wearing hot pads or oven mitts, carefully remove the baking trays and place them on trivets or another heat-safe surface.


Step 7: Remove Jars

Still wearing potholders or oven mitts, remove the glass jars from the baking trays and place them somewhere safe to cool.


Step 8: Discard Aluminum Foil

Once the melted wax has dried onto the aluminum foil, you can remove it for later use or throw it in the trash along with the aluminum foil.


Step 9: Wash Jars

Wait until the jars have reached a safe temperature then wash them by hand or load them into the dishwasher.


How to Remove Stickers from Candle Jar

So now that you’ve successfully removed all of the leftover wax from an old candle jar, you may be wondering how to remove an old sticker that’s stubbornly stuck to the outside of your jar.


The most common way to remove a sticker from a candle jar is just to soak it in warm soapy water, peel the sticker off, then scrub any remaining residue away with a sponge or washcloth.


Here are five other materials you can use to remove even the stickiest of stickers from your candle jar:

  • Equal parts baking soda and cooking oil
  • Essential oils
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Citrus cleaners
  • White vinegar
how to reuse leftover candle wax

Photo via The DIY Playbook


How to Reuse Leftover Candle Wax

Just like wanting to repurpose a beautiful old candle jar into something new, you may be wondering how to reuse leftover candle wax so it doesn’t go to waste, either. A great way to reuse leftover candle wax is to melt it back down and turn it into a new candle that you can enjoy. 


Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Leftover candle wax
  • Small pan
  • Large pot
  • Water
  • Wick 
  • Tape 
  • Glass jar


Step 1: Collect All Materials

Before beginning, be sure to collect all of the materials listed above needed to make a new candle.


Step 2: Fill Pot With Water and Bring to a Simmer

Fill the large pot about halfway with water and place the pot on a burner. Next, turn the burner on medium or high heat and bring the water to a simmer.


Step 3: Place the Wax

Place all of the leftover wax in the small pan and place the pan directly on top of the simmering pot of water.


Step 4: Prepare the Jar

While the wax is melting in the small pan, place the wick into the jar you wish to use for your new candle, letting it hang down the center of the jar to about ½-inch from the bottom. Use tape to secure the top of the wick to the side of the jar.


Step 5: Pour the Wax

Once the wax is melted, carefully pour it into the jar and leave a ½-inch gap at the top.


Step 6: Allow the Wax to Harden

Once it hardens, remove the tape from the wick and trim the wick to an appropriate length.


You can also reuse candle wax to make wax melts for your candle warmer, make a fire starter for your fireplace or fire pit, or even lubricate a squeaky door.


How to Reuse a Candle Jar

The best way to reuse a candle jar is to look around your house and see where you need more storage. Old candle jars look great once they’ve been cleaned out and they make a very attractive storage solution.


Some of the many things you can store in a repurposed candle jar include:

  • Nuts
  • Coffee beans
  • Loose-leaf tea
  • Spices
  • Candy
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Binder clips
  • Pens and pencils
  • Buttons
  • Craft supplies
  • Cotton balls or cotton swabs


Plus, you can use upcycled candle jars for homemade hand scrub or lip balm, as a planter for succulents, or for a new candle.


Always Use Caution

No matter which method you choose, be sure to follow each step carefully and use caution. Any time you heat or melt wax there is some risk involved so be sure to use all of the tools and materials as recommended to avoid big messes in your home and any potential injuries.



Summary

When you find the perfect candle, there’s no reason to just throw it away after you’ve exceeded its burn time. There are several simple ways to clean out an old candle jar by separating all of the remaining wax from the jar, removing the sticker and any residue left behind, and washing it.


Plus, there are so many cool ways to repurpose an old candle jar you love while also lowering the amount of waste your household produces.


Have a favorite way to repurpose an old candle jar instead of throwing it away? Share below—we'd love to hear from you!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

Comments

Join the conversation

Next