Recycling or Up-cycling Your Used Candle Jars

Be Sustainable

Some candle makers actively promote a candle refilling service to their customers. Clients return their old candle jars - clean and ready for refilling. For an additional fee, some makers will also offer to wash out the old jars for refilling. 

Why would a customer choose a candle refill service when they can buy a new candle? Perhaps they’re attached to the candle container itself. Ultimately, it's good for the customers’ wallet, and it’s good for the environment.


Yes, being sustainable is important. But so is safety.

Some candle refill services offer to fill any non-combustible container the customer provides. But not all jars are suited to candle making. The jar thickness needs to be a minimum of 2mm to tolerate heat and avoid shattering. Not all glassware is made to withstand heat -- like drinking glasses. 

Although you probably placed a candle care safety card in with your customers’ candle, they might not have read it. Perhaps they read it then forgot the directions, or remembered but were lazy, burning the candle for too long, and all the way to the bottom. 

Glass weakens. Glass can become stressed from wax constantly heating and cooling. Therefore, to recycle a jar for candle making, the ideal is to reuse it only once, and then up-cycle the jar or put it in the recycle bin. Soy wax burns at a lower heat than paraffin wax and the lower melt point causes less strain on glass. For this reason, it is still safer to recycle glass for candle making which has only been used for soy candle making. 


Legal Considerations

Apart from insurance issues, if the candle jar is branded, and you then refill it, this can be a trademark infringement, leaving you open to legal action.


You’re ready to recycle or up-cycle your candle glass?

Here’s How:

How to remove the wax, wick and sticker

Here’s what not to do to:

  • Never place your used candle container in the microwave. Most wicks have metal wick tabs. For the same reason, never put aluminium tea lights in the microwave. If your candle contains no metal, while microwaves can work, they distribute heat unevenly, which might cause burns on handling.
  • Soy wax is easy to dissolve and will be a lot easier to remove than paraffin. But never throw old wax down the drain because it will clog it once it re-hardens! 
  • Never use broken glass to make a new candle. Check the glassware has no chips, deep scratches or cracks.


Five Effective methods to remove wax from old candle jars


  1. The Double Boiler Method

Position your candle jar in hot water to liquefy the wax. You can use a double boiler set up on the stove with a pot and water. Once your water is hot, you can use metal tongs to hold the jar in the water. Pour the liquid wax into the rubbish. Alternatively, fill a jug with wax to reuse it later. 

If the wick doesn’t release from the base from hot water, you can soak it, scrape it or use vinegar if needed.


  1. The Heat Gun Method

Apply a heat gun directly to the side and top of the candle to soften any remaining wax. The glass jar will be very hot so handle it with caution. Once the wax liquefies, you can pour it out into a jug and wipe the glass out with a paper towel.


  1. The Water In The Jar Method

If there’s not much wax left in the candle jar, you could just pour the boiling water straight into the jar and leave it to soften. The melted wax should then rise to the surface. Repeat as required and wipe out the container with a paper towel.


  1. The Freezer Method

Put your candle into the freezer overnight where the wax will shrink. Use a knife to draw the contracted wax out of the container the following day.


  1. The Oven Method

Melt the wax in the oven at a low temperature for ten minutes. Ensure that you line your tray with tin foil. Place the candles upside down if there’s not wax much left you to want the wax to melt onto the tinfoil. Place upright and pour out using metal tongs if there is still a lot of wax. The containers will be hot, so handle with care.


Dealing with candle labels

If your candle jar still has label on it, and you don’t want it, submerge the vessel in heated water and soak. Adding dish soap can help too. Use a citrus-based cleaner or isopropyl alcohol to eliminate stickiness after drying.



Old candle jars are not optimal to use as drinking glasses or to store food in, since they once contained fragrance, but they are great for other purposes. 

They make great planters for succulents. The container won’t have a draining hole at the bottom and since a succulent requires less water, they work well. So do fake plants. 

Old candle jars also make nice toothbrush holders or cotton ball holders.

They’re also helpful to store jewellery, pencils or as a makeup brush holder

Upcycling candle glass succulent plantreusing candle glass in the bathroomReuse candle jar toothbrushreuse candle jar paint brush


Your thoughts?


Do you recycle or upcycle your candle containers?
Do you offer a refilling service?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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