If you have a candle that came in a nice jar, you probably found yourself wanting to clean it out and reuse the jar for storage or decoration. However, you might have found it harder to get out all the wax and residue than you thought.
Wax can be stubborn, and smoke residue can usually be found on any used candle. You don’t want wax residue all over your trinkets or whatever else you decide to store in your candle jar.
Read on to learn all about how to clean candle jars and some great ideas to reuse your candle tins and help save them from the landfill.
What You Need to Clean Your Old Candle Jars
To start, here’s a quick list of everything you’d need to try all the cleaning methods on this list. You might not need all of them if a simpler method, like popping out the wax after putting it in the freezer works.
- A freezer
- Hot Water
- Dull butter knife or spoon
- Paper towels
- Dish soap
- Razor or similar scraping tool that will work for glass
- Baking sheet or cookie tray
- Foil to line the pan
- Baking soda
These materials won’t be needed for all methods.
Learn how else you can reuse empty candle jars in this article.
1st Method. Cleaning a Candle Glass Jar With a Freezer
Step 1. Put Candle in the Freezer
This step is simple. Pop your candle into the freezer for 30 mins to 4 hours. You want your wax and jar to be thoroughly chilled and stiff. Don’t put your candle in the freezer if it is still hot! The sudden temperature shift can cause your glass to break.
Step 2. Use a Butter Knife to Loosen the Wax
Use a dull butter knife to pry the wax out. If you’re lucky, it can come out in one big piece. If not, use the butter knife to break up the wax and remove each piece. If your wax starts softening, feel free to put it back in the freezer.
Step 3. Remove the Labels
Once the wax is free, remove any labels and stickers. If you can’t peel them off or leave a residue, try boiling water or glue-eliminating products.
Step 4. Get Out the Remaining Wax
Once the wax is mostly out, you can use baking soda and dish soap with a bottle brush to get out the last wax bits. If you still have wax residue, try white vinegar or a blow dryer on medium or boiling water on a paper towel to soften the wax before using a razor or glass scraper to scrape off the residue.
After this, try washing it with soap again. If you know your jar has a coating that could be damaged, skip the baking soda and use boiling water and plenty of soap.
2nd Method. Cleaning Candle Jars With Boiling Water
Credit to Craftcore DIY & Sewing on YouTube for this great tutorial.
Step 1. Boil Your Water
Boil your water in a kettle or pot. A kettle gives you more control over the water, but if you don’t have one, a pot works fine.
Step 2. Pour in Your Boiling Water
Pour your boiling water into the candle. Note that some jars can break from the sudden temperature shift. You can gently heat your jars with hot tap water or a blow dryer to help avoid this. You may need to remove the cooled wax and add more boiling water a few times if you have lots of wax left in your candle.
Step 3. Wait, then Remove the Cooled Wax
Wait for around 4 to 5 hours before removing the wax. If you wait less time, the wax may still be soft and come out in pieces. You can save this wax easily. If you still have wax in the jar, add more boiling water and wait until it is completely cool again.
Step 4. Remove the Wick Bases and Clean Your Jar
You can use a sturdy spoon or dull butter knife to remove the wick bases from your jar. Then wash with soap and water and remove any labels and stickers. Baking soda added along with soap can help scrub it out, or you can use alcohol or vinegar to help you clean.
3rd Method. Remove Wax Using a Candle Warmer
Do you have a candle warmer in your home? If so, you’re in luck. Using a candle warmer is another way to help loosen up older candle wax, residue, and build-up to help you save and preserve all of your favorite candle jars and glass containers.
- Simply clean the warming dish with your candle warmer and place the jar or glass container on top of the warming dish, similar to placing a wax melt into the dish itself.
- Allow the candle warmer to heat up and penetrate your jar, in turn melting the remaining wax or residue.
- Once the wax and residue have been successfully melted, you can then pour the remaining wax into an alternative container for storage, disposal, or even for resuing in the future with other wax products or candles you intend to make.
4th Method. Pouring Boiling Water
Once you have boiled water using a kettle or another temperature-controlled device, you can pour the water directly over the candle jar that still contains residue and buildup.
This method is only advised for difficult candle jars or those that may not fit within a double boiler.
Allow the hot water to sit over the candle wax, slowly melting it and breaking it away from the glass jar itself.
In most cases, the residue and candle wax will break away from the glass jar and float to the top, allowing for easy removal and dumping.
If you intend to reuse the wax you are removing from your old jars, it is not advisable to use this method as the wax will come in direct contact with the hot water, which may render it more difficult to work with in the future.
Lifehacks and Tips
- Freezing a candle to remove small amounts of wax is best if you’ve used the whole candle. If you’ve got more wax left or your jar has a narrow opening, you will need a knife or spoon to break up the wax if you want to freeze it out.
- If your candle tunneled (burned down where there was lots of wax left on the sides), you might want to try a melting method since it might come out easier. If you have lots of candles to clean or votive holders, baking them at a shallow temperature in the oven can help clean them up with minimal fuss.
- Once it is cleaned, soap and water might get any remaining wax residue or smoke deposits. If that isn’t enough, hot water on a paper towel can loosen the wax, and vinegar on a paper towel can help remove smoke residue.
- You can also use a razor or other glass scraper that will fit in your candle jar to scrape off the residue gently. You can use a blow dryer on a medium to help soften stubborn wax if scraping it off is difficult. Just be careful not to scratch your glass.
- Please note that using boiling water or a freezer does run a risk of breaking more delicate glass or ceramic by thermal shock. If you’re concerned, get your jar close to the temperature you will remove the wax. Please put it in the fridge for half an hour for the freezer, then move it to the freezer.
- For using hot water, use a hairdryer or add warm but not hot water to the candle jar. You can also pour in boiling water right after burning the candle for the last time. Just make sure you aren’t changing the temperature too drastically.
- If you are concerned about the jar breaking, you can use gentler methods like a hairdryer combined with lots of scraping and washing with hot (not boiling) water to remove wax. This may take more time, but it should keep delicate glass intact.
- Also, if your jar has a coating, be wary of abrasives like alcohol or baking soda. They can damage the finish, and plain glass jars are the simplest to clean.
Both methods I’m recommending will let you save wax to reuse in more candles if you like. Just be sure you don’t add conflicting scents if you are using scented candle wax. You can melt the wax and pour it into a clean jar with new wicks to have a whole new candle to use.
What can I do with Empty Candle Jars?
You might be wondering what exactly you can use old candle jars for. The answer is many things! Here’s a quick list of ideas that will be expanded on in a bit.
- Save the wax and jar to make a new candle.
- Use it to store things like cotton swabs or hairpins
- Turn your jar into a plant pot
- Hold pencils and other stationery items
- Use it as a vase for flowers
Read more about how you can use empty candle jars in this article.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful in learning how to clean and reuse your candle jars. If you’re anything like me, you prefer to reuse any containers you can rather than toss them out. When they’re as pretty and practical as candle jars, it can hurt to have to toss them out because you couldn’t clean them out thoroughly.
I hope this helps you clean your candle jars and find all sorts of uses for them around the house. Drop them in the comments if you have any thoughts or want to share what worked for you or helpful tips. Please share this article with your friends and family if you found this helpful article.
Carole Brooks has been making candles for many years. She loves to create candles of all different types and for all different purposes. Here she shares her experience and knowledge. Carole is a graduate of Texas A&M University.