How many candle jars do you throw out each year? If you’re like me, you probably buy one or two when you visit Target and let the wicks burn down, only to toss it into the recycling bin because you don’t think you have the time to clean out the glass candle jars. I’m here to tell you that it’s not as hard to clean out candles as you think and when you do, you have some seriously handy jars (with lids, y’all!) that you can use for everything from food storage and prep to household storage.
However, one thing I often notice when I’m browsing the web is that many offer over 20 uses for empty candle jars to give you the most options. In my experience, there are five actual uses for these upcycled jars that I use regularly. So without all the extra Pinterest-inspired ideas you may or may not use, here are the five ways I actually reuse candles. Let’s get to it and start reusing some of those Yankee Candle jars, Bath & Body Works glass container candles, and Target jar candles.
How to Clean Out Candles
Inevitably you’ll have lingering candle wax in the bottom of your glass jars, whether it’s a mason jar or a fancier candle. The easiest way to remove candle wax is to fill the old candle jars to the brim with boiling water. I find my electric kettle is the easiest way to do this because boiling water is the only way to loosen and remelt the wax. Hot tap water, in my experience, just doesn’t cut it.
Let the jars sit until they’re cold and as the old wax melts and resurfaces, it will harden into a small waxy disc. You can repeat this step as many times as you want, or you can move onto the second step, and use Dawn dish soap with steel wool to scrape the jars clean. Rubbing alcohol applied with a cotton ball also works well for pulling out old wax.
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Those old jars will be clean as new with some elbow grease. If you want to remove the label, simply fill your sink with hot water and soak until the label peels away. This takes anywhere from 3 minutes to 15 minutes to soak away the label, and you might need to use a sharp blade to scrape off the sticky residue.
When you’ve cleaned them out, run them through the dishwasher and get ready to enjoy your upcycled candle jars. Here are the best ways to use them around the house.
1. Make new candles.
We’ll start with the obvious choice, which is to turn them back into candles. If you’ve never made candles before, I alway recommend a candle-making kit because it has everything you need to get your feet wet with DIY projects.
This set is one of the best out there for beginner candle makers, and it makes four large scented soy candles. It includes the tin containers, the scents, four dye blocks, and more. For $49,00, it’s not cheap, but because it has the craft supplies four large candles, you can certainly give one away to your mother, mother-in-law, and more for holidays. Find it on Amazon here.
2. Store loose items easily.
This is another easy, obvious choice. If you’re like me, then you have about 1,200 bobby pins, eight lip balms, and probably four makeup brushes ranging in size that always seem to disappear. Used candles are a great idea for a cheap storage option because often, the mouth is wide enough to fit your hand into.
I keep little jars of bobby pins around, and save the larger, new jars that I recently cleaned for items like makeup brushes, smaller kitchen utensils (I use my mini whisk more than my large one!), and even bath bombs. They also make great loose change jars.
3. Embrace the mise en place.
Last year, I stopped winging it while cooking and started to embrace the mise en place method. A French term for having every ingredient measured, cut, and prepared before you begin the recipe, so all you have to do is cook and focus on cooking. This method has totally changed my game in the kitchen and I’m less stressed when preparing new recipes, encouraging me to try new things more often.
However, the one downside was that I just didn’t have many loose jars and bowls around. It occurred to me to reuse old candle jars a few months ago when I measured out two cups of flour into a recently cleaned jar for a baking recipe when I ran out of containers. You can even use them for bulk spice jars as long as you confirm that the lids seal properly. Just make sure all of the wax residue is out before you use them with edible items.
4. Give up vases and expensive terrariums forever.
Vases, in my humble opinion, are quite useless. Living in a small apartment with little storage, I simply can’t waste precious space on glass vases that I may or may not use again because I don’t often buy fresh flowers. Not to mention, they’re often expensive. That’s where you can reuse candle jars.
If you want a more decorative vase situation, simply use the special frosted candle jars, ones with designs in the glass, or don’t remove the pretty labels from your favorite candles. When your fresh flowers reach the end of their lifespan, simply wash and set aside for multi-purpose storage. Use smaller jars for succulent planters, or kitchen window herb gardens.
5. Your toothpaste and toothbrush deserve good homes.
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Chances are, none of us clean out our toothpaste and toothbrush holders as often as we should. Candle jars are a great option for holding these items by the sink because they aren’t a drinking glass you’ll reuse when it’s time to throw them in the dishwasher, and they are sturdy enough not to topple over.
I also use candles to determine when to change out my toothbrush holder. I switch out the toothbrush and toothpaste holder every time I burn down a new candle and the timing aligns with when you’re supposed to switch out your holders.