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Can You Recycle Candle Jars? Wax Removal, Upcycling, & Disposal Tips

Citronella candle in a glass jar on a wooden table

Many people love buying candles and using them to decorate and freshen up their homes. Candles make great decor, but they are finite. Candles eventually wear out, leaving the homeowner with a burned and waxy mess behind. Most people simply throw their candle jars away without a second thought. But is that really the best way to dispose of them? Can you recycle candle jars?

Typically, candle jars are made from glass, and glass is recyclable. That means that candle jars are recyclable with one big catch. There cannot be any candle wax left in the jar when you recycle it. If you leave candle wax caked onto your candle jar, it will ruin the recycling process and leave your jar bound for the landfill. If you can get all of the candle wax and the wick out of the jar, it will allow it to be recycled like any other empty glass container.

Before recycling your candle jars, you must clean them out and ensure that there is no wax left behind to hinder the recycling process. Here is how you can do that.

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How to Remove Wax from Candle Jars

There are two ways to remove candle wax from candle jars effectively: the hot method and the cold method.

Candle jar with candle outside
Image Credit: Victoria, Pexels

The Hot Method

The hot method involves heating the wax and pouring it out. There are two ways to achieve this. You can set the candle jar in water in a saucepan and bring the water to a simmer. The steam and warmth of the water will percolate into the jar and warm the wax. After letting the jar sit and simmer in the water for a while, you can carefully remove the jar (with gloves if necessary) and dump out the wax. You can also pour boiling water from a kettle or pot onto the outside of the candle jar (but not into the jar) to melt the wax. Once the wax is soft, you can pour it out into the garbage and scoop out any remaining clumps with a spoon. Never pour hot wax down your drain because you could clog your main drain line to your sink, which can develop into a major plumbing issue.

The Cold Method

The second method is the cold method. This involves freezing the wax and chipping it off of the glass jar. You can simply put your candle into the freezer and leave it for a couple of hours. The wax will grow hard and brittle. After the wax is frozen, use a butter knife or fork to break the wax from the side of the jar and then throw it out.

Either method is very effective. Use the method you feel most comfortable with. These methods also work for metal candle tins as well.

divider 1 How to Properly Dispose of Candle Jars

After you have successfully removed all the remaining candle wax from your candle jar (and the wick), you can simply place your glass candle jar in an appropriate glass recycling receptacle. Once the jar is free from wax it can be recycled in the same way you recycle glass bottles.

If you do not plan on removing the old wax and wick from your jar, then you must throw the jar away in the trash. Only place the jars into the recycling bin if they are completely free from wax and other debris.

a candle with wooden wick
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Reuse Your Candle Jars

The other thing you can do to help give your jars new life is to reuse them. Reusing the jars before recycling them or throwing them away will ensure that they get a second life which will help reduce the overall waste footprint of the jar.

There are a number of things you can do with old candle jars. Most of the uses require you to remove the wax from them before reusing them. If you remove the wax and then reuse them, you can get a second use out of the jar and recycle them, which is a win-win for the environment.

Here are some ideas for how to reuse glass candle jars:
  • Make your own candles and reuse the jars for more candles.
  • Place tea lights in them for an ambient table decoration.
  • Place fairy lights in them for a cute light feature.
  • Plant herbs or succulents in them.
  • Use them as holders to help organize your desk or working space.

Most glass candle jars are thick, durable, and have a handy lid included, so there are numerous ways to reuse them and upcycle them if you put your mind to it.

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Glass candle jars can be recycled, but you have to remove the old candle wax from them first. If you do not remove the wax, the glass cannot be recycled. After you remove the wax, you can recycle the jars like you would any other glass container. A great way to get more use out of your old candle jars before recycling them or throwing them away is to reuse them and upcycle them. Before you go to throw an old candle away, pause and think about all the ways you can get more life out of that old jar and consider doing the extra work to recycle it.

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Featured Image Credit: Cmspic, Shutterstock


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