Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Can we reuse old candle wax? Yes we can!

When we were doing the Slim Your Bin challenge last year to reduce our household waste, I couldn't bring myself to throw away the stubs of some old candles, and ever since then I have been hoarding bits of moulten wax and the dregs of tea lights with the intention of recycling them into new candles.

I bought some candle wick from Summer Naturals and procured a chipped cup to upcycle as a 'candle in a teacup'. Then I sat on the idea for a year or so. (I'm the classic Ariean - good at embarking on projects but not so good at following through...)

Last month my sister sent me a birthday present of, surprise, surprise, a 'candle in a teacup'. It really didn't look so complicated. Daughter spurred me on with her enthusiasm for the idea, and we got a couple more cups and saucers from our local secondhand shop. The perfect project for a bank holiday Monday.

Out came a year and a half's worth of old wax. (About the equivalent of a couple of jam jars full).


Melting the old wax.
Out came the cups.




Out came the wick.

We decided the easiest way to melt the wax was to stand the jam jars in a pan of simmering water. All the yucky, burnt debris sank to the bottom, and the old wick was easy to fish out.

We cut the wick to size and secured it to the bottom of the teacups with bluetac. Tying it to a lolly stick kept it in the right position.

Once the wax had melted, we poured it into the cups. There was just enough for three cup candles.

Daughter sniffed her way painstakingly through my lifetime's collection of essential oils to choose her favourite aroma, but after all that, decided trusty lavender was the best for the job, and added a few drops to her candle.




We left the recycled wax to set. There was an old Christmas candle in the mix which is why it looks like red wine.




Once the wax had hardened, it didn't look quite so alcoholic. 


The professionally made birthday candle I received next to the homemade birthday candle!

The proof of the candle is in the burning, and they burn very nicely. (Almost too vigorously. I would buy a narrower wick next time.)

My sister's birthday falls 17 days after mine. No prizes for guessing what I gave her last week... 

The problem with extending a project over at least a year, is that you forget what the costs for all the materials amount to. But I can remember that the wick was not expensive, the cups came to approximately £4 and most of the old candles had been gifts in the first place. I would say that the cost for each candle was £2 at most. The equivalent candle on Etsy retails from £4 to £15, so I think we've saved ourselves some money here.

11 comments:

  1. I'm an Aries too, I have had the instructions for making a candle in a cup on my pinboard in the craft room for 3 years! I have a dozen other crafting ideas too but will I ever get round to doing them?

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    1. Oh dear, you too! Maybe we should start a support group specially for Arieans!

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  2. Those turned out very nicely. And I'm sure were very appreciated.

    We use old candle wax to make floating candles for large bowls of water. I use the kids crayons to tint the wax whichever color we think the wax would look best. Then I pour the melted wax into small tart tins. The tart tins are shallow and wide, just the right shape for floating once the candles harden. We use the floating candles in summer, on the deck. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and my mom was really into candle-making. She did some very creative things with candle wax. For several years, it seemed the aunts were always receiving either homemade candles or homemade soap from us at Christmas.

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    1. Plenty of kids' crayons here so I will give that a go next time! Thanks for the tip Lili.

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  3. Do your cats bother your candles? Ours do. They sometimes will swat at the flame and end up with hot wax stuck to their paws. We rarely burn candles any more because of this and also because I worry about the cats knocking them over when we're not watching. However, the teacup candles are really pretty. Maybe I'll make some for gifts.

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    1. No, our cats are not at all bothered by candles. Maybe because they've been around them right from kittenhood!

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  4. Very excited to have found your blog. I live in Devizes so not too far from you! I am trying to live a similar life, with two young children, plans for a house move and maybe another child it seems like an uphill struggle some days.
    Where did you buy the wicks from for the candles? Also I have been reading your post from last year about green cleaning and wondered what you use as a kitchen surface cleaner and if you still use soap nuts for washing? I have made my own laundry liquid but found it left the clothes quite dull. Cleaning is one area I really want to make greener! Anyway love your blog and look forward to reading more x

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    1. Welcome Stacey - sorry for the delayed reply...real life gets in the way of blog life sometimes...I bought the wicks from Summer Naturals online. For a kitchen surface cleaner I use white vinegar and water, half and half. The smell goes very quickly (and you get used to it). Also bought the white vinegar from summer naturals. I've been using homemade washing powder (borax substitute, washing soda and grated soap) rather than the soapnuts.

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  5. Have fancied trying the candle in a cup for some time now. Did the bluetac holding the wick stay at the bottom of the cup? Just wondering if it would end being forgotten and then burnt.

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  6. Long ago, after making some candles that were not a total success, I read something about how the wick needs to be proportionate to the amount or type of wax it will be burning, or the candle may not burn well - the wick will "drown" or other mishaps. Your mention of your candle burning too vigorously made me remember these warnings that made me afraid to try again....but probably these days there are plenty of instructions online that could help me make use of all my leftovers that I'm still reluctant to throw out! I really like your idea here.

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  7. They're really pretty, the pink one's my favourite x

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