Introduction: How-to Recycle Those Crayon Stubs Into a Swell Homemade Gift

Picture of How-to Recycle Those Crayon Stubs Into a Swell Homemade Gift

It's recession time. You want to save money while trying to be "green" and you like the idea of your kids making some homemade gifts. Plus you're the not-so proud owner of a ginormous stubby crayon collection comprised of every crayon your kid has received from the time he was able to grasp objects and half of which is made up of those barely used restaurant crayons you felt so bad leaving on the table all those times you've dinned out with the kids. Why not recycle those babies into some cool, fun-shaped new crayons that scream "look at how cool I am being all green and spending special parent and me time with my kid and stuff." You'll make your mother-in law smile and your sister-in law green with envy seeing how you truly are the better parent.

Step 1: Gather Necessary Materials

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To turn ugly broken crayon pieces into beautiful, fresh, shiny new fun-shaped crayons you'll need:

Crayons and crayon pieces of all sizes and colors

A plastic candy mold (yes, fully aware this purchase is not so "green" but remember you're trying to achieve an "eco-friendly" gift that's also something a kid would actually want to use so you can justify the purchasing this piece of cheap plastic knowing that you'll love this project so much you'll want to do it often)

Extra Items include:

Old cups to melt your crayon pieces into



Pretty Packaging Items:

Clean cereal box

small plastic treat bags (again not so green--still thinking of a way to package the crayons using a recycled material)

holiday stamp

ink stamp pad


Step 2: A Crayon Hunting You Will Go

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Take those hands and dive right in to your crayon graveyard. Search for colors that you have a lot of and that compliment each other.

Step 3: Peel Away

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Peel the paper off of the crayons. Might want to grow your nails out for a few weeks prior to this because after what will seem forever peeling paper you're sure to develope some serious fingertip soreness. Ouch! This is probably the most time consuming portion of this activity so make sure those kids help. Tell them "look at how much fun we are having bonding together over crayon paper peeling and stuff. And this isn't even the funnest part of the project."

Step 4: Breaking Up

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Break longer crayons into small pieces. The kiddies love this step. This is the funnest part of the project.

Step 5: Filling the Mold

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Generously fill each candy mold with desired color combination. Then, you'll place the candy trays outside in direct sunlight. When the crayons are melted in the sun they won't completely mix together. The result is a very cool looking swirl effect. Look at you using solar energy as your source of green.

Step 6: A Day in the Sun

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Place filled candy molds outside in direct sunlight to melt. While they are melting go inside and take out the keeper crayons and your favorite Batman coloring book and color away. Make sure to stay in the lines!

Step 7: Not So Hot

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After half a day. Go outside and check on the molds. Discover that not only do you need direct sunlight but apparently you need surface of the sun temperatures to melt those crayons down to a swirly-whirly liquid. Not wanting to let the kids down you'll need to move to plan B.

Plan B:
Time to use an alternative heat source to melt those babies. . Although the results won't be as swirly-whirly cool or as "green" you'll still end up with some pretty impressive fun-shaped crayons.

What we did was melted crayons in the microwave by placing crayon pieces into a microwave-safe cup and heating on high from 3-5 minutes. Unfortunately you can't place candy molds in the microwave as they aren't microwave safe.

The plus side to the microwave version is that you can do a quick mini-lesson with the kids in solids, liquids and gases. Look how smart you are!

Next year you'll start this project in July.

Step 8: Hot Liquid

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The next step is best completed by an adult as the melted crayon liquid is very, very hot.

At this point you can continue your intriguing discussion on the physical properties of matter with the as you show them how their solid crayons have turned into a hot liquid that's giving off the most horrible smelling gas (try not to inhale) when they were melted in the microwave. And while the solid kept it's own shape when placed in the candy mold the liquid took the shape of the candy mold when poured.

Next, pour the extremely hot liquid into the candy mold and ask your mini chemists "what do you think will happen next?"

Step 9: Waiting for the Results..yet Again

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Allow liquid crayon gook to cool and harden. This is a pretty quick process. Five to ten minutes at the most.

Drag kids back into the kitchen to see what has happened. Next, lay on tons of verbal praise when you share with your little one the results of your experiment explaining that their predictions were right when they said that the hot, hot liquid would get cold and turn back into a solid. Then, give them a hug, kiss and a cookie for being so knowledgeable and for using the words "liquid" and "solid."

Step 10: Pop Those Babies Out

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Remove the fresh and shiny fun-shaped crayons from the candy mold carefully by twisting the edges of the candy mold back and forth. The new crayons should pop right out.

Turn the crayons face up and prepare to be amazed at how sweet the new crayons actually look.

Step 11: Optional Special Holiday Packaging

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Package those babies up something nice.

Now, I do realize that the use of plastic treat bags aren't what you'd consider necessarily "green." However, they sure make a cheap, nice and mess-free way to pass out your gift. So, if it makes you feel better just "help" the recipient carefully open the package because they're sure to want to use these beauts right away. Then, tell them you'll throw away the trash but instead just tuck the wrapping right back into your purse to use again. There, now don't you feel better?

What we did to package our crayons:
Using small treat bags purchased at Michael's we carefully placed a crayon into a bag. Then we cut labels out of a recycled cereal box. Next, we set up a packaging assembly line. The littlest helper stamping a swell snow flake print on the front of the label then passed it to the big brother who wrote out the label which I would've liked to have read "Eco-friendly and 100% Recycled Crayon" however I felt the "Eco-friendly" part was kinda false advertising so the boy just wrote "100% Recycled Crayon. Made by..." I sealed the deal by stapling the label to the packaged crayon. I think the results are sorta cute.

And judging from the excitement level of my two picky consumers I think the recipients of our recycled crayons should have a good time coloring with these fun-shaped gifts.

Now to go with these sweet crayons we'll make some recycled paper.


JulianneL5 (author)2017-01-13

Recyclable bags
I'm not sure but I've seen little bags made of wax paper( think bakery Dept at grocery ) good luck

bmcelik (author)2016-07-10

Cute idea. I would make it, but I have the crayola crayon maker which saves time but costs a bit which might not be worth it if your children don't like this activity. Is also a bit less green, but if you're concerned about time, the crayon maker woild be a better option. This is still a brilliant idea!! :) :)

PattyH12 (author)2015-10-07

Make a solar oven by placing the candy molds on the dashboard of your car. Park in a sunny location, and roll up the windows. Leave the car and go have a Popsicle or play with the garden hose while watering the garden. Come back in about an hour or so and your crayons will be very melty. You can also amplify solar energy on your sunny patio by using a clear "bubble" umbrella. Search for homemade solar hotdog cookers for more solar oven ideas. Love this project.

WUVIE (author)2013-01-13

Oh, what a cute idea! Thanks for sharing! My little ones are grown now, but this would have been fabulous not so long ago. Neat!

wmkcross (author)2012-01-05

use a razor blade to cut off crayon labels

Tyreesa (author)2011-12-28

You could always reconstruct your cereal boxes into smaller crayon boxes, instead of just tags. I'd put the brown, papery side out and decorate it to give a fully recycled gift. Old string or yarn would work great to keep the box closed and make a pretty bow.

mechanolatry (author)2011-09-16

Was there a lot of wax left over in the molds?

Plo Koon (author)2011-03-26

What if u put the crayons u wanted 2 melt 2gether in mugs, put them in the microwave, and used that? OK, it's not very "green", but at least it's more efficient (is that spelled right?).

i_am_vindicated (author)2011-01-10

you could package the crayons in newspaper :) just an idea

bekahbv (author)2010-12-14

I used a box cutter to cut along the wrapper then let the kids peel them. It took way less time and helped a lot.

patrisse (author)2010-09-04

Great idea!!! (Funny comments, VERY fun to read :)). I was thinking what to get for my kid´s classmates that was unexpensive yet attractive, and now I know. By the way, the idea about using the ceral box is of great help.... thank you!!!!

tubanator-2.0 (author)2010-05-31

im glad to see other people do this as well. we used to have our class do this and sell them to kids at lunch and help keep it going. another fun thing to do is dip crayons in melted crayons of another colore and possibly repeat theyre really fun to use.

jacq01uk (author)2010-02-26

 I often keep little plastic trays from sweet or easter type treats for use as moulds for plaster of paris  & candle crafts, they would also suit this crayon project!  
Nice inst' ;o)

worddork (author)2009-07-19

If you don't want to microwave the crayons you could try putting the molds in your car for the day. I know as a child many of my crayons were melted this way.

rkhrkh (author)worddork2010-02-23

You could create a mini-greenhouse to make the sun thing work. I would put the molds on a cookie sheet & put some clear plastic on top.  That, and a nice sunny day in July, should melt them nicely.

woowho (author)2010-02-14

oh good idea about the sun. we've tried pouring melted crayons into candy molds without much success. i like this idea!

bohemianharmony (author)2009-05-09

This is adorable. I think I'm going to try it on monday. Candy molds can be really expensive, though, so I probably will try the dollar store. Do you think it would work to pour them into paper cups and make disc crayons?

Yeah, there's an Instructable with muffin tins.

Metrychick (author)2009-09-02

My daughter was peeling and complaining a little and we filled up a container with hot water and some dish soap and soaked the crayons in the water for about 20 minutes, then you can just start to pick out the crayons. The wrappers fall right off.

Gage987 (author)2009-07-23

i'm thinking of selling these in my yard sale more recycling

Vindiciti (author)2009-03-30

If you get the candy molds from thrift stores or after-holiday sales, it's almost like recycling. :D

DoubleDutchery (author)Vindiciti2009-03-30

That's a good point!

TXsouthrngrl (author)2009-03-29

Those are so cute it makes me want to break all my kids crayons so I can try this!

b_a_b_e (author)2009-03-14

this is realy gd i like

blackturtle (author)2008-12-17

NOW I have a reason to hang onto all those little crayon packs that restaurants seem more than happy to dump on my 2 year old. Thanks!

thinkdunson (author)blackturtle2009-01-15

i always grab a pack of crayons and the kiddie menu for myself to doodle on. and i don't have any kids yet. (that'll change in april.) crayons are such a great invention.

mi so glad im not the only one lol

Mr. Brownie (author)thinkdunson2009-01-26


agis68 (author)2009-03-05


snotty (author)2009-02-26

To melt crayons using the sun I suggest placing them in a solar box cooker for a few minutes. Solar cookers are quite interesting in themselves. Here is a simple one:
And here are more solar cooker designs:
This one worked well for me:

But this one is rumored to be the most proven design:
You could also just put the molds in a dark pot with a glass lid. That should work too.

The principles for this process are:
reflection (bouncing light into a box),
concentration (focusing lots of light into a small area),
transformation (from light energy to heat energy),
radiation (heat energy won't radiate though glass much),
conduction (insulation won't conduct heat away much),
and convection (a sealed container won't let hot air out).
With these principles you can accumulate heat in a cardboard box. You concentrate energy by reflecting light into an enclosure with a clear window. If the light hits something black, the light will transform into heat. So paint the inside of the enclosure black. Heat (infrared radiation) won't radiate through the window very well so it will stay inside with your crayons. To store heat inside the box even if you open it briefly, you can use something dense and heavy like rocks painted black. And to keep heat from leaking out the sides use insulation like layers of cardboard. Also seal the whole box tight to keep hot air from leaking out by convection.

You can put your box cooker out in the sun before you start. The sun will heat up the black rocks in the black box. And when you have your crayons broken up and placed in the molds you will have a nice hot rocks keeping your oven hot to melt your creations quickly.

Or if you want to try something quick and easy, just put the mold and crayons in a ziplock bag in the sun and lay the bag on top of a mirror. This will reflect some extra light back and the ziplock will keep the wind from blowing away all your heat. That might work too.

thepelton (author)2009-02-14

I bet a sunny day in the back window of a car in summer would make those crayons melt.

PetaPie (author)2009-02-04

I still have an empty advent-calendar. (you know: a flat cardboard box with a plastic inside, where chocolates go). May be I can use the plastic insite as a mould for making swell new crayons! Thanks for the idea. I love it!

DELETED_jorgegunn (author)2009-01-29

If your really worried about the plastic bags. you could try using scrap bags from old children toys, Their are lots of things that come in similar clear bags that could simply be re-used Me and my mom make candy with those molds all the time and you can pop them in the microwave as well just only do it at 1 min increments. then check on it.

Mantyke (author)2009-01-28


Batryn (author)2009-01-22

Are you sure the sun will work? Maybe with some foil to reflect sunlight???

Lance Mt. (author)2009-01-18

Ok i'd just like to make it clear that, I'm 13 (14 in a month or so) and i'm LOVING this idea, I'm waiting for my tank/rocket/aeroplane/spaceship/ships (withguns and stuff) to set. THANKY YOU!

Shane1163 (author)2009-01-15

use a light bulb.. I have one of those crayon recyclers with the bulb under the metal tray and then u pour it into the molds.. but if u want to use the sun.. use a fresnel lens! but u have 2 be careful with those cuz they can start fires pretty fast and can burn your skin!

le-Sid (author)2009-01-11

Really nice one! Gotta try it with my kids too this summer _ 4.0 stars

stinkymum (author)2009-01-11

Really clever idea

goaskmom (author)2009-01-10

Another way to concentrate the sun's heat might be to put the bucket in a hot car. I mean, how many times have you found melted crayons on the back seat?

You probably shouldn't drive anywhere, though.


luckymini (author)2009-01-04

i loved the instructable. for having that swirly pattern in the crayons but not having enough sunlight,i was wondering if a magnifying glass could be used to focus the sunlight on to the moulds? kids could do this and it would be fun for them to watch!

jacobzman (author)2008-12-18

where did you get the molds ?????????? you rook !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SmartSkinnyKid (author)2008-12-17

vary smart idea. I might do it my self. and kids WILL enjoy them

Cheesecake (author)2008-12-14

I enjoy making my own crayons as well! I have found my least favorite part is the de-papering also. I have found through practice that it is much, much faster to use an X-acto knife for aid. You can use it or a box cutter (carefully!) to make a single slice down the length of the crayon. If you have child helpers, let them peel the paper off from there. Otherwise, just speed up the process for yourself.

mom5593 (author)2008-12-12

Loveit- going to try ASAP- snow day!

asparrowscherry (author)2008-12-10

oh and I also melt mine by boiling water and placing the crayons in a glass cup...if you plan on using that method, make sure to use a cup you aren't too fond of.

asparrowscherry (author)2008-12-10

I already planned on doing recycled crayons for my nieces and nephews (I've got over ten o.O). I had gone to the dollar store and found silicone ice cube trays with snowman and christmas trees and used that as my molds. I did two layers of colors for fun (green and red for the tree, blue and yellow for the snowmen) this is an awesome cheap gift, also good for birthday party favors. I had found winter themed ziplock baggies at the dollar store as well. I folded them in half and put a crayon on each side (so the colors wouldn't transfer) and then packaged the same as you. thanks for the cute packaging idea!

Coffee bean (author)2008-12-08

Nice! and cheap 4 stars!

evaluna_69 (author)2008-12-07

i like this idea!! here's a thought: ikea sells those funky-cute rubbery ice cube trays (hearts, stars...)that might work for a chunkier crayon. i used to take our crayon stubs and sharpen them to collect the shavings that i would sprinkle in between 2 pieces of waxed paper and use a low iron to melt the shavings into 'stained glass'. cut out into different shapes and hung in the window, it makes a cool, recycled craft that my kids enjoy! thanks for the new great idea!!

Laura F (author)2008-12-05

this is super awesome! Ive melted them boiling, and also used to do it in Palm Springs in the sun with restaurant crayons. but not with pretty molds. (and love the step by step style here)

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