How to Recycle Halloween Candy




Introduction: How to Recycle Halloween Candy

Halloween is such an exciting time for kids. It's the only day of the year that sees you gain ten pounds of candy for a few hours of walking around. And you're allowed out after dark. Trick-or-treating truly is the sport of kings participated in on a holiday second only to Christmas. But every year we overlook the fact that parents are so mean they won't let us eat that ten pounds of candy in one night. We wait for months for Halloween. We look forward to it so expectantly. And when it gets here we love every minute of it. Fast forward two months or three or six. Eight pounds of candy, give or take, get thrown in the trash.

This instructable is to dedicated to anyone who has ever had to throw away Halloween candy. For those of you who haven't, it's sadder than a dead puppy. What? Melodrama? Fine I'll get on with it.

From the environmentalist side of things, 1 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day and 2 billion live on less than $2.50. Meanwhile an estimated 40% of food in America is thrown away each year. I'm not blaming any of us lazy Americans, but no matter where you live it would help to make an effort and if possible educate the next generation on how to "live greener."

Step 1: Separate

Note: Step 1 assumes the completion of step 0: gather Halloween candy.

Now separate the candy into five groups:

Hard Candy
(candy coated or shelled candy doesn't count. M&Ms are chocolate and skittles are chewy)

(chocolate-flavored (e.g. tootsie rolls) belong under chewy)

(The only Chewbacca candy I know of is PEZ and thus is hard candy)

(gum is not gummy it is chewy)

(Oddly enough whatchamacallits are not miscellaneous, they are chocolate)

Step 2: Hard Candy

For hard candy you really want to look for stuff that is solid all the way through rather than having a hard candy shell. For example Tootsie Roll Pops and Blow Pops are hard to reuse because the tootsie roll and gum and Tootsie Rolls belong in the chewy category. It's not impossible to reuse these, just more difficult. Now, the best way to reuse hard candy in most cases is to separate it by flavor and then crush it into powder. Once powdered you have several options:

The candy can be mixed into melted chocolate.
Mint in dark chocolate.
Butterscotch in milk chocolate.

It can be mixed into a hot drink such as coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Cold drinks like milkshakes or smoothies also work well.
Cinnamon in hot chocolate.
Peppermint in a milkshake

Cool/room temperature drinks require that hard candy be crushed into an extremely fine powder otherwise it won't dissolve.
Cherry jolly rancher mixed into a Dr. Pepper
Butterscotch mixed into Mountain Dew. (I'm not saying I recommend or that I've ever tried it just know that you have options)

Or mixed into Icing for cakes or cupcakes

Step 3: Chocolate Part 1

Next is chocolate, which is the most useful group for recycling purposes.

First separate into three subgroups based on how much of the candy is actually chocolate

Pure Chocolate
Hershey's kisses or bars, dove chocolate, etc.

Medium Chocolate
Mr. Goodbar, Crunch bar, Hershey's with almonds, etc.

Minimum Chocolate
Kit Kat, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Snickers, etc.

The pure chocolate can be melted down (more on that in step 3). The medium chocolate can also be melted, but must be separated by individual candy type. The minimum chocolate either cannot be melted or is not worth the effort. This goes on a case by case basis.

Reese's Cups can be mixed into a milkshake or crushed to top a sundae
M&Ms can be crushed for sundae toppings or layered on top of anything you caramel coat (more on that later)
Butterfingers can be crushed for sundaes
York peppermint patties or junior mints can be mixed into milkshakes
Same goes for Rollos and junior caramels
Use your best judgement other things can be crushed and mixed into pudding, or used to top a sundae, pie, cake, etc.

Not a complete list, but most other things in the minimum chocolate category can either decoratively top a cake or are beyond my revival skills.

The next step is for medium or pure chocolate

Step 4: Chocolate Part 2

Now take divide the medium and pure chocolate again into dark, milk, and white chocolate categories.

Decide now what you would like to be chocolate coated or drizzled if you want less. The following is a list of options, if there is something important I missed or that you would recommend write it in the comments.
Apple slices
Other candy:
Gummy Bears
Rice Crispy treats
Anything from the minimum chocolate group (just in case you ever wondered what a Twix coated in white chocolate tastes like.)
Nuts individually or in clusters
Coffee beans
Graham crackers
Caramel corn
Pieces of your favorite cereal
Potato chips
Okay if bacon can make it on this list I'm just going to add an infinity symbol

Next we are going to melt the chocolate. Keep in mind, if you start with the milk chocolate, you can use it and then put the dark chocolate in the same pot. Same goes for dark then milk, but white chocolate has to be melted separately. Wash the pot when switching to or from white chocolate or it will be discolored.

Now get a double boiler, fill the bottom with water and put on the stove on medium to low heat.

If you don't have a double boiler use two pots that are the same size. Fill the bottom one with water and make sure the top one will stay on securely without you having to balance it. If you don't have two pots that are the same size use one pot filled with water and a metal or glass bowl. Don't use plastic it could melt.

Next get a plate or tray to put the chocolate dipped food on. You can cover the plate or tray in aluminum foil to make it easier to unstick the chocolate later.

Once the water in the pot starts boiling put one kind of chocolate in.

Side note: I would recommend starting with pure chocolate because it is easier to work with, but it's your call. The medium chocolate should be separated by name at this point so if you want to use that melt all the Crunch bars together, all of the Mr. Goodbars together, Cookies and Cream bars together, etc. If you want to coat something in say chocolate, peanuts, and almonds feel free to add Hershey's with almonds and Krackel at the same time. If you want to keep it simple just stick with pure chocolate, but if you want be creative add whatever you want.

Stir occasionally until melted. Realize this doesn't have to have the consistency of water or even fondue as long as it sticks to anything you want chocolate coated without being lumpy it's fine. However, if you are trying to drizzle something in chocolate instead of coat it you want it to be more liquid. If you wanted to add in any crushed hard candy now would be the time. Stir well.

Now you can dip your food of choice into the chocolate, scrape the sides of the double boiler/pot/bowl with it or use a spoon. I recommend the spoon. Scoop up some chocolate and dip the food in it. Repeat until you are out of chocolate to melt or food to chocolate cover. I'm morally obligated to say be careful you don't burn yourself. But assuming you know how to work a stove, you'll be fine.

Now put all of the chocolate dipped food in the fridge for two or three hours. Overnight wouldn't hurt it, but if you want it fast a half hour to an hour in the freezer should be fine.

Enjoy your chocolate.

Step 5: Chewy and Gummy


Caramels can be melted just like chocolate, but the method is different.
Put all the caramels in a microwave safe bowl and pour in tablespoon of water.
Microwave for 30 seconds.
MIcrowave for 30 seconds.
Stir and add another tablespoon of water
Repeat steps until the caramel is liquid.

Note: you should realize that caramel in the microwave heats up a lot more than melted chocolate and sticks to skin really well. It also has a high specific heat and will take a while to cool down.

Now caramel dip or drizzle any food you want.

Popular examples: apples, strawberries, pretzels, cookies, etc. Also, because caramel is so sticky it often helps to cover a caramel covered food in something less sticky like nuts, crushed M&Ms, chocolate, confectioner's sugar, etc.

As for almost anything else chewy it will harden over time. If you like taffy, tootsie rolls, starburst, etc. that won't break your jaw leave it in you pocket (don't remove wrapper) for an hour or two.


This is where it all goes downhill. Gummy candy can really only be repurposed if they are used early on otherwise they get rock hard and are best used as a building material. If you do have gummy candy that's still soft you can coat it in chocolate as previously mentioned. Gummy worms can go in a cup of dirt (chocolate pudding, Oreo bits, gummy worms). Otherwise I would recommend using to decorate the top of a cake. Also many people have started using such colorful candy as an art form.

Chewy, Gummy, and Hard candy

Because these are normally the more colorful candies you can hold on to them until december and decorate a gingerbread house with them.

Step 6: Miscellaneous

This step is mostly for things you get for Halloween that are not candy like:
Rice Krispy treats
Nutter Butters
Chips Ahoy

As previously mentioned these can be coated in caramel or chocolate or even mixed into melted chocolate if they are crushed.
They can also be crumbled onto a sundae, pie, cake, pudding, etc.

Step 7: Conclusion

This instructable is by no means the definitive candy listing. There are many more options than I can cover in this short space. If you have any questions or recommendations of your own leave it in the comments. And of course one of the best ways to recycle anything will always be to donate it. I'm sure there is someone out there that would really appreciate a candy bar right about now.

Happy Halloween.

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    You can also use some candy to make other candy that might be more desirable - such as making Butterfingers out of leftover candy corns.


    10 years ago on Step 2

    You can also sort by colour and make stained-glass cookies - Make sugar cookies with lots of cut-outs, fill cut-outs with crushed hard candies, bake. The hard candy will melt creating a coloured-glass effect within the cut-out portion of the cookie. Very pretty.

    In Australia we don't have Halloween candy collectors..although last year I had my FIRST ever kids turn up at the front door dressed in costume! For the first time in months I had candy, so phew! I didn't notice egg cartons in their little witchypoo pockets, but you can't be too careful as a Halloween virgin!
    However interesting your ideas are, are you actually telling me, your pry these candy goodies from the hands of children to recycle them?
    I always thought the children dressed up, mugged the neighbors of candy, then consumed in abandon until lapsing into sugar induced coma's!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    You sure have thought of everything here!! Such a great idea and very well done instructable, I found it to be a fun read even though I would never have the opportunity to do any of it (no kids = no candy).

    I did have a question about one of the photos in the set near that incredibly inventive Gummy Bear Lamp (is it yours??) - the picture of "Candy Heaven". I cannot tell if it is a side-by-side collage of the many types of candy, or if it's an actual "Bulk Barn" retail situation. I could not imagine that massive layout being real, it would be a nightmare to keep each type sorted and maintained. Was this a photo you found on the net? I would love to learn the circumstances of this mesmerising picture.

    Again, great job!!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    The lamp isn't mine. I found all of the images online. I was just using them to illustrate ideas. The "candy heaven" picture is not a collage. It was from a store that I have no affiliation with. Similar stores used to be very common in American malls, but they are getting harder to come by.