Many Misadventures of Recycled Candle




Introduction: Many Misadventures of Recycled Candle

About: I do stuff. Shut up.

In this unneccessary long instructable I want to share my recent experience of candle making.While I have already been making candles previously there was a few things in this particular project that I haven't tried before so a bunch of things went not exactly the best way in the process. I had to had to do some troubleshooting and try new techniques in order to save the project and I think it would be interesting and informative for some of you to go with me through it and maybe learn something. After all in the end I've got myself a rather nice looking candle.

Step 1:

So the main premise of the project was to make a whole new candle out of wax left-overs I've been gathering for some time. Mostly the wax I used came from used candles, candles I've already recycled earlier and other places. And the first decision I had to make was about the color of the resulting candle. While I could save myself (in perspective) 3 days of work and just mix all the wax I had and pour it into a mold all at once, the resulting color would be some poopy-shit brown, which is not very nice. Hence I decided to sort all the wax chunks into three colors and make a layered candle in three pours (which I never tried before). This decision came with it's consequences.

Step 2:

But for now I want to make a short departuse and introduce a little sub-plot story.

The thing is I've also managed to gather some quantity of these used tea-candle cups and I was curious whether I'll be able to recover some usable amount of wax out of them. I believe I saw once a video of someone boiling a whole bunch of them in water in order to do so and I decided to try it out.

So for starters, I've sorted out those that clearly had no any residual wax on them, then I put the rest into a pot I have no plans using for cooking any more and poured the water to cover them above the top. Then put the pot onto the stove...

Step 3:

Anyway... On that I'll leave the sub-plot line for a while and return to main story, where meanwhile I made a second decision - to use a tetra-pak carton as a mold. Previously I've been using aluminium soda cans, but the wick I had at wand was of of the thicker kind than usual, and also I had enough wax for a chunkier candle.

This decision came with it's own consequences.

Anyway, I've cut the top of the pack off and cleaned the insides.

Step 4:

Then I rubbed the inside with vegetable oil - it'll act as a mold release. And it's a usefull thing to do. Do it.

Step 5:

Probably there are some good ways to attach the wick to the bottom of the mold, but I prefer this one:

- poke a hole in the bottom of the mold;

- tie a knot on the end of the wick;

- pull the wickthrough the hole.

Step 6:

Molten wax would really want to leak through the hole in the mold so it's a good idea to seal it. I used hot glue.

Now, while you can definitely tie a nut to the wick to act as a weight or hot glue the end to the bottom of the mold, I prefer doing it like this because this way I'll have all the lenght of the wick usable in the candle and I won't get the wax contaminated with glue. Also I can secure the wick nice and tight at the top and to do so I pinch it between two chopsticks and secure them with a rubber band.

Step 7:

I decided on the first layer to be green. I've separated all the green cunks of wax, also blue and yellow, cause they give green together. I've chopped everything into smaller chunks and put them into a smelting pot AKA any suitable metal pot.

Now, most of the candles nowadays are made out of parafin wax, and the thing is that parafin wax on itself is kind of crumbly, and it shrinks a quite a bit when solidifying. To negate these properties some ammount of stearine is usually mixed in during the manufacturing, but to improve the quality of the final product a bit more I'm also adding a chunk of natural bees wax.

Step 8:

And to bust the color a bit more I'm adding colored wax pencils. They usually have a good amount of pigment in them and serve good substitute-dye for wax. You can also use lipstic (seriously). Food colorant's won't work though since they're water-based, and for wax you need oil (fat)-based dyes.

Anyway, I add the crayons to the mix and melt everything on a double boiler. Never melt wax over an open fire or at temperatures that are way above necessary. Basically wahat you want is to put a bowl filled with water on fire, put the melting pot in it and let the water boil and wax to melt - eventually.

Step 9:

Before pouring the molten wax into the mold I lightly hot-glued it to another bowl and poured some cold water in (the bowl). The idea was to cool the wax down in order to prevent it potentially leaking out through the hole, and, maybe, reduce sideways shrincage during solidifying, which, as I anticipated... IDK, I'm not sure on this step.

Step 10:

Anyway, while reusing wax from old candles - you'll get a lot of debree and junk in your wax mix so when pouring it into the mold it's a good idea to filter it through a sieve.Which I did.

After pouring green - the first layer of my candle, I left it to solidify over the night.

Step 11:

To clean the sieve just pour the hot water from the bowl through it. and while the wax is still hot it can easily wiped out from the pot with a bunch of paper towels. Be careful not to burn your hands in process tho.

Step 12:

The next day I've prepared the wax for the red layer the same way.

Step 13:

And then I poured it over the green layer.

Now, from the photos of the finished candle you might have noticed that there's no green layer on it... And this is due to the another decision I made. It was kind of a reasonable decision, and in subsequential pours I eventually made it to work... and I'll talk about later in details.

Step 14:

And now

Step 15:

Hey!Bout a month has passed since I've started (and dropped in a midway) this instructable.And I have no recolection of what the hell I was talking about and I'm way too lazy read it...

So, here's me improvising based on the pictures I've uploaded previously and probably, this is the point where I talk about my results of boiling a whole bunch of tea candle cups.

I've got this.

Step 16:

I remember I've concluded of the whole process not being all that efficient cause some ammount of wax still remains unextracted since it gets trapped within the aluminium infrastructure formed within a pot during the boiling process.

Step 17:

Never the less I used the wax I managed to extract to form the third - white layer of my candle.

I also added some natural wax I've collected prior from a head of cheese and a white crayon pencil to but that whiteness up.

I poured the molten wax mixture into the mold.

Step 18:

Some time later, when everything had a chance to solidify I've pealed the carton mould and discovered some flawas, that, to be honest, at that point I was expecting to discover.

You can see one color overflowing over the layer of the previously poured color. It happens because the wax contracts while solidifying and creates gaps between the material and the mould which the subsequently poured wax tends to fill.

Step 19:

The other problem I encountered was a noticable layer separation. Like you can see clearly between green and red. It happened because before pouring the red layer I had put the already solidified green one into a freezer for few hours. My intent was to create enough of temperetuire gradient between the material so that newly introduced red wax won'tmelt the top layer of the green layer and difuse it. In other words I wanted to have a sharp color transition between layers and not have an area with a gradient between them.

The major problem here was that after I took the candle out of the freezer and before the next pour of wax was made a layer of water condensate had occured on top of the green wax layer. I had noticed it but in a process I forgot to wipe it off dry. This is why the green and red layers didn't adhere.

But you can also see a slght line separating the red layer into two. The exact same thing accured there since I did the red layer in two pours, and red and white layers were merged pretty much solid and without separation, which meant that during the process I was doing something increasingly corectly...

I decided to separate the green layer completely and used it a a test piece to figure out how can I save the overal aestetic look of the remaining candle.

Step 20:

After becoming more or less firm about what am I'm gond to do to finish my candle I went toward carving the bottom of my candle into a concave... concavement. I used a curved wood carving gause, and the cotton wool in ta tin can is soaked wit sunflower oil - I used it to greace the gouge to produce more smooth cuts over the vax.

Step 21:

I performed a series of subsequent cuts with a gauge to transform the surface of the candle into this, which you can see on the photo.

Step 22:

And... it ws it. I made a candle. You can make a candle too. Carving is viable option to dress your candle into cool decorative piece.


This is it for today, thanks for your attention, and have a nice instructable I wrote in two independent strokes of inspiration!

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    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    I really like the way it looks with the sides carved like that :)

    Waldemar Sha
    Waldemar Sha

    Reply 1 year ago

    I nearly burnt my house with this candle. Thank you.

    Waldemar Sha
    Waldemar Sha

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you!