I don't know if this applies to anyone else but I am surrounded by candles. Hemmed in, you might say, by wax. My mother is big into candles, and so we always have quite a few lying around.
If you've ever burned a candles all the way down, you'll know that there is quite a bit of wax left over. Instead of throwing that away, you can quite easily melt it down and recycle the unused wax into new candles!

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Step 1: What You Need:

Of course, in order to the coolest candlemakin' mutha on the planet, there's a few things you need:

*A Pot. Best to use one that you don't ever want to make food in ever again.

*Water. Boil it. Also best to use some you'll never want to drink again.

*A secondary container, like a tin can or bowl. make sure it fits in the pot, and won;t float or flip over when there's water surrounding it. Still best to use something you never want to eat out of ever again.

*Cutting/Mixing Implements. Need a sharp knife for sizing up the wax you're melting, a duller knife to cut it up once it's soft, a spoon for mixing, and some, um, grabbers. Forceps. Clamps. Whatever. something to hold the tin can while you're fiddling with the wax inside. Use stuff you'll never want to put in your mouth again.

*Gloves. Pretty self explanatory, I mostly use them so I don't have to carry the wax with grabbers/forceps/clamps, I can just pick up the can and pour. easier in every way. Use gloves that you'll never want to wear to a Ball again (where else do you wear gloves?)

*Stove/Warming Plate/Campfire/Iron Forge. A source of heat. No, you can't just stuff the wax in your pants. (but to each his own.) If you absolutely must use the stove to cook edible food on again, you'll need some:

*Tin(Aluminum) Foil. Use this to cover the other burners, so you don't get wax down in the workings of the stove. Don't plan on wrapping up your takeout with this foil ever again.

*Candle Containers. Since you're recycling old candles, you can use the cups they came in.
*Wicks. I use Shoestring. Screw borax and salt, you don't need that crap to make a good wick, just some string. (And the will to survive, but that has nothing to do with candle making.)
*Wax. (See the next step.)

Step 2: Prep-er-a-ti-onnn....

First, get some wax.
You could buy some new wax, but that would defeat the purpose of recycling, wouldn't it?

I happen to have a ton a burned out candles lying around, which, coincidentally, gives me all the containers that I'll need to reuse the wax.

Unfortunately I have to pictures of the wax before I melted it, so you'll have to make do with the first picture of me staring into the abyss.

Also, cover the other burners on your stove with tin foil, so your food doesn't smell like wax for the next month because you dropped the can of hot wax and it spilled all over the stove and now you've got to clean it up because there's no way that you'll be able keep living with pink wax all over the place.

Also, make sure to cut your wax up into smaller pieces, they'll melt faster that way.
When you've got a pile of max, move on.

Step 3: I'm Mellllting!!!

... sorry.

Put on your pot of water, and fill it with enough water to keep it boiling for a while (like half an hour), but make sure that there's not too much, otherwise your tin can might flip over, and you'll be horribly scarred for life, like the guy below.

Put your wax into the can, and wait, stirring occasionally.

While you wait, you can prep the candle holder and the wick.

Step 4: It Wicks Away Moisture!

... sorry again.

For wicks, Google told me to use string soaked in salt water and borax, then coated with wax and dried for FIVE FREAKING DAYS.
Well, time is money in the candle business, and I don't have time to sit around watching wax dry.
So, I thought to myself, "How can I balance speed and ease of production with durability and dependability?"

I used shoe strings.

Cut off the plastic at the end, and stick one end into the cup so it just touches the bottom, and tape the top to a ruler or something across the top of the cup. Pour in the wax and wait.

Step 5: Scented Freshness-osity!

As a side note, you can add some scents to your candle if you're froo-froo enough.
Do it when your wax is completely melted, so you can stir it around a bit.

Step 6: Finishing Up:

It takes about 5 hours for a candle to become completely cool, but after about 1 or 2 it's good for lighting.
Trim the wicks about a half inch above the wax, and light er up.

That's about it, now you can sit back and relax in the afterglow of your accomplishment.
(get it?)

PS: Don't bother cleaning up, it doesn't work. Better to just buy a new house.

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    18 Discussions


    11 months ago on Introduction

    .. Hi honey..the shoe laces worked great, and the candles look super, but what do I use to stop my trainers falling off??


    1 year ago

    Question: are some shoe strings better than others to use?

    Also, thank you soooooo much for the easy to follow / lighthearted tutorial. fd.


    1 year ago

    Thanks for this fun tutorial! We are going to be making a cup of milk & cookies candle for a library program so any cost-saving tips are helpful! Checked into this because of the lack of need for borax. Thanks again!


    2 years ago

    I know the borax lobbiest be hatin. I been tryin save up $5, can't do it. Poverty sucks, can't even afford a lighter it's hard lighting cigarettes on a toaster.


    3 years ago

    Glad ran across this! Have not made candles in years. Couple things I remember- I used some old broken pieces of crayons when I ran short on wax. One other thing is that when I was stabilizing the wick, I wrapped the excess around a toothpick or popsicle stick till the candle was set. I usually used a lug nut or similar to anchor the wick. Simpler than taping it down :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Oh my dear Fultron89; you're funny and witty and as enjoyable as a Fultron"69". Thank you for the funstructions for recycling candles. You have some bright ideas to use on a shoestring budget like mine. I didn't have a flicker of an idea how to do this until I found you. You had me at "the coolest candlemakin' mutha on the planet". You've melted my heart with the way you work a flame. I wick you all the best in the future.


    4 years ago on Step 6

    That's how I always clean up my "craftermath" LOL! Thanks for all your pointers and penny savers, very helpful!


    I used to make/recycle candles a long time ago, and I made my own wicks by using kite string which I dipped in wax about four or five times and allowed to dry. I didn't know anything about soaking it, I think I just got the idea to wax the string by noting that new candle wicks were waxy and tried it, and it seemed to work well.


    8 years ago on Step 4

    Aglet = plastic at the end of a shoelace.


    8 years ago on Step 6

    Great instructable! Great sense of humor as well. We should sooooo be best friends.


    9 years ago on Step 4

    I like this instructable! nice way to recycle candles without buying a mold and wicks...  I have made lots of candles, and always had to stick a chopstick in the cooling wax next to the wick to keep big airholes from forming. Maybe that is for bigger candles. 


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! Heh I agree with you on the mesmerizing qualities of small flickering flames! One thing to note . . .cotton wicks work a lot better(though do NOT buy them pre-made . . .cotton string or twine is all you really need) especially if they're impregnated with wax beforehand. The reason they're called "wicks" is that they wick(or draw) molten wax up through them to where the fire is and it's the wax that burns first; then, when the candle has shrunk too much for the wick to draw the wax to its tip, the tip burns off and so on. While nylon shoelaces work, they will not allow your candle to last as long since it will not draw the wax up. The wax melts down the sides instead of burning off. 'course if you've got cotton shoelaces then everything's peachy :) *hopes this didn't sound condescending . . .*


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea. I always thought you needed fancy wicks but if you can use regular string or shoe laces it makes it much easier. Thanks!

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, you can pretty much DIY most of it, the only thing you might want to actually buy is the little flat things on the bottom of the wick. They help the wick not to be pulled up through the still . You could use something else, but if you're careful, you don't need it at all. Thanks for reading.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    even that little metal tab is DIYable. any old piee of sheet metal will work, then drive a tiny nail through it, and presto... insta-wick holder. Scissors work pretty well, for cutting them out of the bottom of soda cans too(and if they're good scissors, can be used to put an X in it, to grab the wick)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Nice. I usually just add chunks of wax to other candles while they burn.