How to Clean Candle Jars to Repurpose Them
Candles make thoughtful gifts for a wide range of occasions. You can present a candle as a housewarming gift or to someone who’s starting a new job. But once the wax is burned down and the months’ worth of scent is coming to a close, what do you do with the container?
For starters, don’t throw it out! In fact, don’t even recycle it. Instead, reuse and repurpose it into home decor, another DIY candle scent or whatever you dream up.
Whether it's a bride bouquet candle you received on your wedding day you want to display next to your wedding photos or a champagne toast candle from an engagement or graduation, Homesick candles are perfect containers for repurposing. Turn them into a drinking glass, craft project and so much more. Whatever you choose to do with them, you can keep the memory of the event or special occasion forever.
In this guide, Homesick breaks down how to clean candle jars so you can repurpose the glass containers. Learn how to remove the leftover wax, what you can do with it and how to remove the sticky label from your glass jar (if you so desire).
Ready? Let’s dive in!
Step 1: Remove the Wax Out of the Candle Jar
While you want to burn the wax down as far as you can to enjoy the smell as long as possible, there is a limit to what you should do. How do you know when it’s finally time to say goodbye to your favorite candle? Generally speaking, when the one-half inch of wax remains on the bottom of the candle jar, it’s time to finally repurpose your jar. Otherwise, burning it so close to the container could damage it (or even the surface it’s sitting on, such as wood furniture).
If you’re lucky, the scent is still around and has not been discontinued. But still, the candle is probably special to begin with and it’s really more about the gift and memory that accompanied it. So, ready to repurpose your Homesick candle container? First, you’ll need to get out the old wax. Here are four methods you can use to clean the wax out of your glass candle jars.
Heat the Candle Jar
If your candle jar has a wide-mouth opening, this method works incredibly well. Here’s how to clean candle jars using the hot water method:
Since you’re going to be pouring hot water into the jar, rest it on a protective dish towel or potholder. Boil water in a teakettle and once it’s hot, pour it into the container, leaving an inch at the top. You should see the candle wax melt and float to the surface. Be sure to allow the glass container time to cool before you remove the wax and strain the water. (You don’t want the wax going down a drain.)
Another way to go about this is to let the candle jar sit and soak in a sink filled with warm water. Dunk the candle jar in the water and let it soak for 30 minutes. The wax loosens and pops right out — easy peasy! Before you release the drain stopper, be sure to wipe up any bits and pieces of any wax, as it can clog a drain.
The only caveat to this method is it will remove the label from the jar. If that’s your intention anyway, go for it. But if you prefer to keep the label, use the pour method instead.
Put the Candle Jar on Ice
Another method for cleaning candle jars and removing the wax uses the opposite means. Instead of using hot water, you will use cold. Placing your candle jar inside a freezer overnight has to be one of the most effortless ways to get rid of the wax. The next morning, all you have to do is turn the glass container upside down and the wax will pop right out and fall into your hand.
Sometimes, the wax might need a little help popping out. Just grab a butter knife or even a spoon and press down on the corner of the wax. This should pop up the other end, giving it some lift so it can fall out or offer enough grip for your fingers to retrieve it from the jar.
Bake Your Candle Jar
Baking your candle jar is another surefire way to get the wax out of the container. With this method, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the candle jar upside down with the open end on the foil.
When the oven reaches temperature, place the baking sheet inside. At this point, you might want to keep a watchful eye on the candles. In roughly 15 minutes, the wax should melt and pool on the foil. When this happens, remove the baking sheet from the oven and rest it on a heat-safe surface like the stovetop or a couple of trivets.
Next, slip on some oven mitts and remove the jars from the baking sheet. Place the glass containers aside to cool as you remove the leftover wax from the foil to reserve it for other uses. Once the candle jar has cooled completely, then you can wash and rinse it with soap and water.
Give Your Candle a Blowout
For more than just your locks, hair dryers can often come in handy around the home. For example, they can be used to remove candle wax from carpet, as well as wood furniture or wood flooring. A hair dryer can also be used to soften wax inside a long-loved candle so you can repurpose the glass jar and cherish it always.
To do so, slip on an oven mitt, preferably one with an extra grip. Next, you will turn on the hair dryer, keeping it in a warm setting. With the hair dryer heated up, hold it near the glass where the candle wax is inside and heat the area all around. This should free up the wax inside enough for it to become soft enough to touch and scrape out with a butter knife.Our Bride Candle Is the Perfect Gift for the Bride-to-Be
Step 2: Clean the Candle Jar of Labels and Soot
Once you’ve removed the wax remnants from your candle jar, you will need to clean the jar itself. However, Homesick containers come with a decorative label designed around the scent inspired by a special occasion, celebration or memory. Depending on who gave you the candle and why, you might choose to keep the label on the container as a memento instead of peeling it off. This is especially true if the Homesick candle was gifted to you with a personal, handwritten note on the packaging.
If you wish to keep the label intact, you will simply wash the candle jar carefully under a faucet with a soap scrub and avoid getting near the labels. Keep in mind that if you choose to keep the label on forever, you might want not to use the container as a drinking glass or repurpose them in a way that would require frequent cleaning.
Still, if you prefer to remove the label, whether it’s one of our bottles or not, it’s relatively easy. Here are several ways to remove those sticky labels from glass candle jars, wine bottles or just about anything you might want to reuse.
Method 1: Using White Vinegar and Water
- Fill up a sink with hot water so you submerge the glass container and squeeze in some dish soap and a few cups of white vinegar, which adds acidity to help remove the labels.
- Add the jars and make sure they sink, giving it 30 minutes to loosen the label.
- Peel the label off and scrape any remaining residue with a sponge.
- Rinse with clean water, pat dry and let air dry on the counter.
Method 2: Nail Polish Remover
- In this step, remove most of the label with your fingers first. Soak for 10 minutes in hot soapy water if it’s really stuck.
- Add nail polish remover to the corner of a rag and rub in circular motions over the label residue. (Tip: Nail polish remover works on glass jars, but be cautious on plastic types.)
- Rinse with warm, soapy water.
Method 3: Oil and Baking Soda Mixture
- In this method, peel off as much of the label as you possibly can. Soak in the warm, soapy solution if needed.
- Next, mix equal parts baking soda and cooking oil together. (It can also be olive oil, canola oil or even baby oil, if you have that instead.)
- Take the paste mixture and rub it over the jar, honing in on areas with tougher residue. You can rub it with your fingers, but we recommend a paper towel or a cloth.
- Now, leave the paste on the residue for roughly 20 minutes — 30, if it’s really sticky — so it can penetrate and dissolve.
- With a steel wool or hard scrubbing sponge, rub the paste off using a circular motion.
- Last, rinse the jar with soap and water, allowing it to dry completely. If there’s any remnants still left behind, use a small bit of oil and a paper towel to remove it.
What Can You Do with Leftover Candle Wax?
Whatever method you choose to use to remove the candle wax from your glass jar, you will have some leftover wax. But don’t just throw it out! You can repurpose the wax, too!
For starters, you can make a brand new candle. While there might not be enough wax from a single jar, you can eventually make an entire candle if you collect the wax leftovers from several. Using similar scents and colors, you can combine and melt the wax together in a microwave-safe dish. Take it slow and steady, heating the wax blend one minute at a time on a 60 percent power level.
Once it’s good and melted, pour your new wax blend into a jar while securing a wick in the center. Allow your new candle to come to room temperature and then place it inside the fridge for approximately 10 minutes. You can reduce or increase this time, depending on the size of your container.
Our Favorite Candles for Repurposing
Sometimes, a candle is chosen for its scent. Other times, it’s chosen for the way the scent evokes a memory. Assuming you want to keep the label on your Homesick candle, here are our favorite candles for repurposing. Pick one up for yourself or gift it to someone you know will repurpose it and keep it on their shelf forever. One thing’s for sure: When you learn how to reuse candle jars and start getting creative, you’ll love doing this with every candle you have!
The bride candle makes a wonderful gift for brides, of course. With fragrant posies and jasmine, paired with eucalyptus, it smells like a wedding bouquet. But once the scent of the bouquet is gone, the glass candle jar can be repurposed and filled with things like mementos from the wedding. You can even add a few dried sprigs of the bouquet itself, all tied up in ribbon.
Another fantastic candle for repurposing is the beach candle. Fill it with beach-related things, from seashells gathered along the shore during a morning walk or bits of driftwood. You could even add mementos from the boardwalk like carnival ride tickets and other fun stuff you won at the midway games. You could even repurpose this beach candle glass jar as a margarita glass for your beachside bungalow. Be sure to collect a set for when guests come to visit!
Champagne Toast Candle
The champagne toast candle is a wonderful candle that can be given to someone special for all sorts of celebrations. Whether it’s for an engagement, a wedding, college graduation or to raise a glass to someone who started a new job, the champagne toast candle can be repurposed for all sorts of things. Remove the label and serve up mimosas or bellinis for brunch or collect corks from your celebratory night. Whatever it is, this candle jar can hold onto memories longer than the wax inside.