How to Get Candle Wax out of Glass Jars

How to Get Candle Wax out of Glass Jars

You’ve probably seen pictures on Pinterest or elsewhere of jam jars holding candles and tealights and looking oh so magical. Magical, yes, but are they practical? By that I mean, how on earth do you clean the glass jars afterwards?!

I’m not really into candles. I’m definitely not into conventional tealights, those mass-produced paraffin (petroleum-based) white wax versions. Nor am I keen on soy-based candles, because unless it is clear where and how the soy is grown (and it usually isn’t clear) it could be contributing to rainforest destruction and population displacement. Plus, those soy tealights are often housed in polycarbonate casings – and that means single-use plastic! Beeswax would be my preferred choice, but beeswax is expensive. Besides the expense, I think they make surfaces look cluttered and just gather dust. I think candles are a luxury that I just don’t need.

Last weekend, though, I splashed out and bought some candles. We had some friends around at the weekend for a belated housewarming – it is pretty exciting to be able to get more than four people in the flat at once (that’s all the old place could handle). However, the light in our flat isn’t ideal in the evening, so my boyfriend decided it would be good to get some candles. Yes, it was his idea! We borrowed two lamps from his parents, and I bought some beeswax candles to put in glass jars.

I was determined to reclaim my glass jars once the candles had burned out. I used wide-neck jars (so I could get my hand in there afterwards), and put each candle in an upturned jam jar lid, which I thought would neatly capture all the wax

Turns out I know nothing about candles. Once they had burned out, the wax had spilled over the jam jar lid and glued it to the bottom of the jar, along with so much melted wax it was ridiculous.

Melted beeswax candleThis is what my poor glass jar looked like. The wax looked well and truly molded in there. But I wasn’t chucking it away without a fight. Oh no!

I had visions of boiling the jar in a pan to release the oil and other complicated and hazardous methods for removing the wax, but I thought I should check with the internet first, and I came across a far simpler alternative. So simple, in fact, that I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work.

Put the jar in the freezer.

Yep, that’s it. Apparently the wax shrinks slightly when frozen, just enough to loosen it from the glass.

So I stuck the jar in the freezer for an hour. This is what happened:

melted beeswax candle in a glass jarFreezing melted beeswax to remove from a glass jarRemoving melted beeswax from a glass jarfrozen melted beeswaxleftover melted beeswax

I did use a knife to dislodge the wax, but it came out very easily. The wax is very brittle, and shatters. I’m keeping the leftover wax (HOARDER ALERT!) for the time being, as it is expensive to buy. Who knows, maybe I can make my own candles? Erm…or maybe not.

If I buy candles again, I don’t think I’ll bother placing it on a jam jar lid. It’s probably an unnecessary step.

I am so excited about this trick that I thought I’d share it with you. You know me, I love zero waste, and I also like it when you try something for the first time and it actually works! Apologies if you’re not into candles…then again, neither was I four days ago. But now, maybe I’m going to become a candle person after all.

13 Responses to How to Get Candle Wax out of Glass Jars

  1. Totally on your road train with this one! I sorta like candles, but I have been sold on the benefits of beeswax. I scoured for beeswax, but you’re right, it is pricey (in the end, I got one marked down cause it was dusty, and like you, I was delighted it was otherwise not packaged).

    When I got ‘birthday’ money, I decided to splurge on some more via mail order. yet to try them, but they are ready for when the time comes!

    Now, back to the cheap one, the wicks is submerged, so I must dig it out.

    • Yes! I like the idea, but I’m too practical and they seem a bit wasteful. The beeswax ones I ended up buying were dusty, but sadly not marked down. You’ll have to let me know how you get on with your candles – I saw some online that seem to be plastic-free and I was tempted to get some, but I’m not sure I’m ready to become a candle person…yet…

      • You know what – now you mention it, I don’t think these were marked down (the dusty one), but I asked, and they knocked money off. I love asking that, knowing if they say no, there’s no loss of face, I’d have bought it anyway! WIN!

        • Tee hee, I do that sometimes too. I remember when I bought my (already discounted in a sale) suitcase, there was a pull on the lining on the INSIDE of the case. I pointed it out, and got an extra 10% off. This is a suitcase that’s gonna get chucked around by baggage handlers! I’m still using that suitcase, even though the rubber has come off both the wheels and it’s getting a little tatty – I don’t care about that cosmetic stuff! : ) Like you say, WIN!

  2. I found pure beeswax at the farmers market in my town and it’s incredibly cheap. I use it for a recipe for body butter. I’m not really a candle person either but i might try to make my own candles out of this wax(just to see if it would work).

    • Ah, that’s great! I just know beeswax candles are expensive; I haven’t actually looked for pure beeswax. Let me know if you do make candles! Oh, and what recipe do you use for body butter – I have quite a lot to use up so if you could share it that would be helpful! : )

    • Thanks for that! I saw a similar DIY tutorial and wondered about it, but I do already have some waxed food cloths and I’m not sure I need more. But it would be fun to give it a go! If you try it, please let me know how you get on! : )

  3. I love candles and I’m afraid I’m one of those tealight people. They’re just so cheap! I have a little ceramic oil burner that I use with water and a few drops of essential oil, pop a tealight underneath it, and it makes the whole room smell heavenly (my favourites are the citrus oils mixed with cinnamon).

    I buy one of those 100 packs of tealights which will last me a couple of years, and I recycle the metal casings. I figure hey, it’s a luxury but on the scale of environmental disasters it’s not a bad one.

    • I’ve thought about using those oil burners (my mother-in-law has about a gazillion) but I thought electric might be better. Far better than synthetic fragrances! : )

      There’s always something to make an exception for. I always think that about chocolate. I could never commit to eating locally because I just couldn’t give it up. I buy organic, fair trade…that’s my compromise! There’s worse things to be addicted to!

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