Friday, January 7, 2011

Tip/Trick - Candle Recycling.

I'm no master chandler by any means. I've played with making candles before, and had some really good success, but I have yet to advance to hand-dipping or casting them regularly. However, I do cast a few candles about once a year.

All year long I save the scraps from my altar and votive candles ("votive" in the sense of "votive offering") in a bowl. This includes the tea-lite tins and wick stands. Whenever the bowl gets full, I melt these down and re-cast them into new candles.

A few days ago I turned a few stubs, and a lot of left-overs into seventeen new tea lites. I used stuff just about anyone can obtain. If you'd like to give it a try, here's how I do it:

1: I dice the wax chunks up into 1/2" or smaller pieces, making sure to remove any unburnt wicks, and the "wick stands" from votives and tea lites. I clean any excess wax rings or residue out of my containers. NOTE: If I want to color the new candles, I separate my waxes into colors, but usually I add 1/4-1 whole "dark" crayon and make the whole lot dark brown or black. If I want to "Extend" the batch into a larger number, I incorporate blends of palm, beeswax, and soy wax. Crushed activated carbon (a small amount at that) also provides a DEEP black color to candles. Whenever I am making all-natural ritual candles, this is the colorant I use.

2: I re-open the hole in the wick stands using a corkscrew on an old swiss army knife. An Ice-pick also works well. I thread about 1.5" of good wick through the wick stand (for tea lites), or 4-ish inches (for votive cups), crimp it with a pair of pliars, and snip off the excess. These are "wax set" into the containers. For votive cups I also wrap a loop around a pencil across the cup, and secure with a clothespin. This keeps the wick centered.

3: I add a couple of tablespoons of wax chunks to the reservoir of an "oil burner" with a removable glass dish. Like this one. And let it melt completely. I use a pair of pliers to handle the glass dish, the rim on mine means a pair of "Parrot's Beak" wire cutters hold it perfectly. However, a pair of regular pliers do the trick just as well. I fill the container to within about 1/8th inch of the rim, and move on to the next.

4: When I've got all of the containers "filled", I melt more wax and return to the first, topping off the top where it has shrunk down . All of the candles get topped off like this.

5: I let the wax cool overnight, clean up any spills, and snip the wicks down to 1/4".

The tea lites burn a little shorter than normal, owed to thicker wick than factories give 'em, however the votive cups will burn about a day, sometimes longer, continuously. Almost nothing goes to waste. I take a lot of time and effort to consecrate my candles, and it seems somewhat disrespectful (and wasteful) to discard unused portions as "trash".

In this way, I can recycle an altar candle several times, bit by bit, until it's just -gone-.


  1. What a great idea to use an oil burner to melt wax! I use a pyrex measuring cup in a small pot of water on the stove top. Ocassionally I will get really reckless and put the measuring cup directly on the burner on the lowest possible flame. I do this to melt the wax I use in my faux ambergris. It hadn't occurred to me to recycle my candle bits, even though they are beeswax. DUH. It's also good to hear about using charcoal as a colorant. Thanks!

  2. I love the carbon-colorant idea. I'll have to try it, as I have a 50 lb. sack of the stuff for my house water-filter!

  3. I remember doing something like this this in high school. Been a long time since I've made candles *sigh*

  4. Great information! Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Wow, I really appreciate all of your hard work that you put into this! We all need to be more conscious about our waste. I've been looking for a recycling place to take my bottles to.