How to Recycle Candle Jars

By Marie Mulrooney ; Updated September 15, 2017
Making them into centerpieces is just one of many ways to breathe new life into your old candle jars.

Half the fun of burning a jar candle is knowing that even when the candle is gone, you’ll still have a pretty glass jar that you can put to a myriad of uses. If you’re feeling clever, you can even save bits of other candles, melt them, and pour them into the jar to use as another candle. But that’s just the start. Old candle jars make holders for knick-knacks or gift containers, or use them as the building blocks for some clever DIY crafts.

Cleaning the Jars

Use one of two easy ways to clean old wax out of candle jars. The first way is to pour hot water into the jar and let it sit; it’ll either melt the wax or loosen it enough that you can pry it off the bottom of the jar with a butter knife.

Your other option is freezing the jar, which usually makes it easy to pry out the wax with a butter knife.

Remaking Candles

If you have wax remnants hanging around from burnt-down candles, use them to make new candles in your old candle jars. You’ll need a double boiler, wicks at least a few inches taller than the jar, a funnel, wick tabs and a hot glue gun.

First, clean any remaining wax out of the jars and dry the jars thoroughly. Then melt the wax in the double boiler over low heat. Insert a wick into the wick tab and use a dab of hot glue to affix it to the bottom of the jar; wait until the hot glue has cooled. Tape the top of the wick to the outside of the jar mouth; then carefully pour the wax into the jar. Use a couple of pieces of long tape across the top of the jar to hold the wick in the middle of the jar, and leave it in place until the wick has set. Once it’s done, trim the wick to 1/4 inch before you first burn the candle.

Knick-Knacks and Gifts

If you need a container to hold cosmetics supplies, office supplies or other assorted knickknacks around the house, look no further than an old candle jar. They’re also great for holding small gifts: Fill your jar with cookie ingredients in plastic bags and tuck the recipe in with them as an anytime gift, or tuck yarn and a crochet needle into it to make an instant gift for a crochet enthusiast. You can also fill the jar with sweets to display in your house, or to give in lieu of an Easter basket or Christmas stocking.

Repurpose Them as Centerpieces

Old candle jars make the perfect start of any centerpiece. Pour a little sand or an inch of pebbles in the bottom to secure a taper or pillar candle, depending on the size of the jar. Wrap seasonal boughs around the bottom of the jar and top them off with decorations like pine cones or flowers. Add a ribbon bow near the top of the jar for a finishing touch.

Turn Them Into Art

Get your hands on some glass paints, and you’re ready to turn those old jars into works of art. Paint them with seasonal scenes -- a snowy forest for winter, a flowery meadow for spring -- and tie raffia or ribbon around the top of the jar; then display it in the window. Or use stencils to paint a textured pattern around the jar, leaving gaps where the light can shine through. Place the jar in a sunny window, or tuck a candle inside and light it, letting the candle flicker through the unpainted sections of glass.