It’s not unusual for candle lovers to have shelves lined with stacks of empty glass containers that once held your favorite scented candles. You may be wondering what you should do with all of these candle jars.
Something inside you feels angst at the thought of simply tossing the containers into the garbage. And that little voice is right. Recycling candle jars is much more environmentally friendly. But you have to prepare your jars for recycling instead of simply tossing them into the recycling bin.
In this post I’ll share what you must do before you can recycle your candle jars. I’ll also share ways that you can repurpose them at home.
Is It Necessary to Recycle Candle Jars?
Recycling and composting substantially benefits communities and the society at large. It helps keep our land, air, and water clean, which leads to better health overall. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 292.4 million tons of trash was generated in the United States in 2018.
Of that amount, half of it ended up in landfills. We harm the environment when we carelessly dispose of waste after a single use. Overflowing landfills damage our natural resources.
Recycling candle jars may seem insignificant, but it can go a long way. For instance, recycled glass can be added to asphalt that’s used to pave our roads.
Recycling and reusing materials contributes to good stewardship of our air, land, and water.
Preparing Your Jars for Recycling
We now know how important it is to recycle, but how do we go about doing it? Once a scented candle is no longer usable, there are always remnants of that candle left inside the container.
Remove the Wax, Wick, and Label
A charred wick or wick base might still be stuck to the bottom of the jar. Wax may still fill the base of the container. And then there’s the (sometimes) hard to remove label. It’s essential to clean your candle jars before recycling them. I covered some examples of how to do that in this post.
Is Wax Recyclable?
Wax itself isn’t recyclable. Water is used to clean recyclables after they’ve been collected and sorted. Since wax repels water, it would remain in the container, contaminating the recyclable jar.
This is why the first step you should take towards recycling your candle jars is to make sure all traces of wax have been removed.
How to Remove Labels from a Candle Jar
Some candle jars have labels that easily peel away. But sometimes removing the label can be the most frustrating part of recycling or repurposing jars.
Don’t get discouraged. There are a few tricks I use to make this a more pleasurable process. After removing all the wax, consider one of these methods for label removal.
Soak the jar in hot soapy water: This softens the adhesive, allowing you to simply peel it off.
Slather on peanut butter: If you find that there’s stubborn adhesive that remains stuck to the jar, try slathering peanut butter over all the sticky areas of the jar. Let it sit for a while. The amount of time will vary depending on how much adhesive remains. But when you wipe off the peanut butter, you’ll be amazed at how smooth and crystal clear the jar has become.
Mineral oil for the win: If the previous tips don’t work, you may have luck using mineral oil. Using a cotton ball or rag, dab the label with mineral oil. Allow it to soak in; you’ll notice that the label looks oil-stained. After soaking for a bit, you should be able to peel it right off.
You may need to use one or more of these methods to fully remove the label from your candle jar.
Can You Recycle All Types of Candle Jars?
Unfortunately not all types of glass can be recycled. And seeing the recycle symbol on a container, doesn’t necessarily mean that it can be recycled at all or in your area specifically.
Different communities, states, and countries have varying rules about recycling metals and glass. But with a little research, you can acquaint yourself with the recycling rules where you live.
If curbside pickup is unavailable, some areas offer drop-off sites for you to leave your recyclables for processing.
Alternative Places to Recycle Candle Jars
If your local recycling service isn’t an option, some candle companies offer recycling programs in their stores or as a mail-in service.
For instance, TerraCycle accepts candle jars, diffuser oil bottles, and more if you own home fragrance products from Yankee Candle, Chesapeake Bay Candle, or WoodWick. Gather your dry, wax-free containers, safely box them up, print out a free shipping label and send them off to TerraCycle.
Manufacturing companies purchase the processed materials from TerraCycle and transform them into playground surfaces, building materials, watering cans, flooring tiles, and more.
Now that stores are opening back up in some places, you might be able to bring your candle jars directly to the store to be recycled.
The next time you’re in your favorite candle store, ask them if they have a recycling program and have them explain the process to you.
Ways to Repurpose Candle Jars at Home
One of the benefits of buying scented candles is that the containers are often so sturdy and attractive that you don’t mind reusing them. If you’re able to buy candles in recycled containers, even better.
The important thing to note is that you don’t have to feel stuck with candle jars that have trace amounts of wax in them.
After following the tricks mentioned to remove excess wax from your candle jar, there are lots of ways that you can repurpose those jars at home.
If you do any kind of work from a desk at home, you know how easily pens, styluses, push pins, and other items can quickly accumulate on your desktop.
Candle jars can hold all of these whatnots to help keep your space organized and your mind uncluttered.
Art Supply Holder
If you’re an artist, storing supplies in old candle jars can be really convenient. These jars can hold markers, pencils, paint brushes, erasers, tubes of watercolor paint, and almost anything else you can think of.
Paint Brush Pots
Candle jars without lids make some of the best pots to hold water for your paint brushes. This is probably the primary way that I reuse glass containers. Different sized jars can paint brushes of varying lengths.
Store cotton balls, Q-tips, makeup, bath salts and more in your old candle jars. Storing them this way clears up counter space and helps you locate these items more efficiently.
Gather rocks, potting soil, and a plant or succulent to grow your own indoor garden. These containers are great for growing herbs as well.
If your candle jars have a thick wall and base, you can use them to make your own candles. DIY candle kits are easily accessible, and they can be a fun project.
You can even preserve the wax as you’re cleaning out your candle jars and use it to make new candles.
I saw this Pinterest post demonstrating how to paint the exterior of an upcycled candle jar, and then use it as a flower vase.
Place your favorite sweets in one of these jars for safe keeping. Depending on how your candies are wrapped, they might add a decorative element to your space.
Watch plant roots grow from cuttings. Whether you’re sharing your plants with friends or were gifted a cutting, glass candle jars can help you monitor the process.
Home or Event Decoration
I love fairy lights. They can add warmth and mystery to any room. Loosely placing a string of fairy lights inside a candle jar can add a special touch to any room in your house. Placing lights in multiple jars would also make a nice centerpiece or decorative arrangements when entertaining guests.
Some additional filler ideas include sand, seashells, stones or pebbles, or dried flowers.
Store Dried Goods
This suggestion works best if your candle jar has a lid. Dried goods like beans, dried fruits, nuts, even sugar and flour can store well in these containers. I even place loose leaf tea and herbs in my upcycled lidded jars.
If you’re the kind of cook who likes to measure out all of your ingredients beforehand, you might reuse small candle jars to hold these ingredients.
Similar to mason jars, old candle jars make the perfect beverage containers.
Tea Light Holders
Place your favorite tea lights inside smaller upcycled candle jars and watch them glow from within.
You can glue knobs or other decorative objects to these containers to personalize them so that they blend in with your home decor.
Recycling candle jars helps protect the environment for generations to come. Repurposing them can make your home more organized or help you relax while engaging in a fun DIY project.