When To Throw Out Candles And How To Dispose Of Them Properly

Ever wondered when to throw out candles? For the conscious buyer, the answer goes beyond simply chucking the candle into a bin. 

Many modern candles are more than just wax and wick. They can be quite expensive with rather ornate jars or containers and exotic wax. Some candles cost a pretty penny and use ingredients or materials that can be reused. 

Don’t you think it would be a pity to throw away that beautiful candle jar? Perhaps there are better ways to dispose of a candle than sending it to a landfill. I’ll list a few considerations and ideas that can help you make a better decision. 

Saying Goodbye To Your Candle The Right Way

Most people assume that once a thin layer of wax is left at the bottom of a candle jar it is time to say goodbye to the candle. Yes, you are right. When you notice that almost ½ inch of wax remains at the base, it can no longer support a wick to burn anymore.

If you still burn a candle beyond this level, it could damage the glass jar or the surface beneath it. Generally, the effort and risk of damage aren’t worth cajoling the candle to light up for a couple more minutes.

There could be a situation when you drop a candle jar and it breaks. Here I would suggest that you dispose of the candle at once. The broken glass pieces mixed with candles can be a safety hazard. 

On The Biodegradability Of Candles And Wax

If it is the time when to throw out candles, we should consider its effects on the environment. At the point where the candle is at the end of its use, there are two objects to consider.

  • The leftover wax
  • The jar (if any)

There will be a bit of wick left as well, but that’s rarely an issue. 

If your candle has a jar, it’s likely made of glass. Neither of these are biodegradable, though they are reusable. Some luxury candles have metal jars made from steel, tin, or aluminum. They’re ripe for repurposing or reuse at home, or you could leave them at a recycling station for further processing.

Wax is a whole other story. Whether the wax is biodegradable depends on how it is sourced.

Plant-based waxes are generally considered biodegradable. These include soy wax, palm wax, coconut wax, or similar materials.

Animal or insect-based wax is biodegradable too. Beeswax is a one example. Interestingly, those little crumbs of remaining beeswax are also fit for more uses, including personal care. 

While beeswax is an excellent choice, wherever possible, try to ensure that the wax is sustainably sourced. Bee colonies are already under distress and the increasing demand may cause problems. There is no dearth of greedy businesses that follow terrible methods to increase production.

Paraffin wax is the most popular choice for candles simply because it’s cheap and easy to work with. The vast majority of candles are made from paraffin. This is a petroleum product and is not biodegradable. 

Colors and scents for other components to consider. The addition of dyes for color and scent oils for the aroma is very likely to increase the time wax takes to biodegrade.

Now, let’s see how we can make the best of this situation.

4 Quick Ways To Remove Wax From Candle Jars

Here’s an idea – reuse and upcycle candle jars. Keep the candle jars and you can reuse them for decor and storage. The first step to do this is cleaning the jars by removing the leftover wax. This process is simple enough and can be accomplished at home within minutes. 

Let’s check out the various methods that can fulfill this purpose.

Ideas to clean and reuse candle jars rather than throwing them away
A clean candle jar, one waiting to be cleaned, and the third jar that I’m using to hold some pens. (© Scentgraph)

1. Hot Water Immersion

This is a simple and easy technique to remove the wax from the jar. Boil some water and pour it into the candle jar. This will make the chunk of wax lose its grip on the bottom of the jar and will surface of the water. 

Wait for the water to cool down and strain it to remove wax pieces. If the water is hot enough, it will still contain some melted wax. Remember not to strain the water in the sink. Once the wax cools down, it can clog the drain. The jar, however, won’t have wax inside it.

There is a variation to this method. Place the candle jar in a pan containing boiling water. Keep it for at least half an hour. The wax will release from the bottom of the jar by itself. After this use a knife, a tweezer, or a tong to take out the wax.

Rinse the jar again to make sure that you get all the wax out.

2. Freeze The Candle Wax

Wax when freezes and cools down sufficiently, it tends to lose its grip from the jar. Once the wax has frozen, use a butter knife at the edges to release the wax. Flip the jar upside down to let the wax fall on a plate. 

This is a convenient method but it might need some practice and trials to get it right.

3. Remove Wax With Oven And Aluminum Foil

Use the oven to remove wax from multiple candles in one go. Preheat the oven and place an aluminum sheet (foil) inside it. Place the candle jars in an upside-down position on the foil and let the oven heat up.

In a few minutes, the wax will melt inside the candle jars and drop on the aluminum sheet. When you’re ready, just take out the baking sheet. Wear oven mitts and keep the sheet aside on a heat-safe surface. 

Keep an eye on the whole process.

You could also use a microwave for this purpose. In that case, skip the aluminum foil and use a glass plate to gather the wax. Personally, I prefer the microwave. If you keep the temperature low enough, using plastic wrap or parchment paper to gather the wax can work.

4. Use A Hair Dryer

Besides your kitchen, the dressing room too can offer great help to remove wax from the candle jars. I am talking about hair dryers. Yes, they are one of the other easy ways to help you get wax scraped from jars.

Use oven mitts or a hand towel to hold the candle jar and let the hair dryer do its job. Blow the heat on the candle jar from all sides, especially the sides and the bottom. Once you see that the wax has softened, switch off the dryer. Scrape the wax with the help of a butter knife.

Giving The Candle Jars A Thorough Clean Finish

Once the larger chunks of wax are out, we’ll need to clean the candle jars of wax residues and diffused scents. Wash the jar as you would with a conventional utensil. Sponge and dish soap work pretty well in cleaning the jar and removing residues of wax and scent oil. 

It’s better to use warm water than cold one as it removes any stickiness in the jar. If necessary, give it another cleaning to make sure there are no residues. Once the jars are dry, they are ready for use.

8 Ways To Upcycle Candle Jars: When To Throw Out Candles And Keep The Jar

Glass jars with flowers

Rather than wondering when to through out candles, consider ways to reuse candle jars in different areas of your home. I will share my personal experience and ideas in making the best use of candle jars.

1. Store Your Makeup Accessories

Upcycle your candle jars for storage to keep makeup accessories in them. Place specific items in separate jars for better organization. Place your makeup brushes, eyeliners, tweezers, and lipstick brushes in one jar. Use another jar to put hair items like rubber bands, hairpins, and clips. Put cotton swabs in another jar.

2. On The Dining Table

Stuff candle jars with candies and other confectionery items. If you have beautifully designed jars, go ahead and put your cutlery in them.

3. Make Place On A Kitchen Shelf

Candle jars with airtight lids on them are a good option to store spices and condiments in them. I won’t treat this as a long-term storage option since being airtight is not a priority for candle jars. But for things that can withstand a bit of airflow, go ahead!

4. Place Them In Your Child’s Study Room

Children love drawing colors and painting. They have a lot of things to store and use. Give your children candle jars. They can keep the crayons, paintbrushes, pencils, pens in them. Avoid using glass jars for this if the child is careless or too young to use them properly. 

5. Create Your Window Garden

Yes, you heard it right. Use big jars to plant flowers in them. Create your window garden, place them on your terrace and see how well they add grace to your home. Some indoor plants grow fabulously in small containers, use them for more grace and style. Some herbs can also grow in small containers – fresh herbs for your food!

6. Coin Containers

It is a common sight to find coins kept at random places in our bedroom, kitchen, and sometimes even in the bathroom. Use candle jars and put coins in them. Keep them at a proper place in your home. 

7. Use It For Tealights

tealight in a jar

If the opening of the jar is wide enough, you can place (and light) tealights inside the container. This works with most containers, but is especially useful if you have one of those colorful and designed jars that work playfully with the candle flame.

8. Let Your Creative Spirit Take The Wheel

You don’t need to limit the use of jars according to my experience but repurpose them for as many uses in your home. Color or paint them, do some craftwork to liven up their looks, and give them a flair of your personality. 

What If You Don’t Want To Reuse The Candle Jars?

Reuse and upcycling of jars is always the best thing. However, if someone is not keen on this idea and just wants to throw out the candles, then wait! Don’t throw out the candles in the garbage but consider responsible ways to get rid of them.

A few such suggestions are:

1. Donate Them 

See if there are any organizations, shelters, or groups in your area that can find use of these items. Some of them might even have an interest in other items you have at home and don’t need. The setup largely depends on organizations in your city/region, so it’s best to stay connected with them and see what they need.

2. Dispose At The Recycling Center

Candle wax is not recycled but most glass is recyclable. A clean glass container can go directly into the recycling bin. Alternatively, find a nearby recycling center and hand over the glass jars to them. 

What About The Scraped Wax? Can It Be Reused Or Recycled?

As you go on reading the article, some of you may be thinking that I didn’t discuss reusing the leftover wax from the jars. There are many ideas available on the net that suggest using the wax from different jars and creating a new candle from it. It can be done, but I’m not sold on the idea. Mixing scents diffused in different waxes can sometimes result in an unpleasant smell.

Moreover, it is very time-consuming and bothersome to create a new candle from the scraped wax. It isn’t the most elegant solution, but I think the leftover wax can go straight to trash.

However, if you are left with high-quality beeswax, you can use it as a foot cream. Remember, beeswax finds a lot of uses in cosmetics. Alternatively, you can apply the scraped beeswax on a paintbrush and lubricate the window hinges. This will stop the doors and windows from squeaking.

Think Twice Before Parting With Your Favorite Candles

The moment we see our favorite scented candle coming to its end, we wish it could burn a bit longer. After all, it comes with an expensive price tag. However, if we know when to throw out candles, or better, to reuse the jars and the wax in some cases, the price tag pinches less.

So, don’t be in a haste to dispose of candles, once you see little wax remaining. Enjoy and make the best use of candles, the moment you buy them. Light them and calm your senses, upcycle the jars or donate them.