12 September 2012

How to Remove Candle Wax From Glass Containers






I am writing this post for three reasons.

1. Because I am a hoarder and hate throwing away anything.

2. Because in a couple of weeks, I am going to show a craft project that requires leftover wax as one of the materials. I like to save my wax from old candles (see reason  #1) but I couldn’t find any comprehensive posts about this on Pinterest that I could link back to. So I am demonstrating it here. Back to the future....again.

3. Because Bath and Body Works had a candle sale last weekend and I had to mentally justify the cost of purchasing more candles by using them to pose for a pretty picture for my blog. Like this…



I have a thing for candles in general, but Bath and Body Works candles are like my crack cocaine. Like  fragrantly delicious crack cocaine. The fact that they come in these nice glass containers does not help my addiction.

Before I dive into this, I want to say that there are lots of ways to remove wax in these situations; freezing the glass, heating the glass, scoring the wax and taking it out chuck by chunk... All of these methods work, yes, but I have found that they tend to leave a residue or small bits of wax that I end up needing to scrub off by hand in the sink. Not a big deal, but I like to avoid it because 1. I don't want wax and crud all over my sponge or down my plumbing, and 2. glass like this is not made to withstand a lot of handling and could easily break (as I have learned on numerous occasions).  All of this is to say, my method here might take a little more time but it is fool proof, requires zero elbow grease, and leaves the glass sparkling clear. Sound good? Read on.



What’s nice about a lot of scented candles is that they come in these handy glass containers. The sides are usually straight-up-and-down and are good for storing all kinds of goodies.  As you can see, I am using this one to corral my colored spoons. I have a thing for colored spoons.
Side note: The green candle there is called Fresh Balsam. It smells better than real fresh balsam, which is saying something.  The scent is super homey, not-too feminine, and neutral enough that you can burn them all winter long – not just Christmas. That is why they make a great Christmas gifts; the recipient can enjoy them in January. If you ever need to get a no-think $10 gift for a holiday gift swap, this is it. Stock up.

Another note: Just to clarify, this post is not sponsored by Bath and Body Works. Although, I can’t blame you for thinking that. I am doing a really good job of kissing their butt right now.
Okay. On to the tutorial!
About Labels: It occurred to me after I took these photos that maybe I should have included something about removing the labels off the glass. Nice one. Well, here is what I know: most candle making folks realize we want the glasses so they are making it easy to remove the labels (Glade has a whole series of commercials based on this). Still, some labels are stuck on with crazy tough adhesives and can be very difficult to remove. If that is the case, soaking them in a bowl of hot water with blue Dawn dish detergent is about as good as it gets. If you remove 95% of the label but find that dried up paper crud later on, smear it with coconut oil, let it rest for a few minutes, then go back with a scrubber. That should do it.  
Okay. Now let's get on to the tutorial. I mean it this time!


VERY IMPORTANT: Set the wax aside in a plastic bag to save for future projects.
 
The key is to get that paper towel in there when those last bits of wax are still liquid. They should cling to the towel without effort. Swish swish swish. Presto!

If you have to scrub, add more hot water and wait a minute, then try again. Except for a little windex or vinegar at the end (optional), there should be no rubbing or elbow grease at all. Rubbing = smearing, and the last thing you want is wax smeared all over your glass container.

Side Note: You don't have to boil water just for this purpose. Hot water poured off a pot of rice or pasta works just fine. This process need not be pretty. 

Also note: Don't do this process in your sink or on your nice counter top. Lay down an old rag or newspaper. You don't want to have to scrape hardened wax bits off your table or your drain.


Random tip for all those candles that come separate from the votive (and you want to keep it that way).



The candle will melt but the water will form a barricade between the wax and the glass (remember from science class: oil and water don't mix). Eventually the candle will extinguish itself and you can just plop it out of the container and empty the water. No fuss. Neat stuff, right? This is a trick I picked up working at an Italian restaurant in college. Saves sooo much time. No picking wax out of a hundred votives at the end of a long shift.

And while I'm talking about candles, here is a trick for making them last much longer. Or, if you are in a pinch and need to do some scrubbing, this is the best scrubbing device I have ever encountered (and it was totally free). Woot!

73 comments:

  1. You can also put the candle in the freezer, after a while the wax pops right out. Then you can break the wax, stuff in old mismatched socks, and use in dresser drawers or linen closet.

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    1. Aja: I think the idea is to put the scented wax pieces in an old sock and put it in a drawer or closet to keep it smelling nice ... not the glass container. ;)

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    2. The freezer method works on certain brands much better than others (especially if the wick is attached to the bottom of the glass). Thick glass is much safer than than thin, for freezing. I cut my hand very badly trying to remove wax from a thin glass container fresh out of the freezer. Read: use caution. Or better, just use the method above.

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    3. I tried the hot water trick and it absolutely works!

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  2. You are a ~hero~. I'm also exceptionally excited to see what projects you have for used wax - I'm perpetually saving the nubs of old candles for only one gift-craft: melted wax + dry pine cones = yummy fire-lighters for friends with real fireplaces.

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    1. Thanks :)
      I have always wanted to use leftover wax for fire starters, but doesn't it just melt to the bottom of the fireplace? I always wondered that!

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    2. Another nice fire starter is to take egg cartons and dryer lint, then seal the top with the old candle wax. They are not pretty like cones, but they work wonders for those who depend on wood stoves for heat.

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  3. I searched on Google for how to remove candle wax from glass and came across your blog. I tried it on a Fenton Art glass fairy light I found at an estate sale and it totally worked! Thank you so much; you are awesome. :-) My collectible piece of American made glass from the 60s/70s now looks like new.

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  4. I turn them upside down on foil or parchment paper lined pan and put in oven on about 180-200 degrees. It only takes a few minutes.

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  6. Aunt Peaches....THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU...Your method really worked for me. I had a set of glass containers a friend gave me...they had never been cleaned and the old wax was everywhere....I just didn't believe that the paper towel trick to get rid of the residue would work on my votives.....Finally I said, well, heck,, can't hurt to try...I was already exhausted from boiling, scrubbing, boiling...etc....So out came the paper towels...and VOILA..cleaned them beautifully...I now have them displayed in their lovely holder.

    Thank you Aunt Peaches.

    Mary

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  7. Good old fansioned helpful tips. I love bloggers like yourself aunt peaches keeping these simple yet amazing tips alive.

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  8. Thanks so much for this post...wanting to use this lovely container for something else and now I can!
    FYI - One thing I learned in college (Graphic Design) was about this great product that removes sticky stuff. Tons better than GooGone. It's called Bestine rubber cement thinner. One tin costs about $18 but it will last years. You can find it at any art supply store.

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  9. Thank you I have the same Fresh Balsam 3wick candle. I love that smell!!! Just adding boiling water removed almost all the wax. Great tip!!

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    1. rubbing alcohol wipes from your first aid kit work wonders as well for removing sticky things like labels and many many other things

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  10. I make soy candles for a living and adooooore it compared to paraffin candles. Soy is watersoluble so all you need to do to clean the jars is hot water from your sink and a sponge with a dab of soap!

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  11. I make soy candles for a living and adooooore them...the soy is water soluble so all you need to clean the jars is hot tap water, a sponge and a dab of soap. Since its water soluble theres no worries of it clogging drains either. It also holds more fragrance and burns slower. Can you tell I love soy candles or what? lol

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  12. Tried this method and it worked well, but BE CAREFUL!! Warm up your glass before trying this, and pour the boiling water in slowly. Even room-temperature glass can shatter from the temperature change when it comes into contact with water at a rolling boil.

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  13. I bought the small candles in a glass jar... kind of like the B&BW candles but I only want the jar... how do I get the wax out of an unused candle? I don't have the time to burn them. Help! :) Thanks.

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    1. I'm guessing you can just warm the whole thing in a double boiler and pour out the wax. Never tried it myself but I'm guessing it would work.

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  14. Thank you for such a wonderful post! My crack is Dyptique candles. I followed your directions and it worked like magic.

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  15. This worked great for me except for the glue which held the wicks (the little round metal things). I can't get the glue out. Suggestions?

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  16. The boiling water loosens the glue on the sticker. If you can handle the jar while it's still full of hot water, the sticker peels right off. Try oven mitts or a pot holder.

    I was able to get most of the wax out just from scoring it with the butter knife and the wick thing along with it. But all my candles are natural soy blends because we're a vegan family. That might have something to do with that.

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  17. Do you just pour the water down the drain after 15 mins....then the 5 mins? Concerned about clogging the drain.

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  18. No wax ever goes down the drain. As soon as the hot water hots the wax it will liquify and float to the top...you wait 15 min to let it harden and remove wax with your fingers. The extra water can go down the drain.

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  19. Thanks for the post! I wanted to mention the best thing we've found for removing stickers, from everything, is olive oil. Rub the oil on the sticker and let it sit for a bit, and then they usually come right off. This may work with other oils also. Have a great weekend!

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  20. Aunt Peaches, when I googled "how to remove wax from glass," you were number one! So I was excited to see your solution, since I'm your number one fan. And it worked! I just tried it on four glass containers. And I have more than 50 left over from a wedding that have just been sitting in the cabinet for over a year with leftover wax in them, and now I can remove all the wax and have all new containers. Yay! Thank you!

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    1. Hahahaha....isn't that odd? Of all the things, right? I wrote this post on a whim, and it still gets more google hits than anything else. Glad it worked for you!

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  21. Very professional blog. I love the set up and pictures. Thank you.

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  22. WD40 works wonderfully to remove stickers also :)

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  23. This worked great! Thank you for this post!


    http://sunflowersandhope.blogspot.com

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  24. thanks for the hot water idea - super easy!

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  25. Thanks very much. I had a metal container filled with hardened wax so I placed it in a pot with a few inches of water, boiled for twenty minutes and when I checked, the wax was all melted. All I had to do was pour it out.

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  26. When you re-use wax and melt it in a kettle how do u get it out of the kettle then?

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    1. Does the kettle have a lid? Like, closed off with no access but a little spout hole? If so, you might have to surrender. If you can access the inside of the pot, I would put it in the freezer over night and in the morning just scrape off the hard wax with a knife. That should do it.

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  27. I'm more curious on what ideas can you use the left over glass jars for.....I have sooooo many of them and I need lots of ideas please :-)

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  28. Love the idea on how to remove the wax but I have soooooo many jars and not enough ideas on what to do with all of them (in shame, I am counting over 50+) please help with on what can we do with the empty jars....

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    1. There is a whole blog devoted to this very thing! http://masonjarcraftslove.com/

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  29. Thanks Ms Peaches. This worked great. I have candles that burn unevenly, it's there away to make them more evenly

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  30. Thanks Ms Peaches. This worked great. I have candles that burn unevenly, it's there away to make them more evenly

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  31. When you use the boiling water technique will the candles still keep their scents?

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    1. The smell stays with the wax. They won't be candles after the wax is melted, but yes, the wax will still smell good.

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  32. What if the glass votive is very delicate and the melted wax slipped down in the stand of the votive? I fear that the glass will break if I try to chop up the wax. Can I put the hot water in first then use a knife to try to slice up the trapped hardened wax?

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    1. You can skip the knife part. It just speeds the process.

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  33. This worked. It was very labor intense...but successful! Thank you!

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  34. the glue used for the labels can easily be removed with white spirit.

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  35. I just let hot tap water run into the candle until the wax was malleable and then just pulled it out. Very easy - thanks for the the idea.

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  36. But how do you get the little metal bit out cos its glued so firmly to the bottom of the jar

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    1. The boiling water should loosen it up enough to pry it out with a butter knife. If that doesn't work, after you remove all the wax (via boiling water), pop it in the freezer overnight then try again. Some adhesives will resist heat, some resist cold, none of them resist both. Maybe rocket glue or something but I don't think they are using that for candles.

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  37. Great post - -very helpful! Thank you :)

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  38. This method sucks, it just made a big mess. If you have even more than a cm of wax on the bottom of your candle it will not work because the hot water will not be able to penetrate the wax deep enough for it to float out. I don't burn my candles all the way to the bottom because I don't want to start my house of fire so off to look for something better.

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    1. Did you read the part "Still some stuck to the bottom? Use your knife to easily slice and remove the softened wax." (only the top layer of wax will liquify and float.)

      Unfort, hot water will not be able to soften a large amount of wax on contact (more than half an inch deep, perhaps?). If you have more wax than that, you might want to try the freezing method instead. Sorry.

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  39. Yep worked perfectly - thank you.

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  40. Sorry if my question was already addressed, but I have 2 very large decorative glass containers that fit the big huge candles. I am concerned that the boiled water will break the glass. Can all glass withstand the boiling water? These were expensive and I am not sure I want to risk it.

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    1. If the glass is very thin I would not risk it - warm water and elbow grease is all I can suggest. If the glass is of a decent thickness, like a wine glass at a restaurant, you can bring the glass up to temp gradually by starting with warm tap water and let set for 5 min...then replace with hot tap water for 5 min...then barely simmering water, and so on. Glass begins as a liquid and is surprisingly accommodating as long as the temp change isn't too fast. You might also find that the wax is softened by just plain hot tap water and you can scrape it off with a knife.

      Good luck!

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  41. Did it! Thanks so much for the tips. Oh, I used rubbing alcohol to remove the last of the residue, and then washed in hot soapy water. They look like brand new.

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  42. This is by far the most effective method! Sometimes you need to repeat the process a several times (depends of the amout of leftover wax) but at the end you'll have perfectly clean & clear glass jars ;)
    Thanks for this super easy and simple tutorial! :)

    I tried the freezer method in the past but it never worked for me, while this worked like a charm!

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  43. Thank you so much!! Wish i knew this a few candle jars ago! However would you have any tips on removing wax from nonglass containers??

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    1. Depend on the material, but generally this would work on anything that can hold (or be submerged in) hot water. If that doesn't work, I suggest popping it in the freezer. Good luck!

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  44. I am so pleased this worked so well!

    Here is a handy tip for those wishing to make sure that no wax goes down the drain when emptying the water from the jars. Line a colander or sieve with paper towel (or coffee filter would work too) and stick in the sink. Dump the water into the paper towel lined colander. The water will drain out but not the leftover wax bits! Then throw out the paper towel when done and presto - no mess and no wax down the drain!

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  45. I heart BB&W candles and have a cabinet full of them, I just tried the boiling water method above and it was wonderful except I cannot get the residue from the glue off of the bottom and it is just super smeary and sticky now, any suggestions? I have tried boiling water, freezer, warm water, all sorts of cleaners. Thank you!

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    1. It's funny you should mention this -- I never had a problem with glue residue on B&B candles until I had this problem on one couple weeks ago. Just one. I wonder if they switched their adhesive formula (hope not!). So....I used a butter knife to scrape off everything I could while it was still warmed by the water, then after it was dry I scrubbed off the little scuzzy glue residue patch with a MR. Clean magic eraser -- worked just great. That was really just cloudy residue though. If you find you are dealing with clumpier, stickier glue, I would try one of those oil based citrus cleaners they sell for wood. That stuff will eat away roofing tar (I'v seen it!) -- it can handle candle glue I'm sure, given time to soak.

      Good luck, Mellie! Hope it works :)

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  46. I used this method and it came out easily. 1 more Question if you don't mind answering, do you think I can keep this container on the refrigerator without causing disasters like; it chattering or exploding?

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    1. I don't see why not. I think if your fridge rattles a lot you might want to avoid putting things up there in general, but for a regular fridge, sure, go for it!

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  47. Great! I am going to try this tonight. One question: where do you pour the water out after you've taken the wax from the surface? I'm paranoid about any wax remnants being left behind and clogging my drain. Or would pouring it down the sink and running very hot water while doing so do the trick?

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    1. Wax in your pipes is bad bad bad -- be sure to keep it out of there. Hot water will only send it so far down the line, then it will just coat the interior walls and stuff will cling to it -- no good.

      However, for this process, the wax will be chunky enough to pick up with fingers, so pouring the water down the sink isn't a problem. No more difficult than keeping a bit of carrot or something from draining away. If you are extra worried, perhaps just lay a paper towel over a pasta strainer and pour the water through that -- the towel will catch anything left. Good luck!

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    2. Thank you! The paper towel/strainer idea is perfect.

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  48. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I have a collection of jars that the freezing part did not work. I would like to reuse some of them. But mostly would like to recycle them. I didn't want to throw them out like that with all the wax stuck at the bottom. I will try this method. I hope it works. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!

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    1. If you can get the wax out and live within easy reach of a Goodwill/thrift store establishment, you might consider dropping them off as a donation. I have seen these exact jars selling for $3 a piece. Crazy! Could raise some $ for a worthy cause and minimize the carbon footprint of making good before it gets recycled. Just a thought...

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If you enjoyed this post, or have any further ideas on this topic, please take a moment to share by leaving a comment below. Some of my all-time best blog posts are prompted by comments from readers like you. Thank you!
-AP

 
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