Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Recycling Candle Wax

Recycling Candle Wax

Have you ever had a candle finish burning only to find that there's actually a lot of wax left over?

Whilst most candles I've used are very good burners, one I finished recently seemed to have more left over than had burnt! As it seemed such a waste to throw it away, I started thinking about recycling the wax - something I had heard of previously, but had put off as I worried that it would require a lot of specialist equipment and a time consuming process. However, in the spirit of trying to consume less,  I decided to try and reuse the wax in a way which required hardly any new costs, and a fairly simple process. The results? I'm kind of impressed, if I do say so myself! Some of you may have seen my Instagram stories from when I decided to make it up as I went along give it a go, and these are the details. The only new purchase I made was a couple of wood candle wicks from eBay (which came in at under £2 with free postage for the pair), and it only took me half an hour at the most!

So, here's the process and everything I used, yadda yadda...

- A container for your candle - 
This should be two things - watertight (or the melted wax will run through it) and heatproof (open flames + materials with a low melting point = bad accidents). Other than that, you can be pretty creative. I've seen images of old food containers - syrup tins and marmite or jam jars being used, and I also love the idea of using shells. One thing to remember is the ease at which you can light the candle - I was originally going to use a vintage milk bottle I usually use for plant cuttings, but the narrow opening would have made it difficult to light the candle once it had burnt further down. Instead I used this ceramic dish I picked up second hand, although you can of course always reuse the original candle container (just be sure to remove the old wick before pouring in the new candle).

-An old glass jug -
Specifically one you don't plan on using for food preparation. This will be used to melt the candle wax in, bain marie style. The process I used was this: place any loose parts of wax inside the empty jug. Fill a saucepan shallowly with boiling water, and place on the heat. Stand the jug in the water, and keep an eye on the wax as it melts. For the wax still in the original candle container, I placed the container in the water (again, in a bain marie style), and when enough of the wax had melted for it to become loose, I poured it into the main jug. I had a few candles I needed to do this with, and this was the most time consuming part, but it honestly wasn't that tedious. And my kitchen smelt like a Lush store, which was an added bonus ;)

- Candle Construction - 
When all the wax had melted down in the jug, I carefully removed anything left in the melted wax - e.g. burnt wicks - that I did not want in my 'new' candle. I then removed the jug from the bain marie, to let it cool a little before pouring (mainly because I was nervous about spilling it when it was piping hot). To keep the new wick stable, I dipped the wick base in the melted wax to act as a glue, and then positioned it in the centre of my new candle container. I left this to cool for a couple of minutes, just so that it was set before I poured in the rest of my candle wax. This meant that the wick stayed in place whilst I poured in the wax. It is worth having a second container ready, just in case you have more wax than you can fit in one candle! I'm not sure on the exact cooling times for candle wax, but I left mine at room temperature for 24 hours before I lit it.

- Considerations - 
One thing I haven't mentioned above is perhaps the most important - smell! When mixing different scented waxes together, things may get... interesting to say the least! I used two different scents in my candle, and whilst I was initially unsure about whether I needed to add more through essential oils, I would advise against it. There's already probably enough scent going on without any other additions! I hadn't though about it prior to this, and whilst the candle I ended up with smelt rather delicate and relaxing, I think it would be worth thinking about which scents should be combined. After all, there are bound to be certain combinations that are not going to be a good match. FYI, in this candle I also mixed wax types - soya and paraffin - and as far as I can tell it didn't make much of an impact on the burning process. Although, maybe in some circumstances it would?

Recycling Candle Wax

Recycling Candle Wax

Considering this is just an experiment I decided to do to see whether it could be worth while, I would 100% do this again. I'm still not entirely sure whether making candles from scratch is something that I want to do yet, however this was simple and means I can get more mileage from some of my favourite candles. Seeing as how I still have one of my two wicks left, there will definitely be a time in the near future where I repeat (and maybe improve upon!) this process.

So, do any of you make candles? I have to admit, I'm certainly curious about it now!