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It’s not uncommon to spend $20 or more on a long-lasting, great-smelling candle. A large candle from Yankee Candle will set you back about $30. They last a long time but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to squeeze out as much life as you can from your purchase.
Candles can freshen up your home for longer than regular air fresheners, which tend to last only a few days. The problem is that you usually end up wasting the last inch or so of wax because the wick doesn’t reach down far enough to burn it all.
How can you stop putting that cash in the trash and use every last drop of your candles? This post has 36 ideas that will inspire you to stop throwing your leftover candle wax away and, instead, turn it into something different (and maybe even better!). You can also repurpose and up-cycle your empty candle jars!
Recycle Your Old Candles into Great-Smelling New Items
You can either throw away the last little bit of candle wax at the bottom of the jar, or you can let their scents last just a little longer with the following tricks.
If you’re new to candle-making, check out this tutorial from DIY Network to learn how to place and trim the wicks.
1. Turn Leftover Wax into a Multi-Scented Candle
If you have a few candles that have only a small amount of wax left in the bottom of their jars, you can melt them and turn them into a new, multi-scented layered candle. Use one of the empty jars to add melted wax from one candle. Allow it to dry and make another layer with the melted wax from a different candle. Keep going until you’ve made a brand-new layered candle!
This works best for similar scents, like fresh linen and beachy scents or fruity candles, but you can always experiment with ones you think will go well together.
2. Make Tea Lights Out of Unusable Portions
Leftover wax is perfect for turning into scented tea lights because they only need a small amount of wax. Save your used tea light containers, buy some new wicks, and pour melted candle wax into the holders.
3. Use Leftover Pieces to Make Wax Melts
I use wax melt burners all over my home because I love the way they let fresh scents linger for hours. You can turn your leftover wax that the candle wick won’t reach into new wax melts to savor your favorite scents for a little longer. Just melt them and pour them into an ice tray until they dry!
4. Make Air Fresheners
Cut your leftover candle wax into chunks and place them in a breathable material, like a cloth or old sock. Tie a knot on the top and you have a DIY air freshener that you can hang in a closet or place under a car seat for a fresh scent.
5. Create Bug-Repellant Candles
Do you have a bunch of candles with a little bit of wax but not a lot of scents that will work together for a new air freshener? Melt them all together and mix in several drops of citronella essential oil. Clean out one of the candle jars and pour the mixture in with a new wick.
6. Turn them into Potpourri
Place chunks of leftover wax in a potpourri burner with your favorite potpourri, or make your own with dried flower petals, herbs and spices, pinecones, citrus peels, and other yummy-smelling items.
Repurpose Candles in Your Home
If mixing together leftover candles isn’t your cup of tea, try repurposing them into something entirely new:
7. Stop Squeaky Doors
Wax can do the same thing as other squeak-stoppers you usually pay for, like fixing squeaking doors in your home or car. Rub some leftover candle wax on the removed door hinges, reinstall, and watch the door work in silence.
8. Un-Scuff Shoes
Get scuffs off your dress shoes, sneakers, or boots without bringing them in for a pricey cleaning. Melt a few chunks of candle wax together on the stove, add about a teaspoon of canola or vegetable oil, and mix thoroughly.
Once the mixture cools most of the way (it should be somewhat soft), you can rub it over shoe scuffs and buff the scuffs out with a clean rag.
9. Waterproof Papers
Do you have any papers that stay on the desk of your home office, but you can’t afford to spill coffee on them again? Waterproof them with candles!
Remember how you used to write on Easter eggs with white crayons as a kid because your writing would show up once you dyed the egg? Wax repels water, so it can become a quick water-proofing material for your kid’s drawings or papers you have to bring somewhere on a rainy day.
This works best with white or very light-colored candles, so you don’t color the paper. Rub the leftover wax over the paper and watch it resist water!
10. Turn them into Multi-Purpose Wax Chunks
It works on squeaky doors, so why not other squeaky items, like kitchen drawers, bathroom cabinets, or even doors or drawers that stick?
Melt small pieces together and pour them into an ice cube tray or plastic storage containers to make a new wax mold that’s the ideal size for what you need to unstick.
11. Mold-Proof the Shower
Rub candles (preferably white or the color that matches your grout) into the grout between shower tiles. Since wax repels water, you won’t have water mixed with grime sticking to the grout and causing mold or mildew!
12. Make a Pin Cushion
Those curved bottom pieces of candles that the wick doesn’t reach make for the perfect pin cushion if you don’t have one. Turn the wax over so that the larger side is on the bottom and stick sewing pins and needles into it to hold.
You can also do this with thumbtacks, nails, and screws. I have a row of them lined up in a drawer to organize all my small, sharp objects.
13. Use as a Sealant
Wax has so many every day uses we don’t think about, like sealing spots in our home from air or water leaks! Leftover candles can do a lot of things caulk would typically do – at least, temporarily.
Use candle chunks to seal up drafty windows or small cracks in bathtub caulk for a quick fix until you can get the real stuff.
14. Make Fire Starters
There’s no need to buy fire starters when you have leftover candles lying around.
Melt candle chunks together in a small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat and mix in some paper scraps from the shredder as it cools. Immediately pour the mixture into molds and allow them to dry before removing and storing until your next fire.
Alternatively, you can use a cardboard egg carton or ice cube tray to make wax and dryer lint fire starters the same way. As the wax melts, place a blob of dryer lint in each compartment, pour the wax over the lint, allow to dry, and use them to start your next cozy fire.
15. Turn Candlesticks into Corks
If you lost the cork for a wine bottle or the one you have is being stubborn about going back in, rely on your old candlesticks for makeshift corks. This works best for candlesticks that are no more than about an inch wide.
Cut a chunk of the candlestick long enough to fit in the opening, about three or four inches. Place it on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for no more than five seconds. It’ll be soft enough to wedge in the opening. Even once it hardens, it’s slippery enough to remove easily.
16. Melt Chunks for Skateboard or Roller Blading Wax
Melt candle chunks and pour them into muffin tins to make perfectly-sized wax chunks to keep skateboards, roller blades or skates, and even ride-on cards ready to roll.
17. Seal Letters
Use your favorite scented candles to place an old-fashioned seal on wedding invitations, baby shower thank you cards, and anything else you’d like to have a fancy, personal touch.
Hold a candlestick or large chunk of wax (enough so that the end will be away from your fingers) over the back of an envelope. Use a lighter to melt the end of the wax so that it drips onto the envelope. Dab a wax seal on a damp sponge and then press it into the wax while it’s still soft.
18. Shovel Snow with Ease
Rub old candles on your snow shovel before you head out to clear the driveway and sidewalks. The wax will make it easier to shovel because large clumps of snow won’t keep sticking to it. Bonus: The wax can actually help prevent your shovel from rusting! Dry off your shovel after use and apply more wax to keep it in top shape for the season.
19. Make Decorative Molds
Have some fun with your favorite candles by melting them into baking molds to create new shapes that you can decorate your house with.
My kids and I do this with any leftover candles I have from the holiday season because I usually get new ones every year as gifts. We use Christmas Jell-O molds to turn the wax into festive candy canes, gingerbread men, and Santas that smell just like the holidays. They make perfect gifts for everyone on the list!
20. Use Birthday Candles to Unstick Zippers
Used birthday candles are the perfect size for lubing up uncooperative zippers on pants or kids’ coats. Just rub the candle on both sides of the zipper and around the bottom latch and it should work like new again.
21. Fix Frayed Shoelaces
If your shoelaces are fraying on the ends, dip them in some melted wax as it cools. Shape them once the wax cools enough for you to touch it and allow them to dry completely before re-lacing your shoes.
22. Fill Dings and Scratches
You can use old candles to fill in small cracks in caulking, so why not use them to fill in cracks in furniture, flooring, and other areas of the home? Rub some softened wax into dings, dents, scratches, or cracks in wood for a quick fix. Don’t worry about picking the right color candle because you can always go back over it with a wood marker once it solidifies.
I use this method to fill in some gaps in my wood floorboards that separate over time. You’d never be able to tell they were “repaired”!
Repurpose Your Candle Jars
Don’t forget those empty candle jars! These containers are perfect for organizing, decorating, and more.
23. Decorate Jars with Dollar Store Finds
One of my favorite things to visit dollar stores for is inexpensive items that I can use for decorating my home or doing DIY projects for gifts.
I like to buy those little bags of gems and seashells there and use a hot glue gun to decorate my used candle jars to turn them into pretty jars that I can use for more candles, storing small items, pencil holders for my work desk, etc.
24. Use Jars for Tea Lights
Small candle jars are perfect for holding tea lights. I like to put one or two of them in each room in case of a power outage and in window sills for a pretty glow from outside.
25. Turn them into Outdoor Lamps
Decorate jars with colored stones or gems, spray with a transparent, weatherproof coating, and place solar-powered lights inside. Tie twine around the neck of each jar, tying them together but leaving about a foot of space between each one.
Attach the string around your porch and you have a pretty set of summery, DIY porch lights!
26. Make Centerpieces
I’ve made some realistic-looking centerpieces for my dining room table using candle jars and artificial dollar store flowers. I have candle jars that I decorate for different holidays and choose seasonal flowers to match, so I have fun, rotating centerpieces that I can make for less than $5.
This can also be a great way to make wedding reception centerpieces on a budget.
27. Organize Your Desk
Use small candle jars to hold office supplies, like thumbtacks, paper clips, and staples. You can organize the containers in a drawer or decorate them to spruce up your desk.
Save large candle jars for scissors, pens, pencils, markers, and other bigger items that need some organization.
28. Organize the Bathroom
Make bathroom organization containers with all sizes of jars. Small ones can be great for cotton balls and cotton swabs, while large ones can store bandages, toothbrushes, or hair supplies.
29. Gift Them as Mason Jar Baked Goods
Mason jar gifts seem to be the new trend, but you can save your used candle jars with lids for the same purpose and save money. Just be sure to wash and sanitize them thoroughly before putting any food in them!
Need some inspiration? This roundup from Freebie Finding Mom has tons of excellent mason jar cookie recipes.
30. Turn them into Cookie or Candy Jars
Place your favorite jars on decorative glass pedestals (you can usually find these in dollar stores!) to store candy, cookies, or other treats for party guests.
31. Make Christmas Snow Globes
I recently came across this DIY Christmas Snow Globe idea for use with candle jars and kept it bookmarked for the upcoming holiday season. What a cute way to make some handmade gifts for family and friends!
32. Help the Kids Save Money
Help your kids make “saving jars” to teach them to save for both important things and fun things. Label each candle jar with a different savings goal, like “New Bike,” “Vacation,” or “College Fund.”
Whenever they get money from chores, allowance, or birthdays, help them divide their cash into each jar.
33. Makeup Storage
Store makeup brushes, eyeliners, lip glosses and sticks, pads, makeup removal wipes, and other essentials by separating them into small candle jars that you can stack on top of each other to calm the chaos in the bathroom.
34. Spice Containers
Wash and sanitize small jars with lids and use them to store spices. This is a good idea if you grow your own herbs, too, for storage after drying.
35. Make Small Indoor Planters
Add some soil to jars and choose plants that don’t require a lot of water – like succulents – to live and grow in your very own candle jar garden.
36. Make Decorative Bookends
Fill jars with colored sand, glitter, rocks, or anything that matches your room’s décor. Place them at the end of your book piles on shelves for decorative bookends.
With a little imagination, you can extend the life of your favorite candles and their pretty jars by making new candles or repurposing their wax and jars into something new and different. From decorative household items to perfectly-unique gifts, your options are virtually endless.
We’d love to learn about some of your favorite candle projects! Let us know your best tips for making homemade candles or repurposing candles and jars.