5 Fun Ideas For Upcycling And Reusing Your Candle Jars

Candles are a surefire way to make a home feel cozy; they smell inviting and give personality to a space. But what can you do with the empty jar when the wax sizzles to the bottom of its wick? Every jar is not worth keeping, but you can upcycle and reuse the pretty, unique, and sentimental ones. The first step is to clean the old candle jar, says the Armatage Candle Company. Their tips for this task include setting the jar into a pot of boiling water and waiting for the remaining wax to melt. Another method involves pouring boiling water into the candle jar, so the melted wax rises to the top to be scooped away. They add that wax can also be removed with a hair dryer, in the oven, or by freezing. 

Keep in mind that candle jars differ in thickness, sturdiness, and material, so you may need to experiment with cleaning methods to see what works best for you. Take care, though; Osmology warns that some glass may be too fragile to handle excessive temperatures. They also caution against using a microwave to melt wax since most wick holders are metal, and nearly everyone issues stern warnings against pouring melted wax down drains. Now you should be ready to give your candle jar new life as something functional or fabulous.

1. Make new candles

Start with a clean jar, fresh wick, and no smoky residue lingering on the inside. Candles can be made from reclaimed wax or new sources, such as various waxes and gels in shapes from flakes to blocks. MindBodyGreen offers an overview of basic candle making using wax pellets, which can be found in most craft supply stores. From gathering the supplies to adding the scents to how long to let your candles burn to avoid having a dip in the middle, you will learn so much in no time. 

Candle Expert Abigail Cook Stone told MindBodyGreen that to liquefy the surface and fix existing candles that tunneled, you can plant a small tinfoil tent with a silver-dollar-size open hole in the center for ventilation." You can also avoid tunneling by having the first few burns last at least an hour, so the entire surface melts to the candle's edge. For an even better experience, fill the jar with coffee beans, insert a vanilla candle, and light it up, which, according to Channel3000, not only will make your room smell heavenly, but the smell will linger much longer than the scent of a candle.

2. Store bathroom essentials

Candle jars with lids are ideal storage containers for bathroom use since they are waterproof. Cotton rounds, balls, and swabs can easily be stored in old candle jars. Clear glass containers, in particular, are perfect because they allow you to see how much is in the jar quickly, so you know when to restock. You might want to use bigger ones for bath salts or bath bombs, while a short, squat vessel could carry lip gloss sticks. Even a small candle jar can be a handy bathroom addition, keeping little extras like hair bands. Fill one or more jars with battery-operated LED fairy lights for a little ambiance.

And if you want to make a simple lidded jar even prettier, Joy's Life shows how to upcycle the lid with drawer pulls. She carefully found the center of the lid and marked it using a nail and tapping it with a hammer, then put a screw bit on her screwdriver, and before long, had created something new and classy for her bathroom.

3. Grow herbs or succulents

Add a layer of pebbles, marbles, or pretty stones for drainage, cut a piece of landscape fabric to keep most of the dirt above the pebble layer, then add some potting soil, and you are ready to turn your candle jar into one of the prettiest pots in the house. Whether the candle jar is transparent or colored, your plants will grow in high style. Since most candle jars aren't huge, you'll have the most success with plants that don't need to grow deep roots. Try succulents, such as baby toes, kalanchoe, and string of pearls, notes Suburbia Unwrapped, who list their top selections for succulents.

You might also want to try growing herbs, but most require deeper growing depths than most candle jars can provide. Homegrown Food and Flowers suggest oregano and chives are good options if you can give them a 4-inch pot to spread out their roots, and thyme also often grows well in shallow soil.

4. Taste the good life

If you clean your candle jar well, you'll love Krostrade's idea of using it to store food. You can even consider using it for overnight oats or serving desserts. Use a measuring cup and water to determine the exact storage capacity of the upcycled candle jar. It may not conform to a size that fits your recipe, so you may need to adjust accordingly. And if you're using the jars for dinner parties or holiday desserts, don't worry about having all of them match. Part of the charm can be having slightly different options.

Larger jars, especially those with screw-top lids, are handy for holding salad dressings that need a fast shake or smoothies and coffee drinks for your on-the-go life. Jumpstart your morning with Tasting Table's recipe for overnight strawberry oats. They recommend using a 12- to 16-ounce jar, a common candle jar size. Tossing together rolled oats, Greek yogurt (or non-dairy yogurt, if you prefer), the milk of your choosing, strawberries, plus a little jam, honey, and vanilla extract takes a bit of time but gives you a great start to your morning.

5. Rediscover the art of decoupage

It's time to rediscover the lost art of decoupage and use it on your upcycled candle jars to create masterpieces for your home. The candle jars you decoupage might now be graced with photos of your children or pets, creating lasting keepsakes to hold whatever treasures you place inside. Or perhaps it becomes a gift for the grandparents, with the grandkids lending a hand wielding the Mod Podge-coated brush and filling the jar with Grandpa's favorite candies or hand lotions for Grandma. If the kiddos use their artwork, Nana and Pops will love it even more!

The Kids Activities Blog showcases using leaves for decoupage, letting nature's beauty last a little longer. Pressed flowers could work, as do artificial leaves from craft stores. The blog recommends coating the jar with a layer of Mod Podge glue first, then applying the decorations. Once each is placed, it can be coated with another thin layer of Mod Podge. Then the entire jar can receive a final coat. Let your candle jar decoupage project capture memories, become a gift, or get your creativity flowing, all while providing new life for an old candle.