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How to Reuse & Recycle Old Candle Jars & Wax

three candles
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Parachute Team
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The simple joy of lighting a scented candle really can't be overstated. It helps set the mood, makes your space smell nice and creates a glowy ambiance. But what should you do when a beloved votive has run its course?

Sometimes, the container is simply too pretty to get rid of, but you may not be able to repurpose it when there's still wax at the bottom. If you're wondering what to do with old candle jars, you've come to the right place.

Read on for thoughtful ways to upcycle candle jars, how to get leftover wax out and even tips on what to do with old candle wax.

7 Ways to Repurpose Candle Jars

Your cherished scented candle is almost used up, and you can't bear to toss out the gorgeous embossed jar. So, what's the solution? Here are seven ideas on what to do with old candle jars.

Mini Planters

One of the best empty candle jar ideas is to turn it into a mini planter. Many indoor plants, like cactuses and succulents, are small enough to fit in a 12 or even 8-ounce container. You could also plant herbs in your empties and place them on your kitchen windowsill.

Potpourri Container

Candle jars make excellent potpourri containers too. Whether you buy a pre-made mix or whip up your own medley of dried petals, rosebuds and spices, the light natural scent is perfect for closets, bathroom counters and vanities.

Cotton Ball or Hair Tie Container

Speaking of bathroom counters and vanities, you can use the empty vessel to house things like cotton balls, hair ties, bobby pins, Q-tips and other grooming products. You could also use it as a toothbrush holder.

Want more tips? Check out these 56 Bathroom Decor Ideas for Styling Your Bathroom.

Makeup Brush Holder

If you're wondering how to reuse candle jars and you have a substantial makeup collection, you can use them to store and organize your brushes. Empty containers can also hold eyeliner, lip pencils or eyebrow-grooming products.

Pen and Pencil Holder

Another option for repurposing a candle jar is to use it as a pen or pencil holder. You can place the decorative container on your desk or a shelf, where it will look just as pretty as it did while burning wax.

Office Supply Organizers

On a similar note, a great idea for reusing candle jars is to use them to organize your office supplies, such as paper clips, stamps, extra batteries or chargers — even better if the containers have lids. As with a pen holder, you can place them on your desk or tuck them away in a cabinet.

While you’re stocking up on office accessories, check out these helpful resources for Creating Your Ideal Workspace At Home and Ideas for Designing a Home Office / Bedroom.

Floating Shelf Decor

It's a shame to get rid of a pretty jar, especially when it complements your interior design scheme. Whether you fill it or leave it empty, these glass or ceramic containers can look lovely as floating shelf decor.

Here are 27 more Ideas for Decorating a Blank Wall in Your Home.

How to Recycle Candle Jars

Beyond ideas on how to reuse candle jars, you might be wondering what to do with old candle jars you don't want to keep. This depends on where you live, but as long as the wax is cleared out, the empty vessels can usually be recycled.

As with your glass bottles and aluminum cans, you can most likely place the empty glass or tin container in the appropriate recycling bin and have it picked up curbside. (In some cases, the glass containers might be too thick, so check with your waste-management servicer first.)

For more tips on minimizing waste, see our guides on How to Donate, Recycle and Reuse Old Bed Sheets and Towels and How to Dispose of Mattresses the Right Way.

How to Empty Candle Jars and Remove Leftover Wax

Once you decide what to do with candle jars, you'll need to get the leftover wax out. There are a few ways to go about it, including freezing, boiling and washing. Here's what to know.

Freeze It

One of the easiest ways to get candle wax out of a jar is to freeze it. Place the container in your freezer overnight or until it's completely frozen, then use a butter knife to loosen the edges or create a crack through the middle. It should dislodge in one or two pieces and pop right out.

Boil It

Another option is melting candle wax with a boiling method. Add a few inches of water to a pot, place the jar inside, then set it on a burner. Once it reaches a boil, use sturdy tongs or a hot pad to grab the container and pour out the melted wax.

Wash It

When you're unable to melt the candle wax (or just don't want to go through the fuss), try filling the jar with hot soapy water. Let it soak for a half-hour or so, then scrub out the inside.

How to Reuse Candle Wax in 4 Ways

If you don't want anything to go to waste, check out these four clever ideas on what to do with old candle wax.

DIY Tea Lights

Wondering what to do with leftover candle wax? Why not make more candles? You can buy empty tea light containers complete with wicks and pour the remaining wax into them.

Scented Wax Melts

You can also use leftover wax from scented candles to make wax melts. You can heat them with a tea light or an electric wax burner to continue releasing the fragrance into your home — no wick needed.

Scented Fire Starter

Pour melted wax into parchment muffin liners, add a few pieces of crumpled paper towel, and stick in a wick trimming to create scented fire starters. Once the wax hardens, remove the muffin liners, and place the starters in your fireplace or outdoor pit underneath kindling and wood.

Letter Seals

If you appreciate the romance of snail mail, this one's for you. You can use leftover candle wax for personalized letter seals — all you need is a stamp.

Eco-Friendly Options for a Nice-Smelling Home

Want to keep your home smelling good at all times? Consider these natural, eco-friendly products and ideas.

Scented Candles

This scented candle comes in a reusable concrete jar with a pared-down, minimalist aesthetic. Available in your choice of fresh citrusy Salt Water or woody floral Dusk, the soy-based wax is naturally fragranced with essential oils and promises a clean burn.

Natural Fabric Mists and Room Sprays

You can spritz linen mists and room sprays directly onto your fabrics and upholstered furniture. You can also use a room spray in the bathroom or anywhere else that needs freshening up.

Read our guide for tips on the Best Ways to Use Linen Spray, and check out these DIY Natural Room Spray Recipes to make your own.


A clean-air study conducted by NASA found that some indoor plants might help purify indoor air. Want to learn more? These are the Top 16 Indoor Plants For Clean Air in Your Home.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Essential oil diffusers are a great aromatherapy tool. Available in two neutral hues, this one boasts a sleek, understated aesthetic and a user-friendly design.

See our blog for a deeper dive into Home Fragrances: How to Make Your Home Smell Good.