By popular request, here is a simple step-by-step guide to cleaning candle jars so you can recycle and reuse them as decorative containers. This will work for most candles. My favorites to re-use are Diptyque and Henri Bendel mainly because the jars are sturdy and even if there is a slight burn on the sides, the glass is strong enough so it doesn’t leave burn marks (most of the time). I like the way Henri Bendel candles are simple and clean looking. For Diptyque, I love the oval stickers and the fact that heat from the flames doesn’t change the color or make them peel.
Hot running water, paper towels and a flat-edged spoon (I prefer spoons because they are safer to use) … and of course a finished candle! The spoon below is a hot chocolate spoon from Crate and Barrel from several years ago.
Step 1: Make sure your finished candle has finished cooling. Take the spoon and carve or scoop out any wax. The hard edges make the wax easier to scoop from the bottom corners where the sides meet the base. Work around the candle in a carving motion around the sides and then on the bottom. Depending on the candle, room temperature, how much you’ve burned, you may find some waxes more stubborn than others. Having remnants is ok, we will remove in the next few steps.
Step 2: Take a paper towel and wipe down any excess burnt pieces and wax. A stiffer paper towel will help pick up some of the wax you scraped off. If it doesn’t come completely clean, not to worry. Most of the cleaning has to be done in a series steps where the jar gets progressively cleaner.
Step 3: If stubborn wax remains, fill the jar with hot water. Make sure it’s not too hot (definitely not boiling). If the heat is too high it can crack the glass. Let it sit for 30 seconds to soften the glass. Note that you can re-arrange any of the steps. I like to scrape, wipe and then fill with water to remove as much wax and burnt edge remnants as possible before adding water to soften the excess.
Step 4: Now that the warm/hot water has softened the waxes on the sides, repeat the cleaning process with a paper towel to wipe the inside completely clean. The wax should glide off easily and adhere to the paper towel. If there’s still wax remaining, repeat the above steps by adding hot water for an additional 30 seconds to soften wax and wipe clean again.
Now your candles are cleaned and ready to use for decoration!
There are a number of different ways to clean out your candle jars. This is just one I’ve found works. Some recommend freezing the jars to help the wax pop out. I haven’t tried it – if you have I’d love to hear how it worked for you. For me, I tend to leave things in the freezer and forget about them. Also using the method listed above is faster for me rather than having to wait for the jars to cool/freeze in the freezer. Others recommend pouring boiling water to soften and remove the wax – I personally wouldn’t recommend boiling water since the glass might not be strong enough to sustain the shock in different temperatures.