How to Get Wax Out of a Candle Jar (and Creatively Upcycle It)

Upcycle spent candles into cute storage containers or DIY decor items with these tips on removing wax and stubborn buildup.

If you quickly burn through your favorite scented candles, throwing away the glass jars just feels wasteful. Luckily, there are plenty of options for upcycling candle jars, whether you use them to make new candles, utilize them as storage, or display them as decor. But first, you'll need to remove the wax from your container.

You'll know it's time to say goodbye to a candle when 1/2-inch of wax remains at the bottom of the jar. Burning a candle past this point can damage the container or even the surface it's sitting on. Learn how to get wax out of a candle jar with a few household items and our four no-fail methods. Once you've removed any remaining wax, polish up your container with our cleaning tips before reusing it in your home.

pouring water into candle jar
Carson Downing

How to Remove Candle Wax from a Jar with Hot Water

This method works best with wide-mouth candles. Place your spent candle on a protective surface, like a dish towel or a potholder.

Step 1: Add Boiling Water

Boil enough water to fill the candle jar, then pour into the container, leaving an inch of space at the top. The water will melt the candle wax, causing it to float to the surface of the container.

Step 2: Remove Wax

Let cool completely before removing the wax. With your sink drain stopped, strain the water and remaining candle bits. Discard or save the wax for future projects. Be sure that all wax remnants are out of the sink before releasing the drain stopper, as wax will clog a drain.

Step 3: Let Jar Soak

Another strategy for getting leftover wax out of a candle jar is to let the jar soak in warm water. Put in a drain stopper and fill your sink with warm water. Remove the lid, if it has one, and let the open candle jar sit in the sink for 30 minutes. The water will release the wax at the bottom of the container and make it easy to pull out. Keep in mind that this method will likely remove the label on the jar.

scooping wax out of glass jar
Carson Downing

How to Clean Out a Candle Jar in the Freezer

Another foolproof candle wax removal method is freezing, which shrinks the wax. Start by placing a spent candle jar in the freezer overnight. In the morning, take the container out of the freezer and flip it upside down—the lump of wax should pop right out. If it doesn't, use a spoon or butter knife to press down on one corner of the wax to lift and remove.

hands holding tray of overturned glasses
Carson Downing

How to Clean Out a Candle Jar in the Oven

This method allows you to remove wax from multiple candles at once if needed. Begin by preheating your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 1: Prep Supplies

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place your spent candles upside-down on the foil.

Step 2: Heat Wax in Oven

Place the baking sheet into the heated oven. Keep a close eye on the candles; after about 15 minutes, the wax should pool on the foil. At that point, take the baking sheet out of the oven, set it on a heat-safe surface, and remove the jars using an oven mitt.

Step 3: Clean the Candle Jar

Let each candle jar cool before cleaning with soap and warm water. Once the leftover wax has dried on the baking sheet, you can remove it from the aluminum foil to use in the future or discard with the aluminum foil.

Editor's Note: This method only works for glass candle jars without decoration. If your jar has any adornments, such as glitter, sequins, or stickers that you're unable to remove, try a different cleaning option.

candle jar of wax with blow dryer
Carson Downing

How to Remove Candle Wax from a Jar with a Hair Dryer

Hairdryers are often used to remove candle wax from carpet. They can also be used to soften the wax in a spent candle for removal. Begin by holding your candle with an oven mitt. Turn a hairdryer on warm, and use it to heat the candle's wax from the sides and bottom. Once the wax is soft to the touch, lift or scrape it out of the container with a butter knife.

How to Clean Candle Jars

After removing the wax from your candle jars, you might need to clean out lingering wax residue or soot left on the glass. To do so, use warm water, soap, and a sponge to clean the container before wiping dry with a dish towel or paper towel. For stubborn buildup, use an adhesive remover, such as Goo Gone ($4, The Home Depot). A bottle brush ($5, Target) might also be useful if the candle mouth is too narrow for your hand.

empty candle jars holding office supplies
Carson Downing

How to Reuse Leftover Candle Wax and Containers

You can make an entirely new candle just by using cleaned-out jars and leftover wax. Combine wax pieces (preferably ones with similar scents and colors) in a microwave-safe dish and heat in one-minute increments at 60 percent power until the wax is melted. Place a fresh wick in the jar(s) you plan on using and pour the melted wax into the jar while holding onto the tip of the wick. Let cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

Alternatively, you can reuse candle jars as storage for office supplies, craft accessories, or bath items, like cotton swabs or hair-ties. Use large glass candle jars as planters or vases for flowers.

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