We searched every method we could find to clean soy wax out of a candle jar, and put each one to the test. After testing each one, here’s our ranking and review for each method. (Please Note: we only tested the following methods using soy wax. Results may vary with other waxes.)
Before we jump into the results, a couple quick notes:
- For safety reasons, you should stop using a candle once ½” of the wax.
- To get a little more life out of your scented candle before cleaning out the jar, you can warm the wax using a warming plate. Pro Tip: look for 2-in-1 Candle and Wax Warmers that allow you to place candles directly on the plate and melt wax in the dish.
Without further ado…drumroll, please…here’s our ranking of every wax cleaning method we could find (from worst to best):
6. Microwave (Warning!)
Alright, this one shouldn’t even be on the list but we’re including it as a cautionary tale. Candle wicks are secured to the bottom of candle containers using a metal tab; therefore, do not put candles in the microwave.
5. Hair Dryer
You know the saying, "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should?" Although you can use a hair dryer to smooth the top surface of a candle, it’s a really inefficient and messy way to try and melt down ½” of wax. There are much better ways.
4. Heat Gun
Although many candlemakers use a heat gun to smooth their candle tops, and it's more effective than a hair dryer, it's also an inefficient way to melt down ½” of wax. Keep reading.
3. Boiling Water
Method: Pour boiling water directly into candle jar. Okay, I'll be 100% honest: I wasn't even going to test this method because I was already familiar with the double-boiler stovetop method; but I did it anyways, and instantly regretted it. Here's why: it's so much easier and safer to pour melted wax into the trash rather than disposing of liquified wax and fragrance oil mixed in boiling hot water. This method works because the boiling water is hotter than the wax melting point; however, there are much better ways.
Wax does shrink somewhat when frozen. Hypothesis: if you place a candle in a freezer for a few hours (or overnight), you can "pop" the wax out using a butter knife. In practicality: with a lot slips and elbow grease, I was able to get the vast majority of the wax out in chunks but struggled to remove 100% of the wax. I only recommend this method for candle jars with thick glass. For example, I didn't feel comfortable testing it on our upcycled beer bottles.
1. Double Boiler
Add 1/2” – 1” of water inside a small pot: just enough water to be level with the remaining wax. If candle bobs or floats in water, pour some water out. Place small pot on burner, then place candle in the middle of the pot and turn burner onto medium-high heat. Bring water to a boil, continue boiling until wax is melted and the wick tab is lose. Once melted, turn off burner and carefully remove candle jar from pot using a hot pad or towel. Pour melted wax and wick tab into the trash. (Please Note: soy wax is biodegradable.) Once glass has cooled, clean jar using dish soap and hot water.
After years of experience removing labels from beer bottles, here's our top recommended method to remove labels from glass bottles:
Once it’s clean, there are unlimited ways to reuse and repurpose a candle jar. Click link to check out our blog post.