How to Easily Remove Leftover Candle Wax

If you listen to our podcast you might already know that I am a bit of a candle fanatic. I am almost always burning a candle in my home (except when I sleep, duh). When I have a candle that has been packaged in an especially pretty vessel, I always mean to clean it out after and either reuse it for a homemade candle or repurpose it in my home. I must admit, I don’t always get around to it though because it seems like kind of a hassle. I’ve tried a few methods for how to easily remove leftover candle wax (once the candle has basically burned down to nothing, but there’s still that pool of leftover wax in the bottom). And just in case there are other candle-lovers out there, I thought I’d share what I do. If anyone has other methods, please share them with us in the comments!

Above is a candle I recently cleaned out. See how pretty the jar is that it came in?! (I think it was from Anthropologie, but I’m not sure; it was a gift from friends.) The three wicks were already burned down to the very ends, but there was still quite a bit of leftover wax in the bottom.

First, cut a few slashes through the leftover wax.

Then, pour boiling water into the vessel. The water will melt the wax, including hopefully getting in between the slashes or cracks you added. The melted wax will rise to the surface and float on top of the water. Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the waxy top and discard. You may need to repeat this step again if there is still more wax to remove.

Some candle brands will have a sticky glue that holds the metal bottoms of the wicks to the vessel (and some don’t). If your candle has this, you will need to scrape it up with the blunt end of a butter knife or a flathead screwdriver. If the glue persists, you may also need to use soap to remove, or if it’s really persistent you can use a product like Goof Off.

Once all the wax and any sticky residues are removed, thoroughly clean the vessel with dish soap and water or run it through the dishwasher (if the vessel seems to be dishwasher safe; if you’re unsure, just wash it by hand).

And that’s it! I think this is the easiest way to remove leftover candle wax. Another method I saw was melting the wax in the oven and then pouring it out, but this seemed a little more difficult to me (like handling the hot vessel while the wax is also hot … but idk, maybe I’m a baby). Anyway, if anyone has other methods, let us know. I love being about to reuse a pretty jar once a candle is gone—it feels like a second life! Random post but thanks for letting me share. xo. Emma

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How to Easily Remove Leftover Candle Wax

Instructions

  1. First, cut a few slashes through the leftover wax.

  2. Then, pour boiling water into the vessel. The water will melt the wax, hopefully getting in between the slashes or cracks you added. The melted wax will rise to the surface and float on top of the water. 

  3. Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove the waxy top and discard. You may need to repeat this step again if there is still more wax to remove.

  4. Some candle brands will have a sticky glue that holds the metal bottoms of the wicks to the vessel (and some don’t). If your candle has this, you will need to scrape it up with the blunt end of a butter knife or a flathead screwdriver. If the glue persists, you may also need to use soap to remove, or if it’s really persistent you can use a product like Goof Off.

  5. Once all the wax and adhesive is removed, clean the vessel well.

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • I pop all my candles at the end of their life into the freezer and the new day, usually while waiting for the coffee and as a distraction form putting away the dishes from the night before, i take a knife and pop out the wax and throw it away. easy peasy. no more melting required. now what to do with all the pretty containers…?

  • A VERY easy thing to do for holders that are sold empty, such as votives, is to put a little water in the bottom before you put the candle in. You don’t have to try to put more the next time you use it either. (As I recall).

  • From years of bartending and waiting tables, the method we used was this: it would be someone’s end-of-service side-work to collect all the candles on a cocktail tray, then use the cranking hot (but probably not boiling) water from the espresso machine to fill each to the top. The next day, the water would be cool and the wax a solid disk atop the votive that would pop right off with a butter knife.
    These days I save the wax, and as a pre-holiday project I help my daughter make homemade fire starters for the fireplace. There are a million ways to do it but we usually fill cupcake liners with dried pine cones, birch bark or other flammables we’ve collected (you could also use cedar shavings from the pet dept or dryer lint- really!) and add a cinnamon stick or cloves, dried citrus peels (from snacks & oven dried). Then using a thrift store pan reserved for this purpose, toss in all that wax you’ve collected and add it to your firestarters; cool, peel & wrap.
    Tah-dah 😉

  • The easiest method for me is to put the candle vessel upside down on a piece of tin foil in a low pan or cookie sheet in a very low oven. If the candle is small enough I use my toaster oven. After about an hour at 150 F the leftover wax runs onto the tinfoil. Just remember the container is hot- use something to protect your hands when lifting the candle vessel.

  • I just got a scented candle subscription where you melt your own candle (to reduce waste). This Post has come at the perfect time for me. Thank you, Emma!

  • 5 stars
    If I like the scent I melt down the wax by putting the vessel into a low pot of boiling water, and the. Pour into cheap tea lights (remove the wax but keep the wick). Then I have nice scented tea lights and the vessel is super easy to clean with warm water and soap.

  • This is fascinating! I’m definitely going to try your method on the next candle.

  • Like other commenters, I just stick it in the freezer and then if it doesn’t pop out easily, I use a butter knife to break it up at bit. Even the glued down metal wick base usually just pops right out.

  • Another easy way to remove left over wax is to freeze it, a couple slashes (or not) put it in the freezer for a few hours then it pop right out with a butter knife.

  • Hi there! I too love candles and find that putting them in the freezer for a short time will allow you to pop the frozen wax out easily! It shrinks a little with the cold and comes out easily!

  • This is soon helpful! I have quite a few pretty candle holders hidden away with just a smidgen of wax in them. All the other methods I looked up online seemed too labor intensive. And, I found freezing the candles didn’t work.

  • Fellow candle lover here! I pop my containers in the freezer for a few hours to let the wax harden, then it usually pops right out! Sometime you may need to use a knife to break the wax into chunks and then remove. I have come across some types of wax that will not harden in the freezer so I think I might have to try using the heat method for those ones. ☺️

  • Hi Emma, the easiest method I know is by sticking the vessel into the freezer for a few hours of overnight. The wax will reduce just slightly in size and you can easily remove it from its container – give it a try the next time.

  • Love this idea! If the leftover wax you’re removing is a scent you really love and you also have a wax warmer, rather than throw away the wax you can add the leftover wax to the warmer to get continued use of the scent!!

  • I have had varying results with putting the candle in the freezer. In some cases, it just pops out. In others, I end up throwing away the container and swearing I’ll never buy another candle. Lol. I’ll try your methods next.

  • I recently saw that freezing a candle lets the wax pop right out. I haven’t tried it, but it seems like a promising method!

    • I use the freezer method to remove solidified wax from tart burners. Once the wax has hard set in the burner, I put burner in the freezer for an hour or so. Remove from freezer and the wax disc easily slides out. This also works for jar candles but as stated above, sometimes you need to break the wax into smaller pieces.

  • Freezing it can also work really well! I haven’t tried to remove wax from jars specifically, but you could probably cut lines in it and freeze it and use a knife to pop the pieces out.

  • I have had success with freezing the jar. A lot of the time the jar opening is smaller than the base of pooled wax, so I use a butter knife to break it apart to remove the pieces of wax.

  • I use the same method but have learned the hard way that if your vessel is glass and you pour in boiling water, 9 times out of 10 the glass will crack or break. So I heat the water but not to boiling, run hot tap water over the vessel to warm the glass and then little by little pour the heated water into the vessel. Let it sit 30-45 seconds and scrape out wax chunks

    • I used to sell Partylite candles. The wax used burned so clean there was hardly any residue left. With other brands I found filling the vessel with cold tap water and letting it sit overnight works beautifully! The next day the leftover was is either floating in the water or so lose you can pop it out with a butter knife or screwdriver. Works great everytime!

      • By far the easiest and cleanest method to get rid of excess candle wax from a container is to simply place in the freezer overnight. Typically the frozen wax will just pop out on its own, but if not a slight nudge with a butter knife will do the trick.

        The now empty container will only have a slight residue which can be cleaned wirh a little warm soapy water.

        A little trick: save the wax remains in one of the small plastic condiment containers you get for sauce with Chinese food and pop in microwave to melt and reform. Put the lid on the melted wax in cup and place in freezer overnight. Next day remove the wax and you have wax melts for Scentsy nightlights or plug in scent diffusers.

      • * You can use hot tap water to raise the temp of the glass before adding boiled water. I don’t crack the wax and can then use the remaining wax that collects at the top for a wardrobe scent (let the Scented wax dry. Wrap in tissue and place in wardrobe / pantry) scent lasts for ages.

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