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Candle recycling

As a strong advocate for recycling and stopping the destruction of our environment, I try to do as much as possible myself to recycle and re-use things that would otherwise end up in our garbage. One of these things that are easy to recycle at home is ... stumps of old candles!

We all know what it's like ... by the end of the holiday season we have little stumps of candles left over from the Christmas table and don't use them anymore, or when grandmother is cleaning out the garage you find old decorative candles that have gone out of fashion, restaurants don't usually place half candles on their tables so the candles from yesterday evening end up in the bin!

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I try to collect these stumps and leftover candles and sort them by color in my workshop, I use empty jars as large as I can find or large vegetable tins (cleaned out first of course) to collect candles of the same color. I have an old electric portable cooking plate and a large cooking pot that I fill 1/3 with water. The jars or tins with candles get in next, to prevent them from falling over during cooking I brace them all together or place pieces of wood around them. Then I can let it cook for a while as it takes some time for the wax to melt.
Next is the preparation of the moulds, I use lots of things but my favorites are metal or cardboard tubes that used to have a nice bottle of scotch inside (you know those luxury bottles that come in a tube), or tubes of ... you guessed it ... Pringles!
The correct way to do this is simply by making sure your mould is watertight and doesn't melt at high temperatures so avoid plastic as much as possible ... although some large plastic bottles can stand the heat of molten wax ... and make sure you have something to catch molten wax on the table if it does start to leak!
Make a small hole just large enough to put a wick trough in the bottom of your mould, put the wick trough and suspend is with a stick or anything you have available on the top of the mould, then secure it on the bottom and cut it to length, I always use just a small piece of tape to secure it on the bottom, remember that the bottom of you mould will become the top of the candle once finished!
Now is the tricky part ... you have to make sure that you seal the hole with the wick completely, it has to be watertight, so I always use plenty of duct-tape to completely seal the bottom! Now the mould is ready and I can start pouring in the liquid wax, it is advised to let the wax cool down just a little bit before using it. Once the mould has been filled to the preferred height of the candle, just let it cool down where it is and DON'T TOUCH IT anymore! After about an hour you can feel it's still hot but mostly solid, I then put them in the freezer and let them cool overnight. Beware that there will be hole to fill up again once they have cooled down completely, you can just use some leftover wax, melt it again and fill those holes. Once the candles have completely cooled down a second time (another night in the freezer helps) it is time to reveal your works of art and see how you did.

January 2022: still a lot of leftovers in stock and I already burned up some of the earlier candles, so ... time to make a few more! Table set up with everything I 'll need.

Now it's time to prepare the moulds while the kettle is starting to heat up to melt
the wax as seen here, never use a brand new kettle, you 'll regret it!

Moulds can be made from lots of things, I personally like to use containers of whisky bottles as you can see, I also used a smaller box from cat candy made by whiskas as it is made in the form of a cats head. Now the moulds are ready you need to make sure they are as watertight as possible but still prepare for some small leaks, I always do the actual casting in my woodshop where I have a lot of sawdust to absorb possible leaks.

After a night in the freezing cold of my woodshop (it was about -2°C here in Belgium) it's time to open up the moulds and get the candles out, some moulds will remain intact and can be used again while others may be too fragile to use again and you 'll have no choice but to break them open to get the candle out. See the result here.

Below some photos of candles that I made from earlier leftovers.

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