As we strive to protect our planet, recycling candles plays a crucial role in reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Unfortunately, recycling a candle isn’t as simple as recycling something like a water bottle. Due to their composition & makeup, not all candles are recyclable. Single-use candles, in particular, pose challenges in the recycling process.
As advocates for sustainability, we've developed a range of eco-friendly and reusable candles that are an amazing alternative to single-use candles.
But first, we want to go in depth on how to recycle a traditional single-use candle. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of recycling your candles, discuss the importance of sustainability, and introduce you to our reusable & refillable candles. Let's dive in and make a difference!
Are all candles recyclable?
Well, yes… and no … it actually depends.
The candle must be 1) clean, 2) recyclable, and 3) recycled at the proper facility. We’ll explain further.
Step #1: Check what material your candle is made of.
The first step in figuring out if your candle is recyclable is to check what material it is made out of. Most candles are made of one of the following materials: glass, ceramic, and tin.
Here’s the breakdown of their recyclability:
- Glass: Not all glass can be recycled. In fact, most candles are made of borosilicate glass - which is great for candles because it is more durable and heat-resistant, but unfortunately this type of glass is not accepted at most local recycling centers. Soda-lime glass is recyclable, but most glass candles do not use this material, as it is unsafe when heated. Soda-lime glass has a green/blue tint, while borosilicate glass has a clear/yellow tint. When in doubt, assume most candles are made with borosilicate glass. To summarize, you can take borosilicate glass to most commercial recycling plants, but should not be recycled at home or in local centers.
- Ceramic: Recycled ceramic is most commonly reused in construction materials like driveways, building materials, roads, etc. Ceramic is not typically accepted at local recycling centers, but can be taken to most commercial recycling centers.
- Tin: Though they don’t look as luxurious as glass and ceramic candles, almost all tin candles are accepted at local recycling centers and are a great option if you are shopping for single-use candles.
In summary, all three materials are accepted at commercial recycling centers, but only tin candles are accepted locally.
Step #2: Clean any wax residue from the candle.
It is important to note that any candle jars that still have wax residue should not be recycled until they are 100% clean. If you put a used, dirty candle in the recycling, it could actually contaminate the entire batch if the wax gets on other items. This is called wishcycling, and it does more harm than good. So the next step in seeing if you can recycle your candle jar is making sure it is completely clean.
There are a few different methods to clean a used candle, but the most common is the Boiling Method. Here are the instructions:
Burn the candle
The journey to “sustainable candle recycling” begins with the most enjoyable part, burning your candle. Burn it to your heart's content, embracing the cozy ambiance it brings. We also recommend following proper candle care tips - as this will help the candle last longer and make the cleanup process easier. Once the candle is nearly finished, extinguish the flame and allow the wax to cool completely (typically at least four hours). When you're ready to tackle the cleaning process, move on to step 2!
Prepare for wax removal by boiling a pot of water. You will use this to help remove the remaining wax from the jar.
Prepare the jar
As you wait for the water to boil, take a moment to minimize any potential mess. Place an old towel on your kitchen table or counter, creating a designated workspace for the recycling process. Gather your single-use candles and arrange them on the towel.
Pour the water
When your boiling water is ready, carefully pour the hot water into the candle jar, filling the vessel approximately three-quarters full. You’ll notice as you continue to pour the water that it will begin melting the remaining wax at the bottom, causing it to slow rise to the surface. It is important to be very careful at this step, and take caution as the candle jar AND water are now extremely hot from the boiling water.
Wait a few hours
Allow the jar to sit and cool for around 4-5 hours until the wax solidifies at the top (above the water).
Extract the wax
From there, removing the wax may require a bit of effort at this point. Use a butter knife or a similar tool to gently dislodge the wax from the edges of the jar. You can watch a quick tutorial on how to do so here.
Clean up any leftover wax
It is important to also wipe down the inside of the jar and pick out any remaining wax. If the boiling step didn’t fully remove the wax, you can use the butter knife to scrape down the jar - or a heat gun to heat the wax and wipe it away. Be careful with both of these steps.
Wipe down remaining residue
After removing the wax and wick from the jar, it's time to meticulously wipe away any lingering residue. Ensure the jar is impeccably clean, ready for recycling or repurposing. This extra effort guarantees that you're making an impactful contribution to sustainability.
(If possible) Compost the wax
Did you know that depending on the type of wax used, you can compost the leftovers? If the candle wax is made with 100% natural wax (soy, beeswax, coconut, etc) and nontoxic fragrances - you can compost the leftover! Join the ranks of the environmentally-conscious by composting your wax, contributing to a sustainable ecosystem.
Step #3: Recycle the candle jar.
Congratulations on reaching the final step! Now that the inside of the jar is pristine and free from any residue, it's time to make a responsible choice. If your local recycling facilities accept candle jars, recycle them according to the guidelines in your area. Otherwise, you may want to research commercial recycling centers in your state and connect with them to make sure the candle jar doesn’t ultimately end up in a landfill.
Step #4: Switch to a refillable candle!
That was a lot of work just to recycle a single-use candle, right? Lucky for you, we created a reusable solution!
At Arbor Made, we are passionate about sustainability and the environment. That's why we invented a candle jar that is designed to be reused over and over again (and is SUPER easy to clean 😉). Simply push up on the flexible bottom to pop out the leftover wax (that is 100% compostable). Then, instead of having to put in the work to clean & recycle the jar and buying a whole new candle jar … you can just slide in one of our zero-waste candle refills!
No guilt. No hassle. No waste. Just reuse & refill!
Our refillable candles are crafted with high-quality materials and provide a long-lasting, eco-friendly alternative to single-use candles. We currently offer our candle refills in a variety of scents that we are confident you’ll love!
Join us in our mission to create a greener future by choosing our sustainable candles. Let’s make the world a better place, one candle at a time!