Last Updated: January 6, 2021

After the sweet burning days of your scented candle is over, it’s time to repurpose the candle jar into something useful. I’ve said it countless number of times on this blog and i’ll repeat it again, never you ever, throw away the containers that your candle wax is stuffed into.

If you feel the jar is taking up space around the house, pop it into a dish washer and take it for recycling instead. A candle container is too precious to be treated that way!

For cleaning out a candle jar, there’s only one foolproof way that i know how to do so, and that’s using a mild liquid dish soap and lukewarm water.

Before that however, there’s definitely going to be some left over wax lingering around the inside of the container, and you want to make sure you’re getting 90 percent of those out, so cleaning the container becomes very easy for you.

Here are the quick instructions for cleaning out a candle jar – regardless of size and shape and also of the composition of the jar material.


How to clean out a candle jar

  • Use a butter knife to cut through pieces of wax lingering inside the container.
  • Place the jar inside the freezer and let sit overnight.
  • Take out jar from the freezer and the wax residue should pop right off.
  • Use a bottle brush and a solution of water plus mild liquid dish soap to clean the inside of the jar.

The instructions above is for getting rid of wax residue using the freezer method. Other full proof methods exist as well, and they’re super easy to do just like the freezing method.

We’ll talk about them below so come cleaning, you’ll have more than one choice to choose from.


Heat cleaning methods

All the methods outlined here require the use of heat sources in one way or the other. If that is a thing that scares the shit out of you, then you want to jump straight to the cold cleaning methods.


1) Use a hair dryer

The number one take for cleaning out a candle jar is to use a hair dryer. Because the base wax used for making candle wax (especially those used for scented candles and those slapped into jars or containers) have medium to low melting point, they liquefy easily when subjected to heat from everyday sources such as a hair dryer.

To methods works clean, and leaves no marks or scratches on the containers especially if they are tins or ceramics.

Here’s how to get rid of wax residue using a hair dryer.

  • Whatever type of candle wax container you’re using, make sure to use an oven mitt or any convenient heat proof material to hold the candle jar. When you turn on the heat on the hair dryer, the container will get hot and transfer this heat to any surface it’s in direct contact with. You don’t want that to be your hands!
  • Now, turn on the hair dryer (on warm) and direct the hot air from the outlet to the sides of the jar and the bottom. This will loosen and soften up any wax residue clinging dearly to the inside of the container (sides and bottom) which will make them easier to scrape off.
  • Use a spoon, butter knife or the edge of a plastic ruler to scrape and get the wax out of the container. For the metal wick holder, use a fork to nudge it from the sides until it gives and loose place. Take it out using the fork.
  • Now it’s only a matter of cleaning before your containers are back to the way they were prior to stuffing them with burning wax at the manufacturers’!

2) Pour boiling water inside the jar

Next on the list for removing most wax out of a candle jar is to pour boiling water into the jar. This, just like the dryer method, will loosen up the wax remnants inside, and now with an addition: it liquefies them so that they float atop the uppermost layer of water on the jar. This method is recommended for jars having very little amount of wax in them as it would take lesser amount of time to collect all the wax to the surface of the jar.

Here’s how to make this method foolproof and safe every single time.

  • First, bring enough water (to cover the jar) to a boil in a small pot.
  • Place the candle jar on a heatproof surface. If you’re not sure where a heat proof surface is in your home, place the jar on a protective surface like a towel or pot holder.
  • Transfer the contents of the boiling pot into the container and make sure to leave an inch head space.
  • Wait some solid 1 to 5 hours or more for the wax residue to completely melt and collect into a solid layer at the top. The time will depending on the amount of wax inside the container, and also on the type of wax you have. The more wax you have remaining at the bottom, the more time and attempt it will take to collect the wax residue at the top.
  • Next, poke a hole into the solid wax to create a stream for water to pass through.
  • Transfer the water contents (preferably wax free), into another bowl and then remove the layer of wax at the top.
  • If there is a layer of wax remaining at the bottom, you want to repeat the method until all wax have melted and collected to the surface of the jar.

3) Put the jar inside a simmering water

This works perfect for jars with candles formed into a tunnel. It turns everything completely into liquid, which you can easily transfer onto a parchment paper to solidify.

Here are the steps.

  • Pour water halfway into a pot or a saucepan large enough to contain the candle vessel.
  • Bring this to a boil on high heat.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and place the container directly into the simmering water. Alternatively, and my advice, double boil with the vessel placed inside the top bowl. This will wipe out any possibilities of an exploding or shattering vessel when dipped into hot water. To make a quick DIY double boiler, use a sauce pan and a bowl having wide mouth and tapered bottom that can easily fit into no more than halfway inside the pan. This will ensure that the bottom isn’t directly in contact with the boiling water. If you have a bowl that goes deeper, adjust the water accordingly.
  • Allow the vessel to sit for up to 40 minutes (when using a double boiler) or more so the contents melt completely.
  • Roughly and lightly, tuck a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper into a ceramic cup and then transfer the melted wax onto the surface. Allow to solidify and repurpose into your DIY candle wax from remnants.

4) Bake the wax in a 180 degrees F oven

Baking the candle wax container is another way to get the wax contents all running at the surface of the baking sheet. This method works best for jars that have only little amount of wax in them. If you have a single jar you want to clean out, you might find that the method is a bit too complex and unnecessary. But if you have more than 4 or 5 vessels to do, you’ll see that it’s the quickest route to go.

Here is how to bake a used vessel of candle.

  • Preheat the oven to 200F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place candle jars upside down to allow the wax to drip down on the parchment sheet.
  • Place the tray into the oven
  • Bake for 15 minutes or more, depending on the amount of wax you have inside the jar.
  • Take out the tray from the oven using a mitt and set on a heatproof surface.
  • Remove the jars and transfer to a plate or tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Collect the dripped wax after they have solidified if you’re using them a DIY candle in the future.

Cold methods

All methods outlined here do not use any heat source to get rid of the wax in a candle jar.

5) Use the freezer to shrink the wax.

While heat loosen wax and turns them into liquid, cold does the opposite of solidifying and shrinking the wax to crispness. Both methods are at far apart on any continuum, but they somehow work great to remove wax from any candle container.

Freezing in particular, is the safest and easiest method of getting wax residue out of any container. It’s simple and painless and it works every single time!

For the freezer method,

  • Pop the container into the freezer and let sit overnight.
  • Remove the container and use a butter knife to gently cut through the middle of the bottom wax and then use this line to pop the wax right off.
  • Scrape off any tunneling (if any) around the sides of the candle jar.

6) Just use a butter knife

A decent alternative to the freezer method (but doesn’t work great like it), is to just use a butter knife to loosen and get the bits out. This works too, but because the wax is somewhat flexible, it can be annoying to get rid of especially when you’re stabbing randomly without any technique.

Here is the proper way to remove the bottom layer of remnant wax from a candle jar.

  • Take the candle jar in your right or left hand, depending on which is your dominant hand, and hold a butter knife on the other.
  • Use the butter knife to cut a deep diameter line on the wax surface.
  • Now dig the tip of the knife inside the diameter at an angle and try to lift off the wax from the bottom.
  • Note that if you have jar with a small opening, this can be almost impossible to do, and you’ll have better luck sticking with other methods on this list.

How to clean a candle jar

Now after taking out most of the wax from the candle container, it’s time to rinse them clean so we can purpose them for storage or whatever it is you want to use them for that demands some aesthetics.

Here is how to properly clean a candle jar

  • Pour lukewarm water into a bowl
  • Add liquid dish soap into the bowl. There is no need to go and start looking for alcohol or glass cleaners. Your regular dish washer is more than enough!
  • Ruffle up the water to cause foam.
  • Dip the bowl into the water and use a sponge, paper towel, or a brush to clean off any remnants that may still be clinging. If you have stubborn wax residues, or a container opening that is too small for your hands to reach a particular spot, you can use a Goo Gone directly on the spots to loosen them up, and then follow up with a bottle brush (dipped in foam) to wipe them off.
  • Dry the vessels and there you go, a spot free container perfect for many uses.