Tips for repurposing your candle jars + keeping them clean

repurposing candle jars

It’s no secret that I have a slight obsession with candles. I always have one burning and love switching them up, depending on my mood.

This, of course, has turned me into a bit of a paranoiac. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, only to get up and check that I’ve put out all the candles. But hey, better safe than sorry, right?

I love reusing my candle cars for things like storing some beauty bits, hairpins, makeup brushes, etc.

The topic of keeping those candle jars clean and soot-free has come up on my Instagram a few times,  so  I thought I’d write this quick post.




If you don’t already do this, trim your wick so that it’s the length of about 1/4 inch. I trim my candle wicks before each use.  By doing this, your candle will not leave as much soot (the black residue) behind. If any of my candles do end up with any soot, I wipe it off with a paper towel (after the candle has cooled off completely, of course!). You can use small scissors for this or a candle wick trimmer. This is one of the most important things to do if you want to keep your candles/jars clean.


This is what an evenly-burned, tunnel-free candle should look like. 


If you get your candle to burn evenly, you’ll have less trouble removing any wax left behind once your candle is completely burnt. The first time you burn your candle is the most important “burn”. You want to make sure that you burn it for at least 2 hours (this will depend on the size of the candle, of course). The reason for this, is that you want the wax to burn/melt all the way to the edges of the candle. Otherwise, the wax will start to tunnel and next time you burn your candle, it will be impossible to get an even burn. I also usually avoid burning my candles for longer than 4 hours at a time.


When you follow the above steps, cleaning out your used up candles is very easy. I usually have very little wax left behind and just scoop it out with a spoon. If there is a lot of wax left behind (like with Bath & Body Works candles, they never burn all the way), I put the jars in a freezer for a few hours- your candle has to be cooled off COMPLETELY when doing this. After a few hours, I just use a butter knife to pop the wax out and usually keep it so that I can melt it in one of these.

Other than Diptyque, I love reusing jars from these Febreeze candles (where I keep my crystals on this photo) and Scentsational candles (I usually find those at TJMaxx).


Sometimes (or… most of the time) there is still some wax residue on the sides of the jar, after removing the wax and what’s left of the wick. That’s when I reach for acetone. I just take a piece of paper towel, soak it in nail polish remover, and clean the inside of the candle jar. It works like a dream in removing any excess soot and/or wax and leaves the jar squeaky clean. I then wash it with some soap and pat it dry.

Keep in mind that I only use the acetone on the INSIDE of the jar. If your candle jar has logo stickers/prints of any kind, and you use acetone on it, you’ll end up removing the logo. I actually use acetone to remove price stickers whenever I buy candles from Marshalls or TJMaxx. For some strange reason, they like to place them right on the “face” of the candle.

Now, “designer” candles aren’t the only ones I like to re-purpose, but truth be told some of my all-time favorite candles (like Black Bamboo by Village Candles) come in jars with awkward shapes, so I don’t usually end up keeping those and just recycle them.

This is pretty much all I do when repurposing candle jars. The whole process is definitely much easier, when you “look after” your candles while burning them.

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  • Reply
    Debbie Santiago-Keough
    February 22, 2017 at 8:21 am

    My candles always tunnel. I hate that! And the wicks get swallowed up and stop lighting.

    • Reply
      Paula @
      February 22, 2017 at 9:15 am

      Have you ever tried removing some of that extra wax? If they get swallowed they’re either too long (fall over and get buried in wax, if that happens you can just trim them) or too short. This happens to me with some candles and when I notice the wick being very short and getting swallowed/buried, I pour some of the wax into a bowl of water and then just throw it away. Removing that extra wax usually works.

      • Reply
        Debbie Santiago-Keough
        February 22, 2017 at 9:16 am

        Thank you!

  • Reply
    Rachael Cargin
    February 22, 2017 at 8:28 am

    I love this idea. I always have loads of in-useable candle jars :)

    Rachael xx.

  • Reply
    Aleksandra // bunniesaremagic
    February 22, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Back from good old days of uni and waiting tables, I still remember countless nights of candle holders washing that I absolutely hated the most in the world. The way we’d do it, we would just pour hot water in till wax melted… It was painful and dull, and who knows which one of the two was worse, really.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Hisle
    February 22, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I just emptied a candle and was wondering how to repurpose it! It’s a bigger jar, so I’ll probably put dried beans or something boring in it, but I love that I can now reuse it because I loathe waste. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Krystal // The Krystal Diaries
    February 22, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I’ve never thought of reusing my old candle jars before. Usually I just recycle them when their done but I think I’ll keep some next time!

    • Reply
      Paula @
      March 14, 2017 at 11:10 am

      I recycle most of mine too, but that’s because I use so many of them haha. I’d be impossible for me to reuse every single one. x

  • Reply
    The Pale Tails
    February 22, 2017 at 10:03 am

    What an amazing idea! Literally can’t wait to try this. They look so good!

    Beckie xo // The Pale Tails

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 11:16 am

    This is so helpful!!! I had no idea about trimming the wick. The Diptyque candle that I am currently burning (an was planning on repurposing) has so much soot on it – I about cried haha!

    Kate |

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 11:39 am

    love this post! I never trim the wick, I didn’t even realise you were meant too. Really like how you’ve re used the glass jars too xx

  • Reply
    Valentina | The Blue Bride
    February 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    This is really helpful!!!

  • Reply
    Kachee ||
    February 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Ok, this is actually really helpful! Now I need to find pretty candle jars first.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I’ve only kept one candle holder – a large one from The White Company, which I keep my makeup brushes in. I haven’t kept any others even though there have been some really pretty ones! xx

    Beautylymin| LuxuryFragranceGiveaway

  • Reply
    Natalie Harney
    February 22, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    This was so useful! Thank you, I have a couple of candle jars I’ve kept but not been sure how to properly clean

    – Natalie

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    I´ve never trimmed the wick of my candles, I´ll try doing that next time.
    Great post, you photography is amazing!

    Vanessa x |

  • Reply
    Biana Perez
    February 22, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    I’m so bad about keeping the candles after I’ve burned through them, but I remembered with a few that are almost done now and I plan on doing this!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    So gorgeous! I looove storing things in candle jars, so dreamy-looking :)


  • Reply
    February 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    I just finished my first Diptyque candle and was wondering how to clean it out for repurposing, so this post came at the perfect time!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Over The Moony
    February 22, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    Nail polish remover?! It’s been in my cabinet the whole time and I never though to use it to get the wax out! THANN YOU! That’s my main issue when I try to clean out my candle jars is having that waxy residue. I will give this a try!

    Katie |

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Really cool post! I just finished two candles so this is definitely helpful ;)

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 6:46 am

    I hate candle tunneling! Any tips to avoid it? Loved the post :)

    • Reply
      Paula @
      February 23, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Yes love, I wrote it in the the post! You can also see the first comment below. First time you burn your candle is the most important to avoid tunneling. You have to burn in for at least 4 hours (depending on the size) so that the wax melts in an even layer. Wax has “memory” so if you don’t burn your candle evenly the first time, next time you burn it it will tunnel and won’t burn all the way down to the edges. See my comment all the way at the bottom, I also use a foil trick for big candles that form stubborn tunnels. x

  • Reply
    Marcia Lane
    February 23, 2017 at 9:32 am

    This post was very helpful! Thank you for sharing all your tips. I never thought to use Acetone to get rid of the wax residue. I will definitely be doing that from now on!

  • Reply
    Sophie Sierra
    February 23, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I love the idea of repurposing candle jars and so many fabulous tips and tricks on keeping them clean Paula! Am utterly in love with the pineapple H&M candle in ceramic holder, it’s all the gorgeous :) As always stunningly beautiful photography my love! <3

    Sophie | soinspo xo

    • Reply
      Paula @
      March 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Thank you so much Soph! H&M is really stepping up their game with their home department, that’s for sure! :)

  • Reply
    Born To Be Bright
    February 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

    I totally have the same issue with Bath and Body Works candles so I got a wax warmer to use up the wax so I can use the jars if I want! This was so helpful, I need to start using acetone to clean them because I always had such a hard time getting them clean!

  • Reply
    Emma Engmark
    February 23, 2017 at 11:34 am

    I use my old candles for makeup brushes mostly. Such a decorative way to reuse them!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I do love me some old candle glasses. Such an easy and fancy way of upcycling used goods. I use them for makeup and spare coins!

    Love, kerstin

  • Reply
    Ashlynn C
    February 23, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    I love repurposing candle jars – they’re so handy! The BBW candles do have so much left behind.

    Ashlynn |

  • Reply
    February 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 12:50 am

    Very good tips! Love the photos!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Lovely tips and great ideas I have a lot of candles that are close to running out!

    Lauren x Huggled

  • Reply
    February 25, 2017 at 5:03 am

    Great post :) I have a question about Bloglovin’, though. I opened the link to this post from my daily Bloglovin’ update email, but rather than opening up in the Bloglovin’ frame it went directly to your site. I’d love to know how you manage that, if possible.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t buy any candles but I love purchasing candle jars and candle holders to store my makeup brushes you can find quite some pretty ones. Lovely post.

  • Reply
    Prettiful Blog
    March 7, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Instead of a wick trimmer, a nail clipper works amazingly well!

  • Reply
    Katie Applegate
    March 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    Awesome tips!! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Berkleys Boutique
    March 21, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    What a great idea! I am totally doing this! <3

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