How Do You Recycle Empty Candle Jars?

Candle jars are made of glass which is widely recyclable. However, according to research from Atmos Vu, only 8% of candle containers actually get recycled, with over 35 million ending up in landfills every year ( Properly recycling candle jars is important to reduce waste and environmental impact. Landfills are overflowing, and glass can take over 1000 years to decompose ( With millions of candles purchased during the holidays, it’s crucial that consumers learn how to properly recycle candle jars rather than throwing them away.

Determine if the Jar is Recyclable

The first step is to determine if the empty candle jar is made of recyclable material. Candle jars are typically made of glass or plastic.

Glass jars are widely accepted by most curbside recycling programs. According to Let’s Be Clear! Not All Glass Belongs in the Recycling Bin, glass bottles and jars are safe to put in your recycling bin. Glass is infinitely recyclable.

glass candle jars can be recycled curbside

Plastic jars may or may not be recyclable depending on the resin type. According to How to Tell if Plastic is Recyclable, you can identify the plastic resin type by looking for a number surrounded by the recycling symbol on the bottom of the jar. #1 and #2 plastics like PET and HDPE are commonly accepted for recycling.

If you don’t see any markings on the bottom of a plastic jar, it likely cannot be recycled curbside. When in doubt, check with your local recycling program.

Remove Labels and Glue

Removing the labels and glue is an important step to prepare the candle jars for recycling. Start by filling the jar with hot water and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes. This will help loosen the label adhesive. Then, use a plastic spatula, butter knife, or other dull tool to gently scrape off the label. Scraping under hot running water can help dissolve any remaining glue or adhesive residue. According to Lit Up Candle Co., soaking in hot water is the easiest method for removing labels.

Be patient and take your time with this step. Trying to rush peeling off the labels may result in leaving behind paper fragments or a sticky mess. The hot water soak and slow scrape method will get the jars clean and ready for recycling.

Clean the Jar

Once you’ve removed any labels and glue residue, it’s time to clean out any remaining wax or fragrance oils. This will prep the glass for reuse or recycling. Here are some tips for getting candle jars squeaky clean:

First, remove any hardened wax remaining inside the jar. Peel off wax chunks by hand and scrape the sides with a plastic utensil or old gift card. You can also place the jar in the freezer for 1-2 hours, which will make wax easier to remove.

Next, add a few drops of dish soap and warm water to the jar. Swish the solution around to remove wax remnants and oils. Use a washcloth, sponge, or bottle brush to scrub remaining residue. Rinse thoroughly. Repeat if needed to remove all traces of wax. [1]

Avoid using very hot water, as this can cause glass jars to crack or break. Stick to warm, soapy water for the safest cleaning method.

Check with Your Local Recycling Program

Before placing your glass candle jars in the recycling bin, check with your local recycling program or municipality for instructions on how to properly recycle or dispose of them. Many municipalities provide guidelines on their website or over the phone.

Most recycling programs will request that you rinse out any remaining wax, remove labels, and clean the jar thoroughly before recycling. The metal lid can often be recycled as well if removed. Make sure no residue remains before placing the empty jar in your curbside recycling bin.

If you live in an area without a curbside recycling program, check for local drop-off locations that accept glass jars. Calling ahead helps ensure you follow all preparation and sorting instructions required by your municipality’s recycling contractor.

Sort and Place in Curbside Bin

After cleaning and removing labels, the next step is sorting the glass candle jars before recycling. Most residential recycling programs require households to sort recyclables into separate bins by material type. Glass jars should be sorted into the bin designated for glass according to Bath and Body Works customers.

Many recycling programs also require glass to be sorted by color – clear, brown, or green. The glass is sorted by color because each type requires different processing temperatures when melted down and turned into new glass products. Check with your local recycling guidelines to see if you need to separate clear candle jars from colored ones before placing them in your curbside recycling bin.

Following local recycling rules is key to ensuring glass jars are properly handled. Well-sorted glass enables more efficient recycling and lower contamination rates. With some simple sorting at home, those empty candle jars can easily find new life through your community’s recycling program.

Upcycling Ideas

Once you have cleaned and removed labels from old candle jars, there are many creative ways to repurpose them rather than throwing them in the recycling bin. Upcycling gives new life to items that would otherwise be discarded.

One idea is to use the jars to store food items like sugar, spices, dried beans or pasta (source). Make sure the jars are thoroughly cleaned and dried before using them for food storage. The jars can help keep items fresh while adding a decorative touch to your pantry or countertop.

Candle jars also make great jewelry holders. You can hang necklaces from the rim or use the inside of the jar to hold rings, earrings and bracelets (source). Adding a jewelry insert or some beads or marbles at the bottom can help keep small items secure. Repurposed candle jars bring organization and style to jewelry storage.

Donate Jars

If you have more candle jars than you know what to do with, consider donating them to local art programs or crafters that can reuse them in creative ways. Many schools, youth groups, senior centers, and other nonprofit organizations have art and craft programs that rely on donated supplies like glass jars.

Reach out to organizations in your community to see if they accept jar donations. Even a few jars can go a long way for kids and adult participants looking for materials for craft projects. Some ideas include:

  • Decorative jars for storage and organization
  • Terrariums
  • Vases
  • Pencil holders

You can also donate to crafters and artisans selling handmade goods on sites like Etsy. Many are happy to take supplies like jars off your hands and transform them into one-of-a-kind creations. Just make sure to connect with sellers ahead of time to ensure they can accept donations.

Donating candle jars takes reuse to an inspiring new level. With just a little effort on your part, they can spark creativity, learning, and new life in the hands of local artists.

Reuse at Home

Empty candle jars can be reused in various ways around your home. Here are some creative ideas for repurposing them:

Store Small Items

The jars make perfect little containers for holding small trinkets, office supplies like paperclips, cotton balls in the bathroom, and more. Using them for organization helps declutter your space. They’re the ideal size for items you want to corral into one place. The glass also allows you to easily see the contents.

Propagate Plants

The jars are great for rooting plant cuttings in water. Their short, wide shape gives cuttings ample room to grow roots. The clear glass lets you monitor the root development. Once rooted, you can plant the cuttings into soil while keeping the jar as a decorative pot.


In conclusion, recycling empty candle jars has many benefits. By properly cleaning and sorting the jars, you ensure they can be accepted by recycling programs. This keeps them out of landfills and gives the materials new life. Recycling glass takes less energy than creating new glass from raw materials. So recycling jars reduces your environmental impact.

Recycling also creates jobs and generates revenue for your community’s waste management program. Overall, taking a few simple steps to recycle candle jars makes a positive difference. The process helps conserve resources and reduces waste. With some creativity, you may even find ways to reuse the jars at home. Recycling is an easy habit that benefits the planet and your local community.

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