How to Remove Candle Wax From Jars: A 2-Step Process

The Eco-Friendly Way to Make a Tiny Planter

Woman standing behind candle jars

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

Candles are one decor item that we can never have enough of. There are too many lovely scents and pretty jars to stick with just one or two. Once your candles are long past their burning days, however, you may be left with a quarter-inch of wax in the jar. Thankfully, it's easy to learn how to remove candle wax from jars and vases to upcycle these containers. The tricky part is finding a method that's not messy or unsafe—but you can clean out old candle jars without scratching them or risking burns from melting the wax.


Here at The Spruce, we found the perfect trick that only requires two items: a freezer and a knife. It’s far less dangerous than it sounds. Simply take your almost-empty candle jars and stick them in the freezer. It should only take a couple of hours to freeze the wax, but for best results, leave them in overnight. After you’ve frozen your candles, take a knife and begin gently cutting into the wax. Because it’s frozen, only a few hits should be necessary for the wax to clatter out in clean pieces. If there’s any leftover residue, simply use hot, soapy water to clean it out—just allow the glass to return to room temperature first. 

Once your candle jars have been rid of wax and bits of the wick, there are multiple ways you can upcycle them into useful items for your home. We’re plant people here at The Spruce, so we absolutely loved the idea of turning a candle jar into a planter. It doesn’t take many supplies and requires little effort to make these jars useful again. Watch the video above to see the trick in action and learn the steps to turn your jar into a fun succulent planter. You can also create terrariums with mason jars if your candles were originally in jars with lids.


Another option is to remove wax from candle jars with boiling water. After boiling, simply pour the water into the jar without filling it entirely, then allow the wax to melt and float to the top. Dispose of the wax once the water has cooled by scooping it into a trash can or bag (avoid your sink).

What You'll Need

Here's what you'll need to remove candle wax and repurpose your jars into pretty planters.


  • Nearly empty candle jars
  • Succulent or plant of choice
  • Bowl
  • Potting soil


  • Paring knife
  • Pliers
  • Spoon
Supplies for removing candle wax
The Spruce / Candace Madonna
  1. Place Empty Candle Jars in Your Freezer

    Scoot your ice cream over and make some room for those nearly empty candle jars. Leave them in your freezer for at least two hours. It's best to freeze the wax overnight for the best results, which will make the wax break off into clean pieces.

    candles in a freezer
    The Spruce
  2. Retrieve the Candles

    Once you remove your candles from the freezer, take your paring knife and carefully start cutting into the wax. It should only take one or two pricks from the knife for the wax to clatter out.


    If there is residue left on your glass jar, remove excess candle wax from the side of the jar by using a steel sponge, dish soap, and hot water.

    Woman jabbing candle wax with knife
     The Spruce
  3. Start Making Your Planter

    Pour some potting soil into your bowl and spoon a bit of it into your empty candle jar.

    Woman putting soil into an empty candle votive
    The Spruce
  4. Plant Your Succulent

    Take your succulent or plant of choice and gently squeeze the plastic planter to help break up the roots. Remove the plant from the container. Place your succulent into the jar and adjust it until it sits properly in the planter.

    Woman pulling succulent out of container
    The Spruce
  5. Style and Enjoy

    Make one or several of these planters and scatter them throughout your home for a little bit of greenery that was made sustainably!

    Candle next to empty candle votive with succulent
    The Spruce