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A rule of thumb for disposing of candles: candles and waste separation

The light of a candle brightens up the dark season and transforms your home into a cosy, warm place of peace and relaxation. When enriched with vanilla, lavender, sandalwood, cinnamon, or baked apple, the fragrance can make your home even more inviting. Scented candles in different colours create a feel-good atmosphere.

The burning time varies depending on the quality, ingredients, and melting point of the respective wax, as well as the shape and the burning behaviour of the respective candle. However, when the last flicker goes out, a residue of candle wax remains at the end of every type of candle. But what should you do with a burnt-out pillar candle, wax leftovers from a candle holder, and used-up tea lights?

Burning candle in front of beautiful decoration

How do I dispose of leftover candles properly?

Of course, the glass in which a candle has burned down belongs with the glass waste. It is not quite so clear, however, in which waste bin the wax residues and the burnt-out wick belong. This is because wax can be made from different materials. So do the old candle remains belong in the yellow bag, residual waste, or compost? Or can parts of it be reused? And can I recycle the wick?

The wax of commercially available candles is mainly made of paraffin, which is a waste product of petroleum production. The recovery of these recyclable materials is neither economically nor ecologically viable, which is why there is no separate recycling process for this type of waste (that is, wax residue) as there is for plastics, for example. For the disposal of candle remnants, therefore, the only option is the residual waste bin - recycling is out of the question.

Candles made of wax based on vegetable or animal fats and oils cannot be recycled either. One might assume that candle remnants made from stearin (obtained from slaughterhouse waste, coconut fat, palm, soya or rapeseed oil) or candles made from beeswax, for example, can be recycled as compostable waste. But these wax residues also belong in household waste. The wax of some scented candles is only enriched with natural essential oils, whereas the rest of the ingredients of such a candle do not necessarily have to be made from natural raw materials. Thus, scented candles or their wax residue must be disposed of as with any other candle.

As a rule of thumb for the candle residue, you do not need to know exactly what the wax of your various candles (including a scented candle) is made of, because every wax residue and also the wick belong in the same bin - residual waste. For these purposes, there are various waste separation systems, built-in bins, or free-standing bins to choose from Hailo, depending on your personal preference and the space available in your kitchen. Take a look at our shop!

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The valuable container of a tea light

Although the rule remains the same when it comes to recycling candle wax, tea light containers are made of aluminium. This valuable metal should definitely be recycled. However, since this is not plastic waste, the material does not actually belong in the yellow bag. Some municipalities have understood the value of collecting recyclables and have added "recyclables +" to the yellow bin. Alternatively, aluminium can be taken to a separate collection point, landfill or recycling centre, usually free of charge. Tip: If you are not quite sure how your municipality handles the recycling of recyclables, you can ask your municipal administration or the local waste management company if you are in doubt.

Back into the cycle: Make your own candles from leftovers

Creative do-it-yourself idea including instructions: Instead of disposing of old candles, leftover candles or pillar candles can be wonderfully reused. Simply remove the wick from the burnt-out pillar candle, collect small pieces of candle scraps yourself and melt them into wax in a hot water bath.  Now you can let your creativity run free and cast your very own candle according to the colour, shape and scent of your choice. You can melt wax remnants separately according to colour and pour the hot wax into an empty yoghurt pot or an old toilet paper roll, for example. A cotton string can be used as a wick for the new candle. Alternatively, ready-made wicks are available in craft shops or specialist shops. The new wick is simply drawn into the hot wax. Now you have to wait until the wax in the container has cooled down. Put your new candle into a nice candle holder and you are ready to use your homemade candle. Light the candle and enjoy! Recycled candles are also a great idea for a homemade gift - upcycling is very versatile, and it’s also a practical example of becoming aware of a recycling cycle of raw materials. It’s sensible fun for young and old! Please note that children should be supervised and guided at all times when handling the melting pot, water bath and hot wax.

Wax is poured into an empty candle mould
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