Love candles, hate the mess: Getting the wax out of your mason jars


Today’s post is a bit of a departure from our usual posts around food and all things related to food, but I thought that this tip could be useful to those of you who have run into this problem. I’ll explain.

In our household, we love candles, and we love our mason jars. So much so that we had a couple hundred at our wedding that served mainly as candles. But once the night was over, what we had left over were well over a hundred perfectly good mason jars with wax melted firmly into the bottom.

I searched high and low for the best solutions on getting the wax out. Some tips suggested softening the wax by putting the jars in the microwave. Others gave instructions around either putting boiling water into the jars or boiling the jars in water to boil out the wax – as melted wax floats on water. Another recommended placing the jars in an oven and heating no more than 200F and pouring the melted wax out onto a piece of wax paper. All great solutions, but none very practical for the girl that needed to attack the waxed jars en masse.

Finally, the best one surfaced and it was beautifully simple. Freeze the jars. Wax shrinks slightly when frozen, so it pulls away from the jar and is very easy to snap from the bottom with a good old fashioned butter knife. It also works beautifully in getting that tricky waxy residue off the glass. So no scrubbing required. The only downfall with freezing the jars is how to get the wax out if the lip of your jar is smaller than the base (where the wax has melted into), like is the situation with mason jars. You can chip away and try to break the wax (as we did initially), but then you’d run the risk of using too much force and either chipping or even breaking the jar, or worse, getting hurt (as we also did initially).

So in light of that, I’ve made some adjustments to my mason method madness.

Here it is. My simple four step process of getting wax out of your mason jar:

1. Freeze the jars. You only need to keep them in for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how much wax you have in your candle. Depending on how big your freezer is, you can put a lot of jars in and freeze them all at once.

2. Pop out and flip the wax. This is easy. All it takes is either a shake of the jar or for the more stubborn ones, a butter knife and a little twist. The wax will pop free. Now flip the wax over upside down in the jars (or just turn the jar on its side with the wax resting on the side of the jar) and let it all thaw (only takes 30 minutes or less).  Letting the wax thaw will allow you to break it up without the risk of breaking the jar or hurting yourself. Flipping the wax over in the jars so it’s not resting back on the bottom of the jars makes sure the wax doesn’t thaw and get stuck to the bottom of your jar again. Obviously, you only need to flip and thaw the wax if it’s a lot of melted wax that’s too big to get out of the jar.

3. Break the wax. Use that same trusty butter knife and gently, but firmly press the knife into the angled wax to break it. Usually, the wax will run in currents – I usually break the wax in one of the creases and find that it comes apart really easily.

4. Quick rinse. You can give your jar(s) a quick rinse to get any stubborn crumbs of wax out. But at this point, you’re basically all done!

Now you have your full unwaxed jars back for their next candle or use. And the great thing is that they’re so versatile. We now use our abundance of masons for drinks, dried food, canning, lighting, flowers, and still as the occasional candle. Although if anyone wants to buy a dozen or two, we could probably afford to give some up – we have lots!

Choosing and seasoning your wok

Choosing and seasoning your wok

Choosing a wok can be an overwhelming task. They come in a multitude of different materials, sizes, and makes. Rather than reviewing each type, I’m just going to cut to the chase. The best woks for the average household are 14″ in size (not too big or small), made of carbon steel, and hand hammered. Check that the sides are thick and strong enough that they don’t bend when you push on them. Luckily, that combination of wok is actually quite inexpensive (I got mine for $13 CAD), despite being hammered out by hand. Depending on the kind of stove you have, you  may also need to get one with a slightly flattened bottom so it sits on your stove range. That said, you can get circular wok burner rings for the traditional round bottom woks. It’s also best to avoid the non-stick woks. Not only are you usually paying a lot for these pans, the non-stick surface doesn’t do well under high heat, which is one of the biggest benefits of cooking with a wok.

For a more comprehensive break down of the different types of woks, I really like the overview written on Serious Eats.

Once you have your wok, it needs to be seasoned. There are different ways to achieve the same result. This is the method I like best.

What you need:

  • scouring pad or steel scrubber
  • lard or a high smoking point oil