Quality Home Goods for Southerners Who Love Their Mamas and Hoard Bacon Fat

Regift a Used Scented Candle Holder With WD-40

Posted by Stacy Reece on

 I come from a long line of farmers, so I hate to throw anything out, in case I need it one day. I especially hate to throw out something pretty. This habit drives my husband crazy, and sometimes he does have a point. Case in point: old glass scented votive candle holders. We love cinnamon apple candles and are often left with lovely containers covered in waxy residue. Some of these glass containers are so pretty, but it's hard to reuse them because of the wax. I really don’t want to have to scrub them clean by hand, so they tend to pile up.

First I needed a way to clean them that was fairly painless, and I needed something to do with them. Then I realized that I could make cute hostess gifts with paperwhite narcissus bulbs.

First of all, candle wax is flammable, so you need to be careful when using heat. My first step is to pour boiling water into the used candle container until the container is full. This should melt the majority of the wax and it will float to the top.

Once this wax has cooled, you can remove it and discard it - or reuse it in another similarly scented candle. Your container will still have a waxy residue on the walls.

To get rid of this, turn the oven to warm (no greater than 200 degrees). I use an old baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Turn the containers upside down and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes. Do not go off and forget them. Clean out the dishwasher while you wait in case the wax starts to burn.


When you take the containers out of the oven, they will be quite hot. Let them cool for about a minute and carefully remove any labels that are on the bottom and sides of the glass. Then pick the glass up with a dry dishtowel or oven mitt and wipe the inside clean with a paper towel. Once you have wiped all the visible wax from the inside of the container, give the inside a quick spritz with WD-40 and wipe clean with a fresh paper towel. This should remove the last of the residue from inside the container. You can also use WD-40 to remove any warm adhesive left by the labels on the outside. Then you can hand wash it or put it in the dishwasher to make it sparkling clean.

I chose paperwhite narcissus bulbs for Christmas gifts, because they are available this time of year, and they don’t need a chilling period like other bulbs. They are also very small bulbs that fit easily into these containers. You can fill the containers with tiny pebbles to support the bulbs. Or if you also hoard the little plastic thingies that come with your delivery pizza, you are in even better luck. They are perfect for stabilizing the bulbs inside of the pebbles.

Some of these candle holders are even a perfect match for gas station plastic cup lids, which can make a great cover for traveling with your hostess gift. 

Otherwise, you can use some Saran Wrap. While writing this piece I discovered some old water gel beads that swell with water. This would be a great choice for a gift going to a house full of children because they let the roots show while the bulb is growing. The plastic pizza thingie works great here, too.


This cleaning technique would also be great for anyone planning a wedding this spring. Now is the time to recruit friends and family to donate their used votive holders to your big day. And since it is so easy to clean them, you can save a lot of money on your tabletop decor.


This quick and easy method of cleaning stubborn wax from pretty glass containers is so simple that you may go buy more scented candles just so you can clean them. And the joy you can bring to the people around you for very little money is just priceless.


  • Hey Pam and Sue,
    The turn the pizza saver upside down so that the legs point upward. It will cradle the bulb.

    Stacy Reece on

  • To Sue on Nov. 6, 2021: the plastic pizza “thingy” at our house is a miniature round table-looking tripod appliance to keep the pizza covering (box or bag or foil) from pressing down into the cheese. It is called (I learned) a pizza saver. What _I_don’t understand, is how the bulb fits into it, because our thingies are solid like a table top. Could yours have been improved and made into a ring instead of a solid table top?

    Pam on

  • Please tell me what “the plastic pizza thingie” is. I have search my mind and have no idea.

    Sue on

  • Stacy, I like to save those glass candleholders too, but usually have the three-wick ones. When they will no longer burn, instead of using heat, I put the candle in the freezer and when frozen, will take a butter knife and gently break up the remaining wax into shards and gift them to friends who use wax burners. Then I use GooGone and a cotton ball to remove the residual wax and any labels. (Will use WD40 from now on!) I love your repurposing of them to force bulbs, and will be trying that soon!

    Barbara on

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