Back in Girl Guides, we recycled our crayons by melting them in the microwave or in a double boiler, then pouring the different colours in layers into muffin tins (waiting for the wax to cool a bit between layers so they didn’t mix). I wanted to do something a little simpler than that with my kids yesterday — since they are younger than I was when first did this craft, I wanted a process that involved less handling of molten wax. However, this is still an activity that is done with kids, as opposed to setting them up and letting them go.
– old crayons
– molded cookie pans OR silicon molds rated for use in an oven OR muffin tins
– flat cookie pans
– utility knife
– large, heavy knife OR clear zipper bag and hammer
– cutting board
1. Sort through the kids’ crayons and separate out the old, broken ones, along with the ones that just don’t colour well.
2. Remove the paper wrappers from the crayons. The labels can be peeled off with your fingernails. However, the quickest way is to run the blade of a utility knife lightly down the paper to slit it, then peel it off. When I was doing it with my kids, I would cut the paper, and they would take it off.
3. Sort the crayons by colour.
4. Protect the work surface with a cutting board, then use the large knife to chop up the crayons into chunks that are approximately 1cm (0.4″) long. Sharp knives should be handled by an adult. Alternately, put each colour of crayon into a clear zipper bag, seal the bag, and smash the crayons into large chunks with a hammer. This may damage the surface underneath and will be noisy, so I suggest working on a concrete surface with a cutting board over top, and using ear protection.
5. Fill the molded cookie pans or silicon molds or muffin tins with the chunks of crayon. The molds should be almost overflowing, as the air pockets between crayon chunks will be filled as they melt. To create colour-coordinated crayons, fill each compartment with different shades of the same colour. To create more contrast, add chunks of coordinating colours. Be careful not to mix too many colours, though, as the colours will mix and they may turn an unlovely brown.
6. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C) (the oven temperature needs to be low so that the wax doesn’t catch fire). Put the crayon-filled molds on top of the flat cookie pans for support; this is especially important if using silicone molds, which are flexible. Anything to do with the oven should be done by an adult.
7. Bake until crayon chunks are thoroughly melted, 15 to 30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes after first 15 minutes is up to see if there are still any lumps. Remove trays carefully from oven, being careful not to spill the wax.
8. Cool the recycled crayons thoroughly before removing them from the molds. To make removing them easier, place them in the freezer (or anywhere outside in winter in Canada, so long as it’s protected from precipitation) until thoroughly chilled. Wax shrinks when it gets cold, so it will pull away from the sides of the mold and slide out more easily.
When I made these candles, I used three different kinds of molds:
– metal, nonstick Wilton PEEPS Bunny Shaped Cookie Pans ($3.00 each at the dollar store), which released easily
– a silicone Wilton PEEPS Chicks and Bunnies Treat Mold ($4.00 each at the dollar store), which released with a little more difficulty, but cleanly
– a silicone flower-shaped IKEA PLASTIS Ice Cube Tray ($1.99 at IKEA), which stuck to the wax, obscured detail, and were very difficult to remove
All in all, I much preferred the metal pans to the silicone versions.
We packaged these crayons up into little spring-themed bags and put them aside until the week before Easter to give out at school. Of course, we had to leave a few out for the kids to colour with right away, too.