I don’t think the sight of broken crayons bothers my kindergartener in the least bit. In fact, I think he’s just as happy to color with a linty stub as he is with a brand new pointy Crayola. He’s an equal-opportunity artist that way.
No, this project was more for me, while searching for an answer for what to do with broken crayons. Before I discovered the magic of recycling crayons, whenever I came across a broken piece, I’d toss it in the trash, trying to ignore the “tsk-tsk” of my conscience. Now, when I’m faced with a motley pile of crayon tips, middles, and ends, I see a rainbow of possibilities. What sort of orange will I get if I blend these reds with those yellows? Or, what a wonderful teal I could make with these here blues and those greens! It’s addicting! And best of all, it’s Green.
How to Recycle Broken Crayons Into New Crayons
What You’ll Need:
Washed, dried, de-lidded soup cans (one for each color of crayon you are making)
Candy mold (available at craft stores)
How to Make Your Crayons:
- Assemble the broken crayons and peel off the paper. This is where the kids can help. Their little fingers seem to do a much better job than our too-big grown-up hands!
- Sort the crayons into like colors. This will help you decide what custom colors to make. Try to scrape off any dirt or lint that might be sticking to the crayons.
- (Parents: Do not let your persuasive five-year-old con you into letting him use the stove—Oh, wait, that was me.) Using the double-boiler method, fill a large pot with about an inch of water. Place can(s) into water, and fill the can about 1/4 full with the crayons you wish to melt. Place over medium-low heat.
- Crayons will begin to melt almost immediately. Stir with a skewer stick to speed up the melting process.
- Once the crayons are thoroughly melted, use a couple of folded paper towels to handle the hot can and *carefully* pour the melted wax into the candy molds. (Did I mention to be careful? Hot steam + hot melted wax + hot tin can + fiddling with your cell phone = yowch!)
- Allow the newly molded crayons to harden. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes. You can speed up the process by popping the tray in the freezer for 5 minutes.
- Turn the tray upside down over a paper towel and gently flex it so that the crayons fall out.
Other Helpful Tips:
- Trying to decide how many cans you’ll need? I started off with three: one for yellow, one for blue, and one for red. Then I re-used these cans. I used the yellow can to melt green crayons. The blue can for purple crayons. And the red can for orange crayons.
- You can also melt the crayons by nuking them in a microwave-safe cup and then pouring them into the molds.
- I’m definitely going to try this in the summer: Supposedly you can put the broken crayon pieces straight into the molds, place the mold tray on your scorching hot patio, and watch the crayons melt.
- Other molds to try: ice cube tray, mini-muffin tin, silicone molds (these come in so many fun shapes!), and PVC pipe that’s been cut in half (I’m not that daring, are you?).
Have you tried recycling old crayons already? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear your tips. Happy coloring!
Sophia savors all the joys (and challenges!) of family life with her husband and two kids in San Diego. Read more of her (mis)adventures in mothering at MamaSayMamaSo.