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How to Recycle Old Wax Melts and Tarts Into Fire Starters

I stumbled on this wax melt recycling method one night when we were out of kindling. It worked so well that I wanted to share!

What to Do With Old Wax Melts

This is the article to read if you have a wood-burning stove, fireplace, or charcoal or wood grill. It's also useful if you are a campfire lover and have ever had trouble getting the logs to light—whether they were just being obstinate for whatever reason that day or if the logs were slightly wet.

I use a lot of wax tarts or buttons in electric tart burners to add scent to our home. I usually keep one or two going in various rooms throughout the house pretty much every second that someone is home, especially since I have discovered economical brands in hobby shops and mega marts that offer a broad spectrum of scents. These range from country-kitchen scents to flower-based scents to fruit scents and many others in between. They come in a six-pack of tart buttons, are not weak-scented, and are much less expensive than the tarts that I have found in the popular candle company stores.

What Do You Do With the Wax Once the Scent Is Gone?

At one time, I would have just tossed out the wax once the scent was warmed out of the tart, but now I have found a very effective and useful way to recycle the wax after it has cooled and re-hardened.

  • I turn off the burner and allow the wax to cool and harden in the burner, and then I remove it.
  • Alternately, I soak up the liquid wax with a paper towel and place it on a plate or cookie sheet to allow it to cool and harden.
  • Once the wax has re-hardened, I store it in plastic zip-top bags and use it as "fuel" to help start a wood fire.
I store the re-hardened wax in plastic bags. It makes for a great fire starter!

I store the re-hardened wax in plastic bags. It makes for a great fire starter!

How I Discovered This Useful Recycling Tip

We have a fireplace in our family room. One very bitter cold and blustery day, I was home by myself, and my hot tea was just not warming me quickly enough, so I decided to start a fire in our fireplace. I went to the garage to get some logs, but the log pile that we keep handily close to the house had been depleted of logs and not replenished. So, not easily dissuaded from my desire to have a warm fire, I bundled up and braved the weather to bring four wheelbarrow loads of wood up to the house from the woodpile.

No Kindling!

By the time my wood replenishing task was complete, I felt like I could pass as Frosty's skinnier sister—frozen to my bones and even more desperately in need of a toasty fire that I could sit next to and thaw out a little! So, I got to work and began to build my fire, only to find that I did not have any kindling to help start the fire—just a cardboard box waiting to go out in the trash. I ripped apart the box and placed it on the grate, piled some logs on top, and lit the cardboard, blowing beneath the grate to keep the fire that was started on the cardboard going.

The logs were not cooperating in catching fire for me, so I stood up, looked around the room, and thought to myself, "Now, how am I going to get this fire started with no good kindling?" I spotted a tart burner sitting on an end table that was turned off, and there was a used, hardened wax tart sitting in the top. I removed the wax from the burner and laid it on the top log of my fire. I blew on my cardboard kindling fire (fortunately, it was still going) to give it some oxygen to make it grow, and it began to heat the wax and melt it.

The Wax Got the Fire Going Quickly

The wax started to drip down to the logs beneath it and onto the fire. The wax on the logs began to catch fire, and the logs began to start burning with embers. I kept on blowing, and in only a few minutes' time, I had a warm and cozy fire glowing in the fireplace. The wax was an extremely useful "fuel" to help catch the logs on fire and worked much more quickly than it would have with just the cardboard. I only had to use one tart, which is a very small amount of wax, and I did not need to add another to keep it going.

Other Ways We've Used the Recycled Wax

We have since used the recycled wax tarts to help fuel our charcoal grill by breaking one up and sprinkling it over the charcoal briquettes to help keep them burning longer. We have also taken them with us to the beach when we go to have a waterfront campfire and hot dog roast to help get the campfire going in a much shorter time. I believe it would work with any kind of wood stove or campfire. I would not recommend using them with any other type of grill, stove, or fire that has another gas or fuel source—only the kind that uses wood alone.

Reuse and Recycle

When I placed that wax tart on top of the logs in my fire, it turned out to be one of the best uses for a recycled product that I have tried yet; it worked extraordinarily well. My husband, although a self-proclaimed professional fireplace fire starter, even uses them to help give his fires a boost sometimes—imagine that?!

Give it a try if you use wax tarts to scent your home and have trouble getting a fire going. It may just take a bit of the frustration out of the process and start to warm you up a little faster—and who wouldn't rather reuse something for an effective purpose than toss it in the trash?

Ahh . . . the warmth of a cozy fire!

Ahh . . . the warmth of a cozy fire!

Another Idea for Those Used Wax Tarts: Wax-Dipped Pine Cones

Since I first published this article, I have used my spent wax tarts for another project. I live in a very woody area filled with pine trees that drop pine cones all over the place, so I scoured my yard and our woods and filled a large basket full of pine cones—large ones, medium ones, and even cute little tiny ones.

How I Made Pine Cone Fire Starters

  1. I tied wick around the top of each one.
  2. I found a large, old pot, melted the tarts down, and dipped the pine cones into the melted wax.
  3. Next, I laid them on wax paper–lined cookie sheets to cool and harden.
  4. After that, I re-dipped them and allowed them to cool again.

They work even better at starting fires than the tarts on their own, and they make a beautiful accent decoration when placed in a basket with other kindling.

Questions & Answers

Question: I was told not to burn pine in a wood stove because of the sap, which isn't good for the stove pipe. If that's so, then would that be true of burning pine cones?

Answer: Pine creates creosote buildup in your chimney and does not burn as well as hardwoods. Dry pine cones are great to START fires with because they lack large amounts of creosote and burn quickly as kindling. You would not use them as the primary wood source in your fireplace or woodstove, just to start and/or build your fire. Wax coated pinecones burn even quicker and help to start your fire sooner - and give off a nice scent.


Elani on June 27, 2020:

Does the wax not leave remains or stains in the fireplace or does it totally ‘disappear’?

sallieannluvslife (author) from Eastern Shore on December 01, 2016:

Hi MC! There really isn't all that much wax on the pine cones, it may drip a little in the bottom but will be completely burned off by the time your fire goes out. I usually build my fire and light the pine cones on the top of my starter kindling and it burns fairly quickly so most of the was is burned off by the time the fire is fully lit.

MC YOUNG on December 01, 2016:

I have a fireplace and I love the thought of using the pine cone tarts. What will the wax do to your fireplace. Does it make a mess?

sallieannluvslife (author) from Eastern Shore on February 19, 2015:

Hi Insightful Tiger! The wax coated pine cones are my all time favorite thing to do with the recycled wax. They work so well when starting a wood fire in our fireplace on a cold evening! I actually am getting low and need to get dipping again!! Good luck with yours - the cinnamon scented pine cones would probably make them smell so wonderful!!

Insightful Tiger on February 19, 2015:

I have a bunch of old cinnamon pine cones I want to try this on! Thanks for the idea :)

sallieannluvslife (author) from Eastern Shore on July 26, 2014:

Hi Abigail - it is a little difficult to be able to remove all the scent from the tarts if you wanted to make your own scented candles from the wax but if the scent didn't matter, you most assuredly could make any number of different candles from the recycled tarts....wax is wonderfully versatile and recyclable!

sallieannluvslife (author) from Eastern Shore on July 26, 2014:

Oceansunsets - sorry I must have missed your comment - I usually try to reply to each one...I hope that you have used some of the hub ideas with the wax from your used tarts - maybe while sitting around a campfire watching oceansunsets?!

Abigail on July 25, 2014:

Once the scent has been burned out of the wax, why not make it into a recycled candle? Also lots of people are buying used wax to recycle into candles.

Paula from The Midwest, USA on January 21, 2012:

Hi Sallieann, thanks for the tips! I use wax tarts, and often wondered how to reuse these instead of throwing them away. I don't use wood fires much, as we have a gas fireplace. We do camp on occasion, or use a fire pit outside for get togethers, etc. I had no idea the was from those would burn! What a neat idea to find out the way you did.