Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tell-it Tuesday: How to melt down and reuse your old crayons

I don't know about your house but at our house with four kids we have more itty bitty, well used, broken crayon pieces than we know what to do with. It felt like such a waste to throw them away so for months now I've been collecting them in a Ziploc bag. And, although I like the thought of Crazy Crayons National Crayon Recycling program I thought to myself why mail them away for someone else to make money off of when we could reuse them? That thought started me on an internet search for basic, no frills crayon melting instructions. There are 100s of slightly different ways to do this so I decided I would pick and choose from the different sites and tada our first batch of recycled crayons was born.

What I used:

-Bag of old, broken, well loved now neglected, crayons

-Muffin pan

-Cooking spray

-Foil (optional)

-Paring knife (optional)

What I did:

-PREHEATED the oven to 175 degrees

-SPRAYED the muffin pan with cooking spray, or you could use foil to line the pan and then spray

-PEELED the wrappers off the crayons
The most tedious part was peeling the wrappers off, but you could enlist your kid's help [re]making crayons and turn it into a rainy day project and use it as an opportunity to tech them about reusing, reducing, recycling. If you want to do this one on your own don't waste time peeling those hard to peel wrappers. I took a paring knife and ever so carefully but with enough force to cut through the wrapper cut a slit in the wrapper and was able to peel it off all at once. Just some of the crayons I did:

-BROKE the crayons into small pieces
Remember that the smaller the pieces are the faster they'll melt. One recipe said no larger than 1" pieces, but I just broke them up figuring as long as they were all about the same size they'd all melt at relatively the same time. If you want to stick to certain colors I recommend sorting the crayons into the muffin tin as you go because while some colors are obvious (yellows, pinks, etc) once you get the wrappers off of the darker ones you'll have a hard time telling purples from blues, etc.

-FILLED muffin tin with crayon pieces
One recipe said about an inch thick but I filled the cups about 3/4 of the way full. I started out trying to stick to similar shades, but threw a couple of "mixed" cups in there too just to see how they would turn out.
Browns, Purples, Yellows, Oranges, Mix, Mix, Greens, Pinks, Mix, Darks, Blues, Reds:

-BAKED them in the oven until all the wax was melted
I started the oven out at 175 degrees but after 20 minutes and virtually no melting I bumped it to 225 degrees.
12 minutes later:

50 minutes from start time:

At the hour mark I bumped the over up to 275 to get the last few pieces entirely melted and about 10 minutes later I pulled them out:

-COOLED the muffin pan on a wire rack, safely away from curious little toddlers
One of the sites I came across said you could put them in the freezer for faster cooling but I just left them on the counter

-REMOVED the chunky crayons by putting the paring knife down the side and popping them out.
Make sure the crayons are completely cool before you try to remove them, I waited an hour.
I flipped them over so you could see the swirls.


I ended up using about 3/4 of the bag of crayons I started out with, which means all those crayons aren't going to wind up in a landfill. One site I checked out mentioned using soap molds to make the new crayons into different shapes. I'm going to check those out next time we go to a craft store. How cool would it be to give a kid that loves to color his or her very own homemade, personalized crayons using letter molds to make their name, number molds to make their age, their favorite shapes, etc...the possibilities are endless! The best part is if you're not happy melt 'em down again and start over!

No comments:

Post a Comment