Recycled Crayons

Recycled Crayons

by Marianna Schwartsman

Recycling Crayons in a mold

Recycling Crayons in a mold


My daughter finished first grade this year. During the year I had to refill her crayon box several times and take out all the broken tiny and uncomfortable pieces of crayons that she could no longer use.

At the end of the year – the same story – too many pieces. My daughter and I thought about what to do with them because we do not like throwing stuff out and prefer to reuse or recycle things.

Unfortunately crayons are not recyclable in a traditional-NYC way. So we decided to recycle them ourselves!!!
Here is what you do:

WARNING: Have an adult help with all of the steps except steps 1-3. Proceed in a very well ventilated area or keep the window open.

1. Collect all your broken and unusable pieces of crayons during the school year. You may want to ask your friends at school to bring you some as well, if their parents do not mind. Promise you will surprise them in return!

2. Soak the crayon pieces in warm water for about 30 minutes so that the paper tagging comes off easily. Remove the tags in water and wash off the glue and residue from all the pieces the best you can. Nothing will happen if a small pierce of papers stays on.

3. Separate all those pieces into groups by color: reds, yellows, greens, blues, purples, etc... If you combine a couple of colors, the effect may be really surprising and fun but just keep in mind that some colors are very intense and will overpower the pale colors. Let the crayons dry on the paper towel.

4. Prepare fun plastic molds. You can use your imagination here the best you can. Some small molds can be found around the house – jars from baby food, plastic milk gallon caps, soap dishes, some shallow broken toys, etc.

Just make sure that you test your molds in very hot water before your proceed to make sure that your molds can withstand hot temperatures but not boiling temperature.

Fun molds ideas: you can use your play dough molds that you may have in the house or your small sand toys as well! Or plan to do this project with a friend ask him to bring something that can be used for molds from his house...

5. Ask your mom for an old pan or a metal mixing bowl. If you do not have one at home, you can go shopping with your parents to the thrifty store or find a cheap metal pot in a family dollar store.

6. Put the crayons of your PALEST color group into the pot (I start with my yellows). Note that the crayons melt VERY quickly!!! Have a wooden spatula handy to mix. The crayons will start to melt in about 5 seconds on medium heat. Start mixing the melted goo with a wooden or plastic spatula to achieve a uniform color. OR..... DO NOT MIX and leave the colors partially blended for a fun effect. Make sure that all the crayons are fully melted before you proceed further.

7. Carefully pour the melted mix into your molds. Try not to get too much of the mixture on the sides of the container that you are using as a mold because it will dry very quickly into a thin lawyer on the sides and you will partially loose your mixture.

8. Let the molds sit on your table for about 20 minutes and then put them in the fridge, being careful not to spill the contents. Put the molds on a leveled surface for a straight edge of your new crayons OR put them at an angle for a fun effect. Again, be very careful about not spilling any of the crayon mixture. Although if you do spill, it removes very easily with something sharp or simply with some hot water and a paper towel.

9. Now that you are done with one color, your pot has a thin layer of a colored residue on the bottom. You can do two things: you can proceed with a darker color and just forget about it and let the colors mix OR you can heat the pot slightly and wipe of the melted residue with several paper towels, taking good care not to burn yourself. Again, crayons melt very quickly so you do not really have to heat the pot too much to be able to quickly wipe the residue!

10. You are ready to proceed with another color! You can also add some glitter to the mixture or drops of perfume for more exciting effects!!!!

11. Your new fun-shaped crayons will be frozen in no time. It takes bout 20 minutes for it to cool completely in the fridge (if you are using relatively shallow molds). Careful test with your finger whether the crayons are completely solid before proceeding with extraction from the molds. The mixture will shrink slightly because of the cooling (remember physics???) and should be very easy to remove from the molds. If it gets stuck, turn it over and gently pat it with a wooden spatula or thud it gently against a hard surface of a table, making sure that you are not going to scratch or damage the surface.


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