I remember having crayons as a kid – I even remember how they taste; it’s just something you don’t forget :).
I also remember the amount of crayon remnants that used to accumulate – and would just be thrown out.
Recycling crayons isn’t going to save the environment by any means; but it’s just a little less garbage winding up in landfill, can save you money and can help teach your children the value (and fun) in recycling. It’s also recycling in it’s truest sense – taking the waste from something and turning it into more of the same original product.
There’s all sorts of ways you can recycle crayons; but here’s a popular and very simple way to do it:
- Remove any paper wrapping and cut up the crayons into small pieces
- Grab an old muffin or cookie tray
- Preheat your oven to 150-200F (around 65-90C). You don’t want the oven too hot as you could wind up with a smelly, smokey mess – or a fire.
- Add the crayons to the tray/tin. Group colors together to prevent mixing
- Place in the oven
- After around 5-10 minutes, the crayons should start melting, so keep a close eye on progress
- Once fully melted, remove and allow to cool
- If you’re using a cookie tray, while the wax is cooling, you may want to score the wax into the sizes you wish
Another way to go about it is to place crayon pieces into cut-down soda cans and place into a saucepan with water in the bottom. Heat the water and let simmer until the wax is melted, then pour into molds such as ice cube trays or chocolate molds.
Get the kids involved or even just observing; they would probably find the process quite interesting – but of course the usual safety warnings apply when working with anything hot or sharp.
I think exercises like these can also help train children to develop a recycling and reuse mindset. Instead of thinking “this is junk”, they’ll start thinking a little more along the lines of “what can I do with this?”.
Crayons were once made with beeswax, but these days are usually made with paraffin. Paraffin is derived from fossil fuels. If you’re particularly adventurous and would like to make more environmentally friendly crayons for your children, all you’ll need is beeswax, some soap and food coloring. Beeswax isn’t all that expensive – I’ve seen it advertised for around $15 a pound, which could make quite a few crayons.
Making beeswax crayons could even be a nice little cottage industry for enterprising folks!