Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What to do with old broken crayons

Supplies gathered; ready to melt only one color at a time
Our daughters color Every.Day. Part of this is our initiative: they color most days in their prayer journal a picture we sketch for them or they sketch for themselves related to the passage covered in their Bible study. Part of their coloring is connected to their schoolwork. But a good 50 percent or more is their initiative as they love to color. So naturally, crayons and art supplies are frequently given to them as presents. Unfortunately, we've accumulated more crayons than our house can handle: crayons from big boxes and small, art collections, restaurants, triangle crayons, fat toddler crayons, princess crayons, etc. I hate throwing such things away, but we really don't need so many, especially as they break and become scuffed up. I've given some away (to a Sunday school-like program), but the.collection.still.GROWS. I can't exactly give away yucky crayons (who's going to want them, whether young friends or even local charities??), so what to do with them?
Stir every 30 seconds
I realized that crayons aren't the only item on the list of "I should really purge this". I've accumulated 4 glass measuring cups and never made enough Christmas candy to make the couple candy molds I collected worth the space they take up. So if one of those measuring cups never fully cleans up from melted crayon wax, why should I complain? I have 3 more. And since I'm not using those molds anyways, I don't need to worry about residual wax getting into our everyday food. I pulled those two items out to become craft supplies (instead of cooking supplies), added a plastic spoon which I can throw away after using, and it's time to remake some of our broken crayons into something useful. While I can clean everything up afterward, it gives me peace of mind to know I don't have to scrub them well (especially the measuring cup and the spoon) and might still leave some residue for someone to ingest. Yuck!
Our budding photographer (age 4.5 at the time) took this shot
After peeling and breaking crayons into small pieces more or less the same size, I sort one color out and drop them into my glass measuring cup. This method leaves me with a solid color, not marbled, so I really want to start with one basic color rather than ending up with a bunch of ugly black crayons.
I set the microwave for 4 minutes but remove the cup every 30 seconds to stir the melting wax. I want all the crayons to melt but I don't want them to overheat. The number of pieces in my cup and their size affects the overall time it takes them to melt, somewhere between 2-4 minutes in my microwave. Please remember that your results may be different, making the 30 second stirring even more important.
Once all are melted, I pour out the wax into my star-shaped candy mold. This mold is not microwaveable or I might experiment with heating small crayon pieces in it directly instead of in a cup and then pouring into the mold. I haven't made candles before and don't have the supplies or I might experiment with using the melted wax that way also...
Don't eat this.
Let the wax cool completely (half an hour or so), then pop out of the mold. A brand-new crayon! Much more exciting to use and much more presentable as a gift. I've been keeping one star from each batch with my girls' crayon collection for them to use, leaving me another six to get rid of give away. A handful of different colors as a "just because" present; packaged with another "real" present for birthday gifts; handed out to friends at preschool at the end of the year; presented with a coloring book to a young child; passed out at any Sunday school/childcare program; included in our annual Christmas shoe box or other charity gift. It would work well in a babysitter's kit if my daughters were old enough to babysit (the 6yr says they're the only type of crayon she will ever give to her children...) The star is small with 5 points which I think works better than the other shapes I've seen these made into: it just seems 5 points will last longer in coloring than 0 or 1 points on a heart-shaped crayon or a car-shaped crayon. But other shapes do work.
While I wouldn't buy brand-new crayons just to make these shaped crayons, it's a much better solution in our home for the broken crayon pieces which were crowding out the newer, nicer crayons. Especially since we're likely to continue receiving more crayons for several years to come.
The four simplified steps:
  1. Peel crayons. Break into small pieces.
  2. Sort out one color to melt at a time.
  3. Melt in microwave for 30 seconds at a time until no chunks remain. Stir well every 30 seconds.
  4. Pour or ladle into candy mold. Let cool.
Finished project ready to give away

Linked with Works for Me Wednesday, Making Your Home Sing

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