Melting Crayons

Time Frame: 1 hour
Grade Levels: All
Materials: Old crayons and oil pastels, old muffin pan, muffin/cupcake liners, paper plates, plastic spoon

I've been seeing this on Pinterest a lot lately. I was especially intrigued because I've always been annoyed at the idea of having to throw old crayons away. Crayons and oil pastels just get to a certain point where they are not really usable anymore, but throwing them away seems shameful!
Anyway, nothing I read really prepared me for the job I was undertaking. So, I have included what I learned by trial and error in this post, along with some helpful hints.

I decided to try this with all of the left over oil pastels and construction paper crayons from the school year. I brought home three gallons of these in zipper seal bags. 

I emptied them into bins like this and began to sort them by colors into muffin pans.

You can sort them any way you like. Sometimes I sorted by exact color matches. That means that I put only turquoise crayons together. Sometimes I sorted by similar color matches, meaning that I would put shades of red together. 

In other words, if I wanted to make a new crayon exactly like the old crayon, I put only matching crayons together. When I felt adventurous, I mixed it up. I also mixed odd colors together, like greens, blues, and oranges. It is okay to mix oil pastels and crayons together. The wax combines perfectly.

Two very helpful hints: 
First, have your students sort the crayons at school. You can discuss color theory and conservation of art supplies. You could have them work in groups to create colors that represent certain objects. For instance, the sun would be a very concrete thing, and they would probably want to use oranges, reds, and yellows. You could also have them think more abstractly. A row boat would be something that they would have to really think about in order to identify the colors it represents. Afterwards, you could have them explain their choices. This will save you A LOT of time at home.

Second, use muffin/cupcake papers. It makes it much easier to remove the crayons from the pans after the wax cools. It won't save your muffin pan from wax ruination, but it does make the job less frustrating. That being said, you don't want to use your grandmother's muffin pan to do this. Designate one or two cheap pans from the dollar store for this purpose.

Set the oven to about 300 degrees. It only takes about 20 minutes for the wax to melt, but you don't have to time it. You can see when it is ready to be taken out. I used a plastic spoon to stir the wax while it was still melted. You can stir as much or as little as you like. You will be able to see the colors swirling together. The more you stir, the more solid the color will be. The less you stir, the more swirly it will be.

Place the entire muffin pan in the refrigerator until the wax cools. You don't have to do this, but it really speeds up the process. You can touch the top of the crayon to tell when it is cool enough to remove.

After the wax cools, just peel the crayons out like you would a cupcake or muffin. I used a paper plate to hold them after I peeled off the paper. They were cool enough for me to remove the paper, but still needed a little more cooling time. The paper plate helped. It also saved me from marking on a real plate with the crayons.

I plan to save these for a day when we don't have the full 45 minutes of art. Sometimes our schedule is abbreviated; and it is too hard to get out supplies and work on a regular project in just thirty minutes. Also, I often don't know ahead of time that we are going to have an abbreviated schedule. So it makes it hard to plan ahead. Having things like this on hand really helps for last minute needs!

 Copyright 2012 Amanda Koonlaba-There's a Party in the Art Room


  1. this is such a great of my students brought heart shaped melted crayons for valentine's day happies...they were certainly a hit...