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Making Crayons

Recycling old crayons into new ones is one of the cheapest crafts around - especially when your Sunday school teacher, local day-care provider or neighbor is willing to give you a bucketful just so they won't be thrown away! Muffin tins and ice-cube trays make nice chunky crayons, easier for little kids' hands to hold, and less breakable than the sticks.

Your very basic single-color crayons

The easiest way to make single color crayons: Sort peeled crayons by color into a muffin tin. Put in oven on warm (about 200 degrees F) until crayons have melted. Let cool, pop out of muffin tins.

Multi-colored crayons: what you will need

  • crayons with labels peeled off, sorted by color
  • muffin tin, ice cube tray, or other mold (see 'molds' below)
  • many small plastic disposable cups (yogurt containers work well)


Microwave crayon-melting

I make a double-boiler for melting crayons, which keeps a more consistent temperature - no scorching or hot spots. Some crayons melt faster than others and the double-boiler helps even it out. Harder crayons (like Prang) will not melt at these temps...I use the harder ones as pieces in the polka-dot crayons and filler in the painted ones.

Put about an inch of water in a yogurt cup, and broken crayon pieces in another yogurt cup. Put crayon cup on top of water yogurt cup. Microwave for 30 sec to one minute. Stir crayons, repeat until nearly melted. Allow to sit (with water underneath) until completely melted. Be careful lifting the crayon cup out of the water (steam!) cup - it's hot! Pour melted crayon as directed below.


Layered crayons

Pour melted crayon until just the bottom of mold is covered. Let cool until solid or semi-solid. Pour next color until first color is covered. Repeat until mold is full or desired height is reached.

Polka-dot crayons

I've found two ways of making these, neither is entirely satisfactory to me.

first approach - fill mold with small broken crayon pieces (1/4" or less). Microwave about 20 seconds or until crayon is just beginning to soften. Take out of microwave. Melt a solid color in a double boiler, and pour over now-cooled pieces until full. Sometimes this works well, sometimes not... if you don't melt the pieces enough, you don't see them peeking out of the solid color. If you melt them too much, the bottom of your crayon is a swirly brown mess.

second approach - pour drops of various colors into the mold, letting cool each time. Fill mold with small broken pieces. Melt a solid color in a double boiler, and pour over pieces until pieces are covered. Works reliably, but isn't as attractive as the first approach when it works.

"Painted" crayons

Instructions here are for Jell-O racing car crayons (shown above), but you could do a similar thing with any shaped mold. The object is to make the outside of the crayon colored to look like an actual car.

  1. Tip the mold on its side. Carefully pour a few drops of black into both tires. Let harden. If you over-fill a wheel, let harden, pop out, and pour a new one. Repeat on other side. Drips can be removed with a butter knife or metal spatula.
  2. Melt red (or any bright color) for the roof. Pour a small amount in, filling just until the roof is covered (only a few drops!) If you're ambitious, dribble red down the corners of the windows to form the door frame.
  3. Melt purple (or any dark color, or light blue) for the windows. Pour in until windows are covered.
  4. Melt green (or any bright color) and pour onto the hood of the car (just a little bit to cover from windows to corners).
  5. Melt yellow (or any bright color) and pour onto the trunk (just a little bit to cover from windows to corners).
  6. If desired, lay broken crayons in the mold at this point, to add color after 'painting' has worn off. A great way to use up the too-hard-to-melt crayons and the "weird" colors like peach and olive.
  7. Melt orange (or any bright color) and pour halfway up the wheels, forming the sides of the car.
  8. Melt brown (or any dark color) and fill the mold. This color will look like the ground under the car. What better way to use up a lot of brown?
  9. Wait until cool, pop it out, and drive away on any sheet of paper you choose!


Molds I've tried:

  • ice-cube trays - Wal-Mart had the bug ice-cube trays as used above, as well as fish. I've also seen fruit, flowers, card symbols... I've had success with plastic, rubber, and silicone trays; the double-boiler method has thus far kept the trays themselves from melting.
  • muffin tins - silicone (such as Flexipan) work well. (Metal ones are hard to get crayons out of. Can invert and twist to remove like ice cubes when they're totally cooled... but takes some coaxing.) Mini-muffin, filled about an inch deep, seems about the right size.
  • Jell-O Jiggler molds work very well. The race-car is a great size! Holiday shapes look like they'd work too. Made to withstand high temps, colors pop out easily.
  • 3/4" automotive heater hose, sliced lengthwise, with masking tape on the ends. Makes a nice thick "can't-roll" crayon, flat on one side, but melted crayon seeps out the tape, and heater hose holds in the heat for too long, tending to make brown mucky-looking crayons when you wanted polka-dots.
  • skinny side of flat-shaped shampoo bottle. Works well but ends up being an odd-shaped stick.

Molds I haven't tried:

  • 3/4" PVC tube, sliced lengthwise?
  • 3/4" clear vinyl tube? Would it take the heat?
  • candle molds. They would work well, but cost too much for me!


...feel free to email me at with ideas, comments, etc!

 

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