Does your kids’ crayon collection look something like this?
Each August I buy a new set of crayons for each of the kids to take to school, along with a few extras to keep at home. At the end of the school year the crayons return home and are dumped in the big crayon bin. If pieces of crayon are found on the floor or in the bottom of a bag, I’ll toss them out but for the most part the collection just continues to multiply.
I decided that it was time for us to do something with the crayons. They had become out of control. I had heard about melting crayons, but had never tried it before.
As soon as the kids came home from school on Friday, we proceeded to sort the crayons (and markers and colored pencils that were mixed in the bunch). Crayons that were in good shape were put into a large ziploc bag to hold on to. All others were sorted by color into small bowls.
I gave AJ the task of peeling the papers off the crayons because it’s one of his favorite things to do during church. Who would have guessed that the paper-peeling would turn out to be the most difficult part of the whole project? We ended up with lots of crayon under the finger nails, as well as several under-the-nail paper cuts. Ouch!
After sorting and peeling papers, the fun part began! We melted crayons two ways.
Crayon-Melting Method #1:
Place similar-colored crayons in an oven-safe container (we used mini bread pans). Put the pans in a warm oven (250-300 degrees) and check periodically. I stirred the crayons occasionally.
When the crayons are melted, grab the pan with an oven mitt and quickly pour the hot wax into shaped molds (we got our fun shapes at Ikea). The wax starts to harden very quickly. To speed up hardening, place the molds in a cold place (outside or in the fridge).
Remove your new crayons from the molds when completely cooled.
What I learned:
- Clean-up is a pain in the toosh. I would recommend using disposable pans if you’d like to do this. I’m still not sure if my molds will be usable for ice cubes again. They are very difficult to clean, and wax does not come off easily. Lesson learned.
- Apparently, there are some crayons that will never melt. As seen in the right picture above, there were always a bunch of unmelted crayons in the bottom. Toss them.
- Was it worth it? Yes! The kids love the fun shapes and they are all eager to show off their puzzle crayons when they head back to school on Tuesday.
Crayon-Melting Method #2:
Sort crayons directly into muffin tins (I used my silicone muffin pans). Break crayons into smaller pieces and fill each hole pretty full.
Stick the muffin pans into a warm oven (250-300 degrees) and heat til the crayons are melted. Stir the melted wax and then place in a cool spot until the wax hardens and completely cools.
What I learned:
- Because I used silicone muffin pans, I was able to simply and easily “pop” each new crayon out. I’m guessing that getting the crayons out of a regular muffin pan could be difficult to impossible.
- This method was so much easier and faster and way less messy. However, the kids were not as excited about the round crayons.
- Need a point on your muffin crayons? Just break one in half, and you’ll have a few nice points and edges.
After we were done with our project (several hours later) I noted a few additional things:
- We had so much fun together. It has been a while since my kids were so enthralled my a project, and since an activity held their attention for so many hours. Regardless of how much we use these new crayons, everyone loved creating them together. There was something that everyone could do. It was definitely something that needed a “bigger hand” (especially when it came to handling the hot wax), but the sorting and peeling and breaking were easy enough for little hands, too.
- We created a much bigger mess than I would have anticipated. If we do it again, we’ll be using the same supplies, because frankly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to use some of them for anything else. The easiest pan to clean was a pyrex bread pan. The hardest? Silicone, for sure.
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