Solar Crayon Recycling

…Or, at least the death-like glare of the sun serves a purpose.

Hey! It’s crayon recycling time around here again! (Apparently we break a lot of crayons.)

BEHOLD my crude artistry!

This time instead of using foil liners in a muffin pan I had a silicone ice cube tray I bought at a thrift shop for one dollar. I got it with the express intention of using it as a crayon mold – which is good because let me tell you, crayon does not come off of it very well. (Although they pop out just fine.)

So you know the drill: gather – or create – some broken crayons.

They break their crayons, is what I'm saying.

Divest them of their wrappers.


Is is just me, or are crayon wrappers harder to rip off than when I was a kid?

Next, break up your crayons into little pieces and fill the mold. The smaller your pieces are, the easier they will melt.

Fill em up!

Now you’re ready to melt your crayons! We decided to set them outside and let the heat from the sun do our work for us. (We tried this in Japan, and the sun did not get nearly hot enough to melt the crayons. But you know. Arizona. It works.)

How do you like my pan?

I put the tray on a blackened old pan in the hopes that it would help absorb more heat. After one hour, we had this:

It's meeeeelting!

It’s working! Unfortunately, we started it too late in the afternoon and shadows started getting in the way of our solar crayon-melting. Plus, the last few bits of crayon stubbornly refused to melt, so I decided to microwave it.

Microwaving successfully melted the last bits, but it also produced a curious side-effect.

See that line?

The wax started to separate from the rest of the crayon! This crayon has a very thick wax layer because I tossed a very cheap yellow crayon (you know, one of those waxy ones that will barely draw) that we picked up somewhere on top of the regular ones. You can see that there’s a very thin line of yellow pigment between the pale yellow wax and the rest of the crayon.

Anyway, all of the crayons had a wax layer on top to some extent. The colors that are left with the wax baked out are vivid and vibrant and thick – and also a little messy. It’s almost like grease paints more than crayons! They’re still usable, just need a little more supervision, especially around the twins.

So, if you want to melt your own crayons, here’s my advice: start before noon and let the midday sun work on them. Make sure you know where the shadows will move so you can keep the crayons out of them. And if the sun won’t do the job, don’t use the microwave, use the oven!

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