Save Those Broken Crayons!

Posted on August 24, 2009 by Melissa

Colin 1
Last Spring, as school was winding down and teachers enthusiastically high-fived each other while packing up for the summer, I noticed something in the hallway trash cans. Handful after handful of broken, used, and stubby crayons were being thrown away by both students and staff. I made a mental note to myself, “Figure out how to use old crayons at school to prevent so much waste,” then continued on with my own high-fiving summer packing.

A few months have gone by since then and I have to admit, broken crayons have not crossed my mind all summer. But, when the realization hit me last week that school was starting, oh, how about TODAY, I decided that it was time to do something with my son’s broken crayons that I had been saving.

crayons

I decided to make new crayons – a simple concept – one of the 3 Rs! I began looking online for ideas and directions and came across all sorts of websites that directed readers to pour the melted wax into plastic candy molds so that the crayons would end up shaped like Sponge Bob or Hannah Montana. “Great idea!” I thought to myself, as I imagined years of giving really fun crayons to children at birthday parties, or using them as classroom party favors in lieu of cupcakes (promoting recycling and combating tooth decay!).

However, I then realized that since I have never made molded candy before, I didn’t own any plastic candy molds. Was it really green for me to go out and buy new ones? I decided that I would use a muffin tin and an old ice cube tray to make the crayons so that no new purchases would have to be made.I sorted the unwrapped crayons by color into a lined muffin tin, filling up any extra “hole” with water so it wouldn’t burn the pan. I placed the muffin tin into the oven, preheated at 250 degrees, and let the wax melt completely (about 10 minutes).

muffin crayon
Next, I poured the melted wax into the ice cube tray (it was really easy to gently lift up the paper cup), mixing the colors for a rainbow effect. When finished, I resisted the urge to play with the melted wax and placed the ice cube tray in the freezer to cool.

After the wax cooled for 1 hour, the crayons easily popped out of the ice cube tray. I grabbed some paper and handed the crayons over to my toddler to scribble with, noting how the chunky shape of the ice cube was perfect for his little hands. He colored with them briefly, but then decided (probably because of their shape) that they made better cars. He “vrooooomed” them around the coffee table for about 30 minutes, as you can see from the picture below.

Will I make crayons again? Absolutely! I even plan on collecting broken crayons from teachers and students this year in school to recycle them and re-gift them back to the classroom. Also, I am also on the lookout for plastic candy molds at garage sales because I still think that shaped, recycled crayons would make very special gifts for children.

Colin 2

If recycling your child’s broken crayons every year isn’t really your thing, there are green options available! Check out Crayon Rocks which are all natural soy wax crayons. Crayon Rocks have a creamy texture, making it easy for your budding artist to blend colors together.

And since school is back in session, don’t forget to look for other green school supplies. Our small changes can make a big difference and instill all sorts of important “Save the Planet” values in our kiddos!

5 Comments +

  1. Outstanding idea! One that I must admit I wouldn’t have thought of but will definitely use now.

    August 24th, 2009 at 7:45 am
    Comment by A Free Man
  2. This is such a great idea! I bet now that it’s on your radar, you’ll find candy molds at a yard sale or on Craig’s List or something. They would make such great gifts!

    August 24th, 2009 at 1:03 pm
    Comment by Allie
  3. What a fantastic idea, Melissa! And good call on the plan to use them for classroom gifts instead of candy. Win/win.

    Also, I love your son’s chubby cheeks! He is adorable.

    August 24th, 2009 at 2:58 pm
    Comment by courtney
  4. I had to train my teaching assistant to NOT throw away the broken crayons. We love making our own now. The kids get such a kick out of it.

    August 24th, 2009 at 9:04 pm
    Comment by Erin
  5. Great idea! One way to possibly find some moulds would be to advertise on Freecycle in your local area. Someone might have some old ones that they no longer need!

    August 26th, 2009 at 4:35 am
    Comment by Holly Cottingham

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Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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