Here are a bunch of ways to recycle crayons.
Wax Paper Shapes
A long time ago in art at grade school we somehow made plaques by melding the crayon shavings between 2 sheets of wax paper with a warm iron and let that dry. Then we outlined a shape - like a coffee pot or something and cut it out of the shavings after they hardened - then peeled the wax paper off. I remember how cool it looked.
Place it in a frame for the wall. I like the notion of melting them into tins for JUMBO crayons and I wonder if extending the length of them by placing them in a cigarette holder would work. You can get them in a couple different lengths.
I did this great project with 5 and 6 year olds using old broken crayons and sandpaper. Cut out a piece of sandpaper, the more coarse the better. Allow the children to draw a picture on the rough surface with leftover crayons. Once the sandpaper is all colored, place in the oven on an old cookie sheet at low. It makes a bit of a waxy smell, but once the pictures are melted on the sandpaper, let dry and you have an art piece to cherish. It is worth it! (11/01/2004)
Stain Glass Effect
Like melody_yesterday, I too remember doing a neat craft with leftover crayons as a grade-schooler. With the crayons broken in small bits and shavings, we made a picture on a sheet of drawing paper. After that, we covered the crayon shaving picture with a sheet of paper and ironed the design in, by carefully moving over it with a warm iron and slight pressure. Very like a stain glass effect and fun to do.
Using them for sealing envelopes. Melt them down with a lighter into a foil filled cup and then drip the crayon wax into patterns or just a drop onto the envelope. Then you can use a metal stamp after the wax has cooled a little to add more texture or your initials.
Make New Crayons!
Buy a used sauce pan and funnel at a garage sale or thrift shop just for this purpose. Melt the stubs down gently, don't stir, just let them mingle together. Buy some short pieces (3 to 4 inches, most stores will cut them for you) of 1/2 inch pvc pipe at a hardware store. Use a small piece of 2 by 4 and a spade bit the same size as the outside of the pvc (I think 3/4). Drill into the 2 x 4 about an inch. Set the pvc into the hole to use as a mold. Pour in the melted crayon and let cool for a couple hours. Remove the pvc mold from the 2 x 4 and slide the new fat crayon out. Perfect size for preschoolers who generally don't care about specific colors anyway. You could also buy the caps for the 1/2 inch pvc, cap one end and set them into a cup instead of the wooden base. When they are cool, remove the cap and slide the crayon out.
Take broken crayon bits in various colors and put them in a muffin tin. Melt them in the oven just until they've run together. After it cools pop it out and you have a multi colored scribble cookie that kids will love.
Looking for something to do with those old broken crayons? Take the wrappers off of old crayon break them into pieces mix all together and put to the side.
Take two muffin tins line them with either foil muffin cups or spray with just plain non stick baking spray. Put pieces of crayons in the muffin tins filling it halfway.
Heat oven to 200 degrees F. Put the muffin tin in the oven. Take out after the crayons are melted. For me it usually takes about 9-11 minutes but watch them since oven temperatures vary.
After they are melted take out of the oven put to side. Let cool. I usually let cool about an hour but if you are in a hurry put them in the fridge to cool and after they are cool you have fun new crayons for the kids.
For fun holiday ideas, take a flat cookie sheet lined with easy release foil. Use metal cookie cutters. Press the cookie cutters down a little bit. Put crayon pieces in each cookie cutter and melt the wax. Let cool and you will have crayons in neat shapes.
Or take plastic candy molds and dixie cups. Put crayon pieces in the cup. Melt the crayons in microwave for about 5-8 minutes pour into the molds let cool in freezer for 20-30 min and they will pop right out of the mold.
By Courtney Herriage
When working for an after-school program, I would take baking cups used for muffins (try the ones that have foils cups enclosed with paper) and old broken crayons and have the kids mix the crayons (paper removed) into whatever color schemes they wanted inside the cups on a metal tray and place them into an oven at about 250 degrees fahrenheit. The crayons melt inside the cups to make a perfectly round crayon that even little hands can hold. Be careful! Oven usage should always be done by adults. Keep kids away from the oven and hot trays or utensils! Handle crayons when completely cooled. For extra special crayons, have kids add glitter before crayons go on to bake.
Remove paper and put several crayons of similar color families (i.e. red purple and blue or yellow green and blue) in a small bathroom-size paper cup. Put several of these cups on a plate and micro until melted enough for at least some to be liquid. DO NOT MIX. Allow to cool and peel off paper and you have a multi-colored chunky crayon for little hands or just fun because of the multi-color.
My Crayon Craft Ideas
Here're a few things I've done with old crayons. I always have lots at the end of the year.
You can make suncatchers using wax paper, an iron and crayon shavings. Use a sheet of heavy foil over the wax paper when ironing so you don't smoke up the place or ruin your iron. I use old muffin tins and pencil sharpeners to make shavings grouped by color. Kids always want to help make the shavings. Take a large sheet of wax appear and fold it in half, sprinkle shavings (sparingly, they spread a lot!) over 1/2 of the sheet, then fold over & iron on medium heat - it only takes a few seconds. Cool and cut into shapes. We made wings from construction paper to make bees and butterflies. Then tape your creations onto windows for the light to shine through. You can also draw or write on the wax paper with sharpie markers.
Use an old warming tray and wrap the tray top with heavy foil to protect it. Then place a sheet of paper on the tray and 'paint' with the crayon stubs - which melt as they touch the paper. For even more fun, place another sheet of paper on top of the 1st and rub evenly, then peel off. You'll have 2 pieces beautifully patterned paper you can use for collage, etc. Paper with a smooth finish works best for this.
Place the stubs, grouped by color in a muffin tin and place the tin on a warming tray (remember the foil), then use old paintbrushes (the cheapest plastic ones are fine) to paint with the melted wax. You can paint the melted wax onto fabric for a batik project.
Wet Drawing Technique
Mineral spirits or turpentine will dissolve the crayons. You can make washes by painting a drawing with a brush full of spirits, dissolving some in a small container and also try dipping the crayons in a little cup full of spirits for a 'wet drawing' technique.
We also made unusual magnets by arranging crayon shavings and small pieces on metal juice can tops and placing these in the hot sun until crayons melted and swirled together. On a hot summer day, this happens quickly! Once cooled the wax hardens and lasts fairly well - as long as you don't drop it.
Coloring White Candles
I melt down crayons with a little wax and then dip white candles into the mixture to create colored candles. I buy plain white candles - about 99 cents for 1 doz. I find them in the ethnic food aisle of the grocery store - Shabbat candles.
Then I melt a little bit of wax with crayons in a tin can set in an old saucepan with water in the pan... my substitute for a double boiler.
I use tongs and I'm very careful. I dip the white candle in the wax, then into a tin can of cold water, then back into the wax - do this until you get the desired coating, then let them cool. I can make any color of candles and it's a lot of fun to experiment.
One year I made various shades of orange for Autumn. My neighbor's little girl had fun picking out the colors and then watching me dip the candles. It wasn't a safe project for her age, but it still entertained her for several hours to see the color combinations she could create.
Adding Color to Wax Candles
The crayon stubs are also great to color wax candles. Just add them to the wax when you are melting it down.
How about making pretty fire-starter packages for people who have fireplaces or like to camp.
You need the crayons melted, strips of colored paper (if you have a paper shredder at your house, even better). Tie a piece of string to a pine cone or a balled up piece of paper. Dip it in the melted wax, then drag it through your shredded paper. Squeeze it once it has cooled but before the wax sets completely and trim any long shreds. Let it harden and continue to do these steps several times.
Then, the last time, try to place the shredded paper fairly straight so that you can make a little tuft, like a carrot top at the end with shredded paper.
Finding Cheap Crayons
You can always put them all in a zip-lock and sell at a yard sale, or...
Many times I have been in a thrift store to see a grandmother, a caregiver, etc. find a zip-lock full of crayons for 25 cents or so and are so pleased. So many times we take for granted that crayons are inexpensive to us and we can just go out and buy new ones as soon as they aren't "pretty" any more. Others are thankful for an opportunity to purchase them no matter how well they look.
Decorating Easter Eggs
You could store them in with your Easter stuff and bring them out when decorating Easter Eggs. Draw on the egg before dipping it in the egg dye.
Use the browns and blacks to cover scratches on your furniture. Works great.
Feel free to post your ideas below.