Wild Gourd Farm

Organic Gardening in St. Louis City

Frugal Friday #1

I make the dog food for Maggie and Rosco (I will definitely discuss this further in a future post). Their meals typically consist of lentils, sweet potatoes, oats or rice, peanut butter, whatever vegetables I can get cheap at the market, and eggs and fish. Our freezer was stocked with trout from Eric’s fishing over New Year’s at the White River in Arkansas, so the dogs had been feasting on some good, fresh trout.

This week, Eric went out and bought the cheapest fish he could find at the supermarket. Usually this means catfish, which Rosco refuses to eat. This time it was whiting (AKA jack salmon). In nice weather, Eric spares me the smell and cooks the fish outside; unfortunately, this week the temperatures were in the teens or lower, so that wasn’t an option. The fish was boiled in water for only a few minutes, but the entire house smelled like a fish market (confirmed by a call from Sallie, who wondered if we were doing some sort of fish emulsion experiment in the basement). And, the funny part is the whiting is the only fish Rosco will actually eat.

Anyway, to combat the very offensive lingering odor, we lit all the candles we had and finished off a can of air freshener. Even today, when walking inside our noses were met with a confusing combination of vanilla, cinnamon, gardenia, and day-old horrible smelly fish.

It’s slowly getting better, but I ran into an issue this afternoon. Several of our candles had burned all the way down to the end of the wick, but there was still a bunch of wax left.

Which brings me to the introduction of our blog’s first Frugal Friday!

So I decided to make a new candle. Here’s how to make a candle out of leftover wax, 

For the wick:

  • twine (or braided cotton string, or hemp)
  • 2 T. salt
  • 4 T. borax
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water

For the candle:

  • wax from used candles


  • mixing bowls
  • knives/spoons for removing the leftover wax
  • double boiler (or a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water)
  • a container or mold for your new candle (I washed out and re-used the jar from one of the used candles).


  • If you combine the wax from more than one kind of candle, your new candle may have a funky smell or color. It’s suggested that you stick with candles of similar colors and scents. I melted white wax separately from the amber wax.
  • We cleaned out the bowls that held the melted wax while they were still hot to avoid having to chip off the dried wax.


  1. First, you’ll need to wash the twine for the wick. I used about a foot of twine, and plan to store the extra wicks in rolled up newspaper. Combine the salt, borax, and warm water in a bowl and soak the twine for a bit. Remove it from the bath and hang it to dry.
  2. While the twine is drying, set up your double boiler(s). I used two pots filled halfway with water, with metal mixing bowls that fit snugly on top.
  3. Remove the leftover wax from your used candles.
  4. Add the wax to your double boiler. The water at the bottom should be kept at a gentle boil and the wax should melt pretty uniformly without having to stir it.
  5. Take your clean, dry twine and dip it into the melted wax. Let harden and dip again.
  6. Using pot holders, pour the melted wax into your container.
  7. Set the twine wick in your container. You can either hold it upright or devise a system to keep it straight for you. I set up two knives to hold it in place.
  8. Allow the wax to cool. If using separate waxes, you can add another layer once the first is cooled.

Voila! A fresh new candle to cover the fish smell!

Edit: Super-duper Frugal Friday Bonus: I used the water-salt-borax wash to scrub our porcelain sink! Salt is a mild corrosive and can be used where harsher chemicals can’t.


4 responses to “Frugal Friday #1

  1. Cinda February 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Great idea Becca, I have other candles & wax if you need more. Sorry to hear about the fish odor, there must be a remedy for that if I find one Ill let you know. Cinda

    • We Will Work for Food February 13, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Thanks, Cinda! I’d love to have any wax and candles you could spare- I definitely had a lot of fun with this project and will probably keep it up. Luckily melting all the wax helped with the fish smell. I think it’s pretty much gone by now!

  2. sal February 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    And you make your own candles too? Boy you guys have a lot of energy. And that horrible smelling fish is the only fish Rosco likes? Say it ain’t so. What’s wrong with that dog?

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