Art is fun and can revitalize even the most nomadic youngsters. It paves the way for an individual’s imagination to bloom while teaching them valuable skills such as patience and perseverance.
Crayon is one of today’s iconic art supplies, contributing to a bevy of creative masterpieces. And, like any other product, these wonder wands break after repeated use, rendering them useless.
So, what should you do? Toss them out? Not yet!
Fortunately, melting broken crayons in the microwave repurposes them, allowing kids to continue their artistic endeavors with minimal fuss.
Here’s how to melt crayons in microwave.
Sort the crayons by color before removing the paper wrapper. Slice them lengthwise and transfer them into a microwavable bowl. Microwave the crayons in 30-second increments on high, stirring after each, until melted. Pour the melted wax into molds or muffin tins to make various shapes.
For more insight on microwaving crayons, how long it takes, step-by-step instructions, and much more, please read on!
What Is a Crayon?
A crayon, according to Wikipedia, is a wax-based pigment used for hand drawing, writing, or coloring pictures.
Today, walk into any Generation Alpha’s rooms, and you’re sure to be greeted by a rainbow of colors and stacks of crayons of all shapes and sizes. However, this has not always been the case.
Since its first incarnation, this artistic tool has come a long way. If I recall my history classes correctly, its true origin is unknown, but it is believed to date back thousands of years.
However, the modern crayon was patented in 1903 by American businessmen Edwin Binney and Harold Smith. They developed the pigment-wax combination as an alternative to toxic carbon pencils deemed unsafe for children. The new toy consisted of a paraffin base, making it waterproof and easy to clean off hands.
And while they were initially intended to be an inexpensive substitute, they quickly became sought-after objects in households worldwide. In fact, Crayola became the generic trademark for other brands of crayons, much like Xerox became the word for photocopiers.
Nowadays, kids don’t just use them for art. From temporary tattoos to arts and crafts, children adore these tools. With no sharp edges, they are designed to be safe for even the youngest of artists.
Is It Safe to Melt Crayons in The Microwave?
Microwaving crayons in the microwave is safe as long as you follow a few simple guidelines:
- Microwave Your Crayons in a Ventilated Space: Crayons are primarily made of paraffin wax and color pigment, which, when heated, emits irritating fumes that can be harmful to your health. As a result, I recommend that you conduct your experiment outside or in a well-ventilated area with adequate airflow.
- Use Microwave-safe Bowls for Melting: Sometimes, the excitement gets the best of us, and we’re tempted to pop any old dish into the microwave. However, be warned! Just because something fits inside your appliance doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Plastic containers, for example, will melt when heated, contaminating the melted crayon, whereas metal bowls spark due to electrostatic discharge. Instead, I strongly advise using ceramic or glass bowls to microwave crayons.
- Avoid Overheating: Like food, leaving your crayons in the microwave for too long or unsupervised can result in an uneven texture. This may be challenging, especially during the final stage of molding. In my experience, microwaving in short intervals results in beautifully molten crayons, perfect for crafting new creations.
- Observe General Safety Precautions When Working with Hot Mixtures: Although melting crayons in the microwave is safer than conventional methods, it still requires caution.
Ensure you use oven mitts when removing your bowl from the microwave to avoid getting burned. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from hot splatters. Finally, this project should not replace parental supervision but rather be a fun activity for parents and children to enjoy together.
What Happens When You Microwave Crayons?
When you Microwave crayons, it undergoes a physical change where the paraffin wax and color pigment melts.
Remember the chemistry lessons about irreversible and reversible changes? Well, this is one of those examples of a reversible process. Let me jolt your memory.
An irreversible or chemical change happens when something cannot be overturned, resulting in a new substance with different properties than the original. A good example is cooking an egg to make an omelet. The final product, an omelet, cannot revert to the raw egg.
On the other hand, as the name indicates, a reversible change can be undone. And that’s exactly what happens when you pop a crayon(s) in the microwave. At temperatures between 120°-150° Fahrenheit (49°-66° Celsius), it will start to melt and lose its form. Due to density differences, paraffin wax will float on top while colored pigments collect at the bottom.
The only disparity is the object’s physical state, which means it has not undergone any chemical reactions and is thus reusable.
How Long Does It Take to Microwave Crayons?
Typically, a bowl of crayons will take 2 minutes to melt in the microwave.
The primary objective here is for all of the pieces to melt. However, do not microwave the crayon for longer than necessary, as the wax may ignite and cause an explosion. Worse, inhaling smoke from a burning wax can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia or lung cancer.
To avoid such risks, I recommend microwaving in 30-second increments rather than in one continuous session. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but trust me when I say it’s well worth it. Here’s why.
First, it gives you control over the process by allowing you to halt the melting at any time. Second, it allows for stirring before each round, which aids in even heat distribution and prevents clumps. Lastly, it keeps you focused and engaged, helping you to resist the urge to walk away.
However, I noticed time discrepancies depending on the microwave’s wattage. For instance, my 700-watt microwave took about 3 minutes to melt a bowl of crayons fully. Meanwhile, an 1100-watt microwave needed only 2 minutes for the same task. So, check your owner’s manuals and make the necessary adjustments.
How To Melt Crayons in Microwave: Step by Step
Here’s a step-by-step guide to melting crayons in the microwave.
- Sort the crayons by color: To get the most out of crayons, separate them into similar colors before melting them. For instance, group all oranges together, then reds, and so on. However, you don’t have to stress categorizing them based on their distinct hue; generic pigment will suffice.
- Peel off the crayons’ paper wrappers: Once they’re sorted, peel off the paper wrappers from each crayon. Any attempt to microwave the crayons with the wrapper on results in a greasy, waxy mess that sticks like glue. Here are a few ways to go about it.
- Peel and tear the paper away with your fingernails. However, I find this technique tedious and messy and may result in bleeding fingers.
- Slide a craft knife under the wrapper’s edge until it pops up enough for you to grab hold of it. Gently pull up on both sides until it peels off like old wallpaper. However, don’t allow your children near sharp objects or knives if you plan on using this technique.
- Drench the crayons in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to loosen the wrapper, then peel them off with your hands. Believe me; this works like a charm!
- Occasionally, you may come across a crayon with an inherently loose wrapper. If that is the case, simply slide the wrapper off with your fingers.
- Slice the crayons into small pieces: Place the peeled crayons on a cutting board and slice them into 1/2-inch-long strips. Use a sharp kitchen knife or razor blade, but be careful not to cut yourself. This will expedite the melting process due to increased surface area contact.
- Transfer the crayon pieces into a microwavable bowl: I recommend using either a glass or a ceramic bowl. Put each color group into its bowl to avoid cross-contamination.
To make candles, mix one-part crayon with one-part candle wax. I also love adding essential oils for a soothing fragrance. However, for lipstick, combine one part crayon, ½ teaspoon of oil (such as olive or sunflower), and ½ teaspoon of shea butter.
- Microwave the crayons in 30-second increments: Pop the bowl of crayons into the microwave and set it to high power for 30 seconds at a time. After every round, take the bowl out and stir the crayons with a fork to ensure even melting. Repeat these steps until the crayons melt fully.
Do not overcrowd your appliance with bowls, as this will only slow down the melting process—instead, microwave in small batches or one bowl at a time.
- Pour the wax into the mold: Once the crayons have melted, it is time to repurpose. Carefully pour the crayon wax into a silicone mold, candy mold, or muffin tins to create various shapes and designs.
If you’re like me and relish a little fragrance or glitter, this is the perfect opportunity. Simply stir in a few drops of your favorite scent and a pinch of glitter. And that’s it! All that remains is for the wax dry and admire your new creations.
4 Inventive Ways to Repurpose Unused Crayons
If you’re looking for inspiration, here are four ways to reuse your old crayons.
- Make candles: Melt crayons in a muffin tin and insert cotton string wicks. If desired, add a few drops of essential oil before the wax hardens for scent. Once dry, remove them with the end of a spoon or pliers.
- Make crayon paintings: Collect old crayons, an art canvas, and a heat gun. Arrange crayons on the canvas, turn on the heat gun, set it to low, and slowly move it over the painting’s surface. Watch as the colors melt into each other until you achieve your desired effect. Allow the painting to dry before framing it.
- Sculpt with crayons: If you have a sharp mind or steady hand, this project is for you. Grab a handful of crayons wax, put them under a sheet of paper, and roll them into a cylinder. Smooth any bumps or ridges and carefully remove excess bits by rubbing between thumb and forefinger. Voila! A sculpted masterpiece awaits.
- Crayon Frames: If you want something ready to hang, get three frames and pile three crayons of various colors into a triangle shape. Stack the smaller frames on top of the larger ones, then glue everything together. Hang in pride.
Microwaving is a quick and easy way to melt crayons and make your kid’s art project come to life. However, keep a close eye on the melting process, or the wax will overflow and make a horrible mess or emit irritating fumes.
As a precaution, microwave in short bursts and stir often. Overall, microwaves are an effective way of morphing old crayons into vibrant new creations.
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