Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making Old Crayons New Again

The sprouts and I needed to put a little color in our world to counteract the winter blahs today. Thankfully, I have been saving old bits of broken crayons and the random crayons kids get at restaurants that I can't stand to waste. I have also been hanging on to this nifty tutorial from Instructables that shows you how to melt old crayons down into a muffin pan to create funky, new-to-you crayon discs.

The things you will need

  • old, broken, and / or random crayons
  • a melting apparatus, such as a muffin pan or mini-muffin pan (NOTE: I chose to use a silicone pan that we keep only for crafting-- theoretically the crayons are non-toxic, but I personally wouldn't chance ruining a good baking pan)
  • a jelly roll pan  or other shallow, oven-safe dish to catch potential drips
  • your oven, pre-heated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit
  • oven mitts
  • wooden skewer (optional)
  • your freezer
  • little helpers (optional)

Step 1: Prep 

Gather your tired, your poor, your huddled crayons. Peel the papers off and break them up (if necessary) into chunks that are the right size for your chosen melting apparatus. Fill the cups well in a mini-muffin pan since the chunks will melt down into cups. A regular muffin pan provides some more leeway. Since we have been talking about states of matter, this was a great opportunity to discuss the properties of the solid versus liquid crayons!
Nearly three years worth of random crayons. I don't recommend saving crayons for this long because we ran out of steam long before they all got peeled.

Step 2: Melt

Pop your prepped muffin pan into the oven pan at 275 degrees Fahrenheit and let them melt for about 15-20 minutes. Watch them carefully, as different brands and types of crayons will melt at different rates. If there are some crayons popping up at odd angles or floating weirdly, you can use a bamboo skewer to poke them down again.
Little helpers can be involved with the prepping stage. Peeling paper off of crayons comes naturally to some kids (ahem... Second Sprout). In general, it's a good fine-motor activity for preschoolers and up.

Step 3: Cool

When all of the crayons look melted, use your oven mitts to carefully remove them and place them on a safe surface to cool (like a trivet or a wire rack). Allow them to cool at room temperature for 20-25 minutes, or until they look fairly solid throughout (no jiggling when you tap the pan). At that point, the pan can be put into the freezer to cool for an additional 5-10 minutes. When they are ready, pop them out of the pan and enjoy!
Our finished product! We easily had enough crayons for another batch, so we will probably be making more again soon.

 The sprouts are loving the bright colors, and the co-mingling of art and science is always a lot of fun. Since these are inexpensive to make and easy for the sprouts to help with, I am thinking that we'll be whipping another batch to share as Valentines for our home school group.

Happy Learning!

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