Friday, August 5, 2011

cooking crayons

Today (well, yesterday, actually, considering that it's 2:30 a.m. where I live) I went through a bunch of my childhood toys/books/rubbish at my grandmother's house. Included in the many baby dolls and Babysitter's Club books (by the way, BSC was my thing in first grade) were many things that might actually find a place in my classroom.

There were also crayons. Lots of crayons, either broken or with raggedy/gross labels.

My grandmother, a former kindergarten teacher, suggested melting them in muffin tins in the oven. I had seen a different method, though, that I wanted to try.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find the webpage. I thought I'd liked it on StumbleUpon, but it was not to be found. So, armed with plenty of crayons, I decided to go forth on memory. The procedures below are by no means original, but I doubt there is any way to melt crayons that some teacher hasn't already done.

- Crayons, salvageable but broken or otherwise undesirable
- Bowl with ice water
- Tin cans, emptied/cleaned
- Small pot
- Source of water
- Stove (a hotplate would do, I suppose)
- Oven mitt or some other heat-barrier
- Ice cube trays in the shape you want your crayons to be
- Refrigerator (optional)

- Gather crayons. Group crayons into color families. Let logic prevail with this step.

- Remove labels from your first batch of crayons. Your ice water bowl will facilitate this. Stick the crayons in the ice water. Let sit for about 45 seconds or until you've almost forgotten about them. Remove from water. Holding on to the label, firmly tap the end of the crayon on a hard surface. The label should slide off. This trick does not work with some crayons, even within the same brand, but it worked for most all the ones I tried. Violet Crayolas were particularly bad for not coming off. YMMV.

- Alternately, you could have your Legion of the Small peel the paper off for you. Your call.

- Assemble a group of crayons which you would like to melt together. How many crayons per batch depends on the size you want your crayons, so I'm no help there. FYI cans with more crayons have less of a chance of tipping over while melting, but fewer crayons means quicker melting. Obviously

- Put them into your (clean!) tin can. Bend one part of the can into a spout. Just trust me on this.

- Fill your pot with enough water to cover the bottom part of the can (up to the ridges, at least. Heat water on medium-high, which may vary by stove. (Water will need to be replenished, over the course of the crayon melting due to this little thing called evaporation. Plan for it.)

- Put the can into the water.

- Watch crayons melt.

- When crayons are melted, pour the liquid into your ice-cube trays. (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond, but I think I'm going to get some with cool shapes from IKEA soon.)

- Let the wax sit in molds until semi-firm.

- Once they are firm enough that they do not splash over the side when you pick the tray up, put them in the refrigerator. Leave in there approximately forever. (Twenty minutes or until no longer warm.)

- Twist ice tray as if removing ice.

- Use crayons.

- Enjoy!

- You either need more than one can (ideal) or to plan your color sequence carefully. Why? It's hard to get the leftover wax from the last color out of the can. If you only have one can, I advise going from yellow to orange, orange to red, etc.

- Don't move the trays to the fridge too early. You will splash the wax over the side and onto your floor/counter/clothes/dog/whatever.

The crayons look good, although not terribly earth-shattering. I forgot to take a picture, but they're solid, look nice, and write well. Results on usability will be in after school starts.

I think this was the page that I originally read several weeks before melting down my own crayons, but I can't be sure. Glad I found it, because now I want to try the rainbow crayons.

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