Friday, November 15, 2013

How to recycle old crayons

Just about every week, me and Willow go to the Remington Nature Center. In what she calls the "bug room," they have a bunch of rubbing plates nailed to a desk, paper and round crayons. Today, I asked how they made the crayons, and they said they bake them in an oven. I looked up how to do it, and it seemed easy, so we came home and made a half dozen.

Willow had, at one point, a small tote that contained the contents of an entire box of 96 Crayola crayons. This is a crapload of crayons. Over time, that number has understandably dwindled, with many going missing, quite a few getting trod on and snapped in half, and the others whittled down with use. We went through that tote and retrieved all the broken bits, and then I decided to break up perfectly good ones so we could have a solid six when we were done. The results were terrific. It was easy, and Willow then decided that we should do all of the rest of her crayons. My fingers are now purple and sore, but we have a ton of fun, "new" crayons.

Here is how we did it.

You will need:

  • An oven, preheated to 275
  • Crayola crayons
  • Mini muffin tin
  • A timer
  • A refrigerator
  • A towel

STEP ONE. Whether your crayons are broken or not, you will have to spend time peeling the paper off. This can be easy or it can be hard. It can also make you want to stab eyeballs (not that I felt like that, of course). I did surreptitiously chuck a few in the trash when I simply couldn't get them off, but even Willow was able to do most of the ones she selected.

PART TWO. Admire your unpeeled crayon pile. It is impressive, admire it!

STEP THREE. This part may be the most fun. Design your crayons. I discovered that three whole crayons will break up nicely and fit into one mini muffin spot. You want to make sure you fill each spot up as much as possible as the spaces between the bits disappear when they melt. You can put similar colors in each spot, or coordinating colors, or whatever-the-hell-you-want-to colors like Willow did in the upper right-hand spot. This makes it fun and visually appealing.

STEP FOUR. Bake those puppies. Ten minutes in the oven at 275 degrees was absolutely perfect for us. You might have to keep an eye on yours. But once they are melted, they are done.  

STEP FIVE. Let cool on the counter, on a cooling pad or something similar, for 20 to 25 minutes.

STEP SIX. Cool in refrigerator for around 15 minutes.

STEP SEVEN. Remove from the fridge, put the pan face down on a towel, and hope they pop right out. If they don't, you might have to encourage them a bit by smacking the back a few times.

STEP EIGHT. Admire your handiwork. And do it again, and again, and again, and again.

The fun thing about these is that there are tons of options. I think that a silicone baking pan would work better because you could pop them out easier, and they come in all sorts of fabulous shapes. You can experiment with different colors and combos. Don't use white, like I did the first time, unless you want your kid mad that the color doesn't show up in certain spots. Above all, have fun, and take care of your little fingers. I can barely type this. You're welcome.

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