A Re-Examined Life

Canberra girl’s mission to live a more natural, sustainable life.

No Waste Christmas Part III – Recycling Jars and Waterproofing Labels


Upcycling Glass Jars

The most time consuming thing, of all the things I made for Christmas by far, was creating my recycled, waterproof-labelled jars.  I had decided to stop throwing away glass jars mid-way through the year so that I could recycle them.  By Christmas I had quite the collection. Actually, I should say that I haven’t just recycled the jars, I have upcycled them.  (For those of you who are not familiar with the term, upcycling is…  “the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value”).

The thing that took the most time was the removal of the original labels on the jars. Over the many hours of label removing that I undertook, I often wondered how it is that, whilst in all aspects of my life, I have difficulty making anything stick (some examples include – bandaids, paint, false eyelashes, new years resolutions), but the companies that manufacture glass jars have managed to find a glue that is almost entirely un-unstickable.

Seriously, that is some sticky glue.

In the hope of finding an easy way to remove the labels, I spent much time searching the internet,  but after trying a few different methods I came to the conclusion that there isn’t an easy method, and any website that is claiming to have an “easy way to remove jar labels” probably doesn’t actually have one.  (Please prove me wrong here, if you actually have an easy way to remove them, PLEASE let me know 🙂 )

To remove the labels you are going to need time and elbow grease.  Of all the methods I tried, and I tried a few, I found the method that worked best was oil.  I expect that any kind of oil would do, I went with some cheap blended home-brand olive oil (that is not fit for human consumption) that I had at home.

Removing Jar Labels

So I did end up successfully removing all the labels and here is how I did it (this works for both plastic and glass):

I soaked the jars in hot water for a while and peeled off as much of the label that was prepared to come off on its own, then I slathered the label with oil and took to it with a bread and butter knife, scraping off the label.  Once all the label was gone I put oil on the paper towel and rubbed at the residual glue until it all came off, then rinsed the jars off with soapy hot water.

Once the labels were removed from the jars I actually noticed the jars properly for the first time.  Someone is designing some really nice glass jars out there and up till now I have just been putting them in the recycling bin.  (Truth be told, I have actually become a bit obsessed with them, particularly the maple syrup ones.  So, in order to ensure I don’t become a crazy jar-lady, I now have a designated jar shelf.  Just the one.  Once it is full, I cannot collect anymore jars.  That is until there is once again room on the shelf 🙂 )

Waterproof Labels

You may already be aware that I am very much in love with my homemade citrus cleaner so I decided to share that love and give  some to everyone this Christmas.

Given that citrus cleaner is not really the sexiest present you can give a person, I made them just a little bit sexier with the use of some homemade labels.

Everyone got their own individual label.

This one was for my brother…

recycling jars and waterproof labels

This one for my mum….

Upcycled jar

This one for my sister….

upcycled jar

And this one for my daugher and son-in-law….

upcycled jar

Yep. Sexy. Citrus. Cleaner.

I also painted the lids of the jars orange, and put another label on the back with the ingredients.

upcycled jars

(A note about painting the lids.  For anyone like me, that is anyone who is a dodgy novice, please note that you will need to “prime” the lids before you paint them.  Apparently paint isn’t all that keen to stick to things like plastic and metal.  I learned this the hard way).

I also wanted to make the labels waterproof, and I found a pretty simple method for making some on the DIY website Look at What I made.  These instructions recommend using a white crayon, but I couldn’t find a single white crayon anywhere, (and buying an entire pack of coloured crayons  just for a white one wasnt going to work with my no-waste Christmas,) or paraffin wax, which I could not find anywhere.  During my search I learned that candles often contain paraffin wax, so I decided to buy some and give them a try and they worked perfectly.

Simple Homemade Waterproof Labels

What you will need

  • Your labels (see below)
  • craft glue (I mean the super cheap stuff that costs about $1.99 for a big bottle)
  • candles (again I mean the super cheap ones, I got a pack of 6 for $2)
  • paper towel
  • hair dryer

To make the text labels I just used Microsoft Word following some instructions I found on the DIY website  Just a girl and her blog website, its super easy.

Once you have your labels ready stick them to the jars using the craft glue.  Then take the candle and use it like a crayon and draw all over the label until until it is nice and waxy.

Next,  you want to melt the wax and that is where the hair dryer comes in.  Place some paper towel over the label and blast it with some heat from the hair dryer, the wax will start to melt and the paper towel will mop up the excess.  You keep applying the heat until the wax is so thin that the label looks clear, which took me a bit of time. I also ended up with some residual wax on the jars which I scraped off.   I am sure you can probably do a much better and faster job than me.

So that is how I upcycled my glass jars this Christmas. I was very happy to with how they turned out and I am sure you could do a much better and faster job than me 🙂



Author: teagls

I am your ordinary Canberra gal, I'm a public servant, a mum, etc, etc... I'm on a mission to live a more natural and sustainable life and I'm looking to do it in the simplest, most cost effective way possible :)

2 thoughts on “No Waste Christmas Part III – Recycling Jars and Waterproofing Labels

  1. Pingback: Make it From Scratch – Shaving Cream | A Re-Examined Life

  2. Pingback: Castile Soap and Make it from Scratch – Foaming Face Wash | A Re-Examined Life

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