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Stupid crayon question

 
pollinator
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I feel a bit silly posting this, but what do people think about composting busted crayons? I have 6 year old twins in online kindergarten, and let me tell you, we are using and breaking crayons like it’s going out of style. The waste is terrible, but I don’t see any sanity-inducing way to get the littles to treat crayons more carefully.

I’ve accumulated probably a gallon or two of crayon bits. Normally, this isn’t the sort of waste I would expect to be compostable, but I was thinking that Crayola (the only sort of crayons we use) claims that its crayons are 100% non-toxic and safe enough for a child to ingest. So…..why wouldn’t we be able to put them in the compost when they have reached the end of their useful lives? Surely there’s something living in there that can break down the wax. Interested to hear people’s thoughts.

Daniel
 
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There's a charity for that: https://www.crazycrayons.com/recycle-program/
 
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Melt them down, tell the kids you're having a "crayon funeral" and make candles.
 
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Ya you can melt them down and remake crazy .multicolored crayons too. If you get a silicon ice/candy mold you can make them any shape you want. Tons of fun
 
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I'd melt them down for reuse. I remember being in preschool and making funky stained glass kind of things with waxed paper and crayone shavings and an iron (yay preschool in the 1970s, using an iron with toddlers), maybe you could also mix with beeswax to make waxed cotton lunch wrap stuff?

One bed of my garden is right near my back porch where we often have dinner in the summer, and some old candle runoff lumpy business ended up in the bed. I just dug in some compost the other day and found various large lumps, intact. Nobody is eating that wax, it looks exactly the same as when it fell in the garden bed. Crayons may be different, but i'd not be super optimistic about them breaking down.
 
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When my kids were in Beavers, the leaders melted bits of crayons over cotton dryer fluff to make fire starters - it's really wet here in the winter and if they were taking the kids on a hike, they wanted to be sure they could start a fire easily if needed, but there's no reason they couldn't be used in a wood stove.
 
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if i remember from my childhood experiments with melting down crayons to make candles, something (the amount of ink? some kind of stabilizer?) in the crayons made them pretty inferior candles. something in the wax doesn’t really burn, so as the candle burns it builds up this layer of weird hard ash and doesn’t all melt down as it goes.
 
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I'm with Jay. I would add them to the pot I keep for melting wax and use them to make fire starters. I use egg cartons, sawdust and then cover with melted wax. Works great for all kinds of fires and grills.
 
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Daniel, I see my kindergartener isn't the only one that's hard on crayons.  

We also did the crayon shavings with wax paper and an iron in school (70s and 80s safety concerns were pretty lax) but I'd probably just melt them down into new funky crayons or use a hairdryer to melt them on a sheet of paper and let them run.  Alternatively the fire starter idea is ingenious.  
 
Daniel Ackerman
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Great ideas, everyone. I’ll definitely skip the compost,  probably make a few (dozen) fire starters. And send the rest for recycling, if I can convince the children to sort by color. Catch a kindergartner in the right mood, and all things are possible.

D
 
Jay Angler
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Have you seen the "Jumbo" crayons specifically for beginners? They shouldn't break as easily, although they don't come in the same variety of colours.  You might also try wrapping them in extra layers of sturdy paper to give them better support. This doesn't help with existing broken ones, but it might decrease breakage in new ones.
 
Daniel Ackerman
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Heh heh. I (kinda) wish they broke them while coloring and drawing. No, it’s more like they drop them and step on them when getting out of the chair. Or shoving them in boxes. I probably need to figure out how to train them to take better care of their supplies. Our neighbor, who is an art teacher, trained her little ones to take care of their stuff by making them sign contracts. It’s a bit much for me, but she says it works.
 
Jay Angler
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Daniel Ackerman wrote:Heh heh. I (kinda) wish they broke them while coloring and drawing. No, it’s more like they drop them and step on them when getting out of the chair. Or shoving them in boxes. I probably need to figure out how to train them to take better care of their supplies. Our neighbor, who is an art teacher, trained her little ones to take care of their stuff by making them sign contracts. It’s a bit much for me, but she says it works.

Yes - it would be worth training them when they're young not to treat stuff as "disposable"! However, they're a bit young to do the problem solving themselves, so you may need to help by putting things like shallow trays on the table, and teaching them to put the colours back on the tray after using them, so that they don't "accidentally" fall and break. Teaching kids to slow down is had these days as they're surrounded by instant gratification - maybe have them count each colour or name each colour as they put it in the box so they slow down that little bit? Ask they to show you how carefully they can put them away, and teach you how to follow their technique? It's hard, because everyone is feeling time pressured to do "everything fast and now"!
 
Lauren Ritz
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Daniel Ackerman wrote:Heh heh. I (kinda) wish they broke them while coloring and drawing. No, it’s more like they drop them and step on them when getting out of the chair. Or shoving them in boxes. I probably need to figure out how to train them to take better care of their supplies.

Which is why I suggested a crayon "funeral." Help them understand that these crayons will never color again.
 
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