Primitive Grubby Jar Candles

After seeing these types of “grubby” jar candles on Pinterest for many years, I finally got around to trying them myself. Though it was a very long process, they came out so cute and perfectly primitive! There are many tutorials out there on grubby jars, but they are all pretty much the same: coffee grounds and white glue. You can do mason jars or any type of jar candle…it’s the perfect accent for any country or rustic home.

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I started with this set of 12 small jar candles from Walmart. They cost around $6, so profitability on these should be pretty good.


I made up a mixture of about 2/3 coffee grounds to 1/3 cinnamon. Both can be bought at the dollar store for this project. I used matte Mod Podge, but now that it’s all said and done, I would probably use regular white glue because it’s a lot cheaper. I ended up using almost this whole jar on 12 little candles.

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Paint on the glass jars with glue and roll in your coffee/cinnamon mixture.



Set them aside to dry. It takes a good 24 hours for them to dry thoroughly.

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Once dry, gently tap them on the counter to get off any loose coffee/cinnamon grounds. Then apply another coat of glue to seal it. Be prepared…this part is messy! Don’t worry if more grounds come off because you can always do a second coat.


Set aside to dry again. Another 24 hours. Ugh…I hate waiting!


Here they are after they are dried. With just one coat, most of the surface was covered, but there were still a few spots where the glass showed through. I decided to do a second coating of the coffee/cinnamon. Looking back, I think I would just stick with one coat. They’re eventually going to be embellished with homespun fabric or burlap, which will cover up any thin areas. It’s up to you how many coats you do, based on the look you’re going for.


Another little tip: before you start, put a small piece of paper towel over the wax of your candle. Through the process, the cinnamon and coffee grounds fell onto the wax, and it doesn’t come off easy. The paper towel will keep the wax clean. I am going to have to wipe them off which is going to be a pain in the butt…lesson learned.


If you do decide to do a second coat, be prepared for even more of a mess. Repeat the process of painting them with glue, rolling in cinnamon, and finishing off with a finally coat of glue/Mod Podge to seal. Again, you have to wait 24 hours between each step. Don’t forget to touch up the top little rim of the jars.


Here they are after two coats and some embellishing. I think they came out so cute. I am planning on pricing them at about $3.00 per candle at my co-op.


Here are the some of the ways I decided to decorate them. A thin burlap strip topped with a vintage button:


Thin pieces of twine with rusty stars and hearts:


Plain ol’ twine and homespun fabric, wrapped around and knotted:


And a thin twine bow:


Have fun if you decide to give them a whirl. They are super easy, but be prepared for a long, messy process! I’d love to try this again with mason jars and maybe some larger jar candles. Have a great week and I hope be back soon! 😀

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Susie Wittwer
    May 10, 2015 @ 14:50:58

    These are so cute! They would make great gifts, too. 🙂
    Thanks for the tutorial!


  2. Pam
    May 10, 2015 @ 15:20:23

    Looks awesome! Thanks for the step-by-step. I’ll give it a try.


  3. Pam Ryan
    May 10, 2015 @ 19:24:44

    What a wonderful idea! I’ll be making some of these real soon! Thanks for the directions!


  4. Nancy
    May 11, 2015 @ 08:45:11

    I am inspired! Thank you! Where do you get your rusty stars and hearts??


  5. lisa
    May 11, 2015 @ 21:20:40

    I can almost smell them! These are awesome. The grubbies that you made before are they considered decorative only. I would like to burn them.


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      May 12, 2015 @ 08:02:35

      Yes Lisa, these are definitely okay to burn. Infact I have been burning one the last few nights and I love the warm glow it gives off. The only thing is these particular small jar candles are unscented, and I couldn’t find any that were the same size and scented. Oh well…no biggy. Obviously this technique could be used on any candle jars, including yummy scented ones. I am definitely going to do more in the near future because I love how they came out. 🙂


  6. Mardell
    May 13, 2015 @ 13:00:21

    These are so cute, Maggie. Wow, a lot of work for sure, but worth it. What about on just reg. votive cups without the candle, but put a tea light in it? That way, you won’t have to try and clean out the jar after the candle has melted. It would be a shame to ruin the outside just to try and clean the votive out? Am I making any sense? LOL

    Frost warning tonight! And last week end was in the 90’s. Yikes!!


  7. lisa
    May 15, 2015 @ 15:14:13

    I love everything you do!!!!
    You are amazing and SO sweet to share these with us!


  8. Sue From Massachusetts
    Sep 22, 2015 @ 13:18:54

    First of all, I LOVE this! This might be a silly question… Are you using coffee grounds that have been brewed through already and dried out or ground coffee not having been used yet? I have everything I need, can’t wait to get started!


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Sep 24, 2015 @ 15:50:25

      Thanks Sue!!! Not a silly question at all. They are dried coffee grounds that have not been brewed yet. Just straight out of the can. You can use the cheap stuff from the dollar store. Have fun and I hope they come out good! Happy Fall! 🙂 Maggie


  9. Stacy
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 21:19:28

    My mother in law did this on mason jars for a craft show after coming across your post. They turned out great!


  10. Barbara Bragg
    Jun 18, 2017 @ 16:56:11

    These are really cute. I have done a couple of jars and they came out great. However, whenever it is humid out, the jars get tacky. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks. Barbara


  11. Brenda Gee
    Sep 12, 2017 @ 08:57:22

    I have just tried a couple. I used white glue but after a couple days they are still sticky. Can you offer any advice as to what the problem may be?


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Sep 23, 2017 @ 21:15:15

      Hi Brenda! I never had that issue with tackiness after a few days, mine are always solid! The only thing I can think of is try using actual Mod Podge instead of white glue. I heard white glue is pretty much the same but I have never actually tried it. I used the mod podge and had no issues, which makes me think maybe that’s the difference? Sorry you’ve have trouble with them…let me know if the mod podge works better for you!


  12. Amanda
    Dec 30, 2017 @ 11:57:47

    Can you use Epsom salt instead of coffee grounds?


  13. Kristen
    Jan 08, 2018 @ 21:48:01

    Hello. Do you use instant coffee or just regular/ any coffee grounds


  14. Cindy
    Nov 23, 2018 @ 07:53:01

    I love these! Wondering of you could use some spray on shellack for the 2nd coat? Would that make the sealing less messy?


    • Eyeballs By Day, Crafts By Night
      Nov 24, 2018 @ 19:14:36

      Great suggestion Cindy, that might just work! It would probably take a couple of coats to make sure it’s really sealed, but it would definitely be less messy! If you ever give it a try let me know how it works, and I’ll do the same! Happy Holidays 🙂 ~maggie


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