5 Easy Ways to Remove Candle Wax from Wood (really works)

Even the most careful candle-lover can mistakenly drip wax onto surfaces. Sometimes wax pours over the candlestick holder without you realizing it. And simply blowing out a candle can cause melted wax to spray out and land on a table. 

In most cases, the hot wax won’t damage wood. But who wants discoloration or a lumpy texture on their wooden table?

It’s best to address the situation as soon as you notice there’s a problem, and to help you out, this article lists ways to remove candle wax from wood.

Remove Candle Wax from Wood

1. Pull Out Your Hair Dryer

If there’s a small amount of dried wax on your wooden surface, then you can soften it with a blowdryer. Once it is in liquid form, place a soft towel over the wax to absorb the liquid.  

Next, you will want to remove any residue left by the wax. To do this, in a small bowl or cup, mix a 0.5:1 ratio of white vinegar and water. In this case, if you use ½ cup of vinegar, then add 1 cup of water to it. 

Test out the mixture in a small area of the wax residue to make sure that it won’t damage the surface. If all is well, then apply the mixture over the entire area where there’s wax residue. 

After it dries, apply your favorite furniture polish to the area to restore its original shine. Repeat the steps if necessary.

Here’s a video demonstration that shows this method in action:

2. Give It A Gentle Scrape

Large amounts of wet wax can be difficult to manage. Wiping it up using the first method on the list would just lead to a worse mess. In this case, allow the wax to fully harden. You might even want to place a bag of frozen vegetables on top of the wax to hurry the hardening process along.

The next step is to scrape up the hardened wax using a flat plastic tool, like a putty knife. You want to avoid using a metal putty knife or other metal tool because you don’t want to scratch the wood.

In this scenario, an old credit card can also work fine if you don’t have a plastic putty knife. Slide the card or plastic straight-edge underneath the wax at about a 45-degree angle, removing as much as you can. Discard the wax into a wastebasket.

At this point, you might be able to use a soft cloth to wipe up any residue. It depends on the surface of your wood. 

If that doesn’t work, wet a cloth and add a little dish soap to it. The dish soap will help break down the oils in the wax. Wipe the area to remove any wax residue, and then use a dry towel to absorb any remaining moisture. Repeat if necessary until all of the wax residue is gone.

3. Melt and Lift with Hot Water

A third way to remove wax from wood is similar to a method mentioned in this article about using a candle when the wick is gone

This approach uses near-boiling water to lift the wax from the wood surface. I say near-boiling water because your hands will come in contact with the water, so you don’t want it to be extremely hot. At the same time, it needs to be hot enough in order to be effective.

Here’s the method. You want to have a pitcher of hot water and soft cleaning rags on hand. Locate the spot on your table with hardened wax and then place a soft cloth over it. Now pour hot water over the towel.

You only want to pour enough water to saturate the towel but try not to wet the entire table. Allow it to sit for a few moments for the wax to soften and life. Carefully wipe the area. If the towel is too hot, wait a few moments longer; don’t hurt yourself.

Repeat this process until all of the wax has been removed. 

Before placing the towels in the washer, you want to lift excess wax out of them as well. To do this, place the towels in a large pan or bucket, and then pour boiling hot water over them. Since you won’t be touching them until the water has cooled, you can use water at boiling temperature this time.

The wax particles will lift up and harden. I would suggest skimming the wax off the top with a paper towel, and then disposing of it. You can then pour the water off outdoors. You want to avoid pouring it down the drain because it can harden and cause plumbing issues.

Lastly, wash the towels as usual. 

Here’s a video demonstrating the process. At the end, she suggests that you ring out the towels and then pour out the water, but I think it’s best to remove the wax before pulling the towels out of the bucket. You want the least amount of wax residue in your washing machine.  

4. Melt and Lift Alternative 

The method above is effective, but it can also potentially leave a water stain on your table.

An alternative is to use a similar method but with less hot water on the table. In this case, you will need at least two towels, hot water, and a small dish or plate.

You’ll have to work quickly, so make sure all of your tools are in front of you. 

Place one of the towels onto the dish and pour about ¼ cup of hot water onto it. It’ll look like a circle that’s a little smaller than your fist. 

Pick up the dry towel and hold it in one hand as you pick up the wet towel and place it over the wax for a few seconds. Wipe the wax up, and then use the dry towel to remove any moisture from the table. This is the step that prevents a water stain from forming on your table.

This method works best if you are lifting a small amount of wax.

5. The Rounded Drinking Glass Method

If there’s a large amount of wax that needs to be removed from your wooden table or bookcase,  this last method combines steps from the previous three that I shared.

Pull out the bag of frozen vegetables. If you don’t have any, place ice cubes in a storage bag. Allow the bag of frozen vegetables or ice to harden the wax that is on your table.

Once it is fully hardened, take a drinking glass that has a rounded edge (This is really important. If the edge is sharp or angled, it can damage your table.) and run the edge over the wax, causing the wax to lift. This concept is similar to using an expired credit card or plastic putty knife to lift the wax.

Once you’ve lifted the majority of the wax, use the method in example four to lift up any wax residue.

This video demonstrates both methods:

Final Thoughts

So did you enjoy this list? Do you feel armed with enough information to remove candle wax from your wood surfaces?

Remember, it’s best to keep a close watch on burning candles. Monitoring them can prevent unintended overflow. Also, instead of blowing them out, a candle snuffer puts out the flame without causing wax to spray all over your table.

Thanks for reading this article and please share it if you found it helpful!

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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