Spilled Candle Wax On Wood? Here Are 4 Easy Ways To Remove It.
So you’ve spilt candle wax on your hardwood floor or knocked over a candle on your table.
While this may appear to be something that could permanently damage your favourite furniture, rest assured that all is not lost.
In fact, there are several easy solutions you can use to remove the wax and leave your wooden furniture damage free.
Before we talk about some of the best ways to do it, there is one rule you should follow:
Don’t remove the hot wax right away.
In general, you should let the wax cool down before you try to take it off. Wax hardens on its own, so you can either wait for it or speed up the process by putting an ice bag on it for about 30 seconds.
After this, you can simply scrape the wax with something that is firm but soft enough to not cause a scratch. Think of a credit card or plastic utensil.
Following this easy methodology will fix most wax spills. But for those of you needing a more specific solution; we recommend taking a look at these 4 methods.
#1 For Minor Wax Stains (The Cooling Method)
If you’re in a hurry to remove the stain as soon as possible, this step is for you. It is one of the easiest ways to clean up a small wax spill.
- Put some ice cubes in a plastic bag.
- Place the ice bag over the wax until it hardens.
- Remove the wax from the wood by scraping it away. Do not use metal, but something softer like a credit card or plastic spoon. This ensures that the wood will not be scratched.
- Use a lint-free cloth to clean up the leftover residue.
- Apply furniture polish with a cloth as a final touch to buff the surface.
Tip: Since you’ll be scraping wax, there’s a risk of scratching the wood. To minimize the chance of scratches, ensure to scrape in the direction of the wood grain.
To determine the direction of the wood grain, either observe the direction of the wood’s natural lines or run your hand across the wood. The direction that feels the smoothest will align with the wood grain.
#2 For Tougher Wax Stains (The Heating Method)
The previous method is more of a quick band-aid fix for a small wax spill, but if we’re dealing with a large chunk of wax on wood, scraping is not the best option.
Why? Because the larger a chunk of wax is the more force you need to remove it. And the more force you use, the more likely you will scratch the wood.
Instead, this method uses heat to soften the wax.
There’s less chance of scratching the wood since you can use a cloth to absorb the melted wax. No pointy or sharp objects are required.
There are two ways to heat the wax. You can either opt for an iron or a hair dryer. These are two easy-to-find household items, so you should have at least one of them lying around.
Steps for using an iron:
- Set your iron to the lowest setting.
- Place paper towels over the wax stain. Make sure you completely cover the stains. We’d recommend 3–4 layers of paper towels for extra protection and maximum absorption.
- Cover the paper towels with a clean, iron-friendly cloth to protect the wood from the iron’s heat. You can use a rag or even an old t-shirt for the cloth.
- Place the iron on the cloth for about 5–10 seconds. The wax will begin to soften and subsequently be absorbed by the paper towels underneath.
- Check if the paper towels have absorbed any wax. If not, repeat step 4. You may decide to increase the temperature of the iron.
- Continue heating other parts of the cloth. Check the paper towels again to make sure they are absorbing the wax. If you find the wax is no longer being absorbed, you may have to change the paper towels for fresh ones and repeat the process again.
- After the wax is removed, use a lint-free cloth to wipe the area and use furniture polish for a final buff.
Steps for using a hair dryer:
Using a hair dryer is easier than using an iron because you don’t have to do as many steps or use as many materials.
- On low settings, heat the wax directly with the hair dryer. You want to be about 3–5 inches away from the wax.
- Once the wax starts softening, use your hand to peel off the soft parts.
- Use a lint-free cloth to remove any remaining residue.
- Repeat steps 1–3 for all areas with wax stains.
- Lastly, apply furniture polish.
#3 Removing Wax From Unfinished Wood
Dealing with unfinished, unprotected wood requires extra caution.
Finished wood is usually protected with a layer of polyurethane to waterproof the surface.
On the other hand, unfinished wood is not protected, allowing wax to penetrate deeper into the wood’s pores. Worse still, coloured wax may be more difficult to remove because it can leave a more visible and permanent stain.
The best method for unfinished wood surfaces is the heating method (method 2).
We’d recommend using an iron, which is more powerful and effective than a hair dryer. It’s also less likely to cause damage as it is not directly heating the wood.
Heating is more effective than cooling the wax since it will draw the wax from the deeper pores of the wood, and up into the paper towels. Cooling is only effective for minor stains or stains that are not deeply embedded in the wood surface.
If, after using this method, there are still some stains left, you may need to consult a professional. This is especially worth considering if you are dealing with an expensive piece of furniture.
#4 The Hot Water Method
If you don’t have an iron or hair dryer laying around, the hot water method is worth considering.
Use hot water to remove wax from finished (or treated) wood surfaces only. The protective seal will repel water to prevent any water damage. Do not use water on unfinished surfaces as this may damage the wood.
- Place a towel over the affected area. We’d recommend a cloth or rag that is sturdy enough to not fall apart when it gets wet.
- Pour a small amount of hot water over the towel. Make sure it’s enough to be entirely absorbed by the towel.
- This will melt the wax, allowing you to wipe it off with the towel, soft edge tool, or even your hand. Dry any remaining water and finish buffing with furniture polish.
Will These Methods Work For Wood Floors?
Yes, all these methods will work for wood floors just as they would for wooden furniture.
However, when it comes to wood floors, it’s important to take extra caution and test any methods on a small, inconspicuous area first before proceeding with other parts of the floor.
Does White Spirit (Mineral Spirit) Remove Wax From Wood?
White spirit is very effective at removing wax from wood. However; if your wood has a finished surface, it will also eat away at that too.
We’d recommend using the other methods first and only using white spirit for the most stubborn stains. Apply only a small amount of mineral spirit with a soft cloth.
Can Vinegar Remove Wax Stains From Wood?
Since vinegar is acidic, it can remove wax quite effectively. Just like mineral spirits, vinegar can also remove the varnish or protective layer of the wood.
For this reason, we recommend using either the cooling or heating method first. For any remaining wax, you can use a couple of drops of vinegar and a cloth. Apply carefully and sparingly to the surface. For extra caution, you can dilute the vinegar with equal parts water before you use it.
Preventing Candle Wax Spills
Prevention is always better than treatment.
Here are a few tips to save yourself from the stress of cleaning your wood furniture or floors next time.
- As a candle burns, the wax liquefies. This liquid layer is prone to spilling if you move the candle suddenly. So, when you extinguish your candle, ensure to let it cool down and solidify first before moving it.
- Learn how to put out candle flames properly. Blowing the flame risks causing the wax to spill or spray on the surrounding areas.
- Keep your candles in a safe place while they are burning. Candles catching more dust particles burn unevenly, which can cause more wax dripping. Ideally, you should burn your candles in an area with little air movement and little dust.
- Use a container for your candles. This is a pretty simple tip, but if you have a candle container to collect any dripping wax, your problem will be solved from the very start.
Keep These Tips in Mind
- Wax that has melted is hot and malleable. Resist the urge to clean it up immediately. Allow fresh wax to first harden naturally or speed up the process with ice.
- Once the wax is solid, attend to it as soon as possible. Remember that the longer you let wax sit, the harder it gets to remove and the deeper it may absorb into unfinished wood surfaces.
- Don’t use anything metal or abrasive to remove the wax. Choose something plastic, like an unused credit card or a plastic spoon, to minimize the risk of scratching the wood.
- Always set the iron or hair dryer on a low or medium setting. Too much heat on wood can lead to minor burning and warping. Only apply either tool for 10 or so seconds at a time. Any longer will increase the chance of heat damage.
- Try to avoid using wax-removing products with mineral spirits. This can create more harm than good. While mineral spirits can lift off the wax, they can also work against the protective seal of your wood and leave it unprotected.