A candlelight dinner on a glossy wood table is a perfect romantic setting. But what if the candle leaves a waxy mess behind? How do you remove candle wax from a wood table or other furniture and wood floor?
Here’s how you can remove candle wax from wood:
- Harden the candle wax.
- Scrape the candle wax.
- Vacuum or brush loose bits of candle wax.
- Clear residue candle wax.
- Repair damages from the candle wax removal process.
- Polish the wood surface.
Because spilled wax can be messy when mishandled or removed wrongly, read the step-by-step details carefully in each of the six steps. You’ll be glad you read the fine points when your wood table or floor is back to its original sheen, and you can thank me later.
Table of Contents
1. Harden the Candle Wax
A lit candle produces liquid wax. If you touch liquid wax, you’re not only likely to burn, but you’ll mess up the surface more than if you let the wax cool and settle. For this reason, it’s always best to get rid of wax from a wood surface when it’s solid and hard.
There are two ways you can use to harden candle wax:
- Leave the candle wax alone and give it time to settle and become hard.
- Use ice cubes to harden fresh candle wax.
You don’t need to do anything for the first option. However, to harden spilled candle wax with ice cubes, follow these steps:
- Find a Ziploc bag, or zipper bag as commonly called, and drop in a few ice cubes.
- Place the zipper bag with ice cubes on the candle wax spills and leave it there for about 10 minutes. The ice will harden the candle wax and make it brittle and easy to scrape off. It’ll also ensure that little or no residue wax stays on your wood surface.
- Remove the bag of ice cubes from the wax stains and proceed to the next step.
2. Scrape the Candle Wax
Scrapping can be tricky. So, when scraping off candle wax, the idea is to remove all the wax with utmost care so that the wood surface stays intact or gets as minor damage as possible.
Follow these steps to scrape off candle wax from wood:
- Find a blunt scraping tool. It could be a plastic spatula from your kitchen drawer or a plastic putty knife. Check the safe and easy-to-use FOSHIO Plastic Scraper from Amazon. You can order the two razor blade scrapers and 100 plastic replacement blades set for the next time you need to scrape candle wax from wood. You can also improvise a wax scraping tool with a credit card or a charge plate.
- Gently scrape the wax from the wood surface. Do so in the direction of the wood grain to avoid leaving scratches. If your wood already has cracks or deep scratches, use the pointed edge of the spatula to remove dislodged candle wax.
- Use a piece of paper to collect the candle wax fragments as you scrape them, just like you would with a brush and dustpan.
- Pass from one stain of candle wax to the next until you remove and collect all the wax.
Some bits and pieces of scrapped wax may remain on the wood surface. Proceed to the next step to get rid of those.
3. Vacuum or Brush Loose Bits of Candle Wax
Even after you’ve scraped it off wood, candle wax can be messy, and any little pressure on small bits of the candle wax can firm them back onto the wood.
To prevent this from happening, don’t insist on collecting small fragments of wax using a tool or method that can press them back onto the wood.
Instead, use a vacuum to collect the tiny bits of wax from the wood surface. Set the vacuum on the lowest or bare floor setting. Then proceed to step 4 to clear any leftover candle wax.
4. Clear Residue Candle Wax
Wood is hygroscopic, which means it tends to absorb moisture naturally. Because of this, candle wax can soak into the wood and create a wet-like stain, especially if it lands on unfinished wood that’s not varnished.
Also, the longer you leave the wax on wood, the more it’s likely to be absorbed into the wood. Colored candle wax will cause the worst stains.
To remove any residue candle wax that stays on the wood after scraping the solid part, melt and soak up the wax. There are three ways to do this:
Use a Hairdryer
Melting candle wax with a hairdryer can be used as an isolated method to remove wax from wood.
However, this is best when you have tiny amounts of wax because blowing hot air can spread the wax and make the mess even messier.
I would advise you to use a hairdryer to tidy up a spot where there’s still residue wax after you’ve scraped off and collected the larger pieces of the wax.
To clean residue candle wax with a hairdryer, follow these steps:
- Connect the hairdryer to a power outlet and turn on the power.
- Set the hairdryer to a low heat point.
- Bring the nozzle of the hair drier close to the area with wax, ensure you don’t get closer than 3ʺ (7.6cm) to the wax-stained wood surface. Doing so could damage the wood with heat.
- When the wax is melting, or the stained wood spot warmed up, use a soft fluff-free cloth to soak up or absorb the wax. Avoid wiping. Candle wax solidifies fast and could spread back on the wood surface.
- Repeat the heating and absorbing process until you remove all the wax. You can tell that you have completely removed the wax when none stays on the cloth.
Use an Iron
As with the hair drier, it’s best to use an iron to suck up remnant candle wax when you’ve already scraped off the larger pieces of the wax. Especially if the wood surface is unfinished, heating can sink the wax into the wood.
Also, a hot iron can easily damage the wood. So, you must cushion the wood from the heat when using this method.
Here’s how you remove residue candle wax from wood with an iron:
- Place a piece of brown paper or a double layer of paper towels on the wood surface covered with wax.
- Place a clean, lint-free cloth over the paper. Ensure the fabric is iron-safe.
- Connect the iron to the power outlet and turn on the power.
- Set the iron to medium heat or lower. You can start with a lower setting and increase the heat until it can melt the wax. Make sure that the steam setting of the iron is deactivated.
- Press the iron onto the cloth for a few seconds, enough time to pass the heat through the cloth and paper to melt the wax.
- Lift the cloth and paper to check if the wax is soaked up. Regulate the heat if needed.
- Repeat the process, replacing the waxed paper with a clean piece each time until no more wax stays on the paper. A clear paper will indicate that the candle wax has been completely soaked up.
Use a Wax-Removing Product
If you only have a single or a few drops of wax on wood, you could consider using a wax-removing product.
In my case, I’m using it to tidy up any remnant candle wax after scraping off the bigger mess.
If you go for a commercial product, ensure that it’s wood-safe. Don’t go for mineral spirits, as these won’t just remove the wax, but they’ll also ruin the sealant on the wood surface.
Also, though many often ask if vinegar dissolves candle wax, and you might come across people advising you to remove wax from wood with vinegar, don’t buy the idea. Vinegar is acetic acid and shouldn’t be used on waxed wood.
That said, there are several commercial wood-safe options for removing wax in the market. I recommend the Goo Gone Adhesive Remover from Amazon.
The citrus-scented formula is surface-safe and will remove a wide range of messes from your surfaces, from candle wax to gum and labels. The high ratings of the product and the positive customer reviews speak for its efficiency.
Wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in soapy water and rinse it off after using Goo Gone to stay on the safe side.
You could also test the product on a small portion of a hidden part of the wood. Trying the product will help determine if the product is safe on the type of wood you have before using it to remove wax on the wood surface.
5. Repair Damages From the Candle Wax Removal Process
Depending on how much candle wax you have to remove and how messy your waxed wood surface is, the wax-removing process could leave a bit of damage behind.
Damage to the wood may happen when scraping off the wax, from an accidental spill of a wax-removing product or the heat of the hairdryer or iron.
If you have to make some minor repairs after removing wax from wood, consider these options that may suit your case.
Scratches From Candle Wax Scraping Tool
If you accidentally scratch the wood surface while removing candle wax, you can use a furniture repair product to correct the damage.
We recommend the Katzco Furniture Touch-up Markers. The 13-piece kit that’s available on Amazon.com (1 sharpener, 6 wax sticks, and 6 repair markers) comes in various colors to suit any wood furniture or surface. The makers and wax sticks will cover the blemish on your wood without leaving a trace.
To use Katzco wood markers or wax sticks, draw over the scratches and allow them to dry. Your wood will have no scratches left.
Soaked Candle Wax, Product Spills, Minor Burns
If you’re working with unfinished wood and the candle wax has soaked into the wood grains, consider giving a gentle sanding to the spot.
You also need to sand wood surfaces if you have damaging product spills or minor burns from a hairdryer or iron.
Call a professional if you’re afraid you’ll make more mess than done already. Sanding a single spot may not work, and your entire table or a large part of a wood floor may need professional sanding and polishing.
You can find carpentry services and request a quotation by searching online sources such as Webcontactus.com or HomeAdvisor.
6. Polish the Wood Surface
Whether you manage to remove candle wax from wood without causing any damage or you have to do a quick repair on the waxed spot, polishing the wood surface is an essential last step. Polishing will restore the original sheen to your wood table, wood floor, or other wood furniture.
What Wood Polish to Use
Go for high-quality wood polish like the Howard FW0016 Wood Polish & Conditioner. The Howard product is a universal quality polish for any wood type. The bee and Carnauba wax that makes the polish will leave your previously waxed wood surface with a soft shine and a protective varnish.
How to Use Wood Polish
To apply wood polish on a previously waxed wood surface:
- Find a clean white or light-colored soft cloth. Avoid a heavy-colored cloth as it could transfer the color to the wood.
- Put a small amount of wood polish onto a corner of the cloth and work it on the wood surface until the polish blends in. It’s best to rub along the direction of the wood grain (the side that feels smoother when you run your hand along the wood surface). If it looks like you’ve put too much polish, rub a clean side of the cloth to eliminate the extra polish.
- Check if the polished spot blends well with the rest of the wood surface. If not, polish the entire surface to create an even blend.
Note: If the wax didn’t cause any physical damage on a varnished wood surface, use a cream furniture wax to refresh the sheen on the previously waxed area of the wood.
Candle wax can significantly mess up a wood surface and cause you the headache of how to remove candle wax from wood.
Should this happen to you, don’t fret. Instead, do the six easy steps. Your wood table or floor will return to being as good as new.