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4 Easy Methods to Remove Wax From Wood

A thin layer of wax can be good for your table or desk – furniture and flooring is often coated with wax to increase its resistance to moisture and protect it – but blobs of candle wax are not ideal.

You can remove candle wax from wood, by freezing it using ice, by melting it using a dryer or iron, or even through careful use of white spirit or vinegar. Our recommendation is to use ice, as it hardens the wax and makes it easier to scrape off in once chunk.

4 Methods For Removing Wax From Wood

Here are some popular ways to remove candle wax that has melted on, or even into, your wood. Because the wax was hot as it landed, the finish of the wood will have melted slightly and bonded with the wax (this is what makes the wax hard to remove). When you do remove the wax, there may be a mark. In some cases you may need to re-varnish or re-wax.

1 - How to Remove Candle Wax By Freezing It

The aim of this method is to harden the wax by freezing it so that it is easier to scrap off with the tool of your choice (we recommend an old credit card or plastic ruler). If the affected piece is small, you can stick it in your freezer, but in most cases you’ll need to bring the ice to the spill. Put ice cube or ice cubes in a bag or wrap them in a cloth then put them on the wax to harden it.

If the wax is frozen it should scrape off quite easily and in flakes. Be careful not to scratch the wood too hard; even a credit card can damage the surface when trying to get those last few bits of remaining wax.

2 - Removing Wax From Wood By Melting It

As you apply heat, wax softens, which can make it easier to remove from the affected area. You can use a blow dryer at low or medium heat to achieve this. Some users also suggest using an iron at low heat in place of the dryer (use it with a clean cloth or paper bag between the iron and the table to help protect the area). Personally, we think the hair dryer is safer as its easier to control the heat.

Set your blow dryer (or iron) on a low heat setting to avoid damaging the wood’s vanish. Once you have softened the wax you can remove it by simply scraping it off now that it has softened slightly.

This method has it drawbacks however, because for some wood furniture that has deep wood grains, melting the wax will cause it to become further embedded in the wood. This is not ideal as it will be far harder to remove once it is deep inside the wood. To avoid this while utilizing this method, control the heat so the wax is soft, but not fully melted.

3 - How to Remove Candle Wax From Wood Using Vinegar

Scraping wax often leaves remnants stuck to the surface. These are pieces of wax that have bonded with the surface of the wood (often the varnish). Vinegar is acidic, and can be used to collect the remnants of the wax by breaking its bond with the surface. You can use this method in conjunction with the ice cube method or heat method listed above.

Please Note: Vinegar may do more than just remove candle wax – it can strip the furniture wax or varnish from the furniture. In order to avoid or minimize this, when removing candle wax, just add a small drop of vinegar to a clean dry cloth and apply it carefully to the affected area only. If you use too much vinegar on the cloth, you risk damaging the finish even further.

4 - How to Remove Candle Wax From Wood Using Mineral Spirits

Some users have reported success using mineral spirits (white spirit for you UK folks) to help remove the stain that wax can leave. To remove the residue of candle wax from wood, first use one of the other methods to get most of the wax off then apply a small amount of the spirits using a clean cloth or very fine steel wool to the affected area.

Please Note: If your piece of furniture has a varnish or another finish, this will likely remove it along with the wax. White spirit is an irritant and should be handled carefully, if it gets onto your skin it will cause a mild reaction such as drying or cracking. Leave it on your skin longer and it can cause redness, burns, and even blistering. So be careful, apply only a small amount to a clean cloth and wipe the area carefully.

Final Word

In many cases, the methods above can help you get candle wax out of your wood and make it look as good as new. If, however, you are considering purchasing a new piece of furniture we recommend you check out this great guide we’ve written about sustainable and eco-friendly furniture companies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, white spirit (or mineral spirits) does remove wax from wood. However, it removes everything else too. White spirit is a strong solvent that will remove and vanish or staining that your wood has on it. Be careful when using white spirit on wood, as it will strip the wood of its coating.

Wood floors can be treated the same as wooden furniture. To remove candle wax from wooden floors requires the same tactics. Try freezing it off first. If that fails then try the other methods. Wood flooring is more often treated with more resistant varnishes, so candle wax may not be as damaging.

Petroleum jelly shampoo can be used to remove wax from hair. The shampoo will dissolve the wax than can then be washed away down the plughole.

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