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How to remove candle wax from wood —tips and tricks

Candle wax melting
Candle wax melting (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Candles are the perfect way to create a cosy ambiance, and add a warm feature to mantelpieces or dining tables. But, when you’re left with a puddle of wax after they’ve burnt out, you’ll need to know how to remove candle wax from wood.

Most of us have suffered from the inevitable candle wax drips, especially after we’ve blown them out or moved them around. And while it may seem like the end of the world for our pristine wooden table or surfaces, don’t panic! 

Knowing how to remove candle wax on wood may seem like a tricky task, but it’s fairly easy to do with these clever tips. What’s more, it can be done without damaging or scratching the surface, saving you money on buying new furniture.

So, whether you prefer to relax in the evenings with scented candles or enjoy hosting the occasional candlelit dinner, here’s how to remove candle wax from wood without ruining it. 

How to remove candle wax on wood using ice cubes 

What you need

Ice cubes in a plastic bag

Old cloths/towel

Plastic scraper

Hairdryer

Iron

Distilled vinegar

Olive oil

Lint-free cloths

1. First, allow candle wax to cool completely until it hardens. Never attempt to wipe up spilled candle wax straight away as you may burn yourself or cause further damage to the wood surface.

2. A common trick is to harden the wax with ice cubes placed inside a plastic food storage bag. Leave the plastic bag on top of the wax stain for about 20-30 seconds or until the wax starts to harden.  

Hardened wax on wood table

Hardened wax on wood table (Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Next up, use a plastic scraper or plastic card to gently lift the hardened wax off the wood. Always use the edge of the plastic flat against the surface and not gouge at it to avoid any dents. In addition, never use metal spatulas which will scratch the wood and further damage it.

4. Then, remove the loose wax with a dry cloth before cleaning any residue with a distilled vinegar and water solution. Simply mix one part distilled white vinegar into two parts of water. Dip a soft cloth into the mixture, wring it out, then gently wipe over the surface, following the grain of the wood. 

5. Another trick is to use olive oil on a soft cloth to buff the wood and give it a shiny finish.

Wiping down wood table with pink cloth

Wiping down wood table with pink cloth (Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to remove candle wax on wood using heat

1. First, allow the iron to heat up to the lowest temperature, and don’t use the steam setting. If you don’t have an iron at hand, you can use a handheld hairdryer and set it ideally on a medium heat.

2. Next up, take an old cloth or towel and place over the wax stain to cover completely on the surface. Make sure to use a cloth that is larger than the stain to protect the wood surface from further damage. 

Ironing over candle wax stain on table

Ironing over candle wax stain on table (Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Now, place the iron on top of the towel and let it sit for about 20-30 seconds. Be careful not to press the iron too long on one area as it may damage the wood. The heated wax will gradually be absorbed into the towel.

4. Continue heating until you see all the wax removed and absorbed into the towel. If you’re using a hairdryer, simply direct the hot air onto the cloth over the stain following the same procedure. 

5. Once the wax is completely removed, use a paper towel to remove any residue, and use a lint-free cloth to buff the wood with furniture polish.

This method particularly works well with unfinished wood as it draws the wax stain upwards to absorb into the towels.  

Tealights in wooden tray

Tealights in wooden tray (Image credit: Shutterstock)

How to avoid candle wax stains on wood

Candles on a tray

Candles on a tray (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Prevention is the key here, and if you want to save yourself the hassle of removing candle wax on your wooden furniture, you can follow these simple tips:

1. Always place candles in a candle tray, holders, mason jars or lanterns to catch melted wax, and protect your wood tables and surfaces.

2. Try to keep your candle holders away from drafts in the room. This will cause candles to burn unevenly and drip more wax.

Lanterns

Lanterns on windowsill (Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. Avoid moving your candles around the home if the wax has melted or is still hot. Not only can this potentially cause burns, but it can also risk spilling wax on surfaces.

4. Rather than blowing out the candle flame, which can cause a splatter of wax everywhere, use a candle snuffer like this Hudson Candle Snuffer for $12.99 on Amazon. It's a much safer way to put out your candles and less messy!

Cynthia Lawrence

Cynthia Lawrence specialises in Homes ecommerce, covering all things homes and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 


Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.


With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!