Candle wax is probably one of the hardest stains to get out. You’ve probably pulled this article out of pure desperation after trying almost everything: soap, laundry detergent, and all kinds of stain removers. But don’t worry! Candle wax stains are much easier to dissolve than you think.
Getting that stain out becomes far more straightforward when you learn the science behind candle wax and dissolving it. Candle wax is a substance made out of fats and oils—otherwise known as a lipid. This makes the candle wax lipophilic. Lipophilic substances usually dissolve in other fats and oils.
So using things like soap or detergent doesn’t work because they aren’t made to dissolve lipophilic substances.
Lucky for you, candle wax can be easily dissolved using simple household items such as vinegar, a blow dryer, nail-polish remover, and even oil. However, when should you use each? That answer depends on several factors.
What Does Dissolving Candle Wax Depend On?
When you want to dissolve a candle wax stain, you need to ask yourself two questions:
- What kind of surface is the stain on?
- Is the surface easily ruined?
Answering these two questions will help you decide the perfect remedy for the stain and how to remove it. So put on your goggles and get ready to prescribe your stain!
Different Ways to Dissolve Candle Wax
The four major ways to dissolve candle wax include using vinegar, oil, a blow dryer, or acetone. All four methods use different ways to be rid of the stain.
That is why I’ll explain exactly how to use it and what method suits you the most, depending on what surface the stain is on and how precious the surface is.
1 – Vinegar: When To Use It
Did you drop candle wax on your hardwood table or polished floor? Before you pick up a knife to scrape off the stain and ruin that table, remember how much it cost to get that nice shiny finish!
Although vinegar isn’t a lipid, it can dissolve wax because it is considered a sterilizing substance— meaning it can clean almost anything. The best case to use vinegar is if you’re cleaning your floor or any object made out of wood.
Why? Because vinegar cleans the stain without leaving another stain behind like oil would. Wood can change color easily, so even when using vinegar, you must be careful. It is important to remove the excess wax first by icing it and peeling off as much wax as you can.
Once you do this, you will see a small faint stain left behind. This stain will be removed by dabbing a mixture of water and vinegar on it (the mixture should contain equal parts of vinegar and water).
Remember to avoid using vinegar if the surface you’re cleaning has a hard wax finish on it. In this case, using vinegar won’t only remove the stain but the finish as well. Under those circumstances, it is best to use a blow dryer to remove the stain.
So if the stain is on wood or your floors, then vinegar is the way to go!
2 – Oil: When To Use It
Like we mentioned before, wax is lipophilic— meaning that it dissolves in other fats and oils. So, placing a candle wax stain in oil will dissolve the stain. The only downside of using oil is that it might leave behind another stain.
So if you have a stubborn stain on anything made out of plastic or even your hair, oil is the perfect fix. All you need to do is massage olive oil onto the stain for a few minutes, and the wax will become softer, allowing you to peel it off piece by piece.
The process can be slow, depending on how melted the candle wax is in there. However, oil is guaranteed to dissolve it. After removing the wax, you can wash off the oil with soap/shampoo and water— leaving the surface squeaky clean!
3 – Blow Dryer: When To Use It
Sometimes, the answer to getting that stubborn stain out can be as simple as melting it off! When you’ve managed to get candle wax on surfaces as vulnerable as leather, electronics, or bathroom suppliances, you need to be as careful as a doctor mid-surgery.
Similar to using oil, the process can be slow, but the results are certainly worth it.
If you managed to drip candle wax on a vulnerable surface that might get damaged if cleaned by almost anything, then simply get a blow dryer. Put it on medium heat and hold it a few inches away from the surface.
The wax will become malleable after a few minutes. Afterward, just slide the piece of wax from the surface and clean the area with a damp cloth soaked in water and mild detergent. That should leave the surface squeaky clean and unscathed!
The only downside of this alternative is that if the stain is deep enough, melting it off just won’t be enough. In that case, the best option is to opt for acetone or isopropyl alcohol.
4 – Acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol: When To Use It
Like vinegar, isopropyl alcohol is also a sterilizing substance. The molecular composition of the alcohol is made to dissolve candle wax on any surface. Can’t go out to get some? No problem! More commonly known as nail polish remover, acetone will do the same trick!
All you need to do is leave a bag of ice on the stained area. After a few minutes, remove the ice pack as well as the excess wax and wipe off the remnants with an alcohol-soaked napkin. The previously stained area will be left looking brand new!
This method is best used for malleable surfaces like t-shirts or blankets.
The only major downside to this method is that alcohol can be too harsh on certain materials like wood, screens, or leather. Since it is a sterilizing agent, you might risk removing the paint on the material or its shiny finish. In that case, you can opt for two different things:
- The blow dryer method.
- Professional candle wax removers like Goo Gone.
Answering the question of which method to use needs your best economic skills. By taking into consideration the material you’re cleaning, and how sensitive it is, you’ll be able to determine which method is best to use.
As long as you survey the material carefully, you’ll be able to decide which method is most suited. A few notes I like to keep in mind when I tackle a candle wax stain are avoiding using oil if the material is easily stained and sticking to the blow dryer method if the material is easy to ruin.
Now that you’re up-to-date on the methods and their applications, you’re more than equipped to tackle that stain!
I have two Associate’s degrees, one in Medical Assisting and the other in Computer Technician, and I am roughly five classes from a bachelor’s degree. Though I never ended up working in the medical field, I have five and a half years of experience in IT. I recently became a stay-at-home mom to my two young boys, and I’m so excited to start this adventure with them! In my spare time, I love to bake and read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.