Setting out candles for mood lighting or even emergency lighting during a power outage is a common practice in many homes. The paraffin wax, though, used to make most modern day candles (as opposed to beeswax), can drip or be blown onto different household surfaces. Getting hardened cold wax off of a countertop has vexed many homemakers.
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Using a Solvent
Cleaning wax off Formica or other manufactured surface can be as easy as applying a little solvent. Paraffin wax is a petroleum product and can be dissolved using a petroleum fluid such at lighter fluid or gas lantern fuel. Using a petroleum solvent, though, means applying as little as possible and keeping away from any open flames or heat sources such as a hot stove eye or working toaster. What works best is putting some petroleum fluid onto a rag and then wiping the wax vigorously. This will dissolve the wax and both the fluid solvent and wax will be wiped away with the cleaning rag. Afterwards, wash the countertop with a degreaser cleanser such as Formula 409 or Fantastic and rinse with water.
Cleaning Wax from Wood Surfaces
If your paraffin wax candle dripped on a wood counter butcher's block or bar, do not use a petroleum solvent. Using lighter fluid or another petroleum product on wood or finished wood surfaces can damage the countertop. Also, scraping a wood surface may leave permanent scratches or gouges. Instead, try reheating the wax with a warm plate heated in the microwave oven. Put a saucer or other plate in the microwave and add small amount of water. Heat the water and this will heat the plate. Remove the plate, drain the water and while still warm place on the cold wax. Allow it to remain for about 30 to 45 seconds. Remove the now-cooler plate and quickly wipe away the warm wax with a paper towel. Depending on the thickness of the wax you may have to repeat the process to remove it all.
Scraping Wax from Countertops
As a last resort you can gently scrape away the paraffin wax from your countertop. Do this very carefully and avoid digging into the surface. Instead, only scrape the surface of the wax and slowly peel it away in layers. A blunt butter knife or plastic credit card will do the job more than adequately. Whenever using a tool for scraping, however, always remember to push away from you and not towards you. Pulling on a tool is more likely to cause it to dig into a surface. If there is still a very thin film of wax remaining when you are done, remove with a light scrubbing brush and a grit cleanser like Comet or Ajax.
Granite or Other Stone Countertops
If you have granite, marble or other stone countertops, do not hesitate to use a strong plastic scrubbing tool to quickly remove any paraffin wax. Plastic will scratch or damage stone and will make quick work of the job. After removing the bulk of the wax from the surface, clean well with a degreasing cleanser and rinse with hot water.
Wesley Tucker is a lifelong southerner whose politics are objective, whose sports are many and whose avocations range from aviation to anthropology to history and all forms of media. With a master's degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina College of Journalism, Tucker has been a writer for more than 30 years, with work ranging from news reports to feature stories.