Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting Ready for Chanukah: The On-Going War with Candle Wax

Just a short tip today. One of the most annoying things about orthodoxy is the sheer volume of candlewax that invades every part of your life. (Drip cups are always a good idea, but they can only lessen the inevitable.)

I know Chanukah is getting close when I begin thinking, "Ok, it's time to clean the hanukkiah..." I never feel like cleaning my candle-holding appliances until I need them again. I guess that's just human.

The "before" picture is in the header above the blog. It's primarily orange wax, but there's also blue and white in there. Almost the entire back is covered in wax, plus there are all the little spaces where fingers won't fit. I didn't even use this chanukiah the second year I owned it because I was so upset it couldn't be cleaned off. I didn't want to make it worse without any potential for getting better.

Cue the hairdryer. It is the easiest way to remove candlewax from anything. I have used it to remove wax from carpets, tables, furniture, and things actually made to hold candles. I've used it on essentially everything but the pets. (I had a ceiling fan that threw melted candlewax for a 10ft radius from my kitchen table.)

Gather your materials: the candle-waxed item, paper towels (or napkins), and the hairdryer. Q-tips if you have wax in tight spots.

Take your item and place it on top of a paper towel. Get your second paper towel sheet ready. Turn on the hair dryer and focus it on some group of wax. It's better to attack section-by-section. You will see the wax begin to turn clear (or milky), maybe even dripping. It depends on how thick the section is. Once it looks like it's soft or melting, turn off the hairdryer. Then just wipe it up with the paper towel! Easy as pie! (Don't burn yourself with the air or by touching hot metal!)

Use the Q-tips in hard-to-clean areas and inside candle cups. 

Alternatively, you can soak the item in hot water in the sink or bring them to boil in a pot on the stove.

In summary, no need to buy expensive "wax cleaners"!

Here is the finished product after only 10 minutes of work!


  1. This is such a good idea! My Shabbos candlesticks have sort of a strange cup to them, so drip cups don't work that well, and I'm always getting frustrated right before shabbat because I forgot to clean them! Time to break out the chanukkiyot....

  2. I usually just put everything in really hot water but that's probably not the best idea. My Shabbat candlesticks have a weird cup too. Everything drains out of the bottom and all over. The other night I noticed the cup was entirely empty. So, all of the was had melted out of the bottom onto the base. Now that I thing about it, I should go clean them up now rather than waiting until later.

  3. I'm pretty sure my chanukiah still has wax in all the cups. I just stuck it under the tap last year, but after seven nights I just said screw it, picked off the big chunks, and put it back on the shelf.

    I feel like this is a rite of passage.

    This year I'm looking for some little pre-filled oil vials if I can find them small enough. Even the candles from the same company that made my chanukiah need to be widdled down to size because the darn thing's so tiny, so I'm not holding out that much hope. The Chanukah fair is this weekend, though, so I'll see what I can find among the vendors.

    (My shabbos candles burn insanely clean, thankfully. I just have to pick out the ashy wick and run the candlesticks under hot water to get the residue out.)

  4. I was also going to suggest the really hot water method. My husband dunked the menorah after we got it out this year. Worked like a charm in just Dena said, maybe not the best idea? but once a year shouldn't hurt it

    1. Originally posted: December 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM

      My friends swear by the hot water method, but most of the things I had to clean wouldn't be going into any pot! Like the rug, table, and chairs...

      I'll probably stick to the hair dryer unless I had several small-enough things that needed to be cleaned.

  5. Best. Trick. Ever. Put waxy item in freezer. Wait till frozen. Pop off wax. Rinse in hot water and buff.

    1. That's the first time i heard. I am going to try it this Hanukah

  6. I switched to Ner Lights ( ) for Chanukah...after doing candles for many years and hand poured oil for one. The nais of Chanukah was on the oil, so it's better to use oil for the mitvah of kindling Chanukah lights. But pouring oil is messy too. Ner Lights are expensive...but I fell in love with them when I traveled for Chanukah (everything you need, except for the menorah, is packaged and self-contained). They are really the best thing since sliced bread!

    For Shabbos, I've opted to just put tea lights on top of my crystal candlesticks. They may not be the "kosher candles", but they burn for 5 hours and also, they leave no mess! :-)

  7. I am so grateful for this post! I thought I was just candle-challenged!

    When I first started lighting Shabbos candles, I got beautiful, big, long tapers (like you see in the movies) and they were so pretty until I was picking the wax out of my grandmother's hand-tatted table cloth on Sunday afternoon. (Alternate freezer and hair dryer until wax is gone, soak in Oxyclean. B"H it was white wax on a white table cloth.)

    Then I got two yahrzeit candles (not realizing) and those just burn forever! I was up all night convinced the apartment would burn down. Plus, I put them on the dining room table and I was sure one of the cats would jump up to investigate and I would have cat whisker flambé!

    Then I got little votive holders, for safety. Here's a thing nobody mentions: Unscented!! Five minutes of Yankee Candle Almond Cookie is lovely - hours is a
    migraine... My dining room is still slightly cookie scented.

    I have it down to a science now, but they should include these kind of practical suggestions when they put together the 'How to Light Shabbat Candles' pamphlets.

  8. Thanks for that tip. Simple is what makes it great.
    In turn, here's one from me: