No matter how careful you are with candles, wax spills happen. Some candles with exposed wax, such as pillar candles or tapers set in candlesticks, drip a great deal when lit for a long period of time. Wax may drip onto your hardwood floors or spill onto the table beneath the candleholder if there's nothing beneath the candle to catch the wax. Combine several safe, chemical-free methods to remove that wax safely from wood surfaces in your home.
Wait until the wax is hard or nearly hard, then pick at its edges with your fingernails. Continue picking until it becomes difficult to remove more wax. Scrape more wax away using the edge of a plastic gift card, a piece of sturdy card stock or even the bowl of a spoon. Use a gentle touch no matter which tool you use -- the goal is to remove wax without scratching or scraping the wood surface. If some of the wax is too soft to remove easily, place a few ice cubes in a zippered sandwich bag, seal the bag and place it atop the wax spill. After a few minutes, remove the bag and scrape the hardened wax. Vacuum stray wax bits off the floor or use a paintbrush to transfer the wax pieces onto a piece of paper or cardstock to remove it from furniture or the floor.
Sometimes, the wax may have a stubborn grip on the wood and doesn't come up completely, even after scraping. Heat the affected area with a hairdryer set first to low heat, holding it 5 or 6 inches from the wax spill. Move the hairdryer a bit to avoid overheating the wood. Press a lint-free, absorbent white cloth atop the heated wax to absorb some of it. If the wax isn't melting, adjust the heat to a medium setting and try again. Continue heating, then blotting, until you've removed the wax.
In some cases, ironing works better than heat from a hairdryer. Place several layers of brown craft paper or plain brown grocery bags atop the wax. Set the iron to the lowest heat setting, then iron the paper for a few seconds, moving the iron continually. Lift the papers after several seconds to see if they have absorbed any of the wax. If so, repeat the process with clean paper until no more wax is absorbed. Use only the lowest heat setting to avoid scorching the wood or melting its finish, if any. Do not use an iron on varnished or other sealed wood surfaces if you suspect the sealer may melt a bit under heat.
Clean up any remaining waxy residue or oily spots with a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. Apply the mixture to a lint-free white cloth, wringing out excess moisture, then rub the affected wood gently with the solution.