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So, I like candles… But there is always leftover wax and residue in the candle holders I that use. These are small, shot-glass-like candle holders; typically called “Votive” candle holders but I also improvise in similarly shaped items.

Are there any sure-fire methods out there that people can share for cleaning out small glass candle holders like this?

Sample image of a votive candle holder.

  • "sure-fire" chuckle, chuckle. – Stan Jul 3 '18 at 14:06
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I usually put the candle holder in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning I take a knife and pop the wax off. Works every time.

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Most candle waxes melt at 130-150 F (55-60 C).

Immerse the votive glass in near-boiling water, and the wax will melt and float out. While still hot, wash with the hottest water available from your tap and a grease-cutting dish detergent. Skim the floating wax off the surface of the water in the pot you boiled the water in, and wash it the same way as the votive glass.

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The first step is to use your oven. Get a metal baking/roasting pan, put the glass containers—votives, whatever…—onto the sheet upside down. Place them in the oven and turn the oven up to the minimal temperature it can be set at. That’s usually 200 degrees Fahrenheit based on U.S. measurements.

Now let the oven heat up with the glasses in there for about 5 to 10 minutes. Peek inside to see if the wax has melted. If it has, the wax would melt down into the pan and the glasses should be a bit cleaner.

When you feel the wax as melted out as much as possible, take the pan out of the oven and then—using paper towels or a rag you won’t need anymore—take each glass container and wipe away as much of the still liquid-like wax as possible. If all goes well, the glasses should be clean of all wax.

If somehow there are some residual pieces of wax, I would recommend just boiling the glasses on the stove in a pot with a small amount of water, wait for that wax to melt again and and wipe it away again with the paper towels and/or rags.

The reality is some wax will be melted in with the water and head down the drain. But using this method the bulk of the wax melts off into the pan where it can solidify can you can crack it off and toss it in the trash. The remaining wax from the stove top boiling will be so minimal it would be inconsequential to literally toss down the drain… Or if you are concerned about a small amount of wax going down the drain, filter that wax out of the water by pouring it through a paper towel that should catch that wax and allow you to just toss it in the trash.

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    My plumber would love you. There's nothing to destroy your plumbing better as wax coating the drain further down when the temperature of the pipes drops on its way. Our neighbour would do this when she waxed her legs. The blockage could not be removed after years of problems. The system had to be replaced. – Stan Jul 3 '18 at 14:16
  • Why did you answer your own question? – Stan Jul 3 '18 at 14:26
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    @Stan Self-answering is perfectly fine on Stack Exchange sites. Sometimes, it's the only sensible answer a question gets, or sometimes the questioner finds the answer after asking the question (I've done this on AskUbuntu). And sometimes, they don't quite understand what they thought they did... – Zeiss Ikon Jul 3 '18 at 15:37
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Turn your votive over and place them in a disposable foil take-out container. Putting them on an irregular surface will allow some air-space around the rims.

Heat to desired temperature (oven) and the wax will drain out into the container. Try 250°-300°F in a pre-heated oven.

(insert safety message about wax, ovens, heat, etc. here)

After they cool, use a paper towel with a small bit of solvent (I use lighter fluid) to wipe out the wax film left on the sides and bottom.

Wash as you would any of your glassware.

Discard the wax and paper towels or save them in an air-tight jar for fire-starters when you go wet-weather camping and want to start your campfire with no dry kindling.

  • You suggest a temperature near the ignition temperature of candle wax -- the wax will be nearly as flammable as kerosene in your 250 F oven, worse at 300 F. – Zeiss Ikon Jul 3 '18 at 14:52
  • @ZeissIkon I believe the temperatures you quote are for degrees Celsius. Paraffin wax without additives: 199˚C (390.2˚F). Paraffin wax with additives: 249˚C (480.2˚F). – Stan Jul 3 '18 at 15:06
  • I've heard of wax being melted for candles igniting even in a double boiler -- which can't exceed 100 C. The hotter it gets, the easier it is to ignite. – Zeiss Ikon Jul 3 '18 at 15:38

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