What All Candle-Lovers Ought to Know

If you enjoy having tapered candles on your holiday dinner table, but dislike the waxy mess they can make, then here’s how to minimize, if not prevent it. This is what all candle-lovers ought to know.

Why Does My Dripless Taper Candle Drip? This is such a common question! Elegant taper candles are perfect for providing a romantic ambiance for your restaurant or next catered event. However, there are many times when taper candles end up burning unevenly and dripping wax all over your candelabra or cloth table covers, leaving you wondering why you purchased the candles in the first place. If your dripless candles are making a mess, keep reading to learn why this problem occurs and how to solve it.

What is a "Dripless" Candle? Referring to taper candles as "dripless" is a misnomer, as wax will inevitably run down any candle. However, dripless candles are designed to allow wax to smoothly run down their sides and quickly harden before reaching your candelabras or table covers. Consequently, these candles are very different than larger dripless candles where the wax pools in the center by the wick.

SO, Why Are My Taper Candles Dripping? If you find wax on your candle holders or furniture, one of two things is probably happening:

1) The candle might not be completely vertical. If your candle isn't sitting straight, it will burn unevenly, which can lead to wax running too far down the candle before it hardens.
2) There could be a draft, which can also cause the candle to burn unevenly and lead to excess wax.

But, all this said, there is something you can do to help your candles drip “less.” In a large shallow dish or baking pan, add ½ tablespoon salt to 2 cups water. Submerge your candles and soak them for 24 hours. And then, when not in use, store your candles in the freezer. You should find that with this steps, there’ll be less dripping.

A couple other things you can do to deal with the chance of drips, is to place your candles on a tray or large platter. This approach creates a pretty cluster of candlelight as it contains any potential mess.

And there’s also the bobeche. This is a wax catcher that’s slipped over the candle and rests atop the candle holder. Common ones are made of glass. But you can make your own using cardstock. The beauty of the cardstock version is disposability, whereas the glass bobeche eventually needs wax removal.

How Do You Remove Dripped Wax? Wondering what to do when wax drips onto your cloth table covers, cloth napkins, or other fabrics? Here are a few tips:

  • Let the wax fully harden and then scrape it off with a knife.
  • While you should always follow laundering instructions, you can also try pouring boiling water through affected fabrics where appropriate.
  • If this doesn't work, your best bet is to have the item cleaned professionally.
  • Final traces of wax can often be removed with dry cleaning fluid after the cloth is totally dry.
To remove wax from furniture, follow these steps:

  • Let the wax harden completely and then scrape most of it off with a dull knife.
  • As you get closer to the surface of your furniture, switch to something more gentle, like a wooden Popsicle stick. Use a piece of cheesecloth and a drop or two of lighter fluid to remove any final traces of wax.
  • Finish up by buffing it with furniture polish.

Candles add such a warm ambience to a room on a cold, gloomy wintery day. Knowing how to prevent or at least minimize that annoying waxy mess they can make is encouraging. So this winter, “let there be light (candle light, that is)!”

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
    Email the author! alice@dvo.com

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