How to Remove Wax from Glass

Three Methods:Freezing the WaxMelting the WaxScraping Wax from Flat Surfaces

Burning candles in glass votives can sometimes leave behind stubborn wax residue on the bottom and sides when the candle is all used up. Getting the wax out will leave you a good-quality multi-purpose jar you can use with new candles, or for any number of different purposes. You can remove that stubborn wax by freezing it, melting it, or scraping it off flat surfaces. See Step 1 for more information.

Method 1
Freezing the Wax

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    Place the glass jar or piece of glass in your freezer. Freezing works best for small votive holders or candle jars. Once your candle has cooled to normal room temperature, place it in the freezer.
    • If you put it in when it's too hot, you'll risk cracking the glass from too quick of a temperature shift. Make sure the glass is cool to the touch before you freeze it.
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    Let the wax contract for at least an hour. As the wax and glass begin to freeze, the wax will begin to contract and separate from the sides of the glass, pulling away and making it much easier to remove.[1]
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    Use a table knife to remove the wax from the glass jar. Remove the glass from the freezer after an hour has passed and try to tap the wax out on the palm of your hand. Use your finger or a dull knife to scrape and remove the remaining wax from the glass.
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    Swab the glass to remove any wax remnants. Remove any small remaining pieces of wax residue using a cotton ball or cotton swab soaked in baby oil or vinegar.[2] Rubbing with a slightly damp paper-towel can be just as effective. It might take some elbow-grease, but it should come up.

Method 2
Melting the Wax

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    Boil some water. Bring a pot of water to boiling using the stove or microwave while you prepare the wax. The water doesn't need to be at a rolling boil, just hot enough to melt the wax. Imagine you were heating up water for a cup of tea that you wanted to drink very soon.
    • Alternatively, you could heat the jar while you're doing the dishes. Run some water and get it as hot as you can stand, then soak the jar for a while at the bottom of the sink.
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    Cut up the wax to loosen it. Use an old knife to cut a series of slits into any large chunks of wax that remain in the glass from which you want the wax removed.[3]
    • Alternately, you can use a fork to separate smaller chunks of wax, or skip this step completely if only a thin coating of wax or residue remains in the glass.[4]
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    Pour the boiling hot water into the glass jar or votive that contains the wax. The wax should immediately begin to liquefy, and start to float toward the surface of the water.
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    Let the wax cool. Allow the water and wax mixture to cool off for between 15 and 20 minutes. During this time period, the wax will begin to harden slightly on the surface of the water, making it easy to remove.
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    Remove the wax from the water using your fingers. If there are any remaining pieces of wax stuck to the glass, use the knife to gently pry them from the glass. They should be soft and pliable, making the job much easier.
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    Clean the jar of any wax remnants. Soak a scrub sponge in hot water and wring out the sponge until it becomes damp. Then use it to clean out the jar, removing stray wax. You could also dampen and use a paper towel in place of a sponge.

Method 3
Scraping Wax from Flat Surfaces

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    Find the proper scraping tool. Ideal for the job is a sharp razor blade or window scraper to gently remove wax from a flat surface, such as a glass table top. These are more ideal than a pocket-knife or other rounded blade that might scratch the glass. You want to be very gentle if you try to scrape the wax off a surface that you're unable to heat or wipe.
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    Loosen the wax with some damp heat. Soak a sponge in some very hot water and try to moisten the wax and loosen it slightly before you go at it with the scraper. You might even be able to wipe it off completely, making scrapes unnecessary.
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    Carefully loosen the wax with your scraper. Focus on using soft, gentle strokes to prevent the razor blade from slipping, and to also prevent the blade or scraper from leaving scratches on the glass surface. Continue to scrape until all wax residue has been removed from the glass surface.
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    Wipe down the glass. Use a damp, warm cloth to remove any small amounts of wax residue that have been left behind, cleaning it thoroughly. It's easy to leave behind a waxy or cloudy residue, making the wipe-down particularly important.
    • Alternately, you can spray glass cleaning solution on the wax and clean off using a paper towel or soft rag. It might take several passes before you get it up completely. Be diligent!


  • Candles that are lower in cost may use higher amounts of petroleum-based wax that is generally difficult to remove from glass. Try purchasing candles from high-quality and well-known candle companies to make removing wax from glass an easier process.
  • Keep a few tablespoons of water at the bottom of reusable votive jars to keep the wax from sticking in the first place.
  • Perform this task over an old rag or newspaper to prevent wax residue from marring your table or countertop.
  • Use glass candle jars as small vases or pencil holders, or fill them with other creative objects and display them around the house after you have cleaned and removed all wax residue from the jars.


  • Do not perform this task over your kitchen or bathroom sink, since wax may clog your drain and plumbing system. Be sure to dispose of all excess wax in the trash can.
  • Do not rub a sponge or paper towel across or around the inside of the glass when removing wax, or the wax may smear. Be sure to use gentle strokes and movements when removing wax residue from the glass.

Things You’ll Need

  • Freezer
  • Dull knife
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Baby oil or vinegar
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Scrub sponge or paper towels
  • Razor blade or window scraper

Article Info

Categories: Glass and Stained Glass Projects