12
$\begingroup$

Wikipedia states that waxes can be dissolved by non-polar organic solvents.

I failed to dissolve candle wax in both acetone and ethanol, which are the only organic solvents I have at home.

I have some clothes with wax stuck on them. How can I dissolve the wax and drive it away without damaging my clothing?

$\endgroup$
15
$\begingroup$

Ethanol and acetone are not non-polar organic solvents. Each one has a slight dipole moment; due to the difference of electronegativity between $\ce{H}$ and $\ce{O}$ in ethanol and between $\ce{C}$ and $\ce{O}$ in acetone. Wax is composed of heavy, long-chain alkanes. And as "Like dissolves like" try to dissolve your wax in toluene or in xylene.

$\endgroup$
  • 13
    $\begingroup$ A proven way to get rid of candle wax in clothes is putting several sheets of newspaper on top and then apply a warm iron. $\endgroup$ – Abel Friedman Oct 5 '14 at 22:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You can also put the clothes in the freezer and a substantial portion of he wax will crack off. $\endgroup$ – Julie Thomas Oct 6 '14 at 16:47
11
$\begingroup$

Being a chemist, I know that paraffin would require a lipophilic solvent as pointed out by others. It occurred to me that ordinary vegetable oil is a cheap and of course innocuous lipophilic substance. I spilled about 2 oz molten candle wax on a marble surface and after it solidified removed a good portion by scraping with a plastic spoon. This was followed by adding about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and mixing with the spoon. The wax dissolved in the oil with no problem and could be mopped up with a paper towel. Treatment of the oily residue with sink soap removed what was left. Hope this helps.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Gonna try that right now! $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato May 22 '15 at 12:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just wanted to update - candle wax did not dissolve in sunflower vegetable oil. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Sep 25 '16 at 16:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow, this works great! This needs to be common household knowledge... $\endgroup$ – Tom Mar 16 '17 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ It’s a great tip! Now it doesn’t dissolve readily and requires some elbow grease but a health dose of canola oil, a cloth and some rubbing and it came off in a few minutes. Perfect for hardwood floors as I don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals on the finish. $\endgroup$ – rboy Nov 9 '18 at 2:22
4
$\begingroup$

A readily available mixture of various non-polar alkanes would be petrol (gasoline).

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Ordinary candle wax is readily removed by Methylated Spirits, especially if is on a candle stick. Scrape the bulk off carefully and then use a soft cloth with meths.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Dry clean your clothes. The solvents used in dry cleaning work well.

I had the airline industry pump my suitcase and suits full of jet fuel. Even with professional cleaning they still stunk. All had to be replaced.

$\endgroup$

protected by Community Nov 13 '15 at 6:13

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.