# How to dissolve candle wax (paraffin)?

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?

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.

• 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. – Abel Friedman Oct 5 '14 at 22:21
• You can also put the clothes in the freezer and a substantial portion of he wax will crack off. – Julie Thomas Oct 6 '14 at 16:47

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.

• Gonna try that right now! – Tomáš Zato May 22 '15 at 12:13
• Just wanted to update - candle wax did not dissolve in sunflower vegetable oil. – Tomáš Zato Sep 25 '16 at 16:43
• Wow, this works great! This needs to be common household knowledge... – Tom Mar 16 '17 at 22:44
• 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. – rboy Nov 9 '18 at 2:22

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

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.

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.

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