Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trick of the Trade: Wax Removal

So last week, I mentioned that I'd found a set of six Dansk glass votive holders, but was perplexed by the melted wax stuck inside them. If you're not familiar of the Dansk candleholders I'm referring to, you may need a visual to understand my dilemma:


Note: This is NOT a "before" shot, since I didn't have the foresight to document my little project. It's just a picture to illustrate the shape of the candleholders. You can see the almost hourglass design of these little guys. Cool, right?  Absolutely. But once melted wax pools and hardens in the bottoms, not so cool!  The usual tricks--including freezing the votive holders, allowing the wax to contract, and then tapping it out--do not work, because that cinched in little "waist" holds the wax inside. I've seen some people use these to hold wider, pillar candles in the top portion, which might eliminate some of this wax-pooling business, though I have to believe that some wax would still melt into the bottoms.

What to do...what to do? I sat on these babies for several weeks, unable to come up with a solution. Finally, it dawned on me: the wax would have to come out the way it went in....melted!  I decided to try an experiment. I took a cookie sheet and lined it with aluminum foil--and I mean that I lined it WELL. I made the sides as tall as I could and made sure it was one solid piece, so nothing could escape through a seam. I then set my oven to 190 degrees. I was afraid to go any hotter, but I figured 190 was certainly warm enough to melt wax!  I turned each candle holder upside down on the aluminum-lined tray and popped them in the warm oven. Here's a re-enactment:


Notice how this photo is weirdly-cropped and narrow? That's because after I took it, I noticed how positively disgusting the bottom of my oven is!  Charred debris galore. Embarrassing. While I feel the need to confess, I didn't want to gross you out with photographic evidence!

I left them in the warm oven for about 20 minutes, all in all. I was tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process, but I was afraid the glass would explode or something, since I'm pretty sure it's not meant to serve as cookware. ;)  When I finally pulled them out, the wax was all melted into the tray, and the jars looked clear!

[NOTE: Remove the tray carefully!  You'd be shocked how much wax those little jars can hold when it's all melted and pooled in the bottom of your cookie sheet! And you definitely don't want melted wax all over your oven, or you'll end up with a way more serious problem!]

Handling each jar with an oven mit, I rinsed them with warm water while they were still toasty to keep any remaining wax residue from re-hardening. A couple of them had enough residue left around the rims that I needed to give them a quick scrub with a kitchen sponge, but it was nothing serious.

All in all, I was thrilled with the results of my little experiment!  Though these Dansk pieces have a very specific shape that makes them difficult to clean, I think this method could work for any glass candleholder in a pinch.

Here are the candle holders now, as listed in the shop:



Aren't they lovely?!  I've always admired this design, created by Jens Quistgaard in the 60s, and I was so happy that I was able to save this set!  I think they'll make a perfect holiday decoration for someone.

xoxo

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