How to Remove Beeswax from Surfaces

Pinterest Hidden Image

Beeswax is one of my favorite substances. But, removing beeswax drips from surfaces can be tricky. Honestly, I sometimes feel like I am never able to clean all the beeswax off. But, if you use the right technique (for the surface), you can safely get rid of most– if not all – of the beeswax. In this guide, you will learn the basics of removing beeswax without damaging your surfaces.

Plastic scraper being used to remove beeswax from counter.

There are so many ways to use beeswax in and around the home. Having some drips or beeswax shavings get on the floor, counter etc is inevitable. When this happens – try to address the issue right away. Fresh wax is easier to remove.

Why Beeswax is Difficult to Clean Up

Beeswax is a natural substance produced by honey bees and used to build their sheets of honeycomb. A versatile material, humans have used it for centuries in a variety of applications.

Made up of esters, fatty acids, and long-chain alcohols, beeswax is a non-toxic, edible substance. Yes, raw beeswax is edible.

The low melting point (144-147°F) and adhesive properties, making it good for crafting. But, these beneficial characteristics pose special challenges-when beeswax ends up on unwanted surfaces.

Thankfully, we can use these properties to our advantage in the various methods of clean wax off. This might be an accumulation of beeswax on your kitchen utensils, drips on the counter or “heaven forbid” drops of wax on the floor.

General Tips for Removing Beeswax

The reaction of beeswax to temperatures is a big advantage. The low melting point makes it easy to melt the wax and use a paper towel to soak it up.

Likewise, when cold – beeswax becomes brittle and is easier to scrap off. Of course, we can not put everything in the freezer but cold temperatures can be used in some circumstances.

Water Doesn’t Work

Don’t try to use water to remove beeswax – it does not work. Beeswax is hydrophobic – it repels water. This is what makes it so useful for making beeswax lip balm to seal moisture in your lips – or beeswax waterproofing to seal your garden boots.

No, you will need something different to dissolve wax – water based cleaning methods are ineffective.

Plastic scraper removes wax from wood countertop.

Steps to Clean Up Beeswax

In many instances, the basic steps for beeswax removal are similar. Whether to use, heat, cold or solvents will of course depend on the particular surface you are trying to clean.

  • prepare by removing excess
  • absorbing or dissolving Wax – (heat, freezing, solvents)
  • clean and polish

Preparation

The first step is to get as much of the excess beeswax off – as possible. Use a plastic scraper, credit card, or even the edge of a spoon to gently scrape off the bulk of the wax. Take care to not damage the surface underneath if it is scratchable.

Use Heat to Soften the Wax

For hard surfaces: glass, metal, countertops: Apply gentle heat to soften the wax – making it easier to remove.

You can use a hairdryer, heat gun (low temp), or warm iron (with a barrier like paper towels or a cloth between the iron and the wax) to melt the beeswax.

Once the wax is soft, you can blot it up with paper towels. Replace the paper towels with new ones as needed until all the wax is absorbed.

Freeze the Wax to Make It Brittle

Small portable items (fabrics) etc can be placed in the freezer for about an hour (or apply an ice pack). Once the wax is hardened it becomes brittle – gently scrape it off with a plastic scraper.

Use Solvents to Dissolve Beeswax

In some situations, solvents may be needed to clean away beeswax drips. Mineral spirits, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar will help dissolve the wax.

Apply a small amount of solvent to a clean cloth and rub gently (blot) on the affected area. Always test a small area out of site first-to ensure the solvent does not damage your surface.

Needless to say – this approach for removing beeswax is not appropriate for all surfaces. I rarely use strong solvents and prefer the safety using heat or cold.

In some cases, a good application of olive oil will help remove beeswax and it’s sticky reside. This works well when I am removed small amounts of beeswax from kitchen utensils.

Get rid of beeswax on utensils using freeze and oil method. Freeze, apply oil and rub, wash and polish.

Clean and Polish

Once you have removed all the wax, you need to clean the surface. For non-pourus surfaces, use a solution of soap and water to clear away any residual oils or stickiness.

To clean and residue from wood, a wood cleaner or mixture of vinegar and water works well. For glass and metal, regular glass cleaner is fine – do be careful to avoid scratching the surface.

Three steps to get beeswax off metal surface, scrape, oil, wash with soap and water and polish to clean surface.

Expert Tips

Review these important tips before proceeding with your cleaning project:

  • be careful applying heat – excessive heat can crack glass, cause warping or discoloration in softer metals like aluminum. Heat can damage fabrics too.
  • always test solvents on a small inconspicuous area first. Solvents are not suitable for all surfaces-even wood.
  • do not use solvents on varnished or lacquered wood. When using solvents on fabric, blot don’t rub. Also, be careful when using solvents on sensitive surfaces like natural stone.
  • when removing beeswax from wood, avoid the use of excessive water. Use the minimal amount needed and make sure to thoroughly dry afterward.

Preventing Beeswax Stains and Spills

I have come to the realization that I will likely never be able to remove all the wax dots from my honey house floor. That’s okay – it is a work space – not my kitchen.

For most of you, it is worth the effort to take some precautions and prevent future drips. Use protective counter covers when using candles or other wax products.

If you enjoy making beeswax crafts, have some dedicated crafting tools. Trying to get beeswax off your kitchen utensils can be done. However, it is much easier to have tools that you use just for wax. Then, if you can’t get it all off – it doesn’t matter.

FAQs

What can I use to remove beeswax?

The method of removing beeswax depends on the surface it is found on. Heat, cold, or solvents may be necessary for big projects. For kitchen utensils, a little olive oil may be enough to wipe it away.

What will break down beeswax?

If you want to dissolve or break down beeswax, try these solvents: rubbing alcohol, ether, turpentine, olive oil.

Can beeswax be removed from wood?

Yes, to clean beeswax off wood surfaces. Gently scrape away the excess. Then use a solvent (possibly mineral spirits) to wipe the surface clean. Be sure to dry and polish afterwards.

What is the best solvent for beeswax?

When removing beeswax, the best solvent depends in part on the surface you are trying to clean. A favorite used by many is pure pine turpentine.

Final Words

Removing beeswax from your counters, floors, utensils, etc – can be a minor clean up job or a major headache. When choosing a method to get rid of unwanted wax, carefully consider the surface in question. With a bit of patience, you should be able to get everything squeaky clean again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *