Out of the blue this week, I got an email from my childhood friend, Lea (who you might remember from this post or this post), with a pretty great blog post that she just whipped up 'cause she felt like it. I have been busybusybusy (so what else is new?) and this little unexpected surprise arrived in the nick of time. Plus, we're only a couple weeks away from Valentine's Day, and who couldn't use a little cheap, romantic candlelight in their lives? So bust out those gross, burnt, waxy, old glass votive candle holders you were going to throw away (or pick some used ones up for next-to-nothing at a thrift shop- they look great mixed and matched en masse), and give them a new lease on light (see what I did there?) PLUS: check in tomorrow to see a few unexpected uses Lea has found for her votives (including one brilliant craft project I wish I'd thought of). It'll be all the candle you can handle. Thanks, Lea!
Every year, before the holidays, starting from when I was a child, I have made it my job to clean all of the votive candle holders in the house and get them looking fresh and new and ready for the season. I've always liked this job because it's a big mess/project/production and I get to experiment with different ways to remove candle wax. And when I was finished I loved the atmosphere that candles brought to the house.
I tried many different approaches: Melting off the wax in hot water on the stove (what a mess...), putting the candle holders in the freezer and then picking off the wax (works OK for big pieces of wax but does not leave a clean look), scraping the wax off with a butter knife or fingernails (ouch!) or razor blades, or using hot water from the faucet to soften the wax. All of these approaches were difficult, time consuming, and always left me with a terrible waxy mess to clean up afterward.
I was married a little over a year ago and I wanted to have a candlelit dinner as part of the celebration. Lil (a.k.a A Charmed Wife)'s mom had 50+ glass votives left over from Lil's brother's wedding that she said I could have. I was up for the challenge of cleaning them, but I knew I needed a better method.
What I came up with put all of my previous years of work to shame! It is very simple and effective (at least for glass votives) and best of all... it leaves no mess! Here's what you do.
Step 1: Put the oven on VERY low (100 to 150 degrees F) because you don't want an oven fire, and place all of your votives on an old baking sheet. (note: I did once cause an oven fire in my mother's oven when I was trying to make new candles from old ones and beeswax crayons... The oven was on WAY to high but luckily there was a fire extinguisher nearby... what a mess... sorry mom, you were so patient with me, I love you).
Step 2: Once they are warm and you can see some melted wax, remove only one of the votives from the oven with an old oven mitt or pot-holder (take care not to burn yourself) and pour the melted wax into an open paper bag that you have already set in the trash.
Step 3: Next use paper towels or cut up old t-shirts or paper napkins (I hold on to unused takeout napkins and keep them in a drawer -just like my mother does- so I can use them for dirty jobs such as this) to wipe away the left over wax and any soot or dirt and !VOILA! you are done!
4) Repeat for all of your votives, throwing away your wiper into your paper bag when it gets to much wax on it. If any wax got on your baking sheet you can also just wipe it of:) Don't forget to turn off the oven, something I always need to remind myself to do, or else my husband reminds me with a worried look in his eye.
5) After this process, your votives will be very clean and ready for new candles. If you want them extra sparkly or if you want to repurpose them (check in tomorrow for some novel ideas), just wash them like dishes. I hope this gives you a motive for cleaning your votives!