Eight nights of hot wax
December 16, 2012 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Hanukkah is over. Eight nights of digging candlewax out of the little holders. I'd like to keep the wax out of the holders. I need a menorah condom.

I know about hot soapy water to clean up the menorah at the end of Hanukkah. And the putting it in the freezer trick. What I hate is digging the wax out of the candle holders every night. I've tried wrapping aluminum foil around the base of the candle to make wax retrieval easier, but the candles are usually such a tight fit that this doesn't work. I don't want to use anything really thin, like Saran Wrap, for obvious reasons. Is there anything I can use as a barrier to keep the melted wax out of the menorah? Or do you have any suggestions for easy wax-digging?
posted by Joleta to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What are the diameter and depth of the candle holders? A finger cot may do the trick. You can buy a gross of them pretty cheaply, which should last you a couple of years.
posted by jedicus at 9:22 AM on December 16, 2012

Alternatively, if you're using paraffin candles (and the menorah is amenable to it), you could use a hair dryer to melt the wax, pour off the bulk of it, and then blot up the rest with a paper towel. If you're using beeswax I'm not sure if a hair dryer would get it hot enough to melt.
posted by jedicus at 9:25 AM on December 16, 2012

Best answer: Spray the holes with oil, or just rub a little bit in to coat before you put candles in. The wax should (mostly) pop out.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:26 AM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I use a chopstick to dig it out. So satisfying.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 9:35 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pretty much the only thing that dissolves beeswax (besides heat) is ethyl ether. So theoretically you could use a car-starting aerosol automotive ether spray. That would have to be used way outside, standing upwind in a good breeze. Forget open flames, nothing even hot to the touch can be nearby.

In the future, can you put those metal caps on the candles? They work great with natural beeswax candles.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:36 AM on December 16, 2012

Or do you have any suggestions for easy wax-digging?

The tip of a knife, one with a blade slightly larger than the candle holders. Slide it in and turn it around, the wax comes out in one piece.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 9:38 AM on December 16, 2012

I am not Jewish and I know little about the observance of Hanukkah, so forgive me if this is a terrible idea, but it seems like some bobeches would be just the thing for you.
posted by shesbookish at 9:42 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: i just discovered the most amazing trick this year. The holes on my menorah are just a tiny bit larger than a corkscrew. Just screw the corkscrew down into the wax, then pull it out in once piece. If you have similar dimensions to mine, you'll be amazed at how painless it is!
posted by juliapangolin at 9:58 AM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is it sacrilegeous to experiment with leftover Hanukkah candles? I'd like to try swabbing the inside of the candle holders with vegetable oil using a Q-tip. Thanks NoraCharles and peachfuzz for the oil suggestion, and it does fit the Hanukkah theme.

Shesbookish: I've never heard the word bobeches before, so thanks. The problem is that a menorah uses fairly small candles. Searching for bobeches did turn up these menorah drip cups, but it looks like that solution will just transfer the wax cleanout problem to a different holder.

DestinationUnknown: I'm using a nail file, reserved for menorah-cleaning, to dig out the wax each night. The wax does not come out in once piece. I'll experiment with my small paring knife.
posted by Joleta at 9:59 AM on December 16, 2012

Honestly, I used boiling water this morning to clean the mess and plan to buy better candles next year. The crappy ones I bought this year were terrible! Not a sentimental menorah, so I'm not terribly worried about the menorah itself.

The oil idea is excellent. Not sacrilegious to experiment -- extra candles means you didn't use the whole 44 anyway, right? I'll be trying this one next year.
posted by mamabear at 10:20 AM on December 16, 2012

Would it work to lightly shave down and taper the end of each candle a little, so they'd fit into the foil-lined holders?
posted by Lexica at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2012

Can you put it in the freezer for a day? I've done it before with regular candlesticks and it is amazing - the wax just pops off. Give it a try! I think it's a Heloise housekeeping tip.
posted by belau at 10:56 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I switched to olive oil - bought a set of these for every year use, plus these disposable wicks and holders. There's still cleanup, but no scraping, just soap and water.

There's also wax-off (link is to "menorah" version, but there is a generic version that may be cheaper - it's just the first thing that came up when I googled)
posted by Mchelly at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2012

I bought stuff to prevent wax from sticking at the big grocery store in the middle of the most-Jewish part of my metro area. Works great. Candles are just candles- you can do whatever you want with them after you've used them for the 30 minutes. Technically you don't even need to use candles to celebrate the holiday; little cups of oil are fine.

I'm trying Goof Off for my hannukiah tonight; I'll post about the results when I'm done.
posted by SMPA at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2012

Maybe I don't understand the question. I thought SOP for getting wax off any kind of candle holder was to immerse the holder in hot water until the wax melted. Is your menorah made out of wood?
posted by d. z. wang at 11:28 AM on December 16, 2012

Response by poster: d.z.wang: My menorah is nickel-plated brass. It's easy to get the dripped wax off the outside of the menorah. My problem is digging the remaining wax out of the little cups each night. The candles I have (three-year supply) burn down to leave very little stub but enough wax on the bottom and sides to prevent inserting another candle the next night without digging it out. I don't want to have to do the immersion thing every night, and it doesn't work well in those little holes anyway.
posted by Joleta at 11:46 AM on December 16, 2012

I have a yarn needle that I use for menorah cleaning. Something about the needle makes the wax pop out in one piece 98% of the time.
posted by Ruki at 12:19 PM on December 16, 2012

The cooking spray thing really does work, but only before you put in the candles.

You can try heating the remaining wax with a small flame to soften it before digging it out.
posted by topoisomerase at 1:13 PM on December 16, 2012

I did the cooking spray thing and had a hard time keeping candles upright. I used a paper towel to try to swab up excess oil but still had problems with candles sort of shifting once their holder was slightly lubricated.
posted by dottiechang at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2012

Response by poster: Menorah experiments 1-4:
#1 Oiled inside of candle holder with vegetable oil and a Q-tip: The tip of a paring knife popped out the candle stub with no residue.
#2 A few drops of water in the candle holder: This worked almost as well as the oil, but there was still some wax residue.
#3 Corkscrew: I tried juliapangolin's method. The corkscrew broke up the wax rather messily, but it also cleaned the sides and bottom of the candle holder.
#4 Blow out the candles to leave a stub: My non-Jewish husband suggested this and I was horrified. In my family, we never blew out Hanukkah candles. If we had to leave the house to go someplace before they'd burned down, we put the menorah with the burning candles into the kitchen sink or bathtub. However, I discovered that the candles only need to burn for 30 minutes after sunset. I let candle #4 burn for 45 minutes, until there was about a half-inch stub, then snuffed it out and pulled the stub right out.

The winner is #4, followed closely by #1.
posted by Joleta at 1:22 PM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Over here, we just don't bother to clean the wax out each night. From the second to the last night, before lighting candles, we stick the flame of the shamash in each candle-holder to melt the remaining wax, and then pop the new candle in while it's melted.
posted by vasi at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2012

Wrap the candles in a bit of foil. Leave enough for a bit of a lip to extend around the hole.

When candle burns away, lift by the lip et voila! No wax in the hole.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:08 AM on December 17, 2012

I wash the chanukiah with hot water. Takes 2 minutes for the wax to melt away if the water is hot enough.
posted by gertzedek at 9:24 AM on December 17, 2012

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