How do I (safely) get candle wax out of my oven?
November 11, 2014 11:02 AM   Subscribe

In the process of melting candle wax out of mason jars last night, my husband and I spilled candle wax all over the inside of our oven. Help us fix this.

We've scraped out all the wax we can see, used Goo Gone (which didn't seem to help) in an attempt to remove residue, scrubbed all surfaces with a scrubby sponge, and wiped down everything with soap and water. When we turn the oven on, though, it still smokes.

What else can we try? Products, techniques, and "just let it smoke for a while; I've been through this, and it eventually resolves itself" answers all welcome.
posted by rebekah to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Put paper towels down on the wax and heat them with a hair dryer set to high -- the wax should melt and transfer from the oven to the paper towels (this is what my family does with candle wax on tables, should work in an oven too).
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:11 AM on November 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I would turn the oven on low (whatever the lowest setting is, or just for a few minutes, until the wax is soft/warm) then turn it off and get in there with paper towels. Do you know where the wax has gotten to? Is it a gas or electric stove, and where are the heating elements (top or bottom)? Are there crevices where wax could be hiding?
posted by mskyle at 11:20 AM on November 11, 2014

Orange oil cleaners work well on the final layer of wax residue after bulk removal, but it can be hard to get rid of the orange smell afterward. Naptha (aka mineral spirits or Zippo lighter fluid) used sparingly on a rag also works well. It evaporates completely without leaving a bad smell behind, so it would be my first choice here. Acetone also works, but it would be my last resort if everything else failed.
posted by gimli at 11:35 AM on November 11, 2014

What about the oven's self cleaning cycle? I've never tried that for cleaning candle wax, but it cleans grease and other oven dirt for me. It is a bit smelly, and you have to let the oven run in this mode for quite a while but it gets my oven really clean.
posted by cabbagesnkings at 11:51 AM on November 11, 2014

gimil: Naptha, which is sold as Weiman Wax-Away as well as lighter fluid and white gas, came to mind, but I'd be a little concerned about using it in an oven as it's naturally rather flammable. If you go that route, leave the oven door open and be well and sure it's completely gone before using the oven again.
posted by zachlipton at 11:55 AM on November 11, 2014

Response by poster: In answer to a couple of questions: it's a gas oven with no self-cleaning cycle. The wax dripped through the main part of the oven and down into the broiler beneath. We've taken out the broiler tray/rack and chipped off all visible wax in both the main oven compartment and the broiler compartment. The heating element is between the main oven and the broiler.

I suspect that some of the wax may have dripped directly into the heating element, and I'm worried that turning the oven on (even to low) might cause the whole thing to burst into flames—we've tried it briefly, and we get horrible smelling smoke before we chicken out and turn it off. Should we keep turning it on low to smoke out the rest of the wax, or is this a stupid idea?
posted by rebekah at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2014

Whoa, there. Don't use naptha or acetone on a gas oven with a pilot light, please.
posted by ryanrs at 11:58 AM on November 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Er yes, I was thinking electric. Keep the highly flammable liquids out of the gas oven.
posted by zachlipton at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2014

Well if you're very sure there's no pilot light, then it would be ok. Also acetone is less toxic than naptha, so if you're going to chose one, acetone is safer, health-wise. I don't think either one will damage the inside of your oven.

If it was my oven, I'd do the paper towel thing then use oven cleaner, which is actually pretty good at cleaning ovens.
posted by ryanrs at 12:19 PM on November 11, 2014

Response by poster: Update: we scraped some more, scrubbed some more, then realized we could partially dismantle our oven and take out the metal tray separating the oven and the broiler. Once we got rid of all the wax that had dripped into all of the crevices on it (using elbow grease, hot water, and a scrubber), we were able to reassemble and heat to 450 without any smoke. Fixed!
posted by rebekah at 1:06 PM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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