60-Second Silver: Freeze candleholders to remove wax


Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.


Do you become frustrated when trying to remove wax from your weighted candleholders? Do you go pawing into your flatware drawer to find just the right size knife to dig out the wax? Well, here are some simple, non-invasive techniques.

Non-weighted silver candleholders can be put in your freezer. Upon removing them, use your fingernail — not a knife — to delicately chip off the wax. If residue remains, remove it with silver polish or 91 percent isopropyl alcohol on a cotton ball.

The following procedure can be used for both weighted and non-weighted silver candleholders. Use your hair dryer (but not a heat gun) to warm the candle cup or other area coated with wax. Be careful not to get the object too hot.

There are three reasons for this warning: (1) If the weighting material is pitch, it will melt. (2) If the piece is lacquered, the lacquer will bubble off or burn (or both). (3) You could burn yourself! Lightly touch the area with your fingertip to make sure it is not too hot; then lightly wipe off the wax with a soft paper towel or cotton ball.

When cleaning out a candle cup on a silver candelabrum, support the cup with your hand to prevent bending the arm.

If the opening is too small for your finger, gently stuff the paper towel into the cup and twist it. Cotton swabs also work very well, especially on Hanukkah lamps with very small candle cups. Use as much fresh paper towel or as many cotton swabs as needed; otherwise, you will reapply the wax you are removing. ?



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Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware.

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