View Full Version : OT: FIRE! Clean up help...

Kevin Post
05-05-2003, 8:04 PM
LOML trying to kill us all again this evening. Usually her attempts to murder us involve her cooking. Tonight was no exception... The difference is that she started the kitchen on fire instead of trying to poison us.

She is a candle junkie... She left a candle burning on the stove next to a hot burner. The heat from the burner melted a hole in the side of the candle allowing the hot wax to run out onto the stove top. It ran under the burner into the trays and the space under the range top and caught fire. She called me and I was able to extinguish the fire quickly. There was no damage...

I have her cleaning up the wax since it will melt and could catch fire again if it gets hot enough. Can anyone recommend a solvent or cleaning method that will effectively remove the candle wax residue?


Jim Becker
05-05-2003, 8:18 PM
I'm glad that you are all safe and ok...fires can happen quickly and get out of hand quickly. (As a neighbor learned a little over a year ago)

You might try mineral spirits. It does disolve some waxes...and it may work with the candle wax. Scrape off as much as possible, first, however.

Von Bickley
05-05-2003, 9:01 PM
What some people will do just to get some new kitchen cabinets.

Glad there was no damages...Take care.

Kevin Post
05-05-2003, 9:23 PM
Mineral spirits and steel wool did the trick. After we were done, we scrubbed all the surfaces with hot, soapy water and things are good as new.

I've warned her repeatedly that she's going to burn the house down with those damned candles. Now maybe she'll listen to me... probably not.


Dale Thompson
05-05-2003, 9:41 PM
To remove wax, the best way is to put the object in the freezer. After freezing, the wax is very easy to peel off. For larger surfaces, a simple paper grocery bag, with the heat of a hair dryer, will absorb a lot of wax.

Dale T.

Glen Smith
05-05-2003, 10:44 PM
Lamp oil is less volaitle and stinks less than mineral spirits and some of the other solvents. Getting it good and cold will really help chip off the worst of it though. An electronics supply house may have a can of freeze spray, otherwise a good ice pack and a metal spatula.

:( Is there any tactful way that you can teach her how to use the fire extinguisher / box of baking soda / wet towel to put out the next fire (God forbid!) rather than calling you?

Good luck

Don't rub her face in it, maybe next time you mess up maybe she will return the favor! :D

Bill Pentz
05-06-2003, 2:01 AM
Another excellent solvent for most waxes is denatured alcohol. My wife bought an off-white couch that some of our guests rubbed their shoes on the lower edge leaving a little brown and black shoe polish. The denatured alcohol (wear gloves and plenty of ventillation), made it totally vanish.


Jason Roehl
05-06-2003, 8:00 AM
An iron and a towel. Put the towel over the wax, then heat it with the iron. As the wax melts, the towel will wick it up. Works well on carpets, also.

Kevin Post
05-06-2003, 9:19 AM
Originally posted by Glen Smith
:( Is there any tactful way that you can teach her how to use the fire extinguisher / box of baking soda / wet towel to put out the next fire (God forbid!) rather than calling you?

Don't rub her face in it, maybe next time you mess up maybe she will return the favor! :D

I was just in the next room. The smoke alarm had not even gone off yet when she called for me. The fire was not big at all. The melted wax was actually burning in the space under the burner inserts and was contained. Fire was coming out of three of the burner holes about 3 inches. I covered the burner openings with pot lids to contain it but it didn't go out. I was able to quickly determine the fuel source (hot candle wax) and poured water into the burner to put it out. Had this been a grease fire, I would have used the fire extinguisher which she was already holding.

I had been harping on her about placing buring candles in places they don't belong. I think maybe she'll listen this time. I made her clean up the mess.

The majority of the melted wax was suspended in the water so all she had to do was pick it up. What remained was a thin film of sooty, oily, partially burned wax on the underside of the stove top and a film where the wax had puddled before the fire started. If the residue were allowed to remain, it would smoke everytime the stove was used and could have possibly re-ignited. Because of the irregular surfaces, a solvent was required.

I was intrigued by Dale's suggestion however:

Originally posted by Dale Thompson
To remove wax, the best way is to put the object in the freezer. After freezing, the wax is very easy to peel off.
I'm not sure that I could get the stove into the freezer even if I took it apart. :D

Thanks for your suggestions,


Malcolm Timbers
05-06-2003, 9:55 PM
By the way, is you wife from Vietnam?

I heard that some of those Viet Cong women have a habit of setting booby traps and dishing out poison by habit. She really doesn't mean any harm, it is just the way they were brought up.:D

Dale Thompson
05-06-2003, 10:12 PM
You guys must have one of those REAL stoves. Up here in the woods, we never seen nothin' bigger than a camp stove.

For your situation, the towel/grocery bag thing using an iron should work great. Good idea to remove the wax. Wax can self-ignite at less than 250 deg.--water boils at 212 deg..

Incidentally, be careful with the kitchen fire extinguisher thing. I know it's impossible to believe, but I was once the VP of R&D for a major manufacturer of fire suppression products. We did the "whole nine yards". I NEVER had a fully charged extinguisher in my kitchen at home. The pressure in the unit is about 200 psi and, if used improperly as is generally the case, it can blow the fire all over the kitchen, especially with a grease fire. You also have to make sure that the agent in the unit is the right one. I had the advantage of being able to get extinguishers with a pressure of about 30 psi.. For most folks, however, that is impossible because of UL listings.

Your second best solution for a grease or small oven fire is a box of baking soda-previously opened. The BEST solution for a stovetop fire is a lid which fits the pan. No oxygen--no fire!

Lastly, if a fire is larger than you think you can extinguish with either of the above-don't hesitate!! Get people and pets OUT!! Call 911 and ONLY THEN try to extinguish the fire. Make sure that the fire can't get between you and the closest escape route!

Sorry for the rant!! I've seen too much to take this lightly. :(

Dale T.

Kevin Post
05-06-2003, 11:58 PM
Originally posted by Dale Thompson
Sorry for the rant!! I've seen too much to take this lightly. :(
Me too... I served as a volunteer fire fighter and an EMT. I've seen a lot and that's part of the reason I decided to stop. Everyone has their limit...

You do make an important point for anyone reading this. This fire was small but had the potential to get very big, very quickly. I knew what I was doing and had the fire under control and completely extinguished in only seconds.

For persons who are not trained and have a fire that is out of control, use good judgement and know when to get out. Your life is worth more than anything you're attempting to save. (If you've won the lottery recently and I'm in your will, go ahead, be a hero. I'll hang your picture in my shop with a plaque or something.) Do not call 911 from your house. Get out first and call from outside using a cordless phone or from a neighbor's house. Depending on the material that's burning, toxic gases may be present and you can be overcome almost instantly. I witnessed this first hand when responding to a fire. A lady called 911 because she had set her couch on fire with a cigarette. She called from a phone 3 feet from the back door of her home. Unfortunately, that's where we found her when we arrived. She was dead, still holding the phone.

Grease/cooking oil is VERY nasty when it overheats. When we deep-fry our cheese curds and fish over here on the west coast, we have to be real careful. My brother was being careless while cooking with an outdoor fryer and left it unattended. I scolded him but he insisted that the oil wouldn't catch fire. Later that evening, I demonstrated by pouring a cup of oil on the campfire. It went up like that kerosene you weirdos on the east coast use when you boil fish. :rolleyes: (Why the heck would anyone want to boil fish?)

Lee Schierer
05-07-2003, 11:49 AM
I recently burned a brush pile in the back yard. I pulled the hose out to make sure the dead grass and weeds didn't burn. I started the fire and it got pretty hot pretty fast. Sure enough the grass immediately around the pile started to burn and I was squirting it with the hose. When I moved to see how the other side of the pile was doing I noticed a spot about 20 feet further back in the field burning. I tried to reach it with water from the hose, but was about 3 feet short. The spot was only 3 feet in diameter. I grabbed the shovel I had and started beating out the fire. I got half the circle out only to find that the other half had grown to 6 foot diameter. I started working on it and pretty soon it was 9-10 feet long and still growing.

Since I was home alone and losing ground fast, I ran to the house and called 911. A neighbor who is also a fireman heard the call on his scanner and came over to help. I grabbed a couple of buckets on the way back to the fire. Between the two of us we had the fire out by the time the fire brigade arrived. We all had a good laugh and I thanked them for coming. The only damage was to my ego and a burned area of the field about 50 feet square.

Dale Thompson
05-07-2003, 11:03 PM
I don't even eat fish! I think that you are referring to those "fish boils" over in Door county. When they find rich folks from the "West Coast" and other wealthy parts of the country, they drool all over themselves. When they can get $25 for $.35 cents worth of fish, a small potato, seventeen peas and a sliver of pie, they take short cuts. As I understand it, the pot is supposed to boil over due to the fish oil. However, that takes TIME! As a result, they use kerosene to accelerate the process, impress the crowd and increase the profits.

On the Western side of Green Bay, we are lucky to find road kill that is not green and "moving". Fortunately, I have a pair of eagles who have nested and reproduced about 100' North of my dock on the Peshtigo River. I follow them on my crutches to get to the "freshest" meat. If my scrapbox is full enough (it usually is), we can have a "roadbecue". Yum! Yum! :) :)

As my Grandfather used to say,"Being POOR is not a SIN--but it is certainly inconvenient sometimes."
:( :(

Dale T. :eek: