Candlelight is the ideal complement to a relaxing night outside until you have a wax spill, that is. The good news is theres no reason to rush to clean it; wiping wet wax will only make it spread. Wait for it to fully dry (or speed up the process by holding a bagged ice cube against it). If the spilled-on surface is hard, such as metal or glass, scrape off the wax using the edge of a credit card. If its fabric, isolate it from the insert or any stuffing and use a dull butter knife to remove the wax. If any residue remains, place a few sheets of paper towel over it and heat with an iron set to low (the warmed wax will transfer onto the paper). Repeat, swapping in fresh paper towels as needed.
The three most popular kinds of candle wax
1 Paraffin: Most common and inexpensive; a by-product of crude oil, so its non-renewable and may release toxins as it burns.
2 Soy: Natural and long-burning; typically less fragrant than alternatives.
3 Beeswax: The original candle wax, its all-natural and has a pleasing honey scent; pricey.
When not in use, candles should be wrapped in tissue paper and stored in a dark, cool spot (for extra protection, place tapers in paper towel rolls). To revive dusty or nicked candles, don old pantyhose like a glove and buff the surface.
Kings of candles
Our top picks for outdoor-friendly candles.
Classic battery-operated pillar that boasts a life-like flame flicker and wont melt in the sun. Plastic-injection-moulded flameless outdoor Pillar candle, 3" x 6", Pottery Barn, $30,
A small poured votive that emits a long-lasting floral scent to enhance the aroma of your own plantings. Candle in shimmer with glass holder, Unstopables, $7.
A robust lidded poured option that will keep bugs at bay for up to 50 hours.
Illume chroma citronella outdoor candle in Fresh Rain with iron tin, Indigo, $25.
Test the water
Contain drips by using a tray or candle holder. To keep the holder clean, pour a little water in before inserting the candle; dripped wax will sit and harden on the waters surface.
Read more in Decorating & Design and Outdoor Living