weird things we love

The $5 Sticky Wax That Keeps My Candles From Toppling Over

The author applies a thin coating of Stick-Um Adhesive to the bottom of a taper candle before putting it in a candlestick. Photo: John Maher

My boyfriend and I love to eat dinner by candlelight (it’s elegant and flattering!), but the problem is that our taper candles are often a bit too narrow for our candlesticks. For a long time we’d wrap their bases in a strip of paper towel to stabilize them. But when the candle burns to its base, the paper ring can ignite, sparking a comically large flame that, in addition to alarming everyone at the table, fuses wax, candlestick, and paper towel together and makes a mess. These mini fires worried family (my sister got us a tiny fire extinguisher) and friends — including our upstairs neighbors, who showed up at our door last winter with a small container of Fox Run Stick-Um Candle Adhesive.

The stuff is essentially a tiny tin of colorless wax you can mold with your fingers that clings to whatever you spread it on. All you do is put a little bit of the adhesive on the bottom of a candle, and then place it in the holder (for an eight-inch taper, we’ve found thinly coating the whole bottom does the trick). The wax is strong enough to keep the candle upright, but malleable enough that it doesn’t stick to the holder itself (unlike melted candle wax when it dries), so there’s no mess to clean out when it comes time for a new candle — any adhesive left behind can be easily rubbed out, too.

One tin lasted us about a month, or through 35 to 40 candles, but the stuff is worth having around even if you don’t burn them as often as we do. Use it instead of a magnet to put your kid’s art on the fridge. In a pinch, you could use some to patch up a damaged iPhone cord (but because the wax doesn’t fully dry, a more permanent solution may be needed). It’s also great for securing miniature trinkets or smaller collectables to the shelves you display them on.

The only thing we don’t love about the adhesive is that it has a slightly polarizing cherrylike smell. It doesn’t scent candles at all — and it certainly hasn’t stopped us from using it — but I do check every so often to see if there’s an unscented version available. Still, I much prefer the scent of cherry to that of burnt paper towel.

An unscented candle adhesive

This “Tacky Wax” adhesive, which senior editor Anthony Rotunno received from his future mother-in-law, has the same form and function as the Stick-Um wax, but is odorless.

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The $5 Sticky Wax That Keeps My Candles from Toppling Over