Q: A citronella candle melted onto my stone patio. How can I remove it?
— Phyllis Krabill, Wadsworth
A: Harden the wax by setting a plastic bag filled with ice and water on it, and then scrape off as much as you can. Then use acetone or mineral spirits to remove the rest of the wax, the National Training Center for Stone and Masonry Trades recommends.
If a stain remains, you can remove it with a poultice, which is a combination of a cleaner and an absorbent material that draws the stain from the stone as it dries. Be sure to use the right cleaner and test the poultice first in an inconspicuous spot, because the wrong chemical could cause the stain to change color or make it permanent.
For wax, the center recommends making a poultice of mineral spirits and a material such as flour, sawdust, paper towels or diatomaceous earth. Create a mixture about the consistency of peanut butter.
Spread a layer about one-quarter inch thick on the stain. Cover the poultice with plastic wrap held in place with blue painter’s tape, poke several small holes in the plastic to let air circulate, and leave it in place for 24 hours. Don’t use a stickier tape, because it may leave a residue on the stone.
When the poultice is dry, remove the plastic, scrape away the poultice and rinse with distilled water.
You may have to repeat the process if the stain remains.
This Old House has instructions for making and using a poultice, accompanied by photos, at http://tinyurl.com/tohpoultice. The Marble Institute of America also has good information at www.marble-institute.com/consumers/stains.cfm.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.