One of my most popular entries is a short and sweet one on getting sticky labels off jars using one secret ingredient (it’s cooking oil). Consider this the 2.0 of that entry.


While cooking oil works wonderfully, it is liquid, and that’s a problem when it comes to trying to apply it to something that is slippery, round, and tall. I was ending up with little puddles of oil on my counter and sink, and the labels just weren’t getting soaked enough to come off. So, I devised this goo. Partly by accident, to be sure, but it’s still awesome.


Back when I did all the experiments for my beeswax to oil ratios entry, I ended up melting down all the experiments into one dish of relatively firm beeswax/oil concoction. I didn’t have any plans for it, so it ended up just sitting in my kitchen, and one day whilst I was determinedly trying to de-label a large collection of empty essential oil bottles, it caught my eye. I slathered it on the bottles, and it was much more efficient than liquid oil.


From there it was just a matter of a few small improvements. First, I added in a bit more liquid oil to get a more useable paste. Then I added in some d-Limonene (citrus terpenes) to boost the solvent power, and some baking soda (USA / Canada) to give the goo a bit of grit for the scrubbing phase.


The resulting goo is soft and pliable, slightly lemon scented, and easily adheres to bottles. Let it soak for an hour or two (overnight is very convenient) and you’ll come back to find the adhesive has mostly dissolved. From there you can generally peel off the label relatively easily, and then use a good amount of soap and scrubbing to clean off the remaining oil and adhesive.


One use of it allowed me to peel off an entire label that had previously just shredded and split on me, leaving streaks of white paper and stubborn sticky leftovers. More stubborn labels may require two application/scrubbing cycles.

Magical Sticky Label Removal Goo

5g beeswax (USA / Canada)
25g inexpensive cooking oil—I used olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
5g d-Limonene
1 tbsp baking soda (USA / Canada)

Melt the beeswax and cooking oil together in a double-boiler.

Remove from heat and stir in the d-Limonene and baking soda (USA / Canada). Let cool, stirring as needed to blend in the baking soda (USA / Canada) as the mixture thickens up.

To use, coat stubborn labels in the mixture and let soak overnight. Scrape/peel off the label and use soap and hot water to remove the remaining goo.