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Citronella Candles: Uses, Ingredients, and How to Make Your Own

With summer being here, the hours of enjoyment on your porch are something that almost every homeowner looks forward to.  But rather quickly those hopes of enjoyment are diminished when the buzzing of mosquitoes fill your ears.  Before you know it, you will find yourself slapping mosquitoes and the next day you will find those itchy bumps appear on your skin.  And then the thought of West Nile Virus comes to mind...

One way to help keep your Summer evenings enjoyable is to put citronella candles out.  Citronella candles will not kill the mosquitoes as some pesticides do, but instead it will repel them away. Citronella candles are not toxic, which means that they are safe around humans, pets, and even the insects.  But while it may not bother humans, the insects will become annoyed by the smell and smoke coming from the citronella candles.  Today I'll be going over what citronella candles are, how to make them, the ingredients found in citronella candles, common questions, and how effective citronella candles are.  I hope this article helps you keep your summer evenings enjoyable.  So let's get started.  

What Are Citronella Candles?

Before we get started on how to make citronella candles, we will first need to go over a major question: "What are citronella candles?"  Well, to answer this question, you would first need to ask what is citronella oil.  Citronella is an essential oil obtained from the leaves and stems of different specifies of Cymbopogon, also known as lemongrass.  Citronella oil is a plant-based insect repellent.  It has been registered for use in the United States since 1948.  The citronella oil has strong anti fungal properties, and it is effective in calming barking dogs.  Citronella oil can also be used on hair and skin to increase sweat (which will remove toxins) and fight dandruff.

It is common for people to wonder:  What is citronella?  Another common question is: How effective is citronella?  While citronella oil can be used for many reasons, including to help with stress, its best feature is that citronella repels mosquitoes.  It is common to see citronella candles out during the summer, as many people want to naturally get rid of insects and mosquitoes in and around their home.

Ingredients Found in Citronella Candles

Citronella candles usually do not contain many ingredients.  Some brands of citronella candles contain ingredients like Paraffin, Hydrogenated palm oil, Hydrogenated soy oil and citronella oil. But if you will be making your own homemade citronella candles, you only need three ingredients:  soy wax, citronella oil, and crayons.

How to Make Your Own

Making citronella candles is very easy to do.  As I stated above, you only need three ingredients.  Before you begin making citronella candles, first gather the ingredients and a bowl, scissors, mason jars, wicks, tape or hot glue, and a double boiler.  Let's get started on learning how to make your own citronella candles. Have fun!

Step 1:

Select mason jars of any shape or size to make your citronella candles from.  Start by anchoring a wick to the bottom of each jar using tape or hot glue.  Once the wicks are in the jars, set the jars in the oven to warm.  By warming up the jars, you will ensure that the wax will cool evenly.  Make sure the oven is on its lowest temperature.

Step 2:

Measure how much wax you will need, and then pour it into a double boiler.  From here, heat the double boiler with the wax in it until the wax melts.  When the wax melts, it should look clear and similar to olive oil.  Next, add the citronella oil into the wax.  Make sure you add three drops for each cup of wax.  Then, add a couple of crayons into the wax so that your citronella candle will be colorful.

Step 3:

Pour the melted wax into the prepared mason jars.  You may want to set a pencil on top of the jars so that the wicks stay in the center.

Step 4:

Once the wax has cooled, trim the wicks so that they are half an inch or an inch from the top of the mason jar.

Step 5:

Light up your citronella candles, and enjoy having a peaceful evening without fighting with the mosquitoes.

Good Places to Buy Citronella Candles

After learning how to make your own DIY citronella candles, you may be wondering where to buy citronella oil for candles, as well as where to buy citronella candles.  There are so many great places to buy citronella candles.  There are some citronella candles and citronella oil that you may want to try that are found on Amazon.

Light In the Dark Votive Citronella Candle

This citronella candle comes in a pack of 72.  Crafted from quality paraffin wax, each candle will burn for 10 hours when placed in a candle holder.  The candle holder is not included.  The candles are 1.5" in diameter x 1.25" in height, and will fit into most standard candle holders, lanterns, mason jars, and other decorative holders.  These citronella candles are made in the USA, and contain a 100% lead free wick.  

Tiki Brand Triple-Wick Galvanized Citronella Candle Bucket

The Tiki Brand Triple-Wick Galvanized Citronella Candle Bucket is $15.34.  This citronella candle is 28 ounces, and will burn up to 32 hours.  It comes in a galvanized bucket, along with a plastic lid to protect the wax and make it easy to store.

Patio Essentials 22495-SPK Citronella Candle

These citronella candles come in a pack of three.  Each candle is 17 ounces, and are made from all natural wax.  You will receive three different colored candles:  red, blue, and green.  When lit, these candles create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  The citronella candles contain 3% citronella, which has been tested to have the highest efficacy rating for deterring mosquitoes. These candles will burn for 40 hours.

Humco 194391001 Citronella Oil

Are you wanting to make your own DIY citronella candle?  Then you will need to purchase the citronella oil.  The Humco 194391001 Citronella Oil is a great buy if you are shopping for citronella oil.  Not only does this citronella oil repel mosquitoes, but it can also be added to shampoo and conditioner to help eliminate excess oil and greasiness of hair.  This citronella oil can also be used to help calm barking dogs, help fight dandruff, increase sweating so that it draws toxins out of the body, and be a stress reducer.

How Effective Are Citronella Candles?

It is debatable whether citronella candles actually work or not.  While citronella candles are well known for their ability to repel mosquitoes, many people have questioned if this is actually true. Although the smoke and scent from the candles will help get rid of mosquitoes, it may not be strong enough to actually prevent mosquitoes from wanting to live in your yard.  It may be helpful to put out a large supply of citronella candles.  The more smoke and scent there is, the more annoyed the mosquitoes will become, and the better the chance is that you will have a peaceful summer.

Common Questions

Now it is time to go over common questions.  Hopefully these questions (and answers!) will help answer any questions that were left unanswered.

Does citronella repel mosquitoes?

Yes.  That is the whole purpose of citronella candles.  While it is questionable to what degree citronella candles work, citronella candles can definitely be helpful.

Why does citronella repel mosquitoes?

You may have wondered how citronella works.  Citronella candles work by masking the scents that mosquitoes are attracted to, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid in humans.  So rather than killing the mosquitoes as many pesticides do, citronella candles repel them away naturally.

Should I try organic citronella candles?

It is not necessary to purchase organic citronella candles.  However, if you like buying organic you will definitely want to buy organic citronella candles.  A good organic citronella candle to try is the Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Organic Natural Mosquito Repellent Candle.

Does citronella repel flies?

Yes.  While citronella candles are made for mosquitoes (and are often called citronella mosquito repellent), citronella candles can also repel flies.

Where do I put my citronella candles?

Are you wondering where to put citronella candles?  Well, the answer is simple: put them in areas where you don't want mosquitoes.  Such places could be around a window or door, on the porch, or even if you are camping you could put it outside of your tent.  Find out if your candles are outdoor citronella candles. Some citronella candles can be put inside, so you should first find out if yours can be used indoors or not before you begin figuring out where to put citronella candles.

Is citronella toxic?

No, citronella is not toxic.  However, be careful when using citronella around your eyes, skin, or mouth.  It may irritate your skin and eyes, and can be harmful to breath in.

What does citronella smell like?

The smell of citronella has been described as grassy or a floral scent.  The best way to describe the smell of citronella is to say that is has a natural smell.

Does citronella attract bugs or repel bugs?

While some people may think citronella attracts bugs, citronella actually does the exact opposite.  Rather than attracting insects, specifically mosquitoes, citronella repels them away.

Do Tiki torches keep bugs away?

Some citronella candles are called Tiki torches.  Because citronella candles and Tiki torches are very similar, the answer to this question is yes, Tiki torches do keep insects away.

Are citronella candles also called mosquito candles?

Yes, citronella candles are often called mosquito candles.  You may often hear citronella candles being called citronella mosquito repellent, bug candles, citronella candles for mosquitoes, and citrus candles.  While these names often replace the name citronella candle, citronella candle is the proper word.

Does citronella kill mosquitoes?

Unlike other pesticides, the citronella candle does not kill mosquitoes.  Instead, it repels them.

Is citronella safe for humans?

Yes, citronella can be safe for humans.  However, it is important that you use citronella properly.  If you will be applying citronella oil onto your skin to repel insects, you may want to apply just a small amount at first in case you are allergic to any of the ingredients.  Also, it is a good idea to read the ingredients beforehand (I've listed common ingredients found in citronella candles earlier in this article).  One thing you must never do is breathe in citronella oil.  Citronella can cause lung damage.  Citronella may also hurt your eyes, throat, and skin if you are around it too much.

Citronella candles vs oil: Which is better?

The answer to this question will depend on how you want to use the citronella.  If you are wanting to light a candle and let the scent of citronella repel insects, then citronella candles are definitely what you want.  But if you are wanting to apply citronella to your skin and perhaps use it for other reasons, such as to reduce stress, you may want to purchase citronella oil.


I hope that this article has helped you understand more about citronella candles. As you can see, citronella candles are a great way to repel mosquitoes naturally. While some people have questioned whether or not citronella candles will repel mosquitoes, it is definitely a great thing to try before you turn to harmful pesticides.  One of the best features of citronella candles is that they are not toxic to humans, pets, or even the mosquitoes.  For all those pet lovers (and insect lovers) out there, you will appreciate how natural and safe citronella candles are. In this article I went over the steps to making citronella candles.  I also went over good citronella candles to buy on amazon.  And lastly, I went over the common questions that many people have asked regarding how citronella candles work. Now, go get started on making your own citronella candles or purchase some. Your evenings of peace with no mosquitoes are at hand.  

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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