DIY Citronella Candles for Outdoors

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Have you tried DIY citronella candles for outdoor natural mosquito repellent? 

DIY citronella candles for outdoors work better than store-bought for natural mosquito repellent. Find out how to make citronella candles the right way.

We are finally starting to feel the warmth of summer. It was 80 degrees here yesterday and you can bet we spent the better half of the day outdoors. A playful game of baseball, refreshing strawberry lemonade, and smores roasted over a bonfire are how we welcome summer around here. 

With school closed and our regular weekly activities at an end, we naturally find ourselves enjoying the woodlands and hillside around our home more often. As the afternoons stretch into the twilight hours the rhythmic hums and chirps of the insect world flood the air – summer has officially arrived.  

It’s a familiar chorus, and one I truly long for during the remarkable quietness of the winter months. Yet, still, these rhythmic hums can be unsettling for many. Because it most certainly implies a notorious creature of the night is back. Like the blood-sucking vampires that haunt the scenes of many summer blockbusters, mosquitoes soar the skies in search of their next victim. 

Luckily, the herbalist in me has learned how to repel mosquitoes naturally, so my family and I can enjoy every gift summer has to offer. And that happens to be DIY citronella candles!

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If you and your family are planning on spending lots of time outdoors this season, make these simple DIY citronella candles to keep your backyard barbecues and outdoor play mosquito-free!

How do citronella candles keep bugs away?

Every herbalist knows, that even the simplest of herb gardens offer plentiful resources beyond the culinary arts. Caring for our skin naturally, supporting wellness, and cleaning our homes – some herbs, in fact, do it all! 

And most of which contain the unique ability to attract and repel insects, including mosquitoes.  

So, how do citronella candles work? Herbs and other plants send off signals to attract insects that benefit the plant, while out-putting signals keep others away. This natural phenomenon is very effective, for the reason that insects rely on smell and taste to locate their next meal. 

And citronella is one plant in particular that repels insects that don’t benefit us either. By using citronella oil in a candle we can take advantage of this phenomenon.

What is citronella oil? Citronella oil is a naturally occurring insect and animal repellent distilled from two grass varieties (Bond, C., Buhl, K., and Stone, D., 2013). Being citronella grass Cymbopogon nardus and its relative Lemongrass Cymbopogon spp. Citronella essential oil is steam distilled from the leafy parts of the plant and is popular for its use in outdoor candles. 

Related To: Floating Mosquito Repellent Candles

How do citronella candles work for flies and mosquitoes? 

In basic terms, citronella oil repels targeted pests rather than killing them. It works by masking scents that attract insects, making it difficult for insects to locate their dinner. (Bond, C., Buhl, K., and Stone, D., 2013). A study shared by Mind Body Green found that candles made with citronella essential oil were able to repel mosquitoes and reduce the number of mosquito bites. I have found they are also helpful against gnats and flies.

What is the difference between lemongrass and citronella?

Other than the fact that lemongrass has green stems and citronella has red to magnet stems,  there aren’t many differences. They are so closely related that they look and smell the same to insects and are equally insect repellent.

So, if you are wondering, will lemongrass keep mosquitoes away? The answer is, “YES”. According to this study, lemongrass oil either killed or completely repelled 95% of mosquitoes.

Related To: Scented Beeswax Candle Basics

What is the best citronella candle?

Citronella candles for outdoor natural mosquito repellent are best when made with real citronella oil and other natural ingredients. Beeswax, for example, is perfect for outdoor candles as it burns much slower than other candle wax types. Beeswax blocks and pastilles are both great for making DIY citronella candles. I recommend adding coconut oil or coconut wax to beeswax candles for a more consistent burn and better scent throw. 

And as a general rule of thumb, the slower a wax burns, the wider the wick you’ll need. I choose wood wicks harvested from sustainable sources for these homemade outdoor candles because I love their crackling sound! 

Here’s how to make citronella candles the right way for outdoor mosquito repellent!

How To Make DIY Citronella Candles Outdoor Mosquito Repellent

Not only are citronella candles effective as an outdoor mosquito repellent, but they also have a rich, crisp lemony aroma thanks to citronella and lemongrass. The candles smell fresh, clean, and happy which is fitting for the summer season!

The key to making homemade citronella candles the right way is using real citronella essential oil. Because a “citronella-scented” candle made with synthetic fragrances, like those commonly marketed in outdoor patio displays in stores, is simply decorative and pleasantly scented. And unfortunately, 100% ineffective. 

How much citronella oil should you add to candles? For effective DIY citronella candles a fragrance load of 8 to 12 percent, depending on your candle wax type is ideal. It’s fair to note, that even store-bought candles that do contain citronella oil, typically have a low percentage of just 5%. 

DIY Citronella Candles Supplies:

2 14-ounce glass candle containers

4 wood wicks

2 wood wick clips

2 wood wick sticker tabs

1.9 pounds of beeswax coco cream 

1 ounce lemongrass essential oil

2 ounces citronella essential oil

4 ounces coconut oil

candle melting pitcher

heat resistant silicone whisk

candle thermometer 

digital kitchen scale

How to Make Citronella Candles for Outdoors: Natural Mosquito Repellent

1. Prep and Place Wicks

If your container includes a rattan wrap, like mine, remove it before you begin and line your work area with wax or parchment paper. Place a wick sticker tab in the center base of each glass container. Measure your containers for the desired wick length and snip at an angle, if you prefer, like mine. 

Then place two wood wicks in each wick clip and adhere it to the wick sticker tab. Repeat for the second candle.

2. Measure and Melt Beeswax

Use a kitchen scale to measure 1.9 pounds of beeswax coco cream or beeswax pastilles with a 10% blend of coconut oil. (You can adapt this candle recipe for any container using our candle wax calculator.)
Next, pour the measured beeswax into a candle melting pitcher. Place the pitcher filled with wax inside a large saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water. Using the double boiler method, heat on medium to low heat with a gentle simmer at most. Stir often with a heat-resistant silicone spatula.

3. Add Essential Oils

Remove the pitcher from the heat after melting. Add 1 ounce of lemongrass essential oil and 2 ounces of citronella essential oil to the melted wax. Thoroughly incorporate by stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

4. Pour Wax Blend 

Before you pour the candle wax into the containers use a heat gun to warm the glass to avoid wax shrinkage. 

After pouring, let each citronella candle cool 30 minutes to 1 hour before trimming wicks. Cut wood wicks to approximately ⅛ an inch above the wax for the best burn rate.  

Where do you place citronella candles to repel insects?

Where do you place citronella candles?

It is best to place citronella candles around the area you will be relaxing, cooking, or dining outdoors to ensure the best coverage. They really work well on porches and outdoor decks! 

You might love the ease of adding DIY citronella tea lights around the pool or outdoor dining table too.

Print The Instructions:

Citronella candles for outdoor natural mosquito repellent are best when made with real citronella oil and other natural ingredients. Here’s how to make a DIY citronella candle the right way!

DIY Citronella Candles

Yield: 2 candles

If you and your family are planning on spending lots of time outdoors this season, make these simple DIY citronella candles to keep your backyard barbecues and outdoor play mosquito-free!

Materials

  • 2 14-ounce glass container
  • 4 wood wicks
  • 2 wood wick clips
  • 2 wood wick sticker tabs
  • 1.9 pounds of beeswax coco cream
  • 1-ounce lemongrass essential oil
  • 2-ounces citronella essential oil

Tools

  • candle melting pitcher
  • heat resistant silicone whisk
  • candle thermometer
  • digital kitchen scale

Instructions

  1. If your container includes a rattan wrap, like mine, remove it before you begin and line your work area with wax or parchment paper. Place a wick sticker tab in the center base of each glass container. Measure your containers for the desired length of width and snip at an angle if you prefer like mine. Then place two wood wicks in each wick clip and adhere it to the wick sticker tab. Repeat for the second candle.
  2. Use a kitchen scale to measure 1.9 pounds of beeswax coco cream or beeswax pastilles with a 10% blend of coconut oil. (You can adapt this candle recipe for any container using our candle wax calculator.)
  3. Next, pour the measured beeswax into a candle melting pitcher. Place the pitcher filled with wax inside a large saucepan filled with about 2 inches of water. Using the double boiler method, heat on medium to low heat with a gentle simmer at most. Stir often with a heat-resistant silicone spatula.
  4. Remove the pitcher from the heat after melting. Add 1 ounce of lemongrass essential oil and 2 ounces of citronella essential oil to the melted wax. Thoroughly incorporate by stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
  5. Before you pour the candle wax into the containers use a heat gun to warm the glass to avoid wax shrinkage. 
  6. After pouring, let each citronella candle cool 30 minutes to 1 hour before trimming wicks. Cut wood wicks to approximately ⅛ an inch above the wax for the best burn rate. 

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If you and your family are planning on spending lots of time outdoors this season, make these simple DIY citronella candles to keep your backyard barbecues and outdoor play mosquito-free! 

Save these instructions on how to make citronella candles to your DIY candle Pinterest board, and while you’re there, be sure to follow Life-n-Reflection for more inspiring ideas. Tag #lifenreflection on Instagram to share your candle making with me. 

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2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ivy Sinkunas

    Hi,
    Thanks so much for this recipe. I really want to try it. Can you tell me when we are to incorporate the dried lavender? It doesn’t say in the recipe and from the photos it seems to only be near the surface of the candle. Ivy

    • Reply

      lifenreflection

      Ivy, I just sprinkled the lavender on the top of the wax after pouring it into the container. Some will settle into the wax, but most will stay on the top.

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