This simple and inexpensive DIY citronella candle makes a great way to keep bugs away and is very inexpensive to make. Learn how to make citronella candles in this great summer craft! Summertime is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors!
What ingredients are in citronella candles?
- Candle Jar
- Soy Wax
- Cotton Wick
- Citronella Fragrance or Essential oils
All candles require testing. I have included affiliate links to help you in your candle-making journey. We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post via affiliate links to products or services associated with content in this article.
What do I need to make your own citronella candles?
Homemade citronella candles are easy and you can use items from around the house. Candle-making supplies can be found online here. I use mason jars from the local grocery stores because they are cheap. I also save cans because I make many citronella candles for my patio.
You will need a double boiler, at least 2 ounces of citronella fragrance oil per pound of candle wax (soy). I use GB 464, “triple” scented. You will also need a pitcher to pour the wax. Keep in mind that in an outdoor space, it will require a heavily scented candle to be effective.
- double boiler
- pouring pitcher
- scale (or measuring tools)
- hot glue or wick stickers
- long spoon
- paper towels
- wick centering tool
How to make citronella candles
- Step 1: Measure the ratio of soy wax.
- Step 2: Melt the wax to 185 F.
- Step 3: Cool wax to 155 F, add citronella oil and stir.
- Step 4. Cool to 135 F and pour into wicked candle jar.
- Step 5: Place wick bar on top to center wick.
- Step 6: Let candle sit for 48 hours min to cure, remove the bar to burn.
I like to use half-pint mason jars for homemade citronella candles. Smaller candles allow me to spread the candles around my patio and cover a larger area, more effectively. The 15-ounce vegetable cans we recycle can be saved for candles too and are free! Some have a liner that needs to be removed first.
I would stay away from terracotta pots. They often leak or seep when the candle wax melts. They don’t always handle the heat and sometimes crack leaving you with a big mess or worse a fire hazard. Make sure you are using a candle safe container when you make your own citronella candle.
Measuring the candle wax
You will need to calculate how much wax you need for the containers of your choice. I have some candle-making articles to help you figure that out. Candle making is done by weighing but homemade citronella candles can be measured with basic measuring cups.
I use 1.5 to 2 ounces of citronella oil to 1 pound of wax. That is a 10% to 12% fragrance load for soy wax.
If you are going to make many candles or make them often, buy a cheap scale. Soy wax is pretty forgiving. 2 ounces of citronella oil is about 1/4 cup with a kitchen measuring cup. A pound of wax is about 2 cups of melted wax or liquid wax with a kitchen measuring cup.
If you are making a citronella candle with beeswax, the fragrance load would be half or 3/4 to 1 ounce of citronella oil to 1 pound of wax.
Melt the candle wax
Place the candle wax in a pouring pitcher and place it in a double boiler with enough water to cover at least a couple of inches of the bottom pitcher. Place the double boiler on medium heat and bring to a low boil.
Let the wax melt until clear and the temperature reaches 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not over-boil and let the water run out or spill over into the wax. Remove from the heat, cool to 155 F, and add the citronella oil. Set aside to cool.
Prepare your mason jar or glass jars
For half-pint mason jars, I use HTP-105 cotton wicks 6 inches long that are pre-tabbed. Place a wick sticker or a dot of hot glue on the bottom of the wick tab and press firmly to the bottom of the mason jar. Set aside.
Pouring your homemade citronella candle
Carefully pour the wax into the mason jars leaving about 1/2″ room from the top. Place a centering tool (I use popsicle sticks) to help the wick stand upright in the center. Let the wax sit undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
Remove the wick centering tool and trim the wick to about 1/4″. Let the candle sit for another 48 hours to cure before burning. While it is curing, decorate the container. (or label)
How to make citronella candles for your outdoor space
If you’re like me, it’s not enough to just make citronella candles. Candle making goes beyond the citronella candles. They can be poured into recycled cans, mason jars, or Dollar Tree glass jars.
I like to make DIY citronella candles in 4-ounce mason jars so that I can put them in decorative containers and switch them out when the candle is used up. Citronella candles can be made to match your decor.
Can citronella candles stay outside?
Yes. A good outdoor candle will come with a lid. Keep them covered out of the rain and in the shade. Store them in a cool place like a shed or garage if possible when not using them.
Here are some homemade citronella candles
Do citronella candles really work?
There is much debate about how citronella candles can help repel mosquitoes. In recent times, some articles have cited studies claiming citronella candles aren’t effective. The results are surprisingly inconclusive. Some studies suggest avoiding using citronella candles to protect against the spread of Zika or Malaria. If you go to a place that has high levels of or is high-risk, don’t trust citronella candles to provide protection for you.
Use a combination of protection. A citronella candle and bug repellent may be needed. Using candles can help reduce the number of pests in your area but you will still need to apply a safe bug spray.
It is also a good idea to spread them out at different levels near the ground and on tabletops. They can also be used paired with citronella oils used in tiki torches or other strategies. Homemade citronella can be used in oil lamps effectively and make a great idea to keep bugs away.
DIY citronella candle benefits
How do citronella candles work? Those citronella candles can keep bugs away. These emit an intense citrus flavor and help repel insects. The scent of citronella will repel mosquitoes and other insects with simple lighting.
Another benefit of using citronella outdoor candles is that they won’t cause any harm to your body. Using citronella candles helps to reduce the toxic ingredients in some commercial insect repellents such as DEET and other insect repellents.
Other scents for citronella candles
Truth be told, I do not like citronella fragrance very much but it can be combined with great ease. I’m going to keep it simple. The most effective candles still contain mainly citronella and you can use another scent. I have tried adding additional fragrances to my latest batch of candles so I can make the scent more enjoyable and more pleasant. These include lavender, peony, jasmine, eucalyptus, and sage.
How do you make lemongrass citronella candles?
Lemongrass is another good substitute or companion for citronella oil. DIY citronella candles give you the ability to choose what goes into your citronella candle. I like to mix lemongrass essential oil with citronella essential oil at a 1:1 ratio. These are some of my favorite homemade citronella candles.
My top favorite DIY citronella candles
- lemon and eucalyptus
- citronella and sage
- citronella and lemongrass
More bug repellent essential oil combinations for candles
These essential oils are combined in many ways to create citronella candle scent recipes that deter flying pests. Other insect repellent oils include rosemary, geranium, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass, cedarwood, and other citrus oils. Here are some essential oils to use as bug repellent to make soap for your home.
Shelf life of DIY citronella candles
How is lemon oil affected? Soy wax generally has a shelf life of between two and five years but can vary according to the wax. Though citronella oils are very strong and have an amazing warm and cold flavor, the aroma will decrease over time. Store in a cool place with a sealed container.
What is the best wax to make citronella candles?
DIY citronella candles are best made with soy wax. The recipe for citronella candle is made with golden brand 464 soy wax. Soy wax burns clean, carries a strong fragrance, and makes excellent candle-making materials. GB 464 soy wax will hold the most amount of citronella fragrance oil load- up to 12%.
How much citronella essential oil do you put in a candle?
When using citronella essential oils, add about 40 drops of citronella per 8-ounce candle.
How to make citronella candles last longer?
Adding about 30% beeswax to the soy wax mixture will help citronella candles burn longer. Also adding a pinch of salt has been told to be a trick.
What is a substitute for citronella?
Natural repellency solutions products with lemon or eucalyptus oils can be as effective as citronella.
How do you make citronella oil at home?
- Combine olive oil with nard grass and lemongrass leaves.
- Cook the mixture of oils for 4 hours or 8 hours.
- Make a cheese towel to filter.
- Put oil in the container.
Homemade citronella can be an alternative for candles and oil lamps. This is a great project that you can customize your fragrances. Many herbs can be infused with oil. I have an article on natural candle making.
An essential oil can be added to oil for patio lamps to create combinations that smell better than just fuel!
Are citronella candles safe for dogs?
Yes. Keep out of reach because dogs are curious. As with any candle, do not leave them unattended while burning.
Can you make citronella pillar candles?
Yes. For citronella pillar candles you will need to use paraffin wax or a parasoy (wax blend). The fragrance load is about 5% and you will need candle molds instead of mason jars. Read my article on making pillar candles. These are a frugal alternative because you can save on the cost of containers.
Can you make your own citronella votive candles?
Yes. Invest in votive molds with wick pins. This can be fun to switch out your votive holders and they make great additions to table settings at parties.
Can you make citronella tea lights?
Yes. There are many uses for tealights. Most tealights burn up to 2 hours and these are great for events where many candles are needed. Tealight candles made in a mold instead of containers can also be made to float for added party appeal while you are fighting off bugs.
Are citronella candles safe to use indoors?
Yes. Citronella is a fragrance that just so happens bugs don’t like. If you like the fresh citrus scent it’s for you. Nothing will happen if you burn a citronella candle indoors. They may be strongly scented because most people use them outside so use smaller candles or in a larger area.
Sometimes commercial citronella candles are “over wicked”, which means the wicks are oversized so that when they burn they produce more smoke. This may result in lower air quality indoors.
How to make citronella candles that are large or extra large
Larger DIY citronella candles can be made in small craft buckets. Check the bucket first to make sure it is sealed. Fill with water and check for leaks. You may have to run a bead of high-heat silicone along the seam 24 hours prior to candle making.
Place 2-3 cotton wicks equally apart and secure to the bottom, Carefully pour the wax into the bucket just as we did in this article above.
You can also use a wider heat-safe bowl to make a 3 wick of 4 wick DIY citronella candle.
What other bugs does citronella repel?
Citronella candles help repel flies and gnats as well as mosquitoes. I like to add eucalyptus to add to the effectiveness.