One of the best parts of summertime, in my humble opinion, is spending evenings outdoors with friends or family. When the sun starts to sink below the horizon and there’s a little bit of a breeze, it can be heaven on Earth! Unfortunately, there’s also another creature who loves a good summer evening – mosquitoes. Nothing can ruin a great gathering faster than a swarm of mosquitoes hanging around!
Luckily for us, there’s a safe and natural substance that will keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay: citronella oil! Citronella essential oil is collected from the leaves and stems of the lemongrass plant, and several studies have demonstrated its effectiveness at repelling mosquitoes. The oil can be applied to your skin, but needs to be continuously re-applied to remain effective. That brings us to our current project, which is making a citronella oil candle! These candles will provide you with hours of mosquito-free outdoor enjoyment, and they’re so simple to make!
Homemade Citronella Candles
- Containers of some sort (small jars are great for this)
- Wicks and wick clips (widely available at craft stores)
- Wax (I used soy wax and beeswax, which I’ll discuss later)
- Citronella essential oil
Disclaimer: I am in no way a candle-making professional, so these are not instructions on how to make a perfect candle. This is Candle-making 101, and there are many fine websites you can visit for more advanced information. :-)
First, you’ll need to secure your wick to the bottom of your container using a wick clip and some glue. I used hot glue, which worked great. However, the little wick clips do get hot very quickly once the glue is on them, so don’t burn yourself!
If your wick is unwaxed, you’ll need to secure it to something so that it stands up straight. As easy way to do this is to wrap the end around a pencil and rest the pencil across the opening of the jar. I used waxed wicks that stood up straight on their own, which made things very easy.
Next, use a double boiler (you can make one by placing a bowl over a pan of simmering water like I did) to melt your wax. Once it was melted, I transferred it to a glass pitcher to make the pouring process easier, but you don’t have to.
Let the wax cool for about a minute or so, and then add the citronella oil. A good EO to candle wax ratio is about 75 drops per pound of wax, which is what I used.
Give it a good stir to incorporate, then carefully pour the wax into your containers and let them solidify for several hours.
Once they’ve solidified, just trim the wick to ¼” inch above the wax, and it’s ready to use! Super simple!
I repeated this process using beeswax, and I wanted to give some guidance to those who may wish to try it. Beeswax is much more temperamental than soy wax, I discovered. You’ll do yourself a huge favor by preheating all your necessary containers in your oven at about 180 degrees. I did not preheat the pitcher, and when I poured the melted beeswax in, about a third of it immediately solidified on the sides of the pitcher. :-/ I did eventually get it all scraped out and remelted, but I could have avoided that headache by preheating!
On the bright side….the beeswax candle smells amazing, so it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Burning a couple of these candles around your outdoor festivities keeps the mosquitoes away, provides a lovely ambiance, and smells wonderful!