It’s officially bug season and I’m scrambling to find natural ways to repel all the bugs thriving from the wetness May left behind. The summer months are ahead of us and natural citronella oil is an absolute must. Using completely natural ingredients, let’s venture into the wonderful world of candle making and protect our outdoor space the natural way with DIY citronella candles! Those pesky mosquitoes are no match for these powerful insect repellent candles!
We live in Oklahoma and our state is infamous for allergies and bugs. There are screens on every window because there is no way you could allow a gateway for bugs to join your household. If mosquitos are a problem in your neck of the woods, you’ll want to consider making these DIY citronella candles. Plus, I’ll give you a few more tips on how to stay bug free this summer!
Why Make DIY Citronella Candles?
Making your own DIY citronella candles is a good idea for a few reasons. One, it’s creative and fun. Won’t you get a sense of pride burning homemade candles? Also, they create ambiance. Candle light on the patio, a glass of wine, good music-it’s a vibe that’s for sure! The biggest reason is they provide protection against mosquitos. While they aren’t the most effective bug repellent you could use, they are worth using and provide at least one layer of protection. I like to wear THESE non-toxic bands as well as keep my homemade bug spray close. While practicing all three habits, you should be able to have an enjoyable time outdoors.
Many years ago I wrote a post on a DIY Bug Repellent recipe and also a Bug Bite Balm. I talked about the dangers of conventional bug sprays and stressed that squirting copious amounts of bug repellent over and over is highly toxic. Over the years I have made several new batches of my bug repellent and have already put it to good use but I have always wanted to make my own citronella candles because I LOVE candles and who doesn’t need as much protection as they can get with these dang mosquitos!
You might also like my citronella bug repellent cubes as well! These candle wax melts are simple to make and require no wick!
First, a few things about Citronella Essential Oil…
Citronella oil is a popular and effective natural mosquito repellent. It’s also a fabulous soother for bug bites! It is a potent anti fungal as well as antibacterial and antiseptic.
In a 2011 issue of Tropical Medicine & International Health, an analysis of 11 studies on the capabilities of citronella oil found that the essential oil likely provided up to three hours of protection against mosquitoes.
Citronella oil repels mosquitos by blocking the scent of humans that attracts them.
Second, a few things about beeswax candles…..
Did you know that beeswax actually purifies the air? Beeswax releases NEGATIVE IONS into the air much like diffusing essential oils does. Air pollutants like smoke, dander, pollen, dust and dirt carry a POSITIVE charge. The negative beeswax ions attach to the positive pollutants and basically wrestle them to the ground to where they are inactive!
Burning beeswax candles can be extremely beneficial for those of you suffering from allergies and asthma! If you are burning pure beeswax candles, it only takes a couple hours of burning to help clear the air!
For more detailed step by step (with picture) instructions, refer to my post on how to make beeswax candles.
What You’ll Need for DIY Citronella Candles:
- Glass containers or jars for your candles. THESE glass jars are the perfect size.
- 1/2 cup Coconut Oil (find it HERE)
- 1 lb. Beeswax (find HERE)
- 1 ounce (600 drops) Citronella Essential Oil (find HERE)
- Lead Free Wicks (find HERE)
- clothes pins *or something to keep the wick in place before and after you pour in the wax*
- A medium sized pot
- A glass pyrex bowl with spout (like THIS)
- A cookie sheet
- 1/2 cup Unrefined Coconut Oil
- 1 lb. Beeswax
- 1 ounce (600 drops) Citronella Essential Oil
- Glass containers or jars for your candles.
- Lead Free Wicks
- clothes pins
- A medium sized pot
- A glass pyrex bowl with spout
- A cookie sheet
- Prepare the empty containers by using a hot glue gun to glue the candle wick in the bottom of the jar or glass candle holder and steadying it with a clothes pin.
- Place your prepared glass candle holders in the oven at 170 degrees.
- Create a double boiler by filling a medium sized pot 1/2 way full with water, place a glass pyrex bowl in the water.
- Pour beeswax and coconut oil in a glass bowl and allow to fully melt. Keep your stove top on low-medium heat.
- Remove glass bowl from heat and add 80-100 drops of Citronella to the wax.
- Pour hot wax into glass containers. I was able to make 5 candles from 1 lb. of wax. You can see the sizes from my pictures.
- Steady the wicks and let the wax cool, preferably in a warm (170F) oven. (see why below)
- Trim your wicks. (1/2 inch from the wax)
- Allow to set for 48 hours in order to cure before lighting.
- Buy cheap citronella essential oil. There is no need to go with a quality brand.
- We aren't applying it to our skin and we are using a lot. I used THIS oil.
- If you have a bunch of old candles lying around or even candles that you didn't burn completely, you can melt the wax and use them in this recipe. Beeswax is of course a healthier option but I always love to repurpose items in my home that I no longer use! Skip the coconut oil if you are using already made candles.
- If you prefer to skip the beeswax, you can use soy wax instead. Skip the coconut oil if you do.
Candle Making Tips and Tricks:
- Heat your glass candle containers in the oven on low (170 degrees Fahrenheit) while your beeswax melts on the stove top. This will allow very little “shock” to the beeswax while it’s being poured into the containers which will prevent cracking. I put mine on a cookie sheet for easy removal.
- Once you’ve poured the wax into your candle containers, allow your candles to cool in the oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit with your oven door slightly ajar. This will prevent cracking as well. Be sure to keep on cookie sheet!!
- Cleaning up after beeswax can be an impossible task. I suggest you either use a disposable container to melt your coconut oil and beeswax in, or you can put your glass bowl in the oven, allow the remaining beeswax to completely melt, then wipe it out with a paper towel. It’s the only way I have found to clean up.
- When first lighting your candles, always point the flame at the bottom of the wick so that your candle will burn correctly.
- The first time you burn your candle, be sure you have enough time to let it burn long enough for the wax to melt evenly on the top of the candle. This is important with any candle and helps “train” your candle to not tunnel. (see below for more tips on avoiding tunneling)
- Do not get in a hurry when melting your beeswax. If you melt your wax in too high a temp, you could render the beeswax useless. Keep the stove top on low-medium heat.
- Do not add your essential oils while the heat is still on the wax. If the wax is too hot, the oil will burn up and also be useless.
Related Post: Essential Oil Spider Spray
Extra Helpful Tips to Keep Mosquitos Away:
- As mentioned above, THESE bands are great. They are cheap, comfortable and easy to pass out at parties.
- Plant lemon balm and/or citronella around your patio or were you like to hang out. These plants add an extra layer of protection against annoying bugs. Citronella is a “tender perennial” so if you don’t have a hard winter, it most likely will come back each spring. Lemon Balm is also a perennial and a bit more hardy.
- Drop a few extra drops of essential oil on the surface of your candles before lighting.
- Lemon Eucalyptus oil is another natural oil that works well against mosquitos and can be used in a diffuser outdoors.
- Burn citronella incense while outside.
- Check around your patio space for any standing/stagnant water. You’d be surprised how getting rid of water around your sitting area can make a huge difference.
Trouble Shooting Candle Tunneling
Homemade beeswax candles, while easy to make, are hard to get right. As you can see from my pics, my candles are tunneling (when the wax only burns down the middle of the candle).
I’ve figured out a few tricks to keep your candles from tunneling and address it in detail in my how to make beeswax candles post. I’ll tell you here that it’s imperative that you “train” your candles the first time you light them. This means, you let them burn long enough that the wax melts all the way to the outer edges of the container. Beeswax candles tend to need some help with this so I would suggest you use foil to help. See picture below.
Also, don’t be afraid to use 2 wicks in one container. I’m finding that only votives work with 1 wick. Anything larger needs 2 if not 3 wicks.
Have fun with this fun homemade citronella candle recipe! This year, we need all the help we can get outside!
You might also enjoy my tutorial for making soy candles.
Making your own homemade citronella candles is a great way to salvage those summer nights spent outside. They are easy to make and relatively affordable. I think THESE jars are a great size to make quite a few candles to keep on hand to bring as hostess gifts to barbecues!