See how to make DIY citronella candles with essential oils! These non-toxic outdoor candles are a natural insect repellent and ward off mosquitoes and other insects. The homemade citronella candle recipe ensures that you can enjoy summer evenings on the patio safe from pesky bug bites! The 20-minute soy candle making tutorial includes tips for how to make homemade mosquito repellent candles and printable candle labels for gifting.
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DIY citronella candles for mosquitos, flies and other bugs
In this quick tutorial, we show how to make DIY citronella candles at home. Citronella candles are a patio stable in the summer. They not only shine a lovely light when the day turns to dusk, but citronella oil fights off mosquitos and bugs. You are going to love them!
And for gift-giving, decorate your DIY citronella candle mason jars with our printable candle labels that you can download at the end of the post.
DIY citronella candle benefits
What does a citronella candle do? Citronella candles are some of the best candles to keep bugs away. They emit a fresh, citrusy aroma, while also keeping mosquitos at bay. Simply light the wick and the resulting citronella scent will drive away mosquitoes and other insects.
Another benefit of using a citronella outdoor candle is that you don’t have to apply – and later wash off – any product to your skin to protect yourself from insect bites.
Making citronella candles at home also allows you to avoid the potentially harmful chemicals found in many commercial insect repellents, such a DEET.
Do citronella candles really work?
Do citronella candles really keep mosquitos away? Yes, they do, and there’s a reason for the citronella candle effectiveness! Citronella essential oil is highly effective to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs. The oil contains high contents of geraniol, citronellal, and citronellol.
These aromatic compounds smell pleasant to us, but insects can’t stand them and will stay away – perfect to make outdoor candles for bugs!
Citronella oil has a citrus-like scent and is made by steam-distilling the leaves and stems of lemongrass plants. The EPA considers citronella as a non-toxic, natural insect repellent. Added bonus? Citronella also supports respiratory health and furthers relaxation. (source)
Of course, to make homemade citronella candles that work, you need to use a high-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oil. Cheap citronella candles don’t deter mosquitoes because they are made with synthetic fragrances, bare of any natural insect-repellent properties.
And what bugs do citronella candles repel?
Citronella repels many airborne bugs, such as mosquitoes, gnats, flies, moths, and even ticks.
DIY citronella candle making supplies
What are citronella candles made of? In addition to citronella oil, you also need the following candle making supplies:
- soy wax – Soy wax is the best wax for essential oil candles. I used Golden Brands 464 soy wax to create this citronella candle recipe. This soy wax burns cleanly, has a high fragrance load and will produce great looking candles.
- wicks – These tabbed 6 in / 15 cm pre-waxed candle wicks work well with soy wax and are suitable for containers with a diameter of 2.3 in to 2.8 in / 6 cm to 7 cm.
- glue dots – These heat-resistant glue dots will keep the wick in place. Alternatively, use a hot glue gun to apply the wicks.
- wick centering device – Wick centering devices will keep the candle wick in the centre of the candle holder. Alternatively, wrap the wick around a skewer.
- safe candle containers – Ideally, use a heatproof 8-oz vessel with a 2.3 in to 2.8 in / 6 cm to 7 cm diameter. We poured our soy candles into pretty concrete containers, but 8-oz quilted crystal mason jars or these 8-oz glass jars are also great options.
- wax melting pot – A wax melting pot is ideal for melting and pouring wax for candles and wax melts. A double boiler can be used as well to melt the wax on the stovetop.
How to make citronella candles
These DIY citronella candles take just 20 minutes to make! Let us show you how to make a mosquito repellent candle at home:
Prep the candle container
- Shorten the wick, so it’s a little longer than the container of your choice.
- Using a glue dot or hot glue, affix firmly at the bottom of the container.
Set up a double boiler
- Set up a double boiler by placing a heatproof metal or glass bowl on top of a pot filled 1/3 with water and ensure the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl.
Melt the wax
- Add the soy wax to the bowl and bring the water to a mild boil. Be mindful of hot steam rising from the pot at the side of the bowl.
- Heat and stir until the wax has fully melted and no solids remain in the bowl.
Add citronella essential oil
- Take out of the water bath and let cool to 120°F / 49°C, for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the citronella essential oil and stir slowly to combine.
Pour the candles
- Carefully fill each container 0.4 in/ 1 cm below the rim. Be careful to keep the wicks centred.
- Let the candles cure at room temperature. The wax will turn from clear to white. Allowing the wax to cool slowly will create the best-looking result and helps to avoid cracks.
- If an indentation forms around the wick, re-melt leftover wax and fill up the dent.
Cure the DIY candles
- Allow the candles to cure for at least 48 hours before burning.
- When burning the candle for the first time, let the entire surface of the candle melt to the edges of the container before blowing the candle out, so the candle will burn evenly every time.
More bug repellent essential oil combinations for candles
Citronella essential oil can be combined with other oils to create homemade candle scent recipes that are even more effective at deterring flying pests. Other insect repellent essential oils are geranium, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, cedarwood, and many citrus oils.
Here are a few bug repellent essential oil blends that you can try in this soap making project:
- balsamic*: 50 drops citronella + 30 drops lemon eucalyptus + 20 drops peppermint
- citrusy: 60 drops citronella + 25 drops sweet orange + 25 drops lemongrass
- calming: 40 drops citronella + 30 drops lavender + 10 drops clove bud
- woodsy: 45 drops citronella + 30 drops cedar wood + 15 drops rosemary
*We found that a combination of citronella and lemon eucalyptus is the most effective blend against mosquitos.
Candle safety tips
This citronella candle recipe is one of the natural ways to repel insects and provide relaxation. To stay safe when burning candles, please use common sense when lighting candles and follow these candle safety tips:
- Never leave a burning mosquito repellent candle unattended.
- Keep burning citronella candles out of reach of kids and pets.
- Burn candles on a heat-resistant surface and away from things that could catch fire.
- Don’t move burning candles. The container can be hot.
- Extinguish candles before you go inside or leave the room.
How do you store essential oil candles
Store your non-toxic citronella candles away from heat and direct sunlight. A dark cupboard is a good place to keep your DIY soy candle. Leave a lid on so the essential oil doesn’t evaporate too much.
Shelf life of DIY citronella candles
Do citronella candles go bad? Fresh soy wax usually has a shelf life of 2 years, but might be longer or shorter depending on the brand of wax. Although citronella oil is strong and has a wonderful hot and cold scent throw, the fragrance may lessen over time.
More soy candle making recipes
Want to learn more about how to make soy candles with essential oils? Have a look at my other free candle making instructions and DIY home fragrance ideas:
- DIY eucalyptus candle
- pumpkin spice candle
- scented wax sachets
- wax brittle
- essential oil wax melts
- fall wax melts
- vanilla rose reed diffuser
Printable Candle Label
Tab or click the button below to download your free printable citronella candle label!
This homemade citronella candle recipe was originally published in 2017, and was republished in May 2020 to add better photos, useful tips and answer common questions. In case you’re curious, the original photos looked like this:
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