How to make your own citronella candles to deter insects

How to make your own citronella candles to deter insects

Citronella is made from the leaves of a tropical Asian grass which is closely related to lemon grass. Citronella has been used over the centuries for a wide variety of uses ranging from being brewed as a tea to reduce fevers to a remedy for the common cold. It has even been proven useful as an anti-depressant. One of the most popular uses today is that of an insect repellant.

Due to its low toxicity, citronella has proven to be safe in the environment. The fragrance of citronella is similar to the citrus scent of lemon. The smoke created from a citronella candle is a great repellent for insects by deterring them without killing them.

A citronella candle can be created at home with just a few simple directions. Because most citronella candles are burned outside, a flower pot or an old coffee can will make great containers and can be an easy way to recycle them. If using a flowerpot, be sure and tape off the drain hole in the bottom of the pot. To decorate your recycled container you may want to paint the outside with tempera paints. Tempra paints are simple to use and completely water-soluble which makes cleanup a breeze. Paint the container and let it dry completely before you begin.

Supplies to make one citronella candle

Non-flammable container such as an empty coffee can
Paraffin wax – (you can buy new wax but old candle pieces or scrap pieces of wax work fine for this project)

6 square braid wick cut approximately 4″ longer than the depth of the container

Square wick tab (a metal washer about the size of a nickel will provide a great wick tab)
Citronella scented oil
Yellow candle colorant, optional
Double boiler

Break the wax into small cubes. A hammer and chisel may help with this process. If using old candle pieces, remove any wicking that may be attached to the wax. Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, about halfway up the side, and bring the water to a boil. Melt the wax cubes at the top of the double boiler. Dip the square braid wick into the melted wax to coat allowing it time to release all its air bubbles. Remove the wick from the melted wax, pull the wick taught and let it dry.

Crimp the prepared wick into the #6 square wick tab or attach it to a metal washer to provide weight to the bottom of the wick. Suspend the wick into the container by attaching it to a pencil or a piece of wire laid across the top of your container. Add one ounce of citronella oil for each pound of wax melted. A cube or two of yellow candle colorants can be added at this stage if you desire a more traditional look to your finished product.

Carefully pour the melted wax into your container stopping about ½” from the top. Allow the wax to cool completely. After the wax has cooled, reheat any unused portion of the melted wax to fill the shrink void created and bring the level of the candle up to the top of the container. Cut the wick to 1/4″ before burning.