Citronella candles are a great way to keep bugs and pests away while you are enjoying time outdoors. Citronella is made from Cymbopogon nardus, or simply citronella grass. It is also referred to as fever grass because it was used in the past in Africa and other countries to reduce fever by putting it into tea. Other uses for this plant include relieving digestive and menstrual ailments, migraines, fatigue and fighting the common cold or flu. It is also said that using natural oil can work as an antidepressant. It has very low toxicity and is not harmful to animals or the environment. When used outside, the candles repel insects away from the area, but it doesn’t harm them.
To get started you’ll need:
Length of cotton sash cord with nylon core
Citronella cubes or oil
Wire or trash ties
Flowerpot or another container
Hammer and chisel
First use the hammer and chisel to break the candle wax into little chunks. (This candle wax can be any scraps you have lying around the house, like the bottoms of old candles.) Melt them in a double boiler. Then dip the sash cord into the melted wax until it starts releasing bubbles. This means that the cord has absorbed enough wax. Lay the cord on a piece of wax paper and let it dry for about 30 seconds. Then cut the cord about 4 inches longer than the container that you’re using and thread it into the wick holder. Using a sash cord instead of a wick is good because it burns with a large, smoky flame that will not extinguish in strong winds. If you cannot find a sash cord, just use an oversized wick.
Make sure the container that you use is spill-proof. If you’re using a container such as a terra cotta pot, use the cork to plug the hole in the bottom of the container. Now press a piece of blue tack into the bottom center of your container and press the wick holder down onto the tack. An easy way to keep your wick standing straight up, tie a piece of wire or a garbage tie to the top of the wick and secure the wire to either side of the top of the container.
Now that the wax is completely melted, you may add color to your wax if desired by using a cube of wax colorant. Next add either a cube or a small quantity of citronella oil to your mixture. Once mixed carefully, slowly pour it into your candleholder container and set it aside to cool and set.
Once your candle has cooled, you can decorate the outside of your container with paint, jewels, stickers. Your candle will look so pretty, you’ll forget that it’s to keep the bugs away!
- Always use caution when melting wax. Never leave your hot wax unattended.
- Keep children and pets away from the area where you are working with hot wax.
- Know the flashpoint (combustion point) of your wax and be sure to keep the temperature below that level so as not to start a fire.
- If a wax fire occurs, never use water to put it out! Use a fire extinguisher or baking soda instead.