We love spending time outdoors in the summer but mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and other bugs are not welcome at our cookouts. That’s why we make citronella candles to keep these pesky bugs away all summer long. The scent of citronella repels mosquitoes and other insects.
Making citronella candles is a simple craft that you can easily do at home. Read our DIY instructions below, gather up the supplies, and give it a try yourself this weekend!
What you’ll need to make citronella candles
- Several heat-proof containers of your choice – each container will make one candle (Mason jars, recycled aluminum cans, coffee cans, or decorative tin buckets work well)
- A large glass bowl and microwave
- Wax – 2 or 3 lbs. depending on the size/quantity of candles you want to make
- Citronella oil – 3 oz. (use 1 oz oil per pound of wax)
- Bamboo skewers or chopsticks
- Oven mitts or pot holders
- Optional: Other essential oils of your choice (eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, etc.)
How to Make Citronella Candles at Home
Step 1: Melt the wax
Melt the wax in batches by placing approximately one pound (or half a pound if your container is smaller) of wax in a glass bowl and microwaving it for several minutes. The bowl will get very hot, so be sure to use oven mitts or pot holders!
We started with 5 minutes of heating, followed by a good stir, and continued microwaving for 30 seconds at a time until all the wax was completely melted.
If you prefer to melt your wax over the stove, use an old pot or double boiler. Start with low-medium heat and lower the heat as the wax begins to melt.
Tip: Wax is typically sold in 1-pound blocks. You can speed up the melting process by using a knife to carefully cut the wax into smaller chunks. Shaved wax will also melt faster.
Step 2: Prepare your candle containers
While your wax is melting, prepare your citronella candle containers for filling. If you’re using recycled containers, remove any labels and residue, then clean and dry them thoroughly. These containers will be very hot when you pour in the wax so make sure to choose a surface that can withstand the heat!
Step 3: Add essential oil(s) to melted wax
Once the wax is completely melted, add citronella oil and stir the oil in to the wax using your bamboo skewer. Use 1 oz. citronella oil per pound of wax to make your citronella candles fragrant and effective at repelling bugs.
If you would like, add other essential oils of your choice now. These are optional but will give your candle more scent and can help prevent bugs from crashing your outdoor dinner plans. Add 0.5 oz. of eucalyptus, peppermint, or orange oil per pound of wax and stir again.
Step 4: Place the wicks
Next, place a wick into the center of each citronella candle container. If you purchased wicks with adhesive dots, stick them to the bottom of the container. If you’re using a larger can or wide-mouth mason jar, you can add multiple wicks.
Use the bamboo skewers or chopsticks to hold the wick upright for the next steps.
Tip: You can buy wicks with adhesive dots on the bottom to help them stay centered in your candle. Or, you can use plain wicks and grab a few leftover washers from your tool box. Secure a washer to the end of the wick to help it remain in place while the candle hardens.
Step 5: Pour melted wax into containers
It’s time to pour the wax in to your new candle jars or cans. The wax will be very hot so work slowly and carefully to pour the wax into each container. Use oven mitts to protect your hands from the heat!
Step 6: Let candles cool completely
Let your new DIY citronella candles cool completely. This will take several hours. Handle cooling candles with care – they will be very hot! Use oven mitts if you must move them.
Periodically check on your citronella candles as they cool. If you start to see cracks or wells develop, you may need to add more melted wax to fill up your candle.
Once your citronella candles have solidified, they’re ready to use.
It’s time to enjoy the outdoors more!
Now that your citronella candles are finished, you can place them on your outdoor table and around your patio or pack a few in your RV to enjoy more time outdoors and fewer bugs. Citronella candles will repel insects like mosquitoes, flies, and gnats so make a few this weekend!