Learn how to make citronella candles and repel mosquitoes in a natural way. These DIY candles, made in mini metal buckets, are super cute, they smell fantastic, and they’re SO EASY to make!
These candles have a fresh, citrus scent that reminds us of camping and the outdoors, and their dancing flame provides a great atmosphere for your summer patio. Use soy wax and citronella essential oil to create an outdoor candle that keeps the bugs away and looks great in the backyard!
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How to Make Citronella Candles
Check Out The Video Tutorial:
Step 1: Find what you need
- Gather your supplies and materials.
Step 2: Prepare your candle's container
- Fill your candle's container (a small metal bucket, for us) with wax. Fill it up to where you'd like the top of your candle to be.Place your smaller pan on the scale and tare it. Dump the bucket of wax into the pan.
- Fill the bucket with wax a second time, and add this to the pan as well. Make a note of the wax's weight (ours is ~15 ounces).
- Remove the wick sticker from the sheet and place it on the bottom of the tabbed wick.
- Remove the other side of paper from the wick sticker and add the wick to the bucket. Make sure the wick is in the center of the container, and press down on the wick tab to secure it.
- Attach a wick holder to keep the wick centered and straight in the container.
Step 3: Melt the wax and add the citronella oil
- Add an inch of water to a larger saucepan and bring it to a boil on high heat.Reduce the heat to medium (or medium low; whatever is required to maintain a simmer) and place your smaller saucepan into the larger pan.
- Heat the wax to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the wax from heat. Optional: transfer the wax to a measuring cup to make it easier to pour.Place the measuring cup on a scale and tare it. Add in the citronella oil.We're using a fragrance load of 6%, which works out to 0.9 ounces of oil.
- Stir the wax gently for about 2 minutes after adding the essential oil.Then cool the wax to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.(Each wax may have a different recommend pouring temperature, so be sure to check what will work for your type of wax.)
Step 4: Pour the candle and wait for it to harden
- Pour the wax slowly, but steadily, into the prepared container.
- Wait at least 5 hours for the candle to harden, remove the wick holder, and trim the wick to 1/4 inch.
- Your DIY citronella candle is complete!You can light your candle after 24 hours, but ideally you should let the candle "cure" for 1 to 2 weeks before burning.Soy wax continues to harden over time, and waiting to burn your citronella candle will improve the burn and allow the wax and essential oil to bind to one another.
- If you don’t have a wick sticker you can use a glue dot, hot glue, or melted wax to attach the wick to the container.
- If you don’t have a wick holder, or your wick holder is too small for your candle’s container, you can easily make your own! Wrap elastics around 2 stir sticks (or chopsticks) and slide the wick in-between.
Do citronella candles help against mosquitoes?
Citronella does help against mosquitoes, though it may not be as effective as some of the bug sprays on the market. Essential oils, like citronella, help to mask scent, and the smoke from the candle helps as well.
The closer you are to the candle, the more helpful it is. Think of citronella candles as one layer of protection against mosquitoes. They do help, but don’t count on them to completely deter those pesky bugs.
What kind of wax do you use for citronella candles?
We use soy wax to make our candles, which is a non-toxic wax that burns longer and cleaner than paraffin wax. It’s also the perfect wax to use for outdoor candles, since it’s water soluble and wax spills can easily be cleaned up.
You can also make a mason jar citronella candle using lamp oil!
What container is best for citronella candles?
We used small metal buckets to make our citronella candles, which adds a rustic, outdoorsy vibe to the candle. Be careful with the buckets you choose – galvanized steel may not be watertight, meaning the wax can leak out.
Test your bucket with water first and seal off any areas that might leak. A high temperature silicone sealer is a good option to make the bucket waterproof. Our buckets only had a tiny pinpoint hole at the bottom seam, so we simply melted a bit of wax and let it harden before pouring the rest of the candle.
If you don’t want to deal with a possibly leaking bucket, you can also make your homemade candles in empty tin cans or glass mason jars.
Learn how to make citronella candles and use them outdoors as a chemical free way to keep the bugs away! These DIY citronella candles also make a great homemade gift for a summer BBQ or get-together.
Here’s even more DIY candle ideas:
Our book Low-Mess Crafts for Kids is loaded with 72 fun and simple craft ideas for kids! The projects are fun, easy and most importantly low-mess, so the clean up is simple!