The last time I was at a backyard party, as dusk fell, the mosquitoes started hunting for prey. And they found me, as they always do. I was itching from the bites for days afterwards. I think next time I go to an evening outdoor event, I’ll bring one of these DIY citronella candles. I’ll be the lady who pulls a candle and matches out of her purse. “Oh this?” I’ll say innocently when questioned, “You don’t carry your own mosquito-repelling candle everywhere?” I’ll walk around with it lit and pretend I’m just sipping a warm drink. It won’t be weird at all. Maybe if I leave it as a hostess gift I’ll even be invited back.
Unlike the rest of that scenario, giving this candle as a gift is actually a good idea for the next backyard barbecue or housewarming you attend. Or bring it along on a camping trip.
Most of the wax I used for these candles was a beeswax/coconut oil blend (a 50/50 ratio) left over from making these beeswax beaker candles, but quite a bit of it was unmelted bits from old candles that I’ve been hoarding. The other day I found out a reason why candles don’t burn completely. Did you know that candles have a memory? If you don’t let your candle melt the wax all the way to the edge the first time you burn it, it will never burn that part.
DIY Citronella Candles
Candle wax – Soy wax, or left over from old candles (stick them in the freezer to help pop the wax out of the container).
Candle wicks with clips
Mug or jar – I used this one, though this one would also be cute.
Citronella essential oil
Skewer or disposable stick
Metal can, pitcher, or bowl for melting wax – Cleaning up wax is a pain, so stick with a disposable can, or a container dedicated to melting wax.
Kitchen scale (optional)
Nail clippers (optional)
1. Fill the pot with a few inches of water, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low or medium low, keeping the water at a simmer.
2. Chop up the wax and place it in the can or other container you’ll be melting it in. If you want to be precise with your essential oils and aren’t using pre-weighed wax, weigh the can on a kitchen scale before and after you add the wax.
3. Place the can in the simmering water, and leave it over the heat until the wax melts. Don’t leave it unsupervised!
4. When the wax has melted enough, dip a wick into it, then stick it in the the middle of the mug or jar you’ll be pouring your candle into, using the wax to hold it in place. Secure the wick with a clothespin on top of the jar.
5. When the wax is completely melted, remove the can from the pot with a potholder. Add the citronella oil at a ratio of 1/2 tsp per lb of wax. This worked out to about 20 drops of the citronella for 1/4 tsp for me. Stir with a stick or skewer.
6. Pour the wax into the mug or jar containing the wick. Let the wax cool and harden.
7. When the wax is solid, trim the wick. You want it at 1/8 to 1/4 inches above the surface of the wax. Nail clippers work really well for trimming that close, though scissors will also do the job.
While I had the candle-making supplies out, I melted down some other leftover candle bits and refilled my beakers, too.
Depending on the wick type used, it might not always be possible, but remember to let your candles burn all the way to the edges the first time you use them so they’ll last longer!