DIY Citronella Candles, Easy and Effective!

By: Mary Gramer, Social Media Marketing Intern

We all love to eat dinner outside on the deck, but as the sun sets, the bugs come out…  things can get a little less than enjoyable. Using bug sprays and store-bought remedies to keep the bugs away can be expensive and harmful to both humans and the environment. As a solution, I tried out making my own candles to use at my family’s lake home in Alexandria, Minnesota. They were extremely easy to make, and they turned out to be stylish and effective at keeping away those pesky mosquitoes!

Flickr Creative Commons: Katja Schulz

Flickr Creative Commons: Katja Schulz

How to make your own citronella candles!


  • Vessels to make candles in (glasses, mason jars, tea cups etc)
  • Candlewax (soy or paraffin)
  • Wicks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Citronella essential oil
  • Other scented essential oil (optional)
  • Something to stir hot wax
  • Scissors
  • Sauce pan you are willing to sacrifice
  • Friends to help (optional, but strongly suggested)


The first step is to order the citronella essential oil. I do not have any stores near me that sell it, so I ordered it online from I purchased a relatively cheap brand because the candles are to be used outside, and not in any topical manner, so I figured the quality was not super important. The kind I purchased came with two, 1 oz. bottles of the oil for $9 total. I used nearly all of both bottles to make the eight candles pictured above.

The second step is to acquire the rest of the materials. I purchased all of the vessels shown above at a thrift store. Each piece was a dollar or less. I spent a total of $7 on these items. I recommend purchasing thrift store items because it is both cost-effective and better for the environment! Additionally, you won’t feel bad if the flame from the candle gets soot on the container.

Next, I went to a chain craft store for the rest of the materials, which I would advise against. I paid $24.99 for 4 lbs. of soy wax chips, and somewhere around $5 for the wicks. I did not have enough time at this point to look for cheaper options online, but I am sure you can find cheaper wax on The paraffin wax was indeed cheaper, but I chose soy because it burns cleaner.

Before you begin, I recommend lining your work surface with newspaper or something similar to protect your counter-tops/table.


First, I hot-glued the wick base, (the wicks had metal bases attached to the bottom), to the inside bottom of the vessels. Leave the wicks long; do not cut them to the right height yet.

Now start melting your wax. I put roughly 5 cups of wax into my pan at a time, and as it melted, added a little less than 0.5oz of the citronella essential oil. Here is where the other (optional) essential oils come into play. I personally did not add any other scents to my candles. The citronella was powerful, but pleasant. If you aren’t a huge fan of citronella, you could add some lemon or grapefruit to give it a less potent smell. Now give the wax a good stir. I used a clean paint stick because I was not willing to use any of my own spoons or spatulas.

Then let the wax cool down for a couple minutes in the pan. If the wax is too hot, it will melt the hot glue holding the wick down.

Now this is where friends come in handy.

I had some of my friends hold up the wicks slightly to the side as I poured the wax into the cups (be careful, the wax is hot). Then they took pens, and rested them over the vessels with the extra wick wrapped around them once or twice to keep them upright.

I repeated this process three times to fill all the containers. Wait 1-2 hours for wax to re-harden, then head outside, and grab a lighter to enjoy your new candles!

Flickr Creative Commons: Wonderlane

Flickr Creative Commons: Wonderlane


So to make 8 candles, varying in size from large to small, it cost me around $45. That is roughly $5.63 per candle, which is cheaper or equivalent to commercially made citronella candles, depending on the brand/size. To cut down on cost, buy the wax online – you can get more wax for half the price I paid at the craft store. I checked on, and I found a 5lb bag for $12. If I had purchased this instead, the result would have been closer to $4/candle.

Will you try making your own citronella candles this summer? Do you have any favorite warm-weather DIY activities? Please comment with your thoughts and suggestions below!

Flickr Creative Commons Photos are under this license.