When the weather heats up, you instantly want to eat delicious barbecue outside, sip margaritas on the porch or enjoy the warm summer air with family and friends. Unfortunately, once dusk hits, mosquitoes run rampant. Saying hello to summer also means saying hello to these summer pests. Bug bites can easily ruin the outdoor fun.
Lucky for you, there are solutions to repel mosquitoes—bug sprays, cover-ups, even high-tech bug-zapping traps. Some are more effective than others, but one of our favorite go-tos is the citronella candle. And the best part is, you can make your own!
“You can control exactly what ingredients are used to make your citronella candle,” says Stephanie Moulton, an expert candle maker and owner of Coming Home Candles. The main ingredient you need is citronella oil.
How to Make a Citronella Candle
Here is Moulton’s easy, step-by-step tutorial for making your own citronella candle.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
Step 1: Use hot glue to adhere two pre-tabbed candle wicks to the bottom of a 16-ounce tinplate candle tin. Glue the metal tabs across from each other at points between the center and sides of the tin.
Step 2: Simmer a few inches of water in your saucepan. Measure out about 10 ounces of soy wax flakes and pour them into your glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup into the pot of water, with the handle on the outside of the pan. Melt the wax to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It is VERY important to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the wax.
Step 3: Once the wax reaches the exact temperature, remove the measuring cup from the heat source. Add up to 0.9 ounces of citronella fragrance oil and up to 0.1 ounces of a complementary essential oil to the wax. Stir until the oil is well-mixed into the wax. (Note: If you’d prefer not to use fragrance oil, you can swap in citronella essential oil.)
Step 4: Pour wax into the tin. Use a clothespin to secure the wicks so they won’t fall over. Let cool and sit for 48 hours before burning.
While it’s awesome to be able to make your own citronella candle, it’s super important to make sure your wax is at the right temperature before you add the fragrance oil, Moulton warns. “Not only can hot wax burn your skin if it splashes on you, every fragrance oil has a flash point (the temperature at which the oil combusts), and you don’t want to pour fragrance oil into wax that is hotter than its flash point.”
In addition to safety precautions, you absolutely need to measure and get the right size wick. “If the wick is too small for the container, it won’t melt the wax all the way to the edges of the container,” says Moulton. “If the wick is too big, it will burn with a larger than normal flame.”