Words by Audrey Birkhimer


Barbecue cookouts and cool drinks are synonymous with summer. Sitting on the back porch after a grilled dinner and talking with friends and family is one of the most relaxing evening activities. Unfortunately, mosquitoes love to eat at that time, too. Worse than being an irritation, these bugs bite, leaving itchy marks on your skin. Citronella is nature’s magic repellent for flying, biting nuisances. When made at home, citronella candles are effective, better smelling than store-bought candles, and free of other unnecessary chemicals.

Items needed:
Empty containers (like mason jars or other glass jars)
Soy or beeswax
Double boiler pot (or two different-sized saucepans) with water
Food thermometer
Colored wax dye
Citronella essential oil (5 tablespoons of oil per pound of wax)


Measure wax to be melted by filling each container twice and placing wax in double boiler; melt wax. While waiting for the wax to melt, glue the bottom of the wick to your container. Use the clothespin to hold the wick up by clipping the wick and laying the pin across the mouth of the jar. After the wax has melted, remove from heat to cool to 120° F. Add citronella oil and wax dye; stir well, then pour into your jars. Once candles are cooled, trim wick. The candles are ready for use!

Other essential oils like peppermint, lemongrass, lavender, and eucalyptus are natural bug-repellants. These can be added to or in place of citronella oil for different scents.