DIYdiy projects

diy project: kate’s homemade citronella candles

by Grace Bonney

i don’t want to make you all jealous, but in our lovely oakland climate mosquito problems are almost unheard of. but since i am originally from new hampshire, i can totally sympathize with the bug issue in the summer. and i didn’t realize this until recently but citronella candles are just regular old candles scented with citronella oil, which is available at health food stores and even some specialty hardware stores (like ace or osh for example). for much less money, you can make an entire arsenal of citronella candles to keep those evil pests at bay. this is a great recycle project because you can use old tins and jars form your pantry (big tomato tins would make great long-burning mega candles). i also recommend using old crayons as a coloring agent. while they are not good for regular candles because of their smoke, the smoke in these candles will help repel the bugs. let’s win those patios back!! have fun! – kate

CLICK HERE for the full project after the jump!


1. old wax candles, or any type of safely melt-able wax (i used leftover soy wax from old candle projects)
2. crayons (for coloring the wax)
3. container for melting wax (a sauce pan with another heat safe container inside will be fine, or you can purchase wax containers at a craft store)
4. wicks (available at craft stores)
5. citronella oil (available at health food stores, online, or some specialty hardware stores)
6. stir stick or spoon (for wax)
7. thermometer
8. letter stickers (optional, these are found in craft stores and hardware stores – these are for signs and mailbox labels, etc)
9. old pickle or jam jars or tin cans (look for tins with cute labels, there are a lot once you start looking!)
10. hot glue


1. clean out your jars and tin cans. dry completely. if you are making messages on your jars, carefully stick the letter stickers to the outside of your jars in an even line.

2. put your pot on the stove with some water and your other container inside it.

3. attach your wick bases to the bottom center of your jars and tins with a dab of hot glue.

4. when the water is 140 degrees, put your wax in. stir every once in a while as it starts to melt. add your crayons as well.

5. when all the wax is melted to an even liquid (it will look like the consistency of olive oil), add a few drops of citronella oil and stir (about one drop for a small candle, two to three for larger ones).

6. remove the container and pour into your containers, leaving about a half inch of wick exposed.

7. let cool. if you want to give your jar candles as a gift, cover the lid of the jar with some pretty fabric and screw back on to the jar. wrap the tin can candles with a little kitchen twine and finish with a bow.



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  • So I make three of these candles for a camping trip and was disappointed- I think I must have done something wrong :( I made them as directed and the wax poured into its container great and hardened fine. They looked like normal candles you buy at the store (this is my first attempt making candles though).

    When I lit them though they wouldn’t stay lit. the flame would stay lit from 30 seconds to a minute, but then slowly flicker out. And there was no wind, and it was more of a gradual fading then a blow out. Any ideas on what could have gone wrong?

    • Perhaps your wicks were too short. Try relighting them and swirl wax that melts away from the wicks, making a well around them.

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