One of the best parts of summer? Dining al fresco on cool summer evenings. Those last-minute meals that are casually thrown together taste even better when they’re eaten outside. The only downside—pesky mosquitos that want to make you their meal. Add an extra layer of bug protection by setting up a perimeter of citronella candles. This essential oil helps deter these annoying pests while adding ambiance to your gathering.
While the store-bought versions can come in unattractive multicolored metal or glass containers, you can make your own version quickly and easily right at home!
Gather Your Materials
Citronella candles don’t need to come in those weird glass containers covered with that sad plastic netting. Clear glass mason jars are perfectly fine to use, so feel free to use whatever heatproof containers you want based on your porch decor.
Also, there are a few things worth noting on some of the ingredients/equipment we recommend: While the wax is sold in blocks, it’s much easier to melt down wax flakes instead. And finally, be sure to buy a pure citronella essential oil—synthetic or diluted versions won’t really help keep the bugs away.
- 3 lbs. of shaved wax
- An old pot or double boiler (for melting wax)
- 5 4-oz. mason jars
- 5 wicks
- Citronella essential oil
- Measuring spoons
- Small bamboo skewers
- Oven mitts
Melt the Wax
Place the wax flakes into the pot on low heat over the stove in small batches. Be patient while wax does its thing. Know that while it looks like there’s a lot of wax flakes, it ends up reducing down to about half once it’s melted.
Instead of messing around with a double boiler, you may use an old pot that's been designated for crafting purposes for this step. Once the wax is completely melted, you’ll want to add 1-2 teaspoons of essential oil into the wax and stir to combine. The perfect stir stick? One of your bamboo skewers and you can toss it after using.
Position the Wicks
Place all of your mason jars out on the table, so they’re ready to be filled once the wax is melted.
Wick placement is really important; if they’re not centered and straight, it can affect how the candle burns and how long it will burn for. Some wicks you can buy come with little adhesive dots to help with placement. If the ones you buy don’t, you can dunk the bottom of the wick (the metal part) a few times in the hot wax, let it cool a tiny bit, and then press it into the bottom of each jar. To keep the wicks standing straight, hold them up between two bamboo skewers placed on the top of each jar. You can cut them down a little bit if you need to, depending on the size of your jars.
Pour the Wax
Pouring the wax is the trickiest step, especially if you’re worried about having a steady hand. If you don’t want to pour directly from the pot into the vessels, you can transfer the wax (very carefully–it will be incredibly hot) into an old glass measuring cup or a vessel that can withstand heat and has a spout. Gently pour the wax into each vessel.
Tip: before you pour the wax, place the glass vessels into hot water to help warm the glass. Remove them from the water right before you’re ready to pour the wax in.
Let the Wax Cool
Give the wax a little time, and you’ll start to see it solidify. Depending on how the candle is forming, you might need to top it off with a little more melted wax to keep the surface even and to get rid of any weird cracks around the wicks. Once you’re satisfied with how your candles are looking, let them cool completely, preferably overnight. You don’t want to make these candles and immediately use them, so be sure to build in enough time between BBQs.
Place an array of these candles on your porch during any meal or gathering. Like any other candle, never leave them lit unattended or place them within reach of children or pets.