Everyone has bought citronella candles before, but how well do they really work?
I hate bugs. If they’d just leave me alone, I would have much less problem with their existence in my backyard. I am one of those ‘lucky’ people, often the sole, single victim in a crowd of hundreds to be bitten by a mosquito. If only the lottery worked like mosquitos.
When one trades in a bit of urban for a piece of quiet, it tends to come with an influx of insects. But why? There are far more people over THERE, bugs, why are you out here? Maybe bugs like quiet suburbs. Or they hate hipsters.
Of course by now you know I’m not going to cover myself in DEET. I looked into essential oils and found that most of those citronella candles you buy don’t contain much citronella. Some contain ZERO, and are only “citronella-scented” if you read the fine print. No wonder they are not effective!
I chose clove and citronella essential oils based on this study that tested 38 essential oils for thwarting mosquito bites. In undiluted form, the best were:
“Clove oil gave the longest duration of 100% repellency (2-4 h) against all three species of mosquito.”
I may have to make my own wearable insect repellant one of these days, but for now, sitting on my back deck, I’d like to just have a candle that works.
Citronella Clove Anti-Mosquito Candle:
1 lb soy wax (flakes)
½ cup beeswax
Jar or container
6 inch wick
¼ tsp clove
¾ tsp citronella
Melt the wax in a pan over low-medium heat on the stove. Beeswax can be hard to clean up, but I found the soy wax came out of my pan very easily. (Still, use your least favorite pan.)
While the wax melts, put a small square of double-sided tape in the bottom of your candle container. The wick stays put much easier this way.
Once the wax is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the essential oils. Pour it carefully into the container; making sure the wick stays upright. Use a chopstick or reed to keep it straight.
Wait several hours until it dries and hardens, then trim the wick.
I like my new friendly night owl. He looks cute, smells nice, and scares away bugs! I plan to make a few smaller ones and line them up all around the railing.