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Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Make Homemade Bug-banishing Candles

How To Make Homemade Bug-banishing Candles 

There is a simple way to keep bugs away from you without dousing yourself in bug spray. Why not try a nice candle or two? Amy at has shared a great tutorial for using frosted jars and make your own citronella candles. 

Each year, the advent of summer is accompanied by the arrival of some very unwelcome visitors: mosquitoes and the little pests we like to refer to in these parts as “no-see-’ums.” I long ago lost faith in the efficacy of citronella candles in combating these pests during our time outdoors each evening, simply because they didn’t seem to make any difference at all in keeping the insects at bay. After doing a bit of research, though, I discovered the reason the citronella candles sold today don’t work is that the majority of them contain nary a drop of true-blue citronella essential oil. The scent is synthetically produced to smell like the real deal, but with none of the protecting characteristics. Isn’t that sneaky?
Since we spend a great deal of time outdoors in the evenings each summer (the time at which mosquitoes are the most likely to be a nuisance), I am always on the lookout for natural insect-repelling solutions. When I discovered that most citronella candles sold in chain stores are a racket, I decided to try my hand at making my own! After doing a little research, I was happy to discover the process really is quite simple.

You’ll need:
A few clean, dry glass jars (this is a great project to reuse jars that would otherwise be discarded!)
Painter’s tape
Frosted glass spray paint
Braided candle wick
Hot glue
Wooden dowels
Wooden clothes pins
Natural soy wax (I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby)
Double boiler*
Old crayons
Citronella essential oil (this is not the citronella-scented oil used to fill outdoor Tiki torches), found at natural food stores
Foam alpha or shape stickers (I highly recommend Thickers by American Crafts)

*I created my double boiler using a heavy 4-quart sauce pan and a smaller basting sauce pot with a pouring spout intended for holding sauce while basting items on the grill. I simply placed the smaller pan inside the larger, then filled the larger pan with enough water to come up the sides of the smaller pan by a couple of inches. I placed my double boiler over medium-high heat to bring the water to a boil before adjusting the heat to low to simmer. If you can find one, I highly recommend using a pan with a pouring spout as the vessel in which you melt your wax for ease of pouring your candles. If not, use a ladle to transfer the wax to your jars to make filling your candles easier and safer. 

  1. Cut strips of painter's tape (or make any kind of shape that you'd like) and adhere to the outside of clean, dry jars. 
  2. Spray jars with Frosted Glass paint according to product instructions. Allow to dry completely; remove tape. 
  3. Cut a length of braided wick a few inches longer than the height of your glass jar. Carefully dab a small amount of hot glue on one end of the wick. 
  4. Adhere glued end of wick to the bottom center of your jar, using a dowel to help press it in the right spot if jar is too tall to do so by hand.  
  5. When glue is set, wrap excess wick around a wooden dowel and secure with a clothespin to keep it out of the way when pouring your candle. 
  6. Once glass container is prepared, pour wax into your double boiler. (Refer to notes above on how to easily construct a double boiler.) 
  7. Heat over simmering water, stirring often, taking care that no water gets into your wax. 
  8. Once the wax has melted completely, it will have the color and consistency of olive oil. 
  9. To color your candles, peel paper from crayons and chop into small pieces. (The amount needed will vary depending on the intensity of color you desire.) 
  10. Drop pieces into melted wax and stir to incorporate. 
  11. Almost finished! Now it's time to add the citronella. I recommend 3-4 drops for smaller candles and 4-5 for larger candles. Don't add too much, as the oil tends to separate from the wax. 
  12. Once your citronella is stirred into your wax, carefully pour wax into your prepared container, taking care not to disturb the dowel and clothespin. Allow candle to cool completely before affixing foam stickers within each unfrosted window.
Additional Helpful Hints:
  • Do NOT use the citronella-scented oil used to refill outdoor Tiki torches! It contains no essential oil, and it is extremely flammable. 
  • If you’re not in the market for any citronella candles, you can most certainly use this process to make some scented candles to spruce up your indoor decor. Have fun experimenting with other essential oils to create your own custom scents!
  • You can find coloring wax made specifically for dyeing your candles alongside the wax and wicks if you would prefer to use that instead of crayons.
as seen on and shared on facebook :)

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