Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to take the party outside. There’s a ton of outdoor fun with family and friends in your near future. But unfortunately, there are bound to be some unwanted guests, too—of the winged variety.
No! We’re not talking about birds, though they might also try to crash your backyard barbeque. We’re talking about insects—especially those blood-sucking mosquitoes—which can descend upon your deck and bug your guests faster than you can say “Please pass the coleslaw.”
There are many chemical solutions for eliminating mosquitoes and other pests. But do you really want to spray your patio and plants with potentially hazardous substances that have been associated with allergic reactions and respiratory conditions? Deter mosquitoes, flies, bees and other unwanted insects with all-natural citronella oil instead!
Made from the distilled oils of various grasses, citronella oil works by masking certain human scents (e.g., carbon dioxide, lactic acid) that are attractive to insects with the smell of citrus, which, for some reason, the pests cannot stand. Let’s not question it!
Citronella has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as a food additive, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has labeled it a low-risk pesticide. Now you can put the power of this fragrant esential oil to work for you by making your very own citronella candles.
Even if you aren’t a do-it-selfer, citronella candles are easy, economical and fun to make!
The recipe to send patio pests packing
- Mason jars or metal containers
- 1 pound of soy wax
- 1 ounce of citronella essential oil
- Pre-made wick(s)
- Strong tape
- Matches or lighter
- Large pot and metal mixing bowl/double boiler
Here's what you’ll do:
- Select any size mason jars to house your mosquito-repelling candles. If you are more concerned with function than appearance, you can also recycle aluminum or steel cans from canned fruit or vegetables. Cut or rip off a piece of strong tape and use it to anchor the wick to the bottom of your jars or cans.
- Set your oven to its lowest temperature and place the mason jars inside to warm. Warming the jars helps ensure even cooling of the wax. You can skip this step if you are using cans.
- Melt the wax in the double boiler, or boil a pot of water, rest the mixing bowl on top of it and melt the wax in the bowl. When the wax liquifies, it will look like olive oil.
- Stir in the citronella oil.
- Grab your cans or remove your jars from the oven (and don’t forget to turn it off!). Pour the melted wax into them, using a pencil to keep the wicks properly positioned.
- Allow the candles to cool for approximately 48 hours and then trim the wicks so that they extend approximately ¼- to ½-inch past the top of the wax.
- Burn the candles around your patio and yard to show those bloodsuckers who’s boss!
Looking for more ways to get bugs to buzz off this summer? Try these natural solutions: