How to Make Citronella Candles

Citronella Candles

Written by
Cindy Novack
Published on
May 4, 2022 at 12:37:10 PM PDT May 4, 2022 at 12:37:10 PM PDTth, May 4, 2022 at 12:37:10 PM PDT

Citronella candles are a summer time bug buster classic! It’s really fast and easy to make your own in containers that you probably have laying around already. There are also some great decorative buckets at discount stores that you can pick up to decorate or match an outdoor decor theme.

You will need:

Empty terra cotta pots, galvanized buckets or other suitable containers

Candle Wax – any low meltpoint paraffin works great

Pre-tabbed wicks or wooden wicks – as big as possible to create a candle that smokes

Yellow Color (if desired)

Citronella scent

Wick tape or hot glue

Wick Bar

Container Burning Instruction Label

Melting Pot


Heat Source – melter, griddle or stove top.

Scale to measure your wax

Spoon for stirring


Determine the amount of wax you will need by filling your container with water to the level where you want to fill your wax inside. (Note that since citronella candles are usually burned outside they are not filled all of the way in the container so that the flame is somewhat protected from the breezes in the air. The candles in the pictures above are filled 1/2 to 3/4 full.) Pour the water into a measuring cup that measure by ounces to find out how many ounces of wax your candle requires. Wax weight is about 10% less than water volume so you can take 10% off the water volume when calculating your wax weight. For example: 10 oz. of water less 10% = 9 oz. of wax needed for your candle.


Measure and heat your wax to 180 degrees in a melter, or in a melting pot placed on a temperature controlled griddle or in a pan of water like a double boiler system on your stove top.


While your wax is heating, prepare your containers. Seal any holes in the bottom of terra cotta pots, run a bead of hot glue or mold seal along seams in galvanized containers so they will not leak. Place the burning instruction label on the outside bottom of the container and use wick tape or hot glue to secure your wick in the inside center bottom of the container.


When the wax is completely melted, add 1 ounce of citronella scent per lb. of wax, gold color if desired and stir well until fragrance is blended and color has dissolved. Pour the wax slowly into your containers away from the wick so it does not become unattached from the bottom of the container.


Secure your wick at the top with a wick bar so that it stays in the center of your candle as it cools. Allow your candle to cool for 4-6 hours, remove the wick bar from the top and enjoy! It’s perfectly ok if your candle smokes while burning and you actually want it to do that to keep bugs away. The citronella scent repels them and the smoke from the candle makes them fly far away from the area.

Handmade citronella candles make hostess gifts for picnics and summer gatherings too!

For a special twist on the ordinary citronella candle – try mixing any of the scents below at a 50/50 ratio with citronella. This is great if you are not a big fan of the smell of citronella but like its bug repellent qualities. All of the fragrances listed below are also natural bug repellents!





Fresh Squeezed Orange


Lavendar & Fresh Herbs

Lavendar & Lemongrass



Mountain Lodge



Pine Needle



We hope you have had fun with this project and will make many great candles as a result!