How to Make Citronella Candles: Perfect DIY for Summer!

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These easy and inexpensive DIY citronella candles are easy to make, look adorable in mason jars and help get rid of bugs! Perfect summer craft!

 DIY citronella candles shown on outdoor table

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor projects!

I love finding ways to decorate my home on the outside that don’t cost a lot of money!

 Deck Reveal with wicker patio furniture and red cushions - Marty's Musings

Just as with the inside, I shop yard sales and thrift stores, finding decorative elements and unique pots for my plants.

Honestly, though? I really don’t like digging in the dirt much. I love the finished look of beautiful plants but dirt under the nails? Not so much!

But like many other things, I do it because I love the result!

The one thing that distracts us and makes our time outside unpleasant? You guessed it! Mosquitoes!

set of 2 diy citronella candles on outdoor table

Citronella oil is a plant-based insect repellant that is a must for spending time outside. Since we are self-taught DIYers we knew we could find a way to make candles that were both efficient and pretty.

Cue the mason jars! These all-purpose glass jars can be found everywhere on Pinterest (and I’ve written about our mason jar chandelier, gifts in a jar, and even our family blessing jar.)

How to Make Citronella Candles

Notes about this DIY project:

  • Citronella oil is a plant-based insect repellant.
  • Use mason jars or repurposed glass jars for containers.
  • Baby food jars make excellent small candles for display.
  • Pint-sized jars are the perfect size for decks, porches, and yard.
  • Jars can be decorated if desired.
  • Perfect for housewarming gifts or new neighbors.
  • Exercise caution when burning and don’t leave it unattended.

Materials Needed for Citronella Candles:

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Pint mason jars (or these cute ones with handles)
Citronella torch fuel
1/8″ lamp wicks 
Phillips head screwdriver or a nail punch

supplies for Citronella Candles - Marty's Musings

Instructions for Citronella Candles:

Step 1:

Using the pint-sized mason jars punch a hole from the bottom in the center of the lid. This allows for easier installation of the wick.

adding hole to mason jar lid for Citronella Candles - Marty's Musings

 Step 2:

Push and twist the wick through the hole in the lid leaving 1/8 inch exposed.

creating hold in mason jar lid for Citronella Candles - Marty's Musings

Step 3: Fill the jar with citronella torch fuel.

pouring Citronella into mason jar for Candles - Marty's Musings

This is the citronella torch fuel we use and love.

Step 4: Screw on the lid and ring and pull the wick through. That’s it!

Citronella Candles with wick - Marty's Musings

The citronella oil changed colors with exposure to sunlight.

3 Citronella Candles  on outdoor table - Marty's Musings

These little candles make a great gift for neighbors or friends and create a warm and inviting ambiance for an outdoor room.

lighted DIY Citronella Candle on table - Marty's Musings

Close your eyes and imagine the warm breeze and good company while your homemade citronella candles chase away the bugs!

lit Citronella Candle on table - Marty's Musings

When we first experimented with the wicks we used torch wick replacement and wrapped duct tape at the tip.

taping end of wick for Citronella Candles - Marty's Musings

This aided in pulling the rope through the opening.

pulling wick through mason jar lid- Marty's Musings

Once the rope was through we just snipped off the duct tape with scissors.

I wasn’t comfortable with the larger flame (especially with a new deck I didn’t want to see burned down!) so we chose to go with a smaller wick.

A smaller wick will give you a smaller flame!

Regardless, the rubber outer ring on the lid will melt with exposure to heat and may become difficult to remove. Let it cool before replacing and keep extra lids on hand!

top of  Citronella Candles - Marty's Musings

For your safety, don’t leave citronella candles unattended!

citronella jar hanging on tree limb

Want to see more of our outdoor projects? Here are all the details on our deck reveal,

Deck Reveal with wicker furniture and red cushions - Marty's Musings

our wood deck restoration

close up of Wood Deck Restoration with Behr Premium Deckover® - Marty's Musings

, and how we stained our wood deck.

deck decorated for fall - Marty's Musings

You can also read about our budget friendly backyard patio ideas (which includes a practically free fire pit.)

chairs around firepit in the Backyard - Marty's Musings

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  1. Hi, does anyone in England know if this fuel is available here? I would love to deal with the blighters & the biters! Thank you.

    1. Yes the oil is available n the UK look for lamp oil I am sure it’s available most places, camping shops, amazon and ebay

  2. Just a q…
    Should you leave the citronella oil to soak into the wick for about 30mins before lighting the first time to let it soak up the oil rather than the wick just burning?

  3. I’m so sad, mine wouldn’t work. The flame kept going out. Does anyone know if wicks go bad? The roll of wicking material I have is like 10 years old. I punched a hole in the top of a smuckers jam jar. put the wick through. filled the jar about 3/4 full of new tiki oil. Waited about 2 hours and then lit it. It burned for about 45 seconds and then went out. So, I pulled a little more wick through the opening in case what I had was too short. Lit it, and same thing. I don’t know why it won’t work.

    1. Hi, Barbara. I wouldn’t think the wick would go bad. I’m not sure if the age of the tiki oil would make a difference either. You could always try a regular mason jar lid instead of jar lid just in case it was coated with something that was extinguishing the flame. Hope this helps!

    2. I have the same problem, I used a Mason jar lid . My wicks and oil were brand new, I even let them soak for a day to make sure the wicks were filled with oil. Very confused

  4. Thanks for the details on how to thread the wick! Sometimes it’s those little things that help with these kinds of projects!