Sitting outside from June through August is not, admittedly, my favorite way to pass time. I have a chronic case of “humidity hair” paired with a damp “Southern glow” all summer long, which means that air conditioning is my seasonal BFF.
But, every so often, we’ll get a luxuriously cool front here in the foothills which knocks down the temperatures and snuffs out the humid air. But you know what continues to persist no matter what?
Mosquitos. The skeeters. Those blood-sucking bugs and all their little friends.
So I decided to try my hand at DIY citronella candles as a way to stave off a biting attack. In true Sadie form, I decided to use natural, local beeswax (renewable resource! No petroleum!) and used kitsch-y thrifted vintage pieces (planters, etc.) as my candleholders. This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience.
Making a Citronella Candle
For my beeswax, I certainly could have ordered some online…but I decided to use raw, unfiltered, local beeswax from The Carolina Honey Bee Company, located in nearby Travelers Rest.
Because it was raw wax, I needed to filter it before making my candles. Raw beeswax is filled with…well, any number of things…including bee parts. Not pretty in a candle!
So, to filter the wax, I melted it down (keep reading to find out my melting method), and poured it through clean rags/t-shirts. I didn’t need fancy molds, so I simply used a recyclable aluminum pan from the grocery store.
I threaded wick into each clip, pinched the end with pliers, and used a bead of glue to hold the clip in place at the bottom of each of my candle-holders-to-be.
To keep the wicks in place (straight and up), I sandwiched them between coffee stirrers and taped the stirrer ends together. And because my containers aren’t perfectly smooth/even, I then taped the stirrers to the holders to keep them from sliding off.
To melt my filtered wax, I used a very simple double boiler using a clean aluminum can. I filled a sauce pan with an inch of water and turned the burner to high. Then, I placed my beeswax in the can and placed that in the water. Ta-da!
**Note/hint: Keep a measuring cup of water nearby to add periodically to the pan. The shallow amount of boiling water (which is all you can have at a time to keep the can from floating/tipping over) will try and boil away on you! So add water periodically to keep a constant depth.**
Now, I’m going to admit that I added an arbitrary, uncounted number of drops as I melted the wax. After each “tab” of wax was melted, I removed the can from the double-boiler (wearing an oven mitt!); added many, many drops of tea tree and citronella oils; and once I could really catch the aroma of the oils in the wax, I stopped and carefully poured the wax into each waiting holder.
I feel like I’ve let you down since I didn’t keep track of how many drops I used! But at the end of the day, I think best judgment will suit your candles just fine. And the reason I used tea tree oil is because it can have a similar deterring effect on insects and I prefer the scent over citronella! Mixing them produces an effective, but less pungent odor (in my opinion).
The Big Reveal
After a few hours of cooling/hardening, I simply snipped off the wick just beneath the coffee stirrers and they were ready to go!
I’m pretty sure this is the cutest candle I’ve ever seen!
So, this means that on cooler summer evenings, I can enjoy my magazines…my wine…my funky little candles…and far fewer mosquito bites in the end.
Gotta love that!