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What are Citronella Candles?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 September 2016
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Citronella candles are candles which are blended with essential oil from citronella, a grass native to Asia. Citronella oil is supposed to be an effective natural insect repellent, with citronella candles classically being used to keep insects like mosquitoes away from decks, campsites, and other outdoor locations. People who are considering these candles may want to be aware that they are only about 45% effective, according to studies conducted at the University of Ontario, so they should be combined with another repellent method for full protection from unwanted insect visitors.

The oil of the citronella grass has a strong lemony scent, explaining the name, and a bright yellow to brown color. In addition to being used in candles, citronella is also used in creams and other materials which can be applied topically, along with torches designed to cover a wide area. When using citronella topically, people should be aware that young children often experience skin reactions to citronella, and some adults may develop itching, rashes, or hives if they come into contact with citronella oil.

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It is possible to find citronella pillars, tapers, and a variety of other shapes, along with specialty candles which can float in a pool or be enclosed in containers to reduce the risk of fire. Citronella candles are usually yellow in color, both because citronella is naturally yellow and because many companies dye their candles, and they have a strong citrus-like odor. As the candles burn, they release citronella oil, providing a deterrent to neighborhood insects.

For the candles to be effective, it is usually necessary to use a lot of them to surround an area. A single candle at a table might be enough to keep insects away from diners, but many people prefer to ring an area with citronella candles so that people can wander freely within the range of the candles. The further apart the candles are, the more likely insects are to slip through, and the further guests stray from the candles, the less they will be protected.

When purchasing citronella candles, you may want to think about how they are going to be used. Pillars tend to be well suited to camping, since they are sturdy, stable, and compact. Tapers can look more elegant, but they burn out more quickly and they are more likely to fall over. For fire safety, enclosed candles are very useful, but these candles may not provide as much coverage as exposed candles. As a fire-safe alternative to citronella candles, you can pour citronella oil into an essential oil diffuser and place the diffuser in a strategic outdoor location.

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donasmrs
Post 3

Rather than using one or two large citronella candles, it's definitely better to use numerous small candles around an area. It works much better that way.

The great part about repelling insects with citronella candles is that candles also create a beautiful ambiance. They look beautiful and do not bother guests. A candle can be placed in the middle of each table for example, so that guests can eat without having to deal with insects.

ZipLine
Post 2

@fBoyle-- I highly recommend citronella candles for repelling insects. I use them all the time for outdoor events and they work very well. Some citronella candles are actually strong enough to repel insects on their own. It really depends on the amount of citronella oil in the candles. If you read customer reviews, you can easily find citronella candles that work well.

Citronella oil is not extremely cheap so I think it's safe to assume that very cheap candles do not contain a lot of citronella oil.

Sometimes I use these candles indoors as well because they smell very good.

fBoyle
Post 1

I'm thinking about buying citronella candles for the patio. We spend a lot of time on the patio in the summer and mosquitoes and insects are often a nuisance. I realize that citronella candles are not 100% effective. But that's okay since we use insect repelling spray or lotion most of the time.

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