Super Simple DIY Citronella Candles (No wax required!)

Love to entertain outdoors but don’t like to get eaten alive? These DIY Citronella candles act like a mosquito repellent, look really pretty and are very easy to make.

DIY citronella candles that'll make mosquitoes disappear

Now that summer is almost here, it’s time for outdoor entertaining season to kick into full gear.

I love having friends over to hang out on my back deck when the weather is nice. But there’s one problem.

My house backs on to a ravine with a creek, that I should probably call a swamp most of the time. When it hasn’t rained for a while the water just stands there.

Which is great for wildlife, birds (there’s even a blue heron nest back there!) and frogs…and mosquitoes!

So in order to get my guests to agree to go out there, I need to have a way to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Citronella candles work but they usually don’t look that great.

So I decided to come up with my own version that is pretty, easy to make and inexpensive…that’s a great combination in my books!

DIY Citronella Candle Ingredients

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diy citronella candles ingredients

Mosquitoes don’t like citronella oil or rosemary so I used both in my candle.

Since rosemary is one of the herbs I always have growing in my garden, it’s easy to pick a few sprigs when I need them.


  • Lime
  • A large lemon – get the biggest one you can find. I use Costco lemons – I’m always amazed at how big their fruits and vegetables are.
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • Citronella essential oil*
  • Floating candles*
  • Water
  • Mason jar or tall glass

How To Make DIY Citronella Candles

DIY Citronella candles before the water is added

1. Slice up the lemon and lime.

You want the lemon slices to be at least the width of the jar so that they can be wedged into it. If you weren’t able to find lemons that big, try slicing them lengthwise.

2. Add 2 lemon slices to the mason jar, pushing them down to the bottom of the jar.

You want it to be tight. Otherwise they will rise to the top when you add the water and it will be really hard to get your candle to stay flat.

3. Add 2 slices of lime to the mason jar.

DIY Citronella candle ingredients in a mason jar

4. Add a spring of rosemary that reaches almost to the top of the jar.

It should be long enough that you can wedge it in there with the lemon. But you don’t want it to go all the way to the top because it will interfere with your candle placement.

DIY Citronella candle ingredients in mason jars filled with water

5. Fill the mason jar most of the way up with water.

If the fruit rises to the top, push them down so that the lemons get wedged against the sides. If you can’t make them stay, you probably need some bigger lemons.

6. Add a few drops of the citronella essential oil.

DIY mosquito repellent candles

7. Drop in your floating candle and you are ready to start repelling mosquitoes.

How Strong Are Citronella Candles?

Citronella candles in general aren’t strong enough to protect large open areas from mosquitoes.

If you are using these outdoors as I do, you need quite a few of them and they should be placed right around where you are sitting in order for them to be effective.

DIY Floating Citronella Candles

How To Store The Candles

These DIY Citronella candles are great for entertaining because you can put them together ahead of time.

In fact, making them the day before gives the rosemary a chance to infuse into the water, which makes the anti-mosquito scent even stronger.

Mason jars make storing them easy, too…just put on the lid until you are ready to light them.

If you are keeping them for more than a day, put them in the refrigerator to prevent the lemon and lime from spoiling.

If you keep them refrigerated, they will last for 5 to 7 days before you need to replace the ingredients.

Now I’m just hoping it stops raining long enough that I’ll be able to get outside to use these.

Other Summer Entertaining Ideas You Might Like

Have comments or questions about how to make DIY Citronella candles? Tell us in the section below.

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Super Simple DIY Mason Jar Citronella Candles (No wax required!)

This post was originally published on May 29, 2018 but was updated with new content on February 12, 2024.

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  1. Karen Hengst says:

    How long does this solution last?

    1. Hi Karen…If they are left out, the lemons start to go bad after a day or two. If you put them in the refrigerator when you are not using them, they will last a few days longer.