Citronella candles come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes

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Citronella Candles for Every Backyard Party

Citronella Candles are always in my closet. I can pull these natural insect repellent candles out whenever I'm called upon to host an impromptu backyard dinner or when friends stop by during the summer. Candlelight adds elegance to the dinner table anytime. But the particular citronella fragrance lends ambiance to the table and keeps flies and bugs from joining the guest list.

Citronella Candles Proven History


Citronella oil was first registered as an insect repellent by the EPA in 1948. It is the most common ingredient in "natural" insect repellents. Commercial repellent sprays often combine the natural oil with chemicals like DEET and picaridin.

This citrus-scented oil is made by distilling different grasses and is nature's way of keeping bugs away. Citronella oil is a common ingredient in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. It is mixed in cocktails like gin tonics and mojitos.

The common citronella candle of the 1970s

I remember the citronella candles my parents used. They were large, cast in the colored glass, and covered with plastic netting. They lasted the entire summer, and we burned them every night.

Modern citronella candles come in designer ceramics and all shapes and sizes. You can buy tea lights that last one evening or large candles designed to last months. You can choose floating candles or tall onces that can stand up in pots or gardens.

Citronella candles and oils are not 100 percent effective in repelling all bugs. It is part of the arsenal I keep on hand for hosting outdoor events during summer. My game plan for keeping pests away from my events utilizes an electronic inset trap, natural mosquito spray before the event, and candles.

Citronella oil in the candle adds a sharp fragrance that bugs naturally find offensive. The citrus blend mixes candle wax, torch oils, and incense cones for outdoor use. While it is effective on flies and fleas, it is less efficient at holding back some strains of mosquitos and wasps.

I prefer these candles because they arrive in self-contained holders. There are 12 in a pack, and each candle is 2.3 ounces and burns for nearly 12 hours. The citrusy citronella scent does not overpower the dinner table. I can use one candle on a side table if I'm sitting on the patio alone. But I like to place three in a centerpiece for hosting a small dinner under the stars. I don't need to dress the candles up with fancy glass holders. There are enough candles in each shipment to protect the entire yard for two evenings.

The soy-based wax burns cleaner than most commercial candles. Since the candle tin can get hot, I often place them in old glass holders, or they fit perfectly in half-pint canning jars.

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