Have you ever . . .
Pulled up a chair to a mouthwatering outdoor meal, only to realize that you are on the menu? As fun as it can be to flail your arms and smack yourself repeatedly to rid yourself of mosquitos, no-see-ums, and other biting insects, it can also be nice to take a deep breath, sip on your watermelon agua fresca, and just be.
While we love our homemade bug spray when we’re hiking or working on our farm, I prefer these candles for outdoor meals because they create a bug free zone around our dinner.
If you caught my tutorial on making beeswax candles, you may notice that the instructions are a little different. That’s because recently some of my candles cooled so quickly that the wax cracked down the middle. I noticed that a few of you had mentioned the same problem in the comments, so I did some experimenting and found a way to prevent it.
How To Make Citronella Candles
Makes one candle. Double, triple, or quadruple the batch if desired.
- 6 oz filtered beeswax (see the tutorial at the bottom of this post if your beeswax is unfiltered. I recommend using organic because contaminants such as pesticides that are used on industrial produced hives will collect in the wax.)
- 30-40 drops citronella essential oil, or more if desired (where to buy citronella essential oil)
- Natural, lead-free/zinc-free wick (I used this one)*
- Short, wide-mouth 8 0z ball jar (like this)
* These are the best pre-tabbed (anchored) natural option I’ve found. They are dipped in a little soy wax to make the wicks stiff and easy to work with, which I don’t love simply because I try not to buy soy products. For me that’s just a matter of not wanting to support monoculture crops, but in this instance I don’t think there’s actually any health concern associated with using it. I’ve written the manufacturer and thanked them for working hard to create a quality wick, and I’ve asked them to consider offering a wick dipped in beeswax as well.)
A note on wick size: Beeswax properties can vary a lot depending on when and where it was harvested. I’ve suggested a size based on what’s worked for me, but you may find that a larger or smaller wick works better for you.
Step 1: Prepare your candle jars
Position your wick in the center of the jar and, if desired, use a sticker to help it stay in place. The potami donated a few for my project and they worked just fine. Next, use pencils or straws to hold the wick in place near the mouth of the jar. I taped my straws to the side of the jar to keep them from rolling around.
Step 2: Place jars in a warm oven
Candles sometimes crack when they cool too quickly. To prevent this from happening, I warm my jars in an oven set to 170F while the wax warms up.
Step 3: Melt beeswax in a double boiler
In a double boiler (or large pot of simmering water with a stainless steel bowl or smaller pot resting inside), gently melt the beeswax over low heat.
Step 4: Remove jars from the oven
Turn off the oven, remove the jars, and place them on your work surface.
Step 5: Add essential oils
Once the wax is fully melted, remove it from heat and stir in the essential oils. Move quickly to the next step – the wax begins to harden as soon as it cools.
Step 6: Pour beeswax
Pour the wax in and check the position of the wick to make sure it is still centered.
Step 7: Allow candles to set
Place them back in the oven with the door slightly open so that they can cool slowly.
Step 8: Trim wick
Allow to harden for 24 hours, then trim the wick to about 1/4 inch. Allow to cure for another 24 hours before using. When lighting your candle, direct the flame at the base of the wick so that some of wax melts and is drawn up into the wick – this helps it burn properly. Allow candle to burn long enough so the wax melts out to the side of the jar. This helps to prevent tunneling (when the middle melts down with lots of wax left over around the edges). Never leave a candle unattended.
Cleaning Tip: Place any oven proof containers in a warm oven to melt wax that has dried on the sides. Once the wax is melted, wipe it out with a paper towel or old newspaper.