April 4, 2012

DIY Floating Citronella Candles

For the last couple of weeks, I have been cracking open the PS archives to put a fresh spin on some of my old projects. I started this walk down memory lane last week with a new take on my tiered terracotta planters, and then on Monday I shared an Easter rendition of my donut pops. 

Today’s project is yet another blast from the PS past: a floating version of my DIY citronella candles!

My inspiration to make floating citronella candles initially came last year when I saw from these oversized citronella candles from Pottery Barn (can you believe that $69 price tag?!). I absolutely love the look of floating candles for outdoor entertaining, and giving the candles bug-repellent powers makes a good thing even better! 

Many people don’t realize how simple it is to make citronella candles. All you need is some candle wax (I prefer the natural soy variety), some citronella essential oil and a few other readily-available ingredients to craft candles to keep mosquitoes at bay.

These candles came together in less than a nap time, and I cannot wait to use them at our first outdoor gathering of the season. Ready to see how I put them together? Let’s get right to it!

For this project, you will need…
Soy candle wax
Double boiler
Zinc-core candle wick
Old crayons, for color (optional)
Hot glue
Old muffin tins
Non-stick cooking spray
Citronella essential oil (found in natural food stores; not the torch oil you put in outdoor tiki lamps)

To prepare your tins, spray them thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray. Use a rag to wipe away a small area of the spray at the bottom center of each tin. (This will allow the hot glue in the next step to adhere to the bottom of the tin.)

Cut a 3-inch section of candle wick for each candle you want to make. With your hot glue gun, place a dab of glue on one end of each candle wick, and then carefully press the wick down at the bottom center of your tin, as shown. (To prevent your fingers from burns, use a wooden dowel or pencil to press the wick down.) Carefully position your wick so that it stands upright. (The zinc core will enable it to do so.)

For the full details of how to melt and color your wax using your double boiler, consult my original DIY citronella candle tutorial. Basically, you melt your wax in your double boiler, stir in small pieces of old crayons for color and then stir in the appropriate amount of citronella oil to the wax. For 6 standard-sized muffin tins, you’ll need to melt approximately 4 cups of soy wax and add 20 drops of the citronella oil (5 drops per cup of unmelted wax). Note: Melt your wax and fill your tins in two batches to keep things more manageable.

I wanted my candles to match the coral color I’ve used in my other front porch decor so far, so I used a combination of pink and orange to color them. Keep in mind that the wax will dry to a much more muted color than it looks like when it is melted, so don’t skimp on the amount of crayon pieces you add.

Once your wax is melted and colored and the citronella has been added, pour an even amount of wax into each section of your prepared muffin tin. You will want to fill them to approximately 1/4″ from the top of the mold, to ensure they aren’t too heavy to float later on. Allow your candles to cool and set up completely, either for a few hours on your countertop, or for an hour or so in the refrigerator.

When your candles are completely cool, pull gently, yet firmly, on each candle wick to remove the candles from the muffin tin. The cooking spray should allow each candle to come out easily, and the hot glue you applied to anchor your wick earlier will detach without any problem. Now, trim your wicks to approximately 1/4″. Your candles are ready for use!

Aren’t they absolutely lovely? 
And the fact that they mix beauty with functionality is an added bonus!


Additional Information
  • Are muffin tins used for this project food safe afterward?
    • Although the soy wax is plant-based and the crayons are non-toxic, the citronella is not intended for consumption, so to be on the safe side, I would recommend only using old muffin tins that you do not intend to use for edible items later on.
  • Where can I buy the citronella oil?
    • I purchased my oil at Whole Foods. After making three batches of these candles, I still have well over half of the bottle remaining!
  • Can I use melted down, old candles I have on hand for this project?
    • As long as the candles are all-natural and free of perfumes, I would say that would work just fine. Avoid using scented candles, though, as that might interfere with the effectiveness of the essential oil.
  • How much oil do I need to add?
    • After a bit of trial and error, I have found a good oil-to-wax ratio to be 5 drops per cup of unmelted wax. You want to add enough oil to make them potent, but not so much that it starts to separate from the wax. Of course, you can always feel free to experiment by adding even more than the amount I’ve specified.
  • Will these provide 100% protection from bug bites?
    • Probably not. While I have found that sitting within a close proximity of these candles definitely reduces the number of bites I receive, I definitely recommend using another method of protection if you want to avoid bites entirely. For a great, all-natural option, check out my recipe for homemade all-natural bug repellent.

***

Our front porch is starting to rival George’s nursery as my favorite space in our home! I made some additional jarred citronella candles to use out there in a really pretty celadon color (like I mentioned before, the wax dries to a much lighter color than it looks like when it’s melted)…

…and I’m incorporating lots of fun, funky elements from my collection to really give the space some personality. Once I’m done with all of the projects I have in mind for the porch I’ll be sharing a full reveal, so be sure to stay tuned. :)

Did you enjoy this post? If so, I would love for you to add it to Pinterest!


Thanks so much for stopping in!

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14 Responses to DIY Floating Citronella Candles

  1. Krystle April 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I seriously love this! What a great idea!

  2. Michele {The Scrap Shoppe} April 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    Great idea, Amy! We are still enjoying out citronella candles that I knocked off from you a couple of years ago. I love the floating version! :)

  3. Amanda @ Serenity Now April 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Those are lovely! Great photos. :) I’ve “redone” a few of my old posts too lately. The original photos were just awful, and a couple of the projects got tossed in with random posts.

    Can’t wait to see your porch!

  4. Shelly @A Creative Space April 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    Your porch sounds like such an awesome space!! Love the idea of floating candles. My favorite essential oil scent (for now!) is Clary Sage. Great tutorial.

  5. Kellie April 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this. Many thanks for sharing!

  6. Kellie April 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    I can’t wait to try this. Many thanks for sharing!

  7. Amy April 11, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    This is a great idea. I never realized how easy making your own floating candles could be. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Xander Lawson July 12, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Very impressive work. It’s amazing what a little creativity and some household items can do.

    cheap candles

  9. Tanvir December 15, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    Amy,

    Do they work better than the DEET alternatives? I would like to make these as I hate mosquito coils and sprays, they give me a nasty feeling but I’m concerned about at what degree they work? I’m talking about indoors, like in bedrooms.

    I have heard you need 1 candle for every 15-20 feet outdoors? Can you confirm?

    Also I have heard citronella candles + water causes fire explosion? I’m hoping that’s not the case, how did your candles do?

    I would really appreciate if you could reply?

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