Spending time outdoors in the summer is always an opportunity for a good time, but dealing with the bugs that also want to spend some quality time with you is less good. And you can get giant buckets of citronella candles and citronella torches and all that stuff, but they lack a bit of elegance. So for this upcoming shindig I’ve got going on, I thought I’d add a little something fancy to my bug repellent and float some citronella candles in glass containers filled with water and greenery. I had trouble finding floating citronella candles, however, so I decided to make my own, and here’s how I did it.
The most important thing you need is citronella essential oil. Now, a lot of people find the scent to be a little off-putting, so I decided to add in some clove oil as well to mellow it out. Cloves are also a very good bug repellent.
And you need some wax. I picked soy wax for this project, because it has a lower melting point and tends to throw scent a little better than paraffin or beeswax (which of course has its own scent).
You also need some wee containers. I have these miniature tart tins that I picked up from Value Village a million years ago. I have never used them for tarts but they’re handy for lots of other things.
If you don’t happen to have miniature tart tins, a set of silicone muffin cups (or a silicone tray of any sort with small depressions in it) will also work quite well.
You’ll also need some wicks, which you can purchase, or you can make your own, which is what I did.
Chuck your wax into the top of a double boiler and set that to melting over medium-low heat. Remember that if you use flaked wax, as I did here, that the melted volume will be about half what the solid volume is. Add minimum 3 drops citronella essential oil per cup of wax, and use half the amount of any additional scent. Once it’s all melted, let it cool for a little bit before pouring it.
While that was melting and cooling, I sat down with my wicks and some hot glue.
Because my wicks don’t have those nifty metal bases, I had to attach them to the bottom of the containers I was using. Don’t use too much glue – you actually want this stuff to come off.
I didn’t bother doing this for the silicone ones, but the metal dishes I rubbed with petroleum jelly to ensure that the candle would come out again when it was done.
Then I carefully filled each container. I actually used one of the empty silicone muffin cups as a scoop and it worked really well.
I used straws and pens to hold up the wicks that were determined to droop.
Then I forced myself not to touch them for like AN HOUR. We had Gren’s sister Bakhita staying with us for the weekend and neither dog would come near me because I stank of citronella.
Once they were solid and cool I carefully popped them out of their containers. For the metal ones I wiggled them loose on the sides first, then turned them upside down and gave them a whack with a small hammer, and then it was easy to pull them out by the wicks.
I’m storing them until the shindig but here you can see a sample of my “vision” for how I’m going to set them up.