Citonella grass, or Cymbopogon nardus, produces an essential oil, most often under the name "citronella." This aromatic essential oil has several commercial uses, including use in cosmetics and lotions and in candles and sprays as mosquito repellent.
Essential oils from the citronella grass plant are heralded as mosquito repellents. Scientists believe the terpenes in citronella oil block neural pathways in mosquitoes and other insects. Commercial products focusing on citronella's mosquito-repelling qualities include sunscreen, pet collars, candles and even clothes. The oil is also being used to repel other pests that attack food. Citronella oil is used on food packaging.
The essential oils in citronella have a sweet lemony smell. Aromatherapists use citronella oil to combat mild depression, lessen headache, migraine and rheumatic pain. Citronella oil can be mixed with rose oil to create a pleasant aroma. Aromatherapists use the oil for stimulating the whole body and balancing the nervous system.
Citronella oil has been used in cosmetics for more than 50 years, according to author,Valerie Ann Worwood. The essential oil is used in lotion, sunscreen, massage oil, bath gels and soaps.
The essential oils of citronella are extracted by steaming the crushed grass shafts. The oil has strong antiseptic qualities and can be used by itself to clean.