Ingredients in Citronella Bug Repellent Candles

A popular bug repellent, citronella candles are made of wax, citronella and other essential oils. The candles are wide, stout and often produce some smoke, which aids in repelling insects. The width of the candle also provides a larger wax pool, which allows the heated oils to disperse into the air. Citronella candles are comprised of wax, a wick and essential oils in a flame-proof container, such as a clay pot or small metal bucket.


Citronella oil is obtained from the leaves and roots of plants in the Cymbopogon species, including the Ceylon and Java varieties, which have different concentrations of citronellal and geraniol, the key insect-repelling ingredients. Both are effective at repelling insects and are considered organic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Clove oil is obtained from the flower bud of the clove plant, which is an evergreen tree. According to, clove oil is a skin irritant, so it should be used sparingly and with caution. However, it also an effective repellent mixed into a citronella candle.


Obtained from the leaves of peppermint plants, peppermint oil improves the fragrance of the candle as well as enhances the effectiveness. According to, peppermint oil has a long history as a pest repellent. The website states that rat catchers in the early 1900s used peppermint-soaked rags to deter rats and that ants are repelled by the scent.

Keywords: Peppermint oil, Clove oil, Organic pest repellent

About this Author

J.D. Chi is a professional journalist who has covered sports for more than 20 years at newspapers all over the United States. She has covered major golf tournaments and the NFL as well as travel and health topics. Chi received her Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is working toward a master's degree in journalism.