Using citronella candles to repel mosquitoes is an age-old practice, one that continues in gardens across the UK. There have been questions about the science behind the citronella candle and whether citronella candles really repel bugs. While it's true that citronella isn't the strongest repellent for bugs such as mosquitoes, it is one of the gentlest, non-toxic and enjoyable forms of bug repellent. What would you rather: slather yourself in insect repellant, or enjoy the night air with a delicately scented candle? We know we'd rather an evening spent masked in the sweet smell of citronella, rather than covered in sticky bug repellent.

What do citronella candles do?

Citronella is a naturally occurring oil which insects are repelled by. Citronella is made from distilling lemongrass, so the smell you smell is ultimately lemongrass. The main thing that citronella candles do is mask the smell of you, which is what blood-sucking insects are excited by.

How to use citronella candles

Ideally, an aromatherapy candle such as a citronella candle should be burnt for at least an hour for the first time. The fragrance will come into its bug-repelling own when the candle has been burned between three and four hours. Bear this in mind and perhaps think about lighting it before your friends arrive in order to make sure it's keeping the bugs away.

Before each burn you should trim the wick, and don't forget to place your candle on a heat-resistant surface.

Ideally you need a few candles per six feet, and don't forget to think carefully about wind direction. Always use candles with care and never leave them unattended.

When looking for a citronella candle, aim to get environmentally friendly wax, such as soy, and lead-free wicks, which are both better for the environment.

Here are a selection of citronella candles which will not only look nice in your garden, they will also provide the citronella protection that you need from night-time bugs in the warmer weather.

Don't miss our round up of botanical scented candles.

The best citronella candles to buy in the UK

YMing Citronella Candles

Citronella candles

Using soy wax, this four pack of citronella candles come in tins with nicely botanical designs. The tins are easy to transport and as well as offer a good way of repelling the bugs, they give a nice air of being on holiday. The soy wax lasts much longer than traditional wax and the burn time is 50 to 60 hours for one candle. Each one is 2.95 x 2.83 inches and weighs 9 ounces. We think they'd work perfectly for your camping trip or even a garden party. With four in a pack, these are also a more-for-your-money option.

Large outdoor citronella candles

Citronella candles to buy

We love the quirky use of jars for these citronella candles, which are made with natural soy wax and are perfect for making your camping trip feel cosy and cute. With a lead-free cotton wick, this candle will burn with less smoke and is harmless to the environment. Once the jars are empty you could use them for something else: perhaps another citronella candle?

We also love the use of lids, which can go on top of the candle when you've finished with it for the night, and will stop it from drying out and getting too dusty. Each candle is 7 ounces, burns for up to 30 hours and is 2.9 inches by 3.5 inches. Ideally you would burn this candle for at least an hour the first time you use it, and make sure you keep it out of direct sunlight to avoid discolouration.

Indoor and outdoor citronella candles

Indoor and outdoor citronella candles

A set of six, 20 hour citronella candles made from soy wax and perfect for the patio, garden, camping spot. These smokeless candles can also be used inside, although beware of using aromatherapy oil candles inside, as the oil can get onto soft furnishings. Plus you must never leave candles unattended. Each 3.9 ounce candle is 2.5 cm wide.

The design of these candles are the thing we like most about them. The discreet, jam jar look has an expensive feel to it, and the gold lids give them a touch of glamour, too. We also love the fact that the jars are reusable after you've finished with the candles.

More like this

La Jolíe Muse Citronella Candle

Citronella Candle

Why go for chic and discreet when you can go for statement patterns? We love the style of this citronella candle, with its almost delft blue and white designs. Another soy wax option, this is 185 grams, and measures 9.5 x 9.5cm and is natural to its very core as its paraben and paraffin free, with a lead-free cotton wick. Expect around 35-45 hours of burn time, this is another attractive tin which can be used again. The lid is helpful too, to protect the candle from dust and to preserve the fragrance.

Nordic citronella candle

Nordic citronella candle

This nordic-inspired citronella candle comes in an attractive grey pot with wavy designs and will look lovely on your patio table. At 12.5cm in height and with a burn time of 32 hours, it's also one of the best in value candles on this list.

Soy citronella candles

Citronella candles

These beautifully-presented soy wax citronella candles will look a treat in your garden on a warm summer evening. With environmentally friendly wax, an alternative to paraffin, it burns very cleanly with no black smoke. We love the way they are decorated with dried fruit and petals too.

Citronella candle in a terracotta bowl

Terracotta citronella candle

This traditional citronella candle is in a very handsome terracotta bowl, which will look lovely wherever you put it in your garden. It measures 15cm in diameter and is 6.5cm high and is a value for money option. Once you've used the candle, you still have the bowl!

Citronella candle in 300ml jar

Another jam jar option, this time with 60 hours of burn time, and 100 per cent natural soy wax. The width is 8 cm and it comes in at 10 cm high, so it's small but mighty. It's not the cheapest option on this list, but we do love how it looks and its environmentally friendly elements.

Hanging citronella candles

Coloured hanging citronella candles

We love these brightly coloured hanging citronella candles, which will look so lovely in a shrub or tree as the light dims. The coloured, ribbed glass jar has a handy metal handle which can be hung on branches or other structures. Each one is 9.5 cm high and will burn for around 15 hours, so definitely easy on the wallet as well as the eye. You can order in many different colours

Don't miss our piece on garden party ideas and inspiration for your garden bar.


Daisy Bowie-Sell is digital editor of Gardens Illustrated. She has previously worked as a journalist for publications including the Daily Telegraph, WhatsOnStage and Time Out London