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Uses for Citronella Oil

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Lisa Lambson • updated: 4/19/2011

Citronella is commonly used as a bug repellent both in candle for and as an essential oil. There are many other uses for citronella as well. Learn more about them in this article.

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    Citronella Oil

    Citronella oil is a perfect aromatherapy treatment to repel insects. With its mildly sweet, lemony scent, citronella repels mosquitoes and other insects from human skin, pets, and outdoor gathering places. Used in lotions, sprays, and candles, citronella is easy to use and does not have the harsh chemicals of commercial repellants. Citronella is an extract from citronella grass, a native plant to Java, Central America, and Haiti. The oil also can be derived from the citrosa plant as well as from catnip.

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    Active Ingredients

    Citronella oil contains citronellal, an aldehyde that gives the oil its pleasant lemon scent, an aroma that repels insects. Citronellal is an antiseptic and a sedative. Citronella oil also contains geraniol, which is an alcohol that increases the aroma of the oil and which is antiviral and antiseptic. Camphene, which is another ingredient of citronella oil, is a mildly stimulating pain reliever that has antibacterial properties.

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    Common Uses

    Citronella Candle The most common use of citronella oil is as an insect repellent. Take citronella lotion or spray on vacation or camping for an effective and easy to use mosquito repellent. Other methods for using citronella oil as a bug repellent include adding a few drops of the essential oil to a bath before going out or blending four to five drops with one teaspoon of base oil such as grapeseed. Reapplying the citronella oil mixture after swimming and throughout the day increases the effectiveness.

    Placing citronella candles on outdoor tables allows for enjoyable, insect-free summer nights. Dilute essential oils in alcohol rather than water. Perfumes or body sprays work well as bases. Citronella blends well with eucalyptus, geranium, and lavender oils. Mixing citronella with another scent is a good way to go for individuals who are sensitive to the aroma of citronella.

    Citronella oil is a safe and effective flea repellent for your pets. To use citronella against fleas, soak the pet's collar overnight in a weak solution consisting of five drops of citronella oil in two cups of distilled water. Air dry the collar, and put it on your pet. You and your pet will benefit from the flea-repellent properties of this essential oil.

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    Other Uses

    Indigenous peoples such as a Africans and Native Americans have long-recognized the insect-repelling qualities of citronella. However, citronella oil also has other uses within aromatherapy. In some magical traditions, citronella is considered a protectant with cleansing properties that can promote the life force. Citronella also has stimulating properties that promote clarity. The euphoric effect some experience is caused by the geraniol in citronella. Citronella oil, therefore, can be added to a vaporizer to aid convalescence, healing, and uplift a depressed mood. The antiseptic properties of citronella can also be used for cleaning purposes.

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    • Citronella Fact Sheet:

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Aromatherapy: Holistic Healing Ways

Aromatherapy offers a wealth of ways to create atmospheres, to heal ailments, and to invigorate or soothe the body.
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  2. Uses for Citronella Oil