Now is the quintessential time to arm yourself against summer mosquito domination by recruiting your best ally: non-toxic citronella candles.

Too dramatic? Maybe! But have you ever had a relaxing night ruined by bug bites? It’s certainly not fun. But of course, you want to make sure the pest control methods you’re using are safe—whether it’s organic citronella candles below, bug traps, body sprays, or some combination of those. Because the truth is that there are plenty of bug-repellant options that are not so healthy.

There’s a good chance that in an effort to avoid a run-in with pesky bugs, you’ve unconsciously “invited” something even more threatening. I’m talking about harsh chemicals like permethrin, pyrethroids, and cyfluthrin, which are some of the most commonly-found ingredients in bug-repellant sprays. Fending off bites with an army of toxic chemicals doesn’t seem like the best possible solution.

Instead, you may want to invest in all-natural citronella candles for indoor and outdoor use.  According to the National Pesticide Information Center, citronella oil is a stellar natural, safe insect repellent that masks blood-sucking critters’ favorite smells. Consider non-toxic citronella candles as a way to camouflage yourself without actually having to spray a bunch of stuff on your skin.

What’s more, citronella oil, which is a species of lemongrass native to Asia, is touted for its pleasant and fresh citrusy aroma. Although it can have a strong scent to it, most people like the smell! So maybe you can harvest the power of aromatherapy to create the perfect atmosphere for your summer-night outdoor gatherings.

Here is a roundup of our favorite natural, non-toxic, and organic citronella candles for a mosquito-free summer.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

Featured Image Credit: La Jolie Muse

Is Citronella Non-Toxic?

Yes, citronella is generally natural, non-toxic, and effective. It’s generally recognized as safe by regulatory agencies such as the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). That’s because citronella is derived from the leaves and stems of the citronella plant, which is a natural and renewable resource.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that while citronella oil is generally safe, some people may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions to the oil, particularly if they have sensitive skin. Citronellol, which is the naturally ocurring active scent ingredient, is on the EU’s list of 26 allergenic fragrances, which means that there are certain concentration limits and that citronella products must be labeled properly.

In other words, unless you have an allergy or sensitivitiy to citronella/citronellol, then non-toxic citronella candles are generally safe. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you shouldn’t ditch other protection methods, including:

  • Wearing long sleeves and pants
  • Using non-toxic insect repellent on exposed skin, especially when you’re in a bug-heavy area where a candle might not cut it
  • Eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed

Keep in mind that certain mosquito-borne illnsessessuch as Dengue Fever, Zika, and West Nile can be very serious. Your risk may be higher depending on where you’re located. Even though the chemicals in bug repellants can be toxic themselves, you need to weigh the risks and benefits, as there may be times when a stronger repellant is necessary. Stay tuned for a more completely guide to non-toxic bug spray.

What Else Is In Your Citronella Candle?

In addition to citronella, you’ll want to consider what else is in your candle. What is the wax made out of? Is the wick lead-free? Are there added fragrances in addition to the citronella?

In general, you’ll want to skip the paraffin wax and instead choose healthier options like soy, coconut, beeswax, or even talllow. You’ll also want to look for brands that are actually transparent about the fragrances they use. Because of what’s become known as the “fragrance loophole” in US law, companies are not actually required to list all of the fragrance ingredients in things like candles, perfume, personal care & cleaning products, and more.

There are actually over 4,000 different chemicals that can be “hidden” under the label of “fragrance.” While many of these ingredients are perfectly safe, some of them are hormone disruptive and/or carcinogenic.

If you want to dive deeper into the world of non-toxic candles in general, you can check out our main candle guide.

How to Use Organic Citronella Candles Properly

First and foremost, not all citronella candles for flies and mosquitoes are the same. They come in various sizes, from small votives to large outdoor citronella candles, so make sure to find the one that meets your needs.

Choose a candle that is appropriate for the size of the area you want to protect. A general rule of thumb is to use one medium-sized candle for every 10-12 square feet of space.

Place your non-toxic citronella candles strategically around the area you want to protect, such as on a patio table, near the entrance to your home, or along the perimeter of your backyard. This will help to create a barrier that can keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay.

It’s best to light citronella candles early, before mosquitoes and other insects become too active. It’s easier to keep them out than it is to get rid of them once they start swarming.

Is It Safe to Burn Citronella Indoors?

Burning large citronella candles indoors is generally not recommended, as the smoke and fumes can irritate the respiratory system and eyes, especially for people with allergies or sensitivities. Small non-toxic citronella candles can be used indoors; just make sure there’s adequate ventilation to dissipate the fumes.

Keep in mind that citronella tends to have a stronger scent than other natural scents you might be more likely to burn inside, like eucalyptus or lavender. If you don’t have any sensitivities, you can always try it. Just pay close attention to any symptoms that may arise, including in pets.

Or, if you want to use citronella indoors, you can try using citronella oil in a diffuser or a room spray (like this one or this one) instead of burning candles. This will still help to repel mosquitoes and other insects without the potential hazards of burning candles indoors.

Organic & Non-Toxic Citronella Candles To Arm Yourself With In 2023

Now, here are our recommendations for the best non-toxic citronella candles for a relaxing evening outside:

Essentially Charlie

Price: $24.80
Made of: Beeswax coated hemp wick, coconut wax, & essential oils
Burn time: 45 hours

Etsy’s virtual shelves overflow with amazing home-related finds, lovingly crafted by organic living aficionados worldwide. The NY-based shop Essentially Charlie is certainly one of them. Their different non-toxic citronella candles come in two scents: Eucalyptus and Cedarwood

Made with coconut oil and beeswax, scented using pure essential oils, and topped with a beeswax-coated hemp wick, both options are effective in repelling common bugs, insects, and pests.

Plus, these organic citronella candles are locally made in Brooklyn and hand-poured in a 9oz jar with a 45-hour burn time. The all-natural ingredients are sustainable and ethically sourced. It’s really no wonder why Essentially Charlie has over 6,219 sales and hundreds of raving reviews. 

Check out Essentially Charlie


non toxic bug repellant candles from aire

Price: $31
Made of: Beeswax coated cotton wick, beeswax, & essential oils
Burn time: 50 hours

Aire’s candles aim to help you enjoy your soirée well into the evening without having to deal with unwelcome visitors. That’s why they create a bespoke beeswax, non-toxic candle that combines 100% pure, sustainably-sourced essential oils, each known to repel different insects: lemon eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree.

All candles feature natural cotton wicks coated in beeswax and are “dressed” in amber glass jars with metal lids. Aside from burning for up to 50 hours, this blend is also free of dyes, fillers, phthalates, sulfates, parabens, lead, soy, and paraffin! Let’s just say that they are perfect for taking with you on your next warm-weather staycation.

Shop Aire

Hank’s Garden

Price: From $16.43 
Made of: Soy wax, cotton wicks, & essential oils
Burn time: 10-60 hours

These all-natural citronella candles from Hank’s Garden were specifically formulated to keep away chiggers, gnats, flies, ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas—all while adding some dim light and ambiance to your patio.

They are made with 100% pure soy wax, vegetable-based natural dyes, cotton wicks, and 100% pure essential oils. The list includes citronella, lemongrass, basil, cedarwood, rosemary, peppermint, clove leaf, and eucalyptus. 

Plus, you can choose from the three available sizes: a metal bucket votive with 10-15 hours burning time, an 8-oz metal bucket with 50-60 hours burning time, or an 8-oz mason jar with lid with 50-60 hours burning time.

No matter which one you choose, the order will come wrapped in biodegradable paper and packaging.

Shop Hank’s Garden

Murphy’s Naturals

Price: $11.99
Made of: Organic coconut wax, cotton wicks, & essential oils
Burn time: 30 hours

If you are looking for a mosquito-repellent candle that’ll look great placed on your outdoor table, look no further than Murphy’s Naturals. It contains an inviting combination of rosemary, peppermint, and lemongrass oils that can ward off bites for up to 30 hours. Additionally, these non-toxic citronella candles are made in the USA from 100% natural soy and beeswax. There are no petroleum, dyes, or synthetic fragrance. 

Plus, 2% of all sales from Murphy’s Naturals go back to communities working to better people and the planet.

Shop at: | Grove Collaborative | Walmart

La Jolie Muse

Price: From $29.99
Made of: Natural soy wax, cotton wicks, & essential oils
Burn time: 26-30 hours

La Jolie Muse’s non-toxic citronella candles promise to match every patio decor with ease, while keeping your space bug-free. Boxed with blue, yellow, and red detailing, this 3-piece Natural Soy Wax candle set has 26-30 hours of burn time each.

The brand focuses on creating cruelty-free centerpieces that add a touch of refreshing botanic aroma with a clean and long-lasting burn that is harmless to humans and pets. To top it all off, they work with artisans around the world to make beautiful, timeless designs accessible to all.

Shop La Jolie Muse

Fenwick Candles

non toxic citronella candle from fenwick candles

Price: From $15
Made of: Organic coconut wax, cotton wicks, & essential oils
Burn time: 20-80 hours

Here are some minimalist, display-worthy non-toxic citronella candles that are crafted with intention and respect for the natural environment. Fenwick Candles uses proprietary organic coconut wax and 100% cotton wicks to create a sweet, bright, and nostalgic scent to set the mood for your outdoor gathering. You can choose from three available sizes with 20, 40, and 80 hours of time. 

The grassy floral and earthen lemon aroma of these organic citronella candles is petroleum-free, soy-free, lead-free, cruelty-free, and non-GMO. Moreover, each candle is hand-crafted with intention and love in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. To top it all off, Fenwick candles are always packaged with recyclable and compostable materials.

Shop Fenwick Citronella Candles


natural citronella candles with essential oils

Price: From $29.99
Made of: Natural soy wax, cotton wicks, & essential oils
Burn time: 80 hours

This 3-wick all-natural citronella candle is designed to protect your outside space from unwanted insects for 80 hours. With a bright citrus-like scent that harvests the power of aromatherapy, this candle will fill your space with a fresh and invigorating aroma all summer long.

It is made from 100% natural soy wax and essential oils, which are poured into a reusable glass jar with a metal lid. Many reviewers claim that these large outdoor citronella candles smell so good that they actually want to burn them inside as well. (But again: be careful if you decide to do so!)

Buy at: T& | Walmart | Wayfair | Amazon

Wrapping Up: Best Non-Toxic Citronella Candles

Getting covered in itchy bug bites and having to deal with the skin-irritating ingredients in most bug-repellant sprays can both be annoying options. So, the next time you need an ally to help repel various pesky insects, simply light up your favorite organic citronella candles from our list above.

Here are some more related guides for non-toxic summer fun:

About Konstantina

Konstantina Antoniadou is a sustainability writer with an ongoing curiosity to explore new innovative technologies and report on trends in “green” industries. With almost ten years of expertise in media and publishing and undying love for upbeat and energetic storytelling, Konstantina is at the forefront of the creatively charged fashion, beauty, and non-toxic home verticals. When she’s not crafting ethical shopping guides, she’s either trying to perfect her roller skate dance moves, thrifting, or binging series for the hundredth time.

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