I hope you’re as excited for the summer as I am! The season has started where we live. We’re already eating lunch outside. The salads are growing crazy fast – completely invading our elevated planter, I feel bad for the dwarf basil getting no light… We’re working on getting the terrace ready for maximum bliss! Today I’m sharing my new DIY citronella candles made with coconut shells – to ward off any mosquitos trying to put a damper on your summer nights!
I always keep citronella candles on hand to keep the mosquitos away because they seem particularly attracted to my freckles… In the spirit of upcycling, I tried making my own by recycling some containers I salvaged, which turned out to be coconut shells! Coconuts are a bit of a staple in our house since my boyfriend is South Indian. If you’d like to try this DIY but you’re not sure what to make with the coconut flesh, try this Coconut chutney. It’s so good I eat it by the spoonful (behind my boyfriend’s back…).
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To make these DIY Citronella Candles, you’ll need…
- Clean coconut shell split in half
- Sanding blocks
- Wooden beads
- Acrylic paint pens
- Soy wax flakes
- Thin cotton cord or candle wicks
- Citronella essential oil
Step 1: Clean the coconut shells
To start off, you’ll need to split a coconut in half and take out the flesh for cooking (or straight-up eating!). I used a handsaw to open the coconut neatly.
Clean the shells with soapy water and let them dry. Once dry, sand the outer shells smooth with sandpaper or a sanding block to remove the fibers. You could also use the sanding bit of your Dremel to go faster.
Wipe the coconut shells clean once you’re done sanding.
Step 2: Paint the coconut shells with acrylic pens
Next, shake your acrylic pens well to mix up the paint and draw motifs onto the shells. I used black and white pens but anything goes! I love coconut craft from Kerala in India so I painted some mandala patterns which reminded me of this. It’s mainly a series of dots, and that’s a lot easier to do on a curved surface than line drawing!!
What you draw is mainly down to your preferences, and if you’re not keen on painting, you can leave the shells plain. It would also look pretty good on a patio table!
Step 3: Create the DIY Citronella Candles feet
Once you’re finished painting and the acrylic has dried completely, select a few wooden beads. I chose different sizes so that my 2 candles wouldn’t be the same height.
Paint the beads with some wood stain or brown marker to darken to a color close to the coconut shells. I used a dark oak stain which was pretty spot-on. Now, glue 3 beads at the bottom of the shells to create the DIY Citronella Candles feet.
If your shells are a bit uneven (which is usually the case with coconuts!), try placing the beads on your worktable, in a triangle pattern, and place your coconut on top to see if the spacing is right. Carefully remove the coconut and apply a drop of glue on top of each. Now, slowly lower the coconut shell on top of the bead, and voila! Your beads should be placed perfectly 👍
Step 4: Add the candle wicks
Before you melt the soy wax, you need to prepare the wick. You can use a ready-made wick if you have one or just some thin cotton cord. Either way works perfectly fine!
Cut a small piece of cotton cord, 5″ (12cm) at most, and tie it to a bamboo skewer. Shorten the hanging cord until it’s small enough to touch the bottom of the coconut shell. To help keep the wick straight, drop a bit of glue or some melted wax at the bottom of the shell and dip the bottom of the cotton cord into it.
Step 5: Pour the DIY Citronella Candles
Next, measure how much wax you’ll need. The easiest way I have found to do this is to place the candle container on a scale, fill it with water and measure the weight (in ounces or grams). The rough equation is to divide this weight by 0.9 to find the weight of the wax you need to use.
So, for example, if your container can fit in 8oz (225g) of water, you’d have to melt 8.88oz (250g) of wax flakes to fill this candle container:
- 8oz / 0.9 = 8.88oz
- or 225g / 0.9= 250g
For these DIY Citronella Candles, I measured both coconut halves and added the weight to melt the wax for both in one go.
Place your wax flakes in a double boiler and melt them. Next, remove the wax from the stove and add 1 to 2 teaspoons of citronella essential oil. Mix well and slowly pour the liquid wax into the coconut shells. Let the wax dry in its own good time, undisturbed.
And voila! Untie the bamboo skewers and cut the wick to leave 1/2″ (1 to 1.5cm). Let your candle cure (ie. don’t light it) for a week or two. Allowing your candles to cure will result in better scent release – and fewer mosquitoes!