Things You'll Need
Witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
Vegetable glycerin (optional)
Citronella essential oil, or fresh or dried citronella grass
Measuring cups and spoons
Strainer (for fresh or dried citronella)
Citronella spray can help repel insect pests like mosquitoes. Rather than killing insects, citronella oil masks the scents they seek when hunting for meals. When the biting bugs cannot find you or your kids, they go elsewhere looking for dinner. A spray made with essential citronella oil is simple to mix in a spray bottle and is ready to use immediately. You can also make an insect repellant spray using citronella grass, or lemongrass, clipped from the garden, or the dried version sold at natural food stores.
Shake and Spray
Pour 1/2 cup water into the spray bottle and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin, if desired.
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Use the dropper to add between 30 and 50 drops of citronella essential oil. Place the top of the spray bottle on tightly and shake well.
Shake the mixture before using it. Spray exposed skin or clothing, taking care not to breathe in the spray or get it in the eyes.
Steep and Spritz
Boil 1 cup of water. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of fresh or dried citronella. Mix well. Cover the liquid and let it cool. If you leave it uncovered, the oils from the citronella will dissipate into the air and be lost. Strain the cooled mixture and discard the used citronella solids.
Pour the liquid into the spray bottle. Add 1 cup of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol. If desired, add 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin.
Store it in a cool place, such as the fridge. Shake before spraying. Keep the mixture out of eyes and avoid inhaling it.
Essential oils do not mix with water -- witch hazel and rubbing alcohol are emulsifiers that help the mixture blend.
You can combine other essential oils with citronella essential oil to increase potency or for fragrance. Try rosemary, lavender, mint or tea tree oil. Test different oils together in small amounts before mixing them in a spray to make sure the result is pleasant.
Citronella essential oil can be mildly irritating or cause allergic reactions in some people. Discontinue use if skin begins to itch or a rash or hives develop. It should not be used on infants under six months old.
Citronella essential oil is not toxic, but it can irritate the throat and cause coughing if swallowed or inhaled.