How to Make Outdoor Citronella Bucket Candles

  • 01 of 08

    Get Your Materials Ready

    Citronella Bucket Candle
    Citronella Bucket Candle. David Fisher

    Citronella bucket candles are great outdoor candles for the deck in summer months when mosquitoes are out. Not only do they help repel mosquitoes, but they give a wonderful ambiance to your outdoor spaces.

    You'll need a good balance of wick, wax, and container for your citronella bucket candle to burn well. But you don't want it to burn too well. You want it to smoke a bit. This helps the mosquito repelling effect. Also, you'll want a big melt pool to help disperse the essential oils...MORE into the air.

    Here's what you'll need:  

    • Wicks 
    • Melted wax
    • Foil or wax paper 
    • Wick tabs 
    • Pliers
    • Wick stickum, glue dot or a dab of hot glue
    • Double boiler 
    • Essential oil blend
    • Buckets 
    • Sticks, chopsticks, a wick bar or skewers

    Although they're specifically designed to be used outside, these are basic container candles so we'll be following the steps to make those. 

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  • 02 of 08

    Prime Your Candle Wicks

    Priming wicks
    Priming large wicks. David Fisher

    You'll probably have to assemble and prime your own wicks for this project. I haven't found them available commercially so I prime my own.

    I usually use an MC-1 size wick for 4-inch metal buckets. I had some MC-3s that I wanted to try as well, so I made two with MC-1 and two with MC-3. The MC-3 wicks were a bit too big. The melt pool was complete across the top and about 1/2" deep. The MC-1 wicks were much more appropriate.

    Prime the wicks by cutting them to length, then soak them in...MORE some melted wax for several minutes. You should see small air bubbles streaming out of the wicks. Stir the wax a bit and press on the wicks a little to make sure the wax soaks in well. Lay the wicks out straight on a piece of foil or wax paper and leave them to harden.

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  • 03 of 08

    Assemble the Candle Wicks

    Putting the wick tab onto the wick
    Putting on the wick tab. David Fisher

    You can put the wick tab on the bottom of each wick when they're cooled. Use pliers to open up the hole in the wick tab, then insert the wick through and close the tabs onto the wick.

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  • 04 of 08

    Position the Wicks

    Position the wick
    Positioning the Wick. David Fisher

    Use a wick stickum, glue dot or a dab of hot glue to position the wick tab in the center of the bottom of the bucket. This is an important step because the wicks can "drift" in the melted wax when they're not anchored down. They'll either pull themselves out or they'll burn the side of the container, a definite candle safety issue.

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  • 05 of 08

    Melt the Wax and Add the Fragrance

    Melt the Wax and Add the Essential Oils
    Melt the Wax and Add the Essential Oils. David Fisher

    Melt the wax in a double boiler. Most container waxes want to be heated to about 180 F. Add you're essential oil blend and stir well. I usually use about 1 ounce of essential oil blend for every pound of wax. You can vary this up or down depending on your blend and how strong you want your candles. You probably won't want to go much more than 1.5 ounces per pound of wax, however. 

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  • 06 of 08

    Pour the Wax

    Pouring the Wax
    Pouring the Wax. David Fisher

    Let the wax cool to about 160 F, gently stirring it as it cools. Pour the wax into the bucket.

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  • 07 of 08

    Let the Citronella Bucket Candles Cool

    Let the Candles Cool
    Centering the Wick and Letting the Candles Cool. David Fisher

    Put the candles in a safe place to cool. Depending on your room temperature, it may take several hours. Use sticks, chopsticks, a wick bar or skewers to help keep the wick centered.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Light Your Candles and Enjoy the Outdoors

    Lighted Candles
    Light Your Great Candles. David Fisher

    When the candles have cooled and have sat for at least 24 hours, it's time to head outdoors! Light 'em up! Don't forget to take notes on how the wicks, wax and essential oils perform.

    The candle that's third from the left here was made with recycled wax scraps. It's kind of a purple-brown color ... but as you can see, it's burning just fine!

    Note: Be sure to use extra caution with these candles. The large wicks produce large flames and large melt pools. Be sure to place...MORE them where people, children or pets will not bump into them or knock them over, and never use them indoors.