Summer is almost here, and that means the return of all our favorite things: beach parties. Family picnics. Summer cocktails. What's not to love?
Okay, we can think of at least one thing: the bugs. The return of summertime also means the return of mosquito season-and nothing is sure to ruin a summer night like a swarm of insects (not to mention the resulting bites).
But don't worry; thanks to citronella candles, you can still have plenty of summer fun. Not sure where to start? We've got you. We've rounded up the ten best citronella candles for keeping bugs away. From a basic candle with more than 5,000 five-star reviews to a hand-poured tropical option that smells more like a spa than a bug repellent, you're sure to find something on the list for you. So go on-stay outside a while (and pour yourself another drink).
Things to consider
Burn time: Burn time and effectiveness go hand-in-hand-after all, a candle that burns out after a few hours won't be too helpful for keeping bugs at bay-so be sure to check the manufacturer's estimated burn time before you buy. A few factors go into determining a candle's burn time, including the candle's size and the number of wicks, but as a general rule, larger candles will burn longer than smaller ones. That's not to say that bigger is better; you'll also want to consider your space and how you plan to use the candle. For apartment patios or one-off outdoor gatherings, small candles should do the trick. For extended outdoor activities, like camping, or bigger spaces, look for a longer burn time.
Citronella percentage: Citronella oil, which is distilled from a type of lemongrass, is the main factor in a candle's ability to repel insects and mosquitos (a feat it achieves by masking the carbon monoxide and lactic acid scents that attract mosquitoes to humans). So you might be wondering-exactly how much citronella oil do you need to keep bugs away? The most effective citronella candles contain 5% of citronella oil. This is considered on the high end of oil concentration; many citronella candles contain less. Keep an eye out for tricky manufacturers who don't list a percentage.
Scent: Citronella candles have a distinct, grassy scent that repels some humans along with the bugs. If you don't care for the citronella scent, opt for candles that blend the oil with other fragrances, such as rosemary, lavender, lime, or pine. All-natural, DEET-free citronella candles are more likely to have a subdued, pleasant scent compared to their chemical counterparts.
Our Top Picks
Best Basic: More Than 5,000 Reviewers Say This $10 Candle Does the Job
Cutter Citronella Candle
Best Budget: This Pack of Two, 30-Ounce Candles Comes in at Only $5
Mainstays 30-Ounce Bucket Citronella Candle (2-pack)
Best Natural: A Citrusy Blend of Essential Oils Gives This DEET-Free Candle Its Repellent Properties
Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Candle
Most Stylish: A Handmade Pottery Container Houses This Elegant Option
Winbattle Natural Soy Wax Citronella Candle
Best Torches: Durability and Weather-Proofing Are Hallmarks of These Torches
Deco Home Garden Torch Set
Best Scent: A Combination of Fine Fragrances Gives This Candle a Citrusy, Tropical Aroma
Citronella and Lime Candle
Best Tealights: These Natural, DEET-Free Tealights Are Compact and Versatile
Mosquito Guard Tealight Citronella Candles
Best Heavy-Duty: This Durable, Classic Lantern Candle Is Perfect for Outdoor Activities
Coleman 70+ Hour Outdoor Lantern
Best Incense: These All-Natural Incense Sticks Protect Up to 12 Feet
Murphy's Naturals Mosquito Repellent Incense Sticks
At just under $10, Cutter's 20-ounce citronella candle is a solid staple. The triple-wick candle features a wide, stable base that keeps it from tipping over, and it provides up to 40 hours of burn time, so you never have to cut your summer nights short. With over 5,000 five-star reviews and an Amazon's Choice badge, it's no wonder this one wins our "best basic" pick. As one reviewer put it, it "gets the job done."
Ringing up at only $5.00 for two 30-ounce candles, it's no wonder that Mainstays' citronella bucket candle takes home the title for best budget candle. Poured into sturdy metal buckets with three wicks for even burning and optimal illumination, these durable candles can handle whatever summer throws your way. Unlike many on the list, though, Mainstays' option isn't made with natural ingredients and contains a relatively low percentage of citronella oil, so remember: you get what you pay for.
Murphy's Naturals' mission is to create products from responsibly sourced, plant-based ingredients, and their citronella candle is no different. This DEET-free candle is crafted with rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, citronella, and cedarwood oils and made from 100% soy and beeswax that provides a clean, citrusy burn. Beyond being free of petroleum, parabens, and synthetic fragrances, the natural candle contains 5% citronella oil, making it the perfect addition to your outdoor space.
Want a citronella candle that doesn't look like a citronella candle? Winbattle's soy wax indoor/outdoor candle is for you. Featuring environmentally friendly soybean wax poured into coarse, handmade pottery, this candle will keep the bugs away without repelling your stylish friends. Unlike most candles on this list, Winbattle's addition pulls double duty-you can use it indoors and outdoors, giving you extra incentive to buy. And it doesn't just look good; with 6% citronella oil, it contains the highest percentage of citronella oil out of all our picks and can burn for up to 75 hours.
If you're looking for a bug repellent with a wider radius than a traditional candle, Deco Home's 4-piece garden torch set might just do the job. Each 5-foot torch features a long-lasting, fiberglass wick that provides four to seven hours of burn time. Place them around the edge of your outdoor space for a sleek, elevated take on the traditional Tiki torch. It's worth noting, though, that the citronella oil you'll need to keep the bugs at bay is sold separately.
Want to add a little bit of flair to your backyard? Check out Coleman's LED citronella candle. Much like traditional citronella candles, this 8-oz option burns for up to 25 hours and features an embossed glass candle holder that makes it perfect for the outdoors. But it has one major difference: it features a color-changing LED light that illuminates the entire candle when lit. Reviewers call the rotating colors "magic" and "so cool." While a great option for those with kids, Coleman's candle is a hit with adults as well. Backyard LED light party? Count us in.
Want to keep the bugs away this summer but not into the distinct grassy scent that accompanies traditional citronella candles? This citronella and lime option is your answer. Handmade from pure soy and featuring a lemon fragrance with earthy undertones, this candle is perfect for nature lovers looking to add a little aromatherapy to their outdoor time. Another bonus? It's poured into a decorative, reusable acacia bowl. Simply pour hot water into the bowl once your candle has burned down to remove the wax.
For a versatile option, check out these citronella tealights from Mosquito Guard. DEET-free and made from plant-based ingredients, including peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood, and lemongrass oil, reviewers say the candle has a pleasant scent and keeps mosquitos away. Since these are tealights rather than traditional candles, they also offer versatility when it comes to use and placement-scatter them around tables for quick protection, or add them to votives or mason jars for outdoor decor that's fashionable and functional.
If you want a heavy-duty, long-lasting citronella candle, look no further than Coleman's outdoor lantern. This 6.7-ounce candle burns and repels for up to 70 hours, making it the second-longest burning candle on our list. While it works for any sort of outdoor activity, the classic lantern shape and easy-grip handle make it the perfect addition for your next camping trip. The reusable cap also protects the candle from summer rainstorms and other debris.
Looking for a mess-free way to repel bugs this summer? Let us introduce you to Murphy's Naturals citronella incense sticks. DEET-free and made from plant-based repellent oils, including rosemary, peppermint, citronella, lemongrass, and cedarwood oil, these repellent sticks offer all the benefits of Murphy's traditional candle without any of the inconvenience that comes with wax candles. Simply allow one end of the stick to burn for 15-20 seconds for up to 2.5 hours of protection.