The Many Health Benefits Of Citronella Essential Oil

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The Many Health Benefits Of Citronella Essential Oil

Citronella might be something you’re already familiar with, likely due to those strong scented candles you’ve had burning at bonfires and barbecues to keep the mosquitoes away. However, what you may not have known is that citronella essential oil is one of the most popular essential oils around! An oil whose capabilities and uses spread much further than just the scent of a candle. Historically prized in Asia for its medicinal and healing properties, in addition to its being one of the best natural insect repellents known to man, citronella oil is definitely something any natural enthusiast should get their hands on and experiment with. Read on!

What is Citronella Essential Oil?

Citronella Essential Oil

Citronella essential oil is extracted from the grassy cymbopogon genus through steam distillation. While there are over 30 species grown all over the world, the most common 2 species are the Java and Ceylon species grown in Asia, with the stronger one being the Java strain of cymbopogon.

Citronella oil has a complex chemical makeup, and the 3 most prominent components that give it most of its therapeutic value are citronellol, citronellal and geraniol. For centuries, citronella essential oil was used in Sri Lanka, China, and Indonesia to treat rashes, infections, pain, and inflammation, as well as many inflammation related diseases. Today, citronella oil is used to fight bacteria, heal free radical damage, soothe muscle and joint pain, reduce stress, and even calm pets down, in addition to what we are going to discuss more in depth below.

You would probably recognize the lemony smell of citronella, as it is used in many household cleaning items and aromatic candles, and is often what gives them their signature scents. Citronella oil is also used as a natural preservative and food flavoring, so its uses are as diverse as they are effective.

Using Citronella Essential Oil For Skin

Citronella Essential Oil For Skin

One of the skin conditions that people often struggle with is oily skin. To their dismay, they often find that over the counter products either don’t do anything, or make their skin the complete opposite extreme of dry and irritated. What they need isn’t a product to dry their skin out, they need a product that is going to help their skin regulate its oil production on its own, so it dries out and balances naturally. This is where citronella oil comes in.

Citronella oil is an astringent, which helps tighten pores to limit the amount of sebum (oil) they can excrete, while regulating the sebaceous glands so they don’t produce too much oil in the first place. A few drops of citronella oil mixed with witch hazel or apricot oil is a great skin treatment that will sink right in and aid the problem, without leaving any extra grease behind.

Acne has a similar cause, with the culprit being bacteria that gets trapped in these clogged and oily pores. The bacteria creates a micro infection which causes a little inflamed dot called a pimple to pop up around it. This is obviously oversimplified, but that’s the general idea. A few drops of citronella oil mixed with witch hazel or apple cider vinegar can do wonders to dry out the excess oil, while neutralizing the bacteria causing the acne.

Since citronella oil is so effective at fighting bacteria and fungus, it is often used to treat things like warts, boils, and athlete’s foot. You can also use it as an antiseptic for small wounds by mixing a few drops into a carrier oil and applying it to the wound.

Lastly, its high antioxidant content allows it to repair free radical damage to cells, which is one the major drivers of aging. Mixing a few drops with a carrier oil such as jojoba or argan oil can help tighten up wrinkles while fading scars and age spots.

Using Citronella Essential Oil For Hair

Citronella Essential Oil For Hair

Like many essential oils, citronella oil is no slacker when it comes to hair health. Just like with oily skin, citronella oil can help tighten the pores in the scalp and control the sebum production in people struggling with greasy scalp and hair. Its anti-fungal properties also help it combat dandruff while it gently moisturizes the dry scalp.

Citronella oil is also believed to stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss. The idea behind this is that citronella oil stimulates increased blood flow to the scalp, increasing the amount of nutrients available to the roots, allowing them to more effectively produce healthy hair cells. While it’s not proven that this actually speeds up hair growth, it certainly helps with the quality of the new hair, and is widely reported to build stronger roots, which helps keep the hair from falling out prematurely. Many people also use citronella oil to aid with knotty and frizzy hair, since it provides the follicles with much needed moisture and elasticity – both of which make the hair much more manageable.

While many essential oils have this effect on hair, citronella oil stands out due its scent. Lice can’t stand it, which means that lice can’t stand you, which is a wonderful thing. A few drops in your daily shampoo can help keep lice at bay, while a few drops mixed with lavender and tea tree oil, diluted in a carrier oil, can even help remove lice that are already there.

The most common way of using citronella oil for hair is to simply add a few drops to regular shampoo or conditioner. It will take a week or two for you to feel the results, so just be a little patient. For a more intense treatment and faster results, mix a few drops of citronella oil in with some jojoba oil, and massage the mixture firmly into your scalp, using your figures to massage in circular motions. This is the best way of dealing with dandruff and hair loss, as the effects of the oil combined with the massage help stimulate that extra blood flow. After about 3-5 minutes of massaging, cover your hair with a towel or shower cap for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight if possible, and then rinse it out thoroughly with a natural shampoo.

Does Citronella Essential Oil Work As An Insect Repellent?

Does Citronella Essential Oil Work As An Insect Repellent?

Citronella oil has been used extensively as an insect repellent, and you’ve probably been to at least a few barbecues or camping trips where you had a citronella candle burning to keep those mosquitoes away.

Citronella oil works by masking the smell of humans that attracts the mosquitoes, namely carbon dioxide and lactic acid. The smell of the citronella throws them off so they don’t know exactly where to land. Unlike chemical insect repellents such as deet, citronella oil is considered a nontoxic pesticide, that naturally keeps bugs away without killing them or introducing toxins into whatever the oil is protecting.

To make your own DIY bug repellent, you can simply mix a few drops of citronella oil into a spray bottle with water and spray it on your skin and clothes every half hour to an hour. If you need to moisturize before going out, you can mix a few drops of citronella oil into some coconut oil and spread it on your body like a lotion, reapplying it every hour or so. If you’re looking for a more serious bug repellent, try mixing some lavender, tea tree, and cinnamon oil into your spray bottle or carrier oil, and say goodbye to those mosquitoes while you enjoy smelling great.

How To Make Your Own Citronella Essential Oil

While it’s tricky to produce the pure concentrated essential oils that you buy commercially, you can still make a great citronella oil infusion which will have the same effect as the essential oil, albeit a slightly weaker version. Here’s how.

What You Need:
  • ¼ oz citronella leaves and stems.
  • 1 cup olive oil.
  • Slow cooker or crock pot.
  • Cheesecloth.
  • Dark airtight glass jar for storage.
What You Need To Do:
  1. Mix the olive oil and citronella leaves in the slow cooker.
  2. Let cook on low heat for 4-8 hours.
  3. Let the oil cool, and then strain it through the cheesecloth to remove the leaves (the oil is your citronella oil).
  4. You can either transfer the oil to your airtight storage jar and be done, or recook the same oil with a fresh round of citronella leaves, and repeat this process until your oil is the desired strength that you want (you can tell by the smell).

Store your oil in a cool and dark place. Since homemade oils are not of the same quality as commercial oils, and are more prone to bacteria growth, they should never be ingested,  and should be replaced after 6 months to a year.


Citronella oil is simply an incredible oil to keep around. If you’re the kind of person who likes to find a few excellent multi use oils and use them for literally everything, citronella oil should definitely be on your shelf right next to your coconut and lavender stash. Whether you’re a hiker, a foodie, a mom, a griller, or just someone on the journey to perfect health and skin, citronella oil will easily become one of your favorite go-to oils to get you the natural results you need.

Read up on Bergamot Essential Oil and Clary Sage while you’re here at Innovative Private Label!

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