How to Make Citronella Oil for Tiki Torches (2024)

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For any outdoorsy person, tiki torches are essential in their yards. Something that most tiki torch users have complained about is the rather expensive fuels that you need to buy.

The great thing about citronella oil is that it also serves as an insect repellent.

You’ll learn in this article how to make citronella oil for tiki torches. You’ll also find out the benefits of the oil and some of the other uses that might be useful to you.

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Table of Contents

How to Make Citronella Oil?

The process of making citronella oil is actually quite simple. It does require a lot of patience, though.

Tips Before Creating the Oil

There are a couple of things though that you need to be careful off before starting.

When you’re cutting the leaves and stems, make sure you do that in the morning. The reason is that the oils inside the stems are at their peak during the day.

It’s best to store the finished oils in a dark and dry place. Citronella oil has a shelf life of up to 6 months.

How to Make Citronella Oil for Tiki Torches (2)

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You shouldn’t try to eat the oil or to ingest it, it can be toxic for your system when taken in huge quantities. When it’s blended in the food they use small portions that are safe for the human body.

What You’ll Need

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Extracting the Oil

You’d need to follow some steps carefully to get the best results.

Step 1

Mix the leaves, stem, and olive oil together. Make sure that the oil and nard grass is mixed thoroughly.

Step 2

Place the leaves and oil mixture in the slow cooker. You’d need to cook it on low for 4 to 8 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a pot on the oven with the lowest temperature setting.

Just be careful as the leaves might start to crisp up sooner than expected. When that happens, turn off the heat.

Once the time is up, you’d need to let it sit until it reaches room temperature.

Step 3

Strain the mixture with the cheesecloth or coffee filter. The result is your pure citronella oil. You can throw away the stems and leaves.

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Step 4

Repeat the process again. This time, replace the olive oil with your strained citronella oil.

There aren’t a number of times you’d need to do this process. It mainly depends on each person’s preference and how strong they want the scent.

Store the oil in a dark jar in a cabinet or any dark area.

Ready-Made Citronella Oil for Tiki Torches

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If you’re not really into DIY projects or want to shorten the process a bit. You can buy citronella essential oil. Although it’s budget-friendly, you’ll still get much more oil at the same cost if you make it at home.

How to Use Citronella Oil in Tiki Torches

Now that you’ve created your citronella oil, let’s see how you can use it for your tiki torches.


  • Citronella oil
  • Vegetable oil


  • Place 1 cup of vegetable oil in a bowl
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of citronella oil *
  • Mix the oils together well until it’s incorporated well
  • Place the oil mixture in your tiki torch **

* The amount of citronella oil you use depends on how strong you want the scent to be.

** Depending on how many tiki torches you have, you might want to create another batch.

Another Option

Again, there’s a simpler way if you want to save time. You can buy a pre-made citronella oil fuel. This one can fill up to 8 tiki torches. It’s affordable and will last around 5 hours for each 12-ounce fill.

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What is Citronella Oil?

In one of the previous articles, we’ve talked about tiki torches and discussed citronella oil briefly. Let’s dig a bit deeper into citronella oil and it’s benefits.

The History of Citronella Oil

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Citronella is a type of essential oil that originated in Asia. It has a lemon-like scent, and that’s where the French name came from. It means ‘Lemon Balm’.

It’s extracted from the Asian herb that comes from the Cymbopogon family. It’s oftentimes mistaken for the lemongrass plant.

That’s because they look so similar to each other. Although they are different, they do come from the same family and are considered to be ‘cousins’.

To try and differentiate between citronella and lemongrass, you’ll find that lemongrass has an off-white pseudostem. However, Citronella is red.

For the past years, this essential oil has been used as an ingredient in different countries like China, Indonesia, and even Sri Lanka.

Since this oil is non-toxic, it has also been used in soaps, lotions, sprays, candles, cosmetic products, and more.

The Benefits of Citronella Oil

Citronella oil comes with numerous benefits. It’s most commonly used in aromatherapy and it stops the spread of bacteria and repels mosquitoes.

Another advantage of citronella oil is that it helps in easing stress and anxiety. It also helps those with insomnia sleep better.

Citronella oil is an ingredient you’ll find in some creams and lotions. It aids in treating rashes and infections and stops odor-causing bacteria.

You can also use citronella oil to clean your house. It has active ingredients that kill antifungal bacteria, thus controlling mildew and mold. It also helps in deodorizing the surrounding air in bathrooms and kitchens.

Based on a study, citronella oil may treat skin diseases like acne and eczema

What it mainly stands out for, though, is its insect-repelling properties. Back in 2011, a review proved that citronella oil can keep mosquitos away for 3 hours or a bit more. It also serves as a great relief from insect bites.

Safety Concerns to Keep in Mind

If you’re pregnant and/or breastfeeding there isn’t a clear result on whether it’s safe for you or not. To stay on the safe side don’t use it on your skin or in food. It’s safe to use as fuel though.

Here are other tips to consider:

  • Keep citronella oil away from your kids as may cause poisoning if it’s ingested.
  • Always test patches if you plan on using citronella oil for your skin to avoid allergies.
  • Don’t consume citronella oil in large amounts.

Is It a Good Idea to Use Citronella Oil as Fuel?

Believe it or not, citronella oil is the most common insect repellent fuel used nowadays for tiki torches.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the oil is non-toxic. Thus making it safe when you’re planning on barbecuing or eating in the yard as the fumes come out.

The downside of using citronella oil as fuel though is that it doesn’t last for long. It’ll repel mosquitos somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

That’s because of the small quantity of citronella oil in the fuel and the fact that it’s burning. It’s best to keep refilling your tiki torch every 45 minutes to stay on the safe side.

Also, remember when you’re refiling if you accidentally spill on the outer part of the torch, wait until the oil completely evaporates. Otherwise, you’ll end up lighting the whole torch on fire.

It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

How to Make Citronella Oil for Tiki Torches (2024)


How to Make Citronella Oil for Tiki Torches? ›

To make your own tiki torch fuel, simply combine one teaspoon of distilled water in a 16 ounce bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Add desired amount of essential oil to repel insects, naturally. Some suggested essential oils include: Peppermint.

How do you make homemade tiki torch oil? ›

To make your own tiki torch fuel, simply combine one teaspoon of distilled water in a 16 ounce bottle of isopropyl alcohol. Add desired amount of essential oil to repel insects, naturally. Some suggested essential oils include: Peppermint.

What can I substitute for tiki torch fluid? ›

There are a few different options for filling your tiki torches, naturally:
  • coconut oil (with or without essential oils)
  • olive oil (with or without essential oils)
  • 16oz isopropyl alcohol mixed with 1 teaspoon distilled water (with or without essential oils)

What is a good substitute for torch fuel? ›

Step 2: Use Isopropyl Alcohol As Your Fuel

Let's start with an isopropyl alcohol blend. Put in a bit of distilled water, and then fill the torch the rest of the way with alcohol. This is 91 proof isopropyl alcohol, but lower proofs will also work.

What kind of oil do you put in tiki torches? ›

Kerosene is another very popular tiki torch fuel. This is because it is a relatively cost-effective fuel to use while it also provides a very long-lasting burn with minimal scent being given off. There are also certain tiki torch oils available that combine both citronella-based fuels and kerosene.

Will vegetable oil work in a tiki torch? ›

You can use regular vegetable oil in tiki torches. I buy a cheap oil for this since I'm not using it for cooking.

How do I make citronella oil? ›

Add it to candles, lotions or lamps to repel insects.
  1. Combine the olive oil and nard grass leaves and stems in the slow cooker.
  2. Cook the oil and nard grass mixture for four to eight hours.
  3. Strain the mixture using a cheesecloth. ...
  4. Repeat the process using the strained mixture with fresh nard grass leaves and stems. ...
  5. Tip.

What is a good substitute for citronella oil? ›

If you can't stand the smell of citronella oil, but you need a natural mosquito repellent, try a combination of vanilla and lemongrass oil. Often seen as a better alternative to citronella oil, mosquitoes are known to hate both vanilla and lemongrass.

What can I use for a tiki torch wick? ›

100% cotton is required for wicks, a cotton blend cannot be used. If you don't have a mop head ready for the trash, you can use cotton rope found at a craft store.

Can you use gasoline as torch fuel? ›

Most commonly, a combination of 50% diesel and 50% gasoline mixtures are used in drip torches as the accelerant fuel to ignite land vegetation. Gasoline is more volatile and flammable and helps carry the flame from the drip torch to the ground.

What is a natural alternative to kerosene? ›

The Solution: Hydrotreated Vegetable Oils (HVO)

There is an alternative liquid fuel in hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) with distinctive environmental benefits which can act as a direct replacement to kerosene.

Do tiki torches really work to keep mosquitoes away? ›

As far as mosquito control – don't count on it. The claim that tiki torches repel mosquitoes isn't technically false. Tiki torches may be effective in the immediate vicinity of the flame, as they work to ward off mosquitoes with the scent from the candle or oil. Also, they only work when they are lit.

Why does the wick burn too fast on my tiki torch? ›

We urge you to make sure the wick is only sticking up ½ inch or less above your canister. This will ensure that it will last the lifetime of your torch. A wick sticking up too high will make even high-quality torch fuel smoke too much and burn too fast.

Why won t my tiki torches stay lit? ›

The wick is an essential part of the tiki torch, if the wick is damaged or not properly in place, it can cause the torch to not stay lit or smoke, first check the wick for any signs of damage, such as fraying or splitting, second make sure that the wick is properly installed and positioned in the torch if the wick is ...

Is lamp oil the same as tiki torch oil? ›

Paraffin Lamp Oil is used inside or outside in liquid candles, lanterns, lamps and tiki torches. The paraffin-based fuels are in use by virtually every sit-down restaurant in the US, Canada and Europe.

Is kerosene the same as tiki torch fluid? ›

Kerosene is NOT recommended for use in oil tiki torches and here's why. Let's take a look at all the fuels you can use in your tiki torch and then do a comparison. Both are 100% vegetable-oil based, non-toxic, odorless, clean burning and better for the environment.

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