The Summery Scent of Citronella


Cymbopogon winterianus

Most people are introduced to the smell of Citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus) in candles and tiki torches. The scent is often used at outdoor parties to repel mosquitoes and other insects. That is its most famous use, but there are other ways to benefit from the essential oil of Citronella.

With a sweet, lemony odor, Citronella’s most unknown use is in perfumery. You may think that you wouldn’t want your eau de toilette to make you smell like insect repellent, but the essential oil can create a summery scent when blended with other oils, including Geranium and Lavender. It is also good for oily skin so it can be included in soap recipes for that reason.

Citronella is uplifting, relaxing, and headache reducing. To make a fresh and fruity atmosphere, add it to room sprays or use in a diffuser. Diffusion of the oil can also aid the respiratory system and help kill germs during the cold and flu season.

The research on Citronella as a bug repellent shows that it is effective, but it doesn’t work as well as DEET. The chemical DEET showed a longer protection time, but DEET has serious precautions to follow when using it, especially with children. On the other hand, Citronella essential oil is reasonably safe for kids and adults as long as it is not used at more than 18.2% in a skin product. So, my safer choice would be to use a Citronella bug repellent but apply it more often to keep away pesky mosquitoes.

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