Citronella Jars

This month we hosted an 80th. Birthday Party for my Mom in her Texas home.  Guest seating was outdoors and mosquitoes were a concern.  To keep these nasty bugs away my mother had her yard man spray mosquito repellent and we incorporated these Citronella Jars in our centerpieces, it worked out well, no one got any mosquito bites that night.

These jars are so simple and inexpensive to make and will fit any party theme or decor.  I’ve used them for outdoor barbecues, birthday parties, and pretty much any outdoor event.  I find them much prettier than store bought citronella candles and torches, cheaper too!  You can use ribbons to match your color scheme or for a more rustic look use burlap ribbon or twine.

I fill the jars with fresh herbs that are have natural mosquito repellent and citronella essential oil.  I try to use herbs from my garden when possible making these jars even more economical.  Mosquito repelling herbs include Lavender, Mint, Lemon Balm, Basil, Catnip, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, and Lemon Verbena.  There are other plants and herbs that have natural mosquito repellent qualities, but I like to use the ones I listed as I have them in my garden.  I like to use 2-3 different herbs and choose herbs with leaves that look good together.  I add lemon and lime slices for color and a floating candle at the top to keep the herbs from floating over the jar rim.

If you use homegrown herbs each jar cost about $2 or less to make.  I got the Citronella Essential Oil from HEB for just a bit over $5.  I made a dozen jars and still have more than half the bottle of essential oil leftover.  I got the Mason Jars (about $1 each) and floating candles (6 for $4) from Walmart.  If you need to buy fresh herbs you can buy small amounts for about $2 – 3 a package in the produce section of most grocery stores, but if you need to make a lot of jars you will probably get a better deal at your local farmer’s market.  If you can’t find a farmer’s market nearby consider buying pots of herbs from the garden department of Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, or your local garden shop; it’s less expensive than buying sprigs from the grocery store and you can plant leftover herbs to use next time.

Here are directions for making your own Citronella Jars, the best part it you can reuse the jars for other events, just change the ribbon to fit your decor!

Materials:

Quart Sized Mason Jar
Sprigs of Fresh Herbs – Lavender, Rosemary, Mint, or any other mosquito repelling herbs
5 drops Citronella Essential Oil
1 Lemon – sliced in circles (optional)
1 Lime – sliced in circles (optional)
Ribbon or Twine
1 Floating Candle

Directions:

1.  Snip sprigs of herbs to size you want; rinse off any soil.

2.  Place herbs in mason jar and fill jar half way with water (herbs will float).

3.  Add Citronella Essential Oil to water and shake gently to evenly distribute the oil.

4.  Add more water to fill the jar.

5.  Add lemon and lime slices.

6.  Gently push herbs and fruit slices into the water and place floating candle on top.

7.  Tie ribbon or twine on the jar.

8.  Light candle when needed.

When it’s very hot outside store jars indoors or in a cool area to keep the candle from melting.
Herbs will last in the jar for several days depending on the temperature.  When the herbs wilt just toss them out, wash the jar in warm soapy water to remove oil residue, and make another batch when you need them.

Make these jars in a well ventilated area and avoid inhaling the Citronella Essential Oil, it’s unsafe and has been reported to cause lung problems.

Wear gloves when handling this oil as it can cause allergies in some people.

Keep the jars and citronella oil away from children and pets.  It is safe to use around children and pets but ingesting large amounts of the oil is very harmful.