Benefits of Citronella Essential Oil
This oil has been used in various parts of Asia including China, Sri Lanka and Indonesia for centuries. Common uses include the treatment of skin rashes, infections, pain and inflammation.
It is also very well known as a natural insect repellent and is used in numerous insect sprays as well as perfume and household products.
What is Citronella Oil
Citronella oil is derived from the plant genus – Cymbopogon. More specifically, it is extracted from two types of grass – Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winteranius. The two grasses are steam distilled to produce two different varieties of essential oil called Ceylon and Java.
Ceylon citronella is derived from Cymbopogon nardus and is a native of Sri Lanka. It has a pale to yellow color, and a warm, citrus scent.
The Java variety of citronella is extracted from Cymbopogon winteranius a native of Indonesia. The java type has a similar citrus aroma but a darker color and is considered to be of a higher quality.
Citronella Oil Composition
Both Java and Ceylon citronella oil contain as many as 80 or more active constituents. Around 50 of these compounds account for 90% of the oil. The major chemical compounds are citronellal, citronellol and geraniol while it also contains limonene, geranyl acetate and methyl isoeugenol.
A Natural Insect Repellent
Citronella oil has been approved and registered as a natural, chemical free insect repellent ever since the 1940s.
So, what does citronella oil repel?
Citronella oil is especially well-known for repelling mosquitoes. According to research, it is effective for up to two hours but lasts longer when combined with vanillin. (1) The oil has even been used to effect in repelling a dangerous type of mosquito called Aedes aegypti which are known to spread dengue fever.
As well as keeping the bigger bugs away, citronella oil is also effective against head lice and body lice. It can also be used to keep ticks and fleas away from your pets.
In order for citronella oil to work as a repellent, you need to reapply it every hour at least. Make sure that you have a spray bottle of citronella oil on hand if you are outside in the presence of mosquitoes for any length of time.
You can spray it all over your skin and hair as well as your clothes. Alternatively, you can add a few drops of citronella with some coconut oil and use it on your skin like a lotion.
Another option if you are exposed in the outdoors is to use a citronella candle.
How do Citronella Candles Work?
Researchers from Guelph University in Ontario have studied how effective citronella candles are at repelling mosquitoes. They used a 3 percent concentration and found that the candles managed to cause a 42 percent reduction in mosquito landings.
Citronella and citronella candles work because the oil masks the scents that mosquitoes and other insects find so attractive namely human lactic acid and carbon dioxide.
What are the Uses of Citronella Oil?
Besides its popular use as a mosquito repellent, citronella oil can also be used to help treat a wide variety of illnesses.
1) Joint Pain and Rheumatism
Citronella can be used to help treat arthritis and other conditions that cause joint and bone pain like rheumatism or lupus. It has excellent antioxidant properties as well as the ability to improve the flow of blood. Dilute your citronella oil with a base oil and massage it into your swollen joints for quick relief.
Citronella can help to support the digestive system because of its ability to reduce inflammation and its detoxification properties. It can help cleanse many of the body’s organs including the gut, stomach and liver. It can also help prevent bacterial growth in the gut and can even kill dangerous intestinal parasites.
3) For Stress and Anxiety
In aromatherapy, citronella oil is often used to calm the mind and to treat anxiety and stress. It can also help with sleep difficulties and insomnia. Either diffuse the oil at home or add a few drops to your pillow at night.
4) Muscle Relaxant
Because of its ability to improve blood flow, citronella oil can be used as part of a massage treatment for the muscles. It can help treat aches, pains and spasms and even cramping during a woman’s menstrual cycle.
Massaging some of your essential oil combined with a carrier oil into the abdomen area can help you deal with painful cramping during your period.
As a natural diaphoretic, citronella oil has diuretic properties which help promote urination and sweating. These actions help cleanse the body by drawing out toxins from the system. It can also be useful in getting rid of the uric acid that causes gout.
6) For the Skin
Citronella oil can help treat several skin conditions including eczema and dermatitis. It also contains antioxidants that can put the breaks on skin aging. It can also help treat fungal infections and help to expedite wound healing.
Citronella oil is also simply good for your overall appearance and can help block UV rays. Just add a few drops to your usual facial wash or combine it with coconut oil to give your skin a treat.
7) For the Hair
Citronella oil makes for an excellent hair cleanser and conditioner. It can help reduce oiliness, fight dandruff and enhance shine. Just add a few drops to your normal conditioner or shampoo and use as normal.
8) Household Cleaning
The anti-fungal and antibacterial nature of citronella makes it the ideal choice for cleaning the grime from your kitchen or bathroom. It can help cleanse the areas behind the refrigerator and cooker or shower area that are typically difficult to get to.
How do you make citronella oil?
Steam distilled citronella oil can be quite expensive and many people choose to produce their own version at home. Here is one simple recipe to help you on your way.
Ingredients/Materials: You will need the following…..
- a quarter ounce of nard grass/stems or lemongrass if nard is difficult to get hold of.
- Olive oil-1 cup
- a slow cooker
- some cheesecloth
What you have to do.
- Mix your olive oil with the nard grass in your pot or slow cooker.
- Cook for between 5 and 8 hours.
- Strain with your cheesecloth and remove the grass.
- Repeat the first 3 steps with your strained mixture adding fresh nard or lemongrass.
- You can repeat the first 3 steps until you are happy with the scent of your oil.
- Store in a dark jar.
What mixes well with citronella essential oil?
Citronella oil combines well with many uplifting oils like geranium, lemon, orange, peppermint, bergamot, eucalyptus and lemongrass.
Is citronella oil safe for skin?
- Despite being used topically by many people, there are some concerns that it may cause allergies in very sensitive people. It has been known to cause skin irritation as well as elevated heart beat.
- Pregnant women need to be especially careful due to their increased skin sensitivity. One in vitro study also indicated that citronella oil could affect contractions of the uterus.
- Young children and babies have especially sensitive skin so should avoid topical use.