How to make Environmentally Friendly Citronella (Lemon Grass) Oil for Mosquito Repellant Lotion and Candles

 “Mosquito destroyer coils, in general, contain pesticides and that’s how they kill the mosquitoes, but such pesticides can be harmful to health and the environment, and that is why the Pesticides Control Authority has to receive application from persons, who want to import such pesticides,”

Mr. Michael Ramsay, head of the PCA (Pesticides Control Authority) in an interview with the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) on Friday 11th 2013

If you’re in Jamaica, the last illness you definitely don’t want to catch is Malaria. Literally meaning “Bad Air” the disease is spread by the anopheles mosquito and starts off as an ordinary Fever or Headache. The development of the species of Plasmodium then progresses to the point where it affects the Liver and the Circulatory System, eventually shutting down the victims vital organs and putting them into a Coma. Then Death. Not nice, and thus the paranoia as it relates to children showing symptoms of Fever and thus the usual buying frenzy for products to chase them away everytime there is a Malaria outbreak.


The level of desperation that people have reached then got the Media spotlight when the Customs Department raided a business on East Street in Downtown Kingston on Thursday November 22nd 2012 and recovered some JA$1 million in contraband and illegal Mosquito Destroyers. Of the lot, the increasing popular and illegal Black Mosquito Destroyer Coils were confiscated by Customs Department.

Coincidentally four (4) days prior to the Customs Department raid, the PCA had warned customer not to purchase this Black Mosquito Destroyer. This brand, which has its originals in China, is unlike other Mosquito Coils in that it’s smokeless. As such, Jamaicans, wary of the smoke, simplistically think because its smokeless, it’s a lot like Vape mats and thus safe. That just isn’t so.

The other brands smoke because they contain Hydrophilic ingredients i.e. attract water. As such, when they burn, the hydrocarbons that makes up the Mosquito Destroyer combust, producing C02 that attaches itself to vaporized water H2O molecules, a process akin to how Rain forms and falls to the ground. Agglomerated around Water molecules, the organic molecular complex reflect light and thus appears as a white transparent haze, which we call smoke.

The danger here is that some of the hydrocarbons are only partially burnt and are only vaporized, as such they too, like C02, become airborne and can remain in the air riding in the smoke which is really reflective Water Vapor. At this point the danger comes in, as many of these Mosquito Destroyers contain Carcinogens and Pesticides such as CFC (Chloro-Flouro Carbons) and DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane).

If un-combusted, they’re still in an active molecular state and can thus affect humans in the same way they affect Mosquitoes. The Mosquitoes breath in the cocktail of Water vapour mixed with the compounds are thus killed not by poisoning but by asphyxia i.e. they die from being choked to death by the water vapour/C02/Pesticides choking their breathing passageways. After all, they take on Malaria Plasmodium which reproduces in their gut and they’re not killed, so these large macromolecules most likely kill them by making it difficult for them to breathe.

What makes these Black Mosquito Coils smokeless is that they makers have cleverly used Vacuum pyrolosys to remove any traces of Water and then sealed the Mosquito coils with a Hydrophobic i.e. Chemical that repels water. Thus the coils not only have a longer shelf life, but they burn “smokeless”.

This is a marketing ploy, as really, all Hydrocarbons that burn will eventually intermingle with Water Vapor that’s in the air and thus become white or smoke coloured. It’s just that the Black Mosquito Coils contain less moisture and also Hydrophobic compounds that repel water molecules, thus they disperse in the atmosphere faster, increasing their killing power against mosquitoes.

But this also means more of those unburnt Hydrocarbons spread farther and thus have a wider range as once liberated from the Hydrophobic binding Compounds, it can bond with Water vapour and thus affect Humans and Mosquitoes.

It’s bad enough that these things are carcinogenic and can cause the same symptoms as cigarettes smoke. But the fact that they contain banned pesticides makes them all the more dangerous. Their continued popularity has prompted the PCA on Saturday January 12 2013 to issue a list of approved Mosquito Repellants in Jamaica, namely:

  • Baygon
  • Bugoff
  • Dragon
  • Protox
  • Vape

The concerns about the unregistered Black Mosquito Destroyers are best expressed by Mr. Michael Ramsay, head of the PCA (Pesticides Control Authority), quote: “The problem with the black mosquito destroyer coil is that nobody has applied to have them registered with all the information needed to evaluate them and since we have not been able to evaluate all the information required, we don’t know what risk it poses when it is used. Mosquito destroyer coils, in general, contain pesticides and that’s how they kill the mosquitoes, but such pesticides can be harmful to health and the environment, and that is why the Pesticides Control Authority has to receive application from persons, who want to import such pesticides.”

But strangely enough, no mention is made of the use of such natural compounds such as Citronella or Lemon Grass or even any promotion for the idea of Growing Lemon Grass commercially. A product even the SRC (Scientific Research Council) has recommended as an in-demand crop both locally and internationally, quote: “The demand for essential oils has grown significantly to correspond with the growth in the health and wellness industry. An entrepreneur can gross $4.8 million from a one acre farm annually”.

Some interesting Stats that auger well for the Government of Jamaica going into Solar Organic Farming as described in of Lemon Grass, which is part of the Essential Oils Business:

  • US$632 billion in Essential Oil imports by the UK in 2006
  • US$7 billion in Essential Oil imports by the USA in 2006
  • US$6 billion is the estimated value of Essential Oils business in Europe and the US in 2010
  • US$7 billion is the estimated value of the Specialty food and drink sales in the US and Europe in 2009
  • US$9 billion is the estimated value of the spa and wellness market in the US in 2005.

I personally use Citronella Mosquito Candles in Swallowfield to not only light my room but also to drive away mosquitoes – and they work. This as it’s got a natural pleasant smell, albeit is does present a fire hazard and thus isn’t safe.

Still if you’re single like me and you have no kids to tear down your department at work on the SHARP Production Floor of ACCENT Marketing or set your apartment on fire when left unattended, then Scented Citronella Candles’ll be a perfect fir for you. Great too, if you asthmatic and can’t stand the after smell that’s left behind by Destroyers in general in the room and on clothing and fabric.

They also work the same way like Destroyers but with a twist. The heat from the flame makes the molecules of the Citronella or Lemon Grass Oil airborne, killing the mosquitoes in the same way. But on inhalation by humans, they’re easily removed by the cilia in your nose and are not easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

Best of all, if you already made the Solar Desalinator as described in How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator and you’re currently enjoying the clean pure Distilled Water, this means you can make Citronella Candles for your personal use and even make a business of it. Folks it’s DIY (Do-It-Yourself) time as I explain how to make Scented Citronella Candles!

You’ll need:

  • Lemon Grass
  • Distilled Water made from your Solar Desalinator as described in How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator
  • Coffee Filter
  • Stainless Steel Filter
  • Stainless Steel Pots
  • 1 Cup Virgin Olive Oil
  • Blender
  • Pressure Cooker
  • Dark Coloured Glass Jars
  • Permanent Markets and Labels

The instructions for extracting the Citronella Oil from the Lemon Grass are as easy as baking a pie:

  1. Cut the Lemon Grass into sizeable bits and blend in a Blender with Distilled Water until a puree
  2. Combine the Olive Oil and nard grass leaves/stems in the Pressure Cooker
  3. Cook the Olive Oil and nard grass leaves/stems mixture for four to eight (4-8) hours.
  4. Decant the mixture and Strain the mixture using a Coffee Filter Paper and a Stainless Steel funnel. This is your Citronella Oil.
  5. Discard the Lemon Grass
  6. Repeat the process but do not add more Olive Oil to the mixture.
  7. When the Oil reaches the desired degree of fragrance, you can then decant and filtered into Dark Coloured Glass Jars
  8. Seal and date the Citronella Oil in the Dark Coloured Glass Jars for use later

That’s it!

If you saw no use for the Solar Desalinator other than to make Distilled Water for your Car, you can use the Distilled Water to start your very own Citronella Candle, Lotion and Mosquito Repellant Business as Jamaicans are scared witless by the Anopheles mosquito’s buzz.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.