Besides its other uses, citronella oil is most popularly used as an insect repellent. This post is a guide to its origin, identification, and varied uses.
Citronella oil can be identified by its colorless or faint yellow color and a fresh lemon-citrus fragrance. It is obtained from tall perennial citronella grass which is grown in Sri Lanka, Java, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. This grass basically belongs to the lemon grass family.
The oil is extracted from fresh or dried citronella grass by steam distillation process. Some of its natural components are citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, geranyl acetate, limonene, etc. It is available in two different varieties.
One is the Ceylon and the other one is Java, out of which the latter used widely. This is because the essential components geraniol and citronellal are present in higher amount in this variety.
As an Insect Repellent
The oil acts as an excellent repellent for insects like mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, moths, etc. For this reason, it is preferred as a safe and non-toxic insecticide over toxic chemical-based insect repellents.
You can combine the oil with cedarwood oil, and apply it directly on the skin to protect yourself from insect bites and the diseases caused by them. Or you may use skin creams and sprays which have citronella oil as an ingredient.
Other naturally occurring substances like peppermint oil and cinnamon are also added to them to enhance the insect repellent property. To keep insects away from your house or garden area, you can use citronella candles and lamps.
When you burn them, the fumes will spread over a large area and keep the insects at bay. At the barbecue, or pool side picnic, use citronella oil pellets. Place these pellets around the plants in the recreational area and you will not be disturbed by insects. For flea control in pets of the house, flea collar with citronella oil is highly effective.
As Aromatherapy Oil
Citronella oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties. When this essential oil is diluted with a base oil and massaged on the skin, it releases a warm sensation that provides a soothing relief from muscle cramps and painful joints. It is also good for abdominal cramps caused due to gastrointestinal infections and menstruation.
It not only helps to get rid of physical discomfort, but also has a relieving effect on your senses. It relaxes the taut nerves, reduces anxiety, and gives peace and tranquility. It can also cure stress-induced migraines and headaches.
As Anti-microbial Agent
Citronella oil has antiseptic qualities and can be safely used on wounds. It will heal the wound by promoting the formation of scar tissues. It will also protect the area from bacterial attack. Its fungicidal attributes help in the treatment of various forms of fungal infection on skin.
Another important use is as an astringent for oily skin. Many women find it difficult to put on makeup as their skin is excessively oily. They can just take a few drops of the oil on a cotton ball and rub it on the face. This will remove excess oil from their facial skin. Then, they can apply their regular makeup.
As Perfume Oil
In the perfume industry, Java citronella oil is in great demand. It is a vital ingredient for manufacturing various perfumes. This is because geraniol present in this oil serves as the basic building block in the perfumery work.
There are no major side effects of this oil. However, it might not be safe for pregnant women. Some people have complained about skin irritation after its application on the skin. Therefore, you must test it on a small portion of the skin before using it on wider areas.