Citronella Oil – Uses Benefits in Aromatherapy & Commercial Products

Citronella oil is one of the essential oil which is extracted from the leaves and stem of different species of Cymbopogon or the lemongrass. The oil is widely used as a foundation of many perfumery chemicals like the citronellal, citronellol and geraniol and these chemicals are used in the manufacture of soaps, candles, incense, perfumes, cosmetic products and flavouring products. Citronella oil is also used as a plant based insect repellent in many countries in the world except the European Union. The oil has strong antifungal properties and is also effective in calming barking dogs.  It is also been used as a spray against pets destroying household items.

The world production of citronella oil is around 4000 tonnes and the main producers of the oil are China and Indonesia. The other countries which produce this oil are Taiwan, Guatemala, Honduras, Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Argentina, Jamaica, Ecuador, South Africa and Mexico. The mosquito repellent quality of the oil has been recognised by the researchers all over the world and its ability to effectively destroy the dengue fever mosquito, Aedea aegypti, is well known and proven. The oil is also effective against the body louse, head louse and stable flies. Studies also say that hydroxycitronellal is effective against both water borne and terrestrial leeches.

citronella tree
citronella tree

Keeps the Mosquitoes Away

The direct application of the oil has been found to raise the heart rate of some people but it is widely used in essential oils in both aromatherapy and commercial products. It is used commercially in preservatives, deodorants, mosquito repellents and many more products. It is also widely used in mosquito repellents for the kids and there are many products like bands, patches, candles, diffusers, gels etc which uses citronella as an active agent to drive away mosquitoes. This oil has the ability to cover the smell that mosquitoes use to locate human beings. The lemony odour of the oil is what the mosquitoes try to avoid.

Mosquito repellent products like bands and patches are very effective against mosquitoes. These can be used either slapped on the hand or ankle or it can be stuck on the clothes, caps, and stroller also. This oil is considered the safest mosquito repellent for kids. The antiseptic properties of Citronella oil sanitises wounds and prevents infections for various kinds. But the dosage of use should be done strictly followed as per instructions by the manufacturer or under the guidance of a medical expert. The oil may cause allergies, irritation and itching on the skin for some if not used with proper caution.

Natural Deodorant

Few drops of citronella oil can be added to the water to clean wounds and it can also be used for cleaning and sanitising floors. Kids when they grow older usually have body odour issues and this happens due to the hormonal changes and food habits. Citronella oil can be used as a natural deodorant rather than using deodorant with alcohol or chemicals in it which may cause health related problems in the long run. Couple of drops of the genuine citronella essential oil can be added to the bathing water and the body odour issue can be easily sorted out leaving the kids with a daylong citrusy smell.

Most of the kids have their gloomy days and by diffusing a few drops of citronella oil the mood can be elevated. It is known for its anti-depressant qualities and the use of the oil will help the kids feel happier and up lifts their mood without them even knowing. It is the ideal way to wake kids to the smell of citronella and it also makes them alert and active. Citronella oil is safe and is easily absorbed by the body and when used properly and wisely can solve many health related problems for kids.

In Perfumes 

Citronella oil is widely used in the perfume industry and is a vital ingredient for manufacturing various perfumes. This is in demand because of the geraniol content in the oil because it serves as a basic foundation in the perfumery work.  Citronella oil is extracted by the process of steam distillation from either fresh or partially dried or dried stems and foliage of the two kinds of citronella plant called Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus. The Java citronella oil is considered to be of a superior quality when compared with the Ceylon variety. Java citronella oil is composed of citronella (32 to 45%), citronellol (16%), geraniol (11 to 13%), geranyl acetate (3 to 8%), and limonene (1 to 4%).

The Ceylon citronella oil has a lower content of citronellal (only 5 to 15%) and citronellol (6 to 8%), but the geraniol content in this oil is higher (18 to 20%). The Java variety is a better source of fragrant chemical derivatives used in the perfume industry as the basic foundation. The production of Java citronella oil variety is higher than that of the Ceylon variety. The Ceylon citronella oil has a relatively higher composition of monoterpenes, borneol, camphene, citral, citronellic acid, dipentene, elemol, limonene (9 to 11%), methyl iso-eugenol (7 to 11%), and nerol.

Lemon Citrus Fragrance

Citronella oil can be easily recognized by its colourless or faint yellow colour and a fresh lemon-citrus fragrance. It is acquired from the tall perennial citronella grass which is grown in Sri Lanka, Java, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Some of its natural components are citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, geranyl acetate, limonene, etc. There are no known major side effects for this oil but it might not be safe for pregnant women and there some people who have complained about skin irritation after its application on the skin. It is ideal if you test the oil on a small portion of the skin before using it on wider areas.
Citronella oil possesses anti-inflammatory properties and this oil can be diluted with any base oil and massaged on the skin. It releases a warm sensation which 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. Citronella oil relaxes the taut nerves, reduces anxiety, and gives peace and tranquility and the oil can also cure stress-induced migraines and headaches.