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Citronella Essential Oil Benefits for the Outdoors

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: May 24, 2021
Citronella Essential Oil Benefits for the Outdoors

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Disclaimer: The article below is not by a medical professional. Any health concerns you have you need to address with your doctor. Backdoor Survival is not responsible for how you use the information in this post.

When you are outdoors, whether you are camping, hiking, or anything else, it is very important to bring along the essentials to protect you during your time outside.

These include things like protection from bugs that can cause diseases, items that can help you with potential health issues and others. A great addition to your outdoor kit is citronella essential oil. It has multiple functions and benefits to effectively help you during your outdoor adventures.

What is Citronella Essential Oil?

Citronella oil is an essential oil that can be obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of Cymbopogon, or more commonly known as Lemongrass. Citronella is a grass that generally grows in Asian countries and some islands of the South Pacific.

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The main producers of this oil are China and Indonesia. Together, they produce 40 percent of the world’s supply of Citronella oil. This essential oil possesses a rich, crisp and lemony aroma and it is yellow to brown in color.

Generally, the essential oil is derived from two varieties of citronella. The first one is a Ceylon variety and the second one is a Java variety. The essential oil is extracted through the steam distillation of the fresh plant.

This essential oil is used for many products as a source of perfumery chemicals. You can find this perfumery chemical in many soaps, candles, incenses, perfumes, cosmetics and flavorings throughout the world. It is also commonly used for aromatherapy. 

Citronella oil also has many other uses, such as its use as an insect repellent and as a dog-calming product. It also has strong antifungal properties. Citronella oil can have numerous health benefits when used correctly.

Benefits and Uses in the Outdoors

Citronella oil is often used as a flavoring and perfuming agent for products. However, that is not the limit to its uses. It also boasts a large variety of benefits that can help you during your outdoor trips.

Bug Repellent

Since the 1940s, citronella oil has been approved and registered as a working insect repellent. It is a great alternative to chemical-based insect repellents since it is completely natural and chemical-free.

Specifically, citronella oil is well-known and excellent for repelling mosquitoes. This includes the dangerous Aedes aegypti (dengue fever mosquito). For the essential oil to stay effective, you should re-apply the repellent to your skin every 30-60 minutes.


Additionally, citronella oil can also be used to repel lice, head lice, stable flies and leeches. This can be useful especially if you encounter the latter two while you are outdoors.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has tested and stated that citronella oil has basically little-to-no toxicity when it is being used as a topical insect repellent. This is especially so since there have been no reports of adverse effects or concerns over a 60-year period. 

If you are still concerned about having a reaction, you can dilute citronella oil with a carrier oil such as liquid coconut oil or jojoba.

Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration have conducted numerous studies and they have determined that citronella oil as a safe additive to products. If you are camping, you may want to consider using a citronella candle while you share stories in the evening around the fire.

In Ontario, researchers from Guelph University studied the effects of citronella candles when used to repel mosquitoes. They found that when used at a 3 percent concentration, the candles successfully managed to reduce mosquito landings by 42 percent. That is enough to consider buying several when warm weather starts occuring in your area.

The candles work well because the oil helps mask the human lactic acid and carbon dioxide scents which attract mosquitoes.

Hence, by burning these candles by your campsite, you may actually reduce your chances of being bitten by these bugs. Even without constant reapplication of the oil.

If you like oil lamps and lanterns you can get Tiki torch fuel that contains cintronella oils so you get some ambient lighting while take care of the bug problem. Hanging a lantern in a tree can be really pretty and help keep your patio bug free during long summer evenings.

For Infections

If you have any cuts or injuries, citronella oil will be able to help you. The essential oil is antiseptic, as it inhibits bacterial growth. All thanks to its components like methyl isoeugenol that are present in it.

These components kill bacteria and inhibit further bacterial growth, which is important when it comes to treating infections in wounds. Furthermore, the oil can also help treat infections in the colon, urethra, urinary bladder, stomach, intestines, urinary tracts, prostate, and kidneys as well.

This means that if you end up accidentally hurting yourself or ingesting something problematic while camping or hiking, you may use the oil to help you. Other than removing bacteria, the oil also inhibits fungal growth.

teddy bear hurt ill

This means that the essential oil can be used to counter fungal infections that occur in the ear, nose, and throat. It can be common to contract fungal infections when camping, especially in the ears. The oil also helps with fungal dysentery as well.

The essential oil helps stimulate blood circulation, discharges, and secretions. As a result, this also leads to more activity within the nervous system.

This stimulation improves immune mechanisms and metabolism of the body, which improves general health as well. With so many potential fixes, it makes it handy to have some citronella oil on hand while you are outdoors, especially if medicine may not be as accessible.

Reduces Inflammation and Removes Toxins

When ingested, citronella essential oil can also help your body. The oil will be broken down in your body and will leave your system through your urine. It can reduce inflammation in your liver, stomach, intestines and other parts of your digestive system.

In addition, this oil can help alleviate inflammations as a result of the consumption of drugs, alcohol, narcotics, disease, hard or spicy food and more.

Even if you are not facing any particular problems in your digestive and intestinal health, this oil can give you a smoother digestion process. Citronella essential oils have diaphoretic properties as well, which increase sweating.

This promotes the removal of toxins and other unwanted materials, including excess water, fat, and salts from your body. It can also make your skin healthier and make your body feel lighter.

woman happy sky

Citronella essential oil also increases the frequency and quantity of urination, which also disposes of waste substances and toxins, apart from sweating. This includes the removal of uric acid, excess bile, acids, salts, water, and fats.

In fact, it can also help reduce a fever if you have one. If you have any worms in your stomach or gastrointestinal tracts, this oil will also eliminate them. This includes worms like roundworms and tapeworms.

Having the oil as a treatment is important since these worms can be contracted if you happen to drink contaminated water while you are camping. It is also possible to contract worms if you consume wild game that is infected with them as well.

Use for Muscle-Ache Relief

Citronella essential oils can relieve muscle spasms and muscle aches. It can also be used to cure menstrual spasms as well as other cramps. The oil helps improve blood flow and can be used as treatment for the muscles.

muscle woman

These properties make citronella essential oil a great thing to bring because it can ease any soreness that you may have if you are hiking or working out outdoors.

Calms Dogs

Interestingly, citronella essential oil is extremely useful in controlling and calming dogs. The oil makes them bark less and discourages them from acting too wild.

If you combine some oil and water and spray your dog, you can reap the benefits of its calming properties while also helping kill bacteria in the same process.

If you decide to bring your furry friend on a hike and need it to calm down at any point, consider using some citronella oil on him or her. However, there are some studies that show that using the oil as a solution to stop your dog from barking is not good for your dog.

white dog

In the long term, you should just train your dog instead of relying on the oil. However, if this is simply for short-term use as you go outdoors, you may consider this quick fix.

Use as a Deodorant

As mentioned earlier, the lemon-like aroma can also drive away bad odor. As a result, it can be used as a deodorant and as a body spray. It can only be used in small quantities though because large quantities can cause skin irritations.

Hence, if you have already brought some citronella essential oil for other purposes, you may choose to use it as a deodorant as well. Additionally, it may also have some anti-bacterial properties while you use it.

Stress and Anxiety Reliever

Citronella essential oils can be used to calm the mind of anxiety and stress. It can also help you with sleep difficulties and insomnia.

If you have trouble sleeping while camping due to stress or you’re just having difficulties adjusting, you may consider using citronella oil to help you in relaxing and resting.

man baby sleeping

Another benefit is that the oil can also help you fight migraines and headaches if they are also impeding your sleep or general rest.


While citronella essential oil is usually and generally considered safe for use if inhaled, diluted, or used topically, high concentrations can be problematic. When used in high concentrations, it can cause skin irritation. That is why it is important to dilute the oil before using it topically.

You should also always read and follow instructions that are printed on labels of products that contain citronella essential oils. If you are using the oils on children or pregnant and/or breastfeeding women, you should consult a healthcare professional first before use.

You should also only consume citronella essential oils upon supervision of a healthcare professional. The bottom line is: as long as you do not use the oils in high concentrations or consume them without supervision, citronella essential oils are considered safe for use.


Citronella essential oil can be a great asset when you are outdoors. Its many properties provide many great benefits during your trip. Since it has so many great uses, a single spray bottle of it will be able to help you in different ways.

This essential oil will help you with any potential infections, ward off disease-ridden bugs like mosquitoes, ease muscle pains and even any inflammations or toxins.

When you are outdoors, you often do not have access to a drug store or a supermarket for any medicines or other necessities. By taking along citronella essential oil, you can prepare yourself for a variety of situations with all the variety of uses it has. In other words, it is a great asset to you for your trips.

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