What is citronella made of?

Citronella is a popular ingredient in perfumes and fragrances, known for its fresh, citrusy scent. Derived from a tropical grass called Cymbopogon nardus or Cymbopogon winterianus, citronella has long been valued for its aromatic properties and its ability to repel insects. In this article, we will explore what citronella is made of and delve into its composition, extraction methods, and significance in the world of perfume and fragrance.

Composition of Citronella

Citronella essential oil, the main ingredient used in perfumes and fragrances, is extracted from the leaves and stems of citronella grass. It is composed of several chemical compounds, the most common of which are citronellal, geraniol and citronellol.

Citronellal is responsible for the fresh, lemony scent of citronella. It is a colorless liquid with a strong citrus aroma. Geraniol adds a sweet, rose-like scent to citronella, while citronellol adds a floral note. These compounds work together to create the distinctive, uplifting scent synonymous with citronella.

Extraction Methods

There are two main methods used to extract citronella oil: steam distillation and solvent extraction. Steam distillation is the most common and traditional method and involves passing steam through the crushed leaves and stems of citronella grass. The steam carries the essential oil, which is then condensed and separated from the water.

Solvent extraction, on the other hand, uses chemical solvents such as hexane or ethanol to extract the oil from the plant material. This method is often used when a higher yield of essential oil is desired. However, steam distillation is generally preferred for the production of high quality citronella oil used in perfumes and fragrances.

Importance in perfumes and fragrances

Citronella’s fresh and uplifting fragrance makes it a popular choice in perfumes and fragrances. Its citrusy scent adds a lively and invigorating note to various fragrance compositions. Citronella is often used as a top or middle note and blends well with other citrus oils, floral essences and woody or herbal ingredients.
In addition to its pleasant fragrance, citronella has natural insect repellent properties. This makes it a valuable ingredient in outdoor fragrances such as mosquito repellent sprays, candles and lotions. The combination of its aromatic and insect repellent properties makes citronella a versatile and sought-after ingredient in the perfume and fragrance industry.

Other uses of citronella

In addition to its use in perfumes and fragrances, citronella has several other uses. One of its most notable uses is in the manufacture of natural insect repellents. Citronella-based products are commonly used to repel mosquitoes, flies and other insects, making them ideal for outdoor activities and gatherings.

Citronella oil is also used in aromatherapy for its uplifting and refreshing scent. It is believed to have mood-lifting properties and is often used to relieve stress, anxiety, and fatigue. In addition, citronella oil has antimicrobial properties, making it a potential ingredient in natural cleaning products.
In summary, citronella is a versatile ingredient in the world of perfumes and fragrances. Derived from the leaves and stems of citronella grass, its essential oil contains compounds such as citronellal, geraniol and citronellol, which contribute to its distinct citrus and floral aroma. With its fragrance and natural insect repellent properties, citronella adds both olfactory appeal and functionality to perfumes, making it a valuable component in the fragrance industry.


What is citronella made of?

Citronella is made from the essential oils extracted from various species of Cymbopogon grass, particularly Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus. These grasses are native to tropical regions and are cultivated for their aromatic properties.

How are the essential oils extracted from citronella?

The essential oils are extracted from citronella grass through a process called steam distillation. In this method, the grass is subjected to steam, which helps release the essential oils. The steam containing the oils is then condensed, and the resulting mixture is separated to obtain the citronella essential oil.

What are the main components of citronella oil?

The main components of citronella oil are citronellal, geraniol, and citronellol. These compounds contribute to the distinct aroma and insect-repellent properties of citronella. Other minor components include limonene, linalool, and various sesquiterpenes.

What is the primary use of citronella?

Citronella is primarily used as an insect repellent. The strong scent of citronella oil helps mask the human scent that attracts mosquitoes and other insects, thereby reducing their attraction and deterring them from biting. It is commonly used in candles, sprays, lotions, and other products designed to repel insects.

Are there any other uses for citronella?

While citronella is mainly known for its insect-repellent properties, it also finds applications in fragrances, soaps, and cosmetics due to its pleasant aroma. Additionally, citronella oil is sometimes used in aromatherapy for its calming and uplifting effects.