Summer nights should be magical and free of pesky, buzzing mosquitoes, but if you’re anywhere east of the Rockies, this probably isn’t your fate. Along with a few bug-repelling plants and essential oils, you can reduce the annoyance factor by enjoying a bottle of wine and recycling it into a beautiful and useful citronella candle.
Plus, you can make your outdoor entertaining area look just a bit more classy by replacing your old, weathered tiki torches with your beautiful, colorful wine bottles. Here’s how to make your own wine bottle citronella candles in a matter of minutes.
Wine Bottle Citronella Candles
A note on safety: these should only be used outside in a well-ventilated space. And since they’re not held in place by anything, make sure to keep them away from children and pets!
How to make wine bottle citronella candles
- Glass bottles (almost any glass bottle will work, just ensure it’s not too thin)
- 1/2-inch replacement torch wicks
- 1/2-inch x 3/8-inch copper coupling with stop (I found mine at Home Depot but couldn’t find it on the website.)
- 1/2-inch copper tube cap
- 1/2-inch teflon tape
- 1–2 bags of marbles (I found mine at the dollar store.)
- Citronella torch fuel
- 1/2-inch funnel (optional, but it sure helps)
Place 1–2 bags of marbles into the bottom of your wine bottle. Small rocks work well too, just be sure you put something in the bottom of your bottle to stabilize the bottle and the wick.
Wrap the 1/2-inch (wider) end of your copper coupling with teflon tape so that it will fit snugly into the mouth of the bottle.
The idea is to wrap just a bit more than you’ll need, so you can press it down into place after you fill the bottle with torch fluid. Set the wrapped coupling in place, but don’t press down firmly just yet.
Remove the wrapped coupling and slide the replacement wick through, leaving about 1/2″ of the wick sticking out of the top to light.
Place your funnel in the mouth of the bottle and carefully add your torch fluid. You don’t need a funnel for this step, but it drastically reduces the amount of torch fluid that spills on the outside of your bottle—and that is a major plus in my book! Be sure not to fill the bottle all the way so that when you place the wick in, it won’t overflow.
I was able to find a homemade recipe for tiki torch fuel that uses distilled water, isopropyl alcohol, and fragrance, but I didn’t test it out. If you try it, let us know how you like it!
Add your wick and press in on the teflon tape so the coupling makes a tight fit.
Keep the copper cap on when the torch is not in use to keep the wick dry. Enjoy a mosquito-free evening! Just be sure to keep your glass of wine a safe distance away from your new candle.
It’s a good idea to never leave your torch unattended, and be especially careful if you’ve got little ones running around who could tip the torch over!
Citronella Candle FAQs
Do I have to use teflon tape for these? Is there an alternative?
Teflon tape is incredibly stretchy and heat resistant, making it perfect for these torches. The tape allows the copper coupling to fit securely inside the mouth of the wine bottle. And as the wick burns, the tape won’t melt from the heat.
You can try using electrical tape instead of teflon tape if you prefer, but I haven’t tested it myself and can’t guarantee that it works well.
What makes these candles citronella?
The tiki torch fuel we used was citronella-scented.
Why won’t my candles stay lit for more than a few minutes?
Try pulling the wick out a bit more, so there’s about 1–1.5 inches of cotton wick sticking out of the top of the candle, and allow it to soak up the fuel for a few hours before lighting.
How many candles can you make from a gallon of fuel?
Approximately 6–8 candles.
What is the purpose of the marbles in the bottom of the wine bottle?
The marbles give the candle some weight, so it won’t tip over while you’re using it. It also helps to take up room in the bottle, so you don’t need to use quite as much tiki torch fluid.
Can I use any kind of coupling, or does it have to be copper?
Copper coupling is heat safe, which is why we use it. I haven’t tried this with any other kind of coupling, so I’m not sure how it behaves under high heat.
Are these refillable?
Yes! Go ahead and refill the fuel as many times as you like. If the wick starts to break down, then pull it out and insert a new wick.
Do I need to remove the label from the wine bottle?
Nope, no need to.
How do you put out the flame when you’re done using them?
I prefer to snuff them out with something like an empty aluminum can.
How do you move the wick up as the candle burns?
You shouldn’t really need to move the wick while the candle is burning. As the candle burns, it pulls the fuel into the wick—and that’s what burns, not the cotton fibers of the wick itself.
That being said, the wick might weaken over time, so you may want to gently pull it up in between uses. Or replace the wick entirely after a while.
Want more ways to get rid of bugs?
- Feeling crafty? Make a bug-repelling bracelet.
- Mix up a DIY All-Natural Bug Spray.
- Try DIY Insect-Repellent Citronella Diffusers for a softer scent.
- Apply a lemongrass lotion that actually smells good but that ticks and mosquitoes hate.
Wine Bottle Citronella Candles
- 1/2-inch funnel (optional, but it sure helps!)
- Glass bottles (Almost any glass bottle will work, just be sure it’s not too thin.)
- 1/2- inch replacement torch wicks
- 1/2-inch x 3/8-inch copper coupling with stop (I found mine in the plumbing section at Home Depot.)
- 1/2- inch copper tube cap
- 1/2- inch teflon tape
- 1–2 bags of marbles (I found mine at the dollar store!)
- Citronella torch fuel
- Place 1–2 bags of marbles in the bottom of your wine bottle. Small rocks work well too, just be sure you put something in the bottom of your bottle to keep it steady.
- Wrap the 1/2-inch (wider) end of your coupling with teflon tape, so that it will fit snuggly into the mouth of the bottle. The idea is to wrap just a bit more than you’ll need, and you can press it down into place after you fill the bottle with torch fluid. Set the wrapped coupling in place but don’t press down firmly just yet.
- Remove the wrapped coupling and slide the replacement wick through, leaving about 1/2″ of the wick sticking out of the top to light.
- Place your funnel in the mouth of the bottle and carefully add your torch fluid. You don’t need a funnel for this step, but it drastically reduces the amount of torch fluid that spills on the outside of your bottle—and that is a major plus in my book! Be sure not to fill the bottle all the way so that when you place the wick inside, it won’t overflow.
- Add your wick and press in on the teflon tape so the coupling makes a tight fit.
Dina Melucci says
I made 3 bottles from a kit I made on ebay but it won't stay lit more than 3-5 minutes. What happened?
I usually hate Citronella candles because the metal containers they come in aren’t pretty and rust within a few weeks. <a href="https://www.bestbaltimorephotographer.com/baltimore-headshot-photographer/">Baltimore headshot photographer</a>
Thank you for this amazing post, it's a very informative post for us, I appreciate what you did, I have value for you and respect your opinion. Really I like it. Once again I wanted to take the time to thank you.
is there a reason you use teflon tape? could you use electrical tape?
Ron Collins says
Teflon tape is high temp and electrical tape may melt
How are these Citronella? Do you add oil to them?
Sonia Jenkins says
We made two bottles but, the wick won’t stay lit for more than 3 mins. The wick is wet to touch with citronella fluid. There is plenty of fluid in the bottle. What is it burning out?
justin Chipley says
I am having the same problem
Approximately how many bottles can you make from a gallon of fuel?
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This would also make a good thing to have on hand when the power goes out. To help light your home.
But not citronella oil, instead use lamp oil for kerosene lamps.
I have old time kerosene lamps that I keep filled, just for this purpose. They were handed down from family, but they are inexpensive and can be purchased at any flea market or antique shop. I love displaying and using them.
Dawn D says
What a beautiful way to re-purpose a wine bottle. Love the fact that you used the colored marbles. Great idea which I will have to try.
What is the purpose of marbles in bottle? Will it work just as well without them?
Just bought kit on Amazon which includes wick, coupling, tiny rubber washers, & cap with ball chain to extinguish flame. 3 sets came in package….haven’t compared to buying everything locally.
Carole Poole says
You can do this without marbles, but you’ll have to use a lot more tiki oil to keep the level high enough to reach the wick. Marbles also add weight/stability to the bottle so it doesn’t tip over.
Yolanda Cross says
Hello – did the kit you bought on Amazon fit a wine bottle? Are they all a genertic size? Thanks!
FYI…Not all wine bottles have the same size opening; they are all very close, but there is some variation (variation you can’t detect with the naked eye)…the 1/2-inch x 3/8-inch copper coupling will not fit all bottles. I just made 9 of these….out the first 9 bottles I picked only 4 would fit the coupling…luckily I am amateur wine maker so I have access to 100s of empty bottles…
I’d like to try the home made tiki fuel. What is the combination ratio of distilled water and alcohol?
I have made these and they look lovely.
How do you adjust the wick as it burns?
This is such a great project, I made a few changes but had to link back to you for my readers.
When I try this again, I’m certainly using wine bottles!
Thanks for this!!!
Payoneer MasterCard says
Can u use any type of metal coupling or copper only?
I have been using 5/8 male metal mender by Orbit.You can find these at Home Depot in the garden hose section,alot less then copper.
I am going to make it with old whisky bottles
Are these reusable/refillable? Or one time use?
I have made several of these …. had planned to use them on a seawall at a lakeside wedding. I have tried them, but they only burn about an hour. What am I doing wrong?
Carole Poole says
Add more fluid and make sure the wick is sticking out enough from the top of the bottle. We use ours every weekend, 6-8 hours at a time.
Jennifer Opland says
Does the label have to be removed? I have a wine bottle that I’d like to this with, but I love the label and think it would be cool to leave it on….just not sure if I can. Does the bottle get super hot or anything?
No the only thing that get hot is the coupling
Is there a possible alternative to the Teflon tape? I don’t use anything Teflon due to my parrot.
You may want to try some Plumbers Dope. It is kind of messy stuff, but it what they use on Natural Gas lines to make sure there are no leaks.
Try saran wrap/clear food wrap? I’ve been doing this for ages, when candles are too thin for the holder, especially if crystal, and the plus…, it’s clear! Wrap it very tightly and it holds forever!
Linda Jung says
You could try “plumbers putty” by “Oatey” at Home Depot it cost less than a couple of bucks, depending on where you live. But never used it around fire so PLEASE READ THE CONTAINER FIRST!!!
Being a woman(60) I have found that if you go to Home Depot, Lowe’s or any store like them, and you’re not sure about what your suppose to get or do say in plumbing or electrical, and that person that is helping you just son’t seem to know what thay or you ar talking about,,,I wait for the guys that are coming in from the jobs site and ask them. Them always know what you need and I have found they will even take you to what you need. They have’nt let me down yet! Just a little FYI. Good Luck Jen!!!
Does it just go out when all the fuel runs out? How would you be able to stop it if you don’t want to let it all burn?
Blow it out
How does the wick go up? Won’t it burn down/out to the liquid and not work any longer? Isn’t there a turning knob needed much like on a kerosene lamp?
Kerosene is a gas and requires a knob to control the flow of gas to the flame. The wick absorbs the fluid to keep a constant flame once it’s lit until all the fluid is used.
Linda Jung says
Kris, they sell candle snuffers at Hobby Lobby, or those others places that sale candles. You could pick up really cute ones. Drill a small hole in the handle use a strip of leather(holds up better in the weather) and Tie the other end around the neck of the bottle. It just needs to be long enough to cover the top of the bottle and flame. They also sell brass caps so that you can cover the coupling and rain, water won’t get into the bottle when not in use.
I’m having trouble finding the 1/2 ” wicks.
where can i buy those?
Home Depot sells replacement wicks with the tiki torches and fuel
Lynn Wilson says
I find them in the garden section of Walmart. Cheaper than anywhere else I have looked.
My problem is the coupling and caps. What I have found in couplings at Lowes are expensive.
i picked up 1/2″ wicks at Walmart
Does the tiki fuel have citronella in it?
ROBERT KELLY says
Where do I get caps and wicks
Hardware Store like Home Depot or Lowes.
Plumbing section :)
I just made 3 of these for my moms bday. It literally took about 30 mins. Cost around $20 for all the supplies (minus the wine) and I have some left over for a couple more. I found the wicks finally @ target in the garden dept. that was the only challenge tho, I shoulda went there first. They are great for the backyard because they don’t blow out like a candle. Very cool. I’ll def make more for gifts.
Did you add food colouring to the citronella oil to make it blue?
Id like to know where to get the wick part too
Latia Bracy says
do these for birthday
Where can I buy the wicks for my project
This is beyond clever. I usually hate Citronella candles because the metal containers they come in aren’t pretty and rust within a few weeks.
These are so cute and creative!!
Vivian | stayaliveandcooking says
Love how pretty this looks! Perfect for summers outside.
Is there a trick to lighting the wick? I have my torch assembled but the wick is catching on fire.
* not catching on fire
You have to give the wick time to soak up the oil.
Where might I find the size copper coupling and tube you mention?
Lowes or Home Depot
I’m a little confused where the citronella comes in, it’s not an ingredient or in any of the instructions. What am I missing?
Agreed… This is a pretty torch, but wouldn’t really repel bugs. (Unless I am also missing something?)
SARA PETERSON says
The tiki torch brand has a bug repellent option that comes in the fluid already :)
Its a citronella type tiki torch fluid.. I got mine @ Walmart
Those look really sweet! Can you do a fathers day ideas post next please! X
I was planning on using old whiskey bottles for by father.
Helena @ Dream Calendars says
What a beautiful way to re-purpose a wine bottle.