CitronellaCitronella Essential Oil | West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy

This essential oil is produced from two different species.  Both the Ceylon variety (Cymbopogon nardus) and Java variety (Cymbopogon winterianus), are steam distilled to produce citronella essential oils.  Both belong to the Graminaceae Family.

Ceylon citronella is a tall aromatic grass native to Sri Lanka. A yellow brown liquid with a fresh powerful lemony scent is steam distilled from the fresh, part-dried or dried leaf of this grass. This is the Citronella oil that is preferred for use in perfumery. Java citronella is cultivated in the tropics worldwide especially in Java, Vietnam, Africa, Argentina and Central America. A colourless to pale yellow essential oil with a fresh, lemon-type fragrance is steam distilled from the fresh, part-dried or dried leaf of this grass. This is the oil that is associated with citronella candles and insect-repellent sprays.

Both Citronellas have antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, deodorant, insect repellant (mosquitoes), stimulant and tonic properties. Ceylon citronella contains more monoterpene hydrocarbons than Java citronella. They both contain geraniol, citronellol and citronellal. The Java varietya yields twice as much essential oil as Ceylon one and has a higher citronellal content. It is thought that the Java oil is probably the better insect repellant.

Citronella blends well bergamot, cajeput, cedarwood, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, orange, peppermint, pine, rosemary, tea tree and thyme.

Psychologically, use the Ceylon essential oil for fatigue, headaches and depression. Use Java essential oil for nervous conditions and stress related conditions.

On the physiological level both are insect-mosquito-repellants and room deodorizers. Use C. nardus for colitis and intestinal infections. Use C. winterianus for intestinal infections.

Contraindications: Avoid during pregnancy. There are reports of both these oils causing contact dermatitis in humans.


Albert Y. Leung & Steven Foster , Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000…20011

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