The pale yellow liquid with its rich, lemony scent makes an excellent massage oil for muscular aches and stiffness. Diluted 1 in 10 in a carrier oil, it can be applied to the affected area. Citronella oil relaxes tense shoulder muscles and can be massaged over rheumatic aches and pains. If blended with a few drops of rose geranium essential oil or lemon essential oil, it makes a comforting foot oil and eases sinus or nasal congestion and other discomforts from flu, colds, coughs and fatigue. It lowers fever, aids digestive problems and eases menstrual aches and pains.
Add two teaspoons of pure citronella oil to one and a half litres of warm water, shake it up well and use it as a room spray, shaking frequently to disperse the oil. Spray yourself too, when sitting outside on the patio on hot summer nights. Alternatively, make citronella grass ‘tea’ and use it as a spray.
To make the ‘tea’: Boil up to two cups of grass pieces in two litres of water for 10 minutes, then cool and strain the liquid and pour it into a spritz-spray bottle.
On plantations in Sri Lanka, harvesters reap the flowering heads and long stalks and tie them in bundles to dry, for burning in the fire as an insect repellent.
Burn citronella candles to create calm and chase away mosquitoes.
Citronella also has a remarkably calming effect. Sri Lankans use the leaf blade as a tea to ease sleep patterns and encourage relaxation, particularly in the tropical heat (add 1⁄4 cup of fresh leaf to one cup of boiling water, let it stand for five minutes, then strain). Drop a few drops of citronella oil onto a candle and burn it in a safe place, out of draughts and away from anything flammable. The pleasant citronella scent will refresh stale air, ease headaches and help everyone stay calm and relaxed.