Oil of citronella is a naturally occurring insect and animal repellent distilled from two grass varieties. It is yellow to brown and has a grassy/floral smell. It is a mixture of many components. The exact composition varies by grass variety. However, the main components are citronellol, citronellal, and geraniol.
Citronella oil repels target pests rather than killing them. It works by masking scents that are attractive to insects. Thus, insects find it difficult to locate their target to feed.
Citronella Java is credited with having therapeutic properties as an antiseptic, deodorant, insecticide, parasitic, tonic and as a stimulant. Nonetheless, most people will associate it with its insecticide properties. Many commercial repellents contain Citronella Java, and it is often used in combination with Cedarwood to produce a pleasant smelling natural insect repellent. It will also be seen in soaps and candles, and it has common applications in massage. This oil can also help with minor infection, but is more commonly known for its ability to assist in combating colds and flu. Citronella can also be used for excessive perspiration and for conditioning oily skin and hair.