As long as you use candles containing natural ingredients such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary or other natural oils, mosquito repellent candles don’t pose any danger to humans. Our informative article below will show you all that you need to know about this natural mosquito repellent.
What is a mosquito repellent candle?
Mosquito repellent candles are essentially very similar to regular candles, the difference being in the ingredients that make up the product. Instead of using normal oils that will make your home smell nice, these candles contain special oils such as citronella, peppermint, rosemary and lemongrass which are known for keeping nasty mosquitoes away.
Out of the ingredients mentioned above citronella is the most popular one. It is a naturally-occurring insect repellent that is considered a minimum risk pesticide by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), making it one of the safest options you can use.
While other varieties are used such as oils derived from plants like mint or rosemary, they are not as popular since there is not a lot of research to support their effectiveness against mosquitoes.
Mosquito repellent candles come in all shapes and sizes and there is not a shortage of them on the market, which means that it is very easy to find the one that meets your needs. The important aspect when prospecting for this product is to look at the amount of citronella oil it contains since the candle will not be effective if it does not contain enough active ingredients.
Most products on the market will show the percentage of citronella oils on the label or on the product description page if you are buying online. You should look for options that have at least 3% and anything less than that is not worth buying.
How does it work?
Unlike dangerous repellents that rely on toxic chemicals, mosquito candles typically work by releasing a scent that is strong enough to block out other, more attractive smells. Citronella candles, for example, are very good at muffling the smell of sweat and blood that attracts mosquitoes to humans.
You can use the candles in outdoor situations such as when you are preparing a barbecue since the scent remains powerful even in the open air. They are also very easy to use since all that you need to do is light the wick and the smoke from the candles will do all the hard work by warding off mosquitoes.
It is important to be aware that these candles will not kill the pests surrounding your home but merely keep them away from you, so once the candle is out they will be back. There is also a risk with such products since there is not a guarantee that the candles will work. While the scientific consensus is that they help repel mosquitoes, they are not always effective.
The smell of citronella, peppermint, lemongrass or other natural oils are indeed unpleasant to mosquitoes, but there is always the chance that some flying pests may avoid the smoke from the candle and attack you from the other side.
Furthermore, mosquito repellent candles are also limited by weather conditions so that if it is windy or raining, they won’t be as effective since the flame will have a hard time staying lit. In such conditions, bug sprays that use natural ingredients such as lemon eucalyptus or picaridin oil are better and just as safe.
At the end of the day, homeowners should view mosquito candles only as a minor repellent, not as a sure way to keep mosquitoes away since they are nowhere near as strong as pesticides. If you don’t have a big mosquito infestation then this option should be more than capable of keeping you and your guests free of mosquito bites.
Are there risks when using mosquito repellent candles?
As long as you focus on products that use natural ingredients, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about but as with any product, there are some aspects that you will need to consider before deciding if it is the best choice for you.
The main risk associated with these types of candles is the possibility of someone being allergic to citronella or some of the other natural ingredients. Otherwise, mosquito candles are regarded as posing very little to no risk to children over 6 months of age, adults, and the environment.
You will need to be careful if you have a pet since if it accidentally ingests these candles the pet may begin to display symptoms that range from an irritated stomach to central nervous system depression. Breathing the smoke from citronella candles can also be dangerous for pets and cause breathing issues.
For humans, the fumes are not dangerous but even so, it is recommended to avoid inhaling too much of the fumes since they can still cause skin and lung irritation. Because they can lead to poor air quality if used indoors, repellent candles are recommended only for outside use.
Homemade mosquito candles
If you want to be in control of the ingredients that go inside a mosquito candle there is the possibility of making your own homemade repellents. The steps required are very easy to follow, there is no manual work for you to worry about and all you will need is a candle and a small bottle of essential oils.
You’ll need to start with a plain, unscented candle of your choice (beeswax candles are recommended). The size does not matter and you can use tea lights or pillars in whatever size you see fit. Beeswax candles are the best candidates because they burn super long and are all-natural, unlike paraffin wax which can create toxic toluene and benzene when burned.
The next step is to light the candle and allow it to burn a while to let the melted wax accumulate at the base of the flame. Then you can add 2 drops of your favorite essential oil.
Lemon eucalyptus essential oils work great, but you can use any of the specially formulated mosquito repellent essential oils that contain citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary, or lemongrass.
Make sure that you don’t pour the essential oil directly on the flame since it will catch fire, instead pour it carefully from the sides. Once the two drops of oil are added, the candles will continue to repel mosquitoes and other bugs for about 3 hours. If you need it for longer, simply add 1-2 more drops after the 3 hours have passed.
Tips for avoiding mosquito bites
While having a mosquito repellent at the ready is important, if you want to get rid of all your mosquito problems, you need to solve the problem at its root. This may not be possible when traveling, but the tips we have gathered below will work perfectly for your house, garden, and yard.
Firstly, it is important to treat or remove standing water since mosquitoes use it to lay their eggs in it. You can either remove it completely or treat it with mosquito dunks which release Bacillus thuringiensis v. israelensis (BT) in the water. While BT is deadly to mosquitoes, it is safe for humans and pets.
If you don’t want to treat your water or remove it, you will need to make sure that you replace any standing water such as the one in your pools or bird baths at least once a week. You can also keep your backyard clean by inviting animals that eat mosquitoes such as frogs, fish, birds, turtles, or dragonflies. This way you will get free and 100% natural mosquito control.
Lastly, you can consider adding some mosquito repellent plants in your yard or vegetable garden. Think of plants like basil, anise, mint, catnip, lemon-scented plants, eucalyptus, cloves, and mint family plants. The best thing is that they won’t stay in your garden just for show since you can also use them for cooking.