Today I show you why I switched from the commercial citronella candle to diffusing my favorite essential oil mosquito repellent blend. It just works better, and it’s natural!
Citronella candles are one of the most widely recognized scents of summer, and almost every backyard barbeque, summer picnic, or campfire seems to feature citronella.
Would you be surprised to learn that citronella may not be the best way to protect yourself against unwanted backyard guests? Furthermore, I give you 5 reasons to ditch the citronella candle and use my suggestion instead.
1. Are You Burning Fragrance OR real Citronella
While most citronella candles do contain real citronella, some also have additional synthetic fragrance added. Companies do this to change the fragrance so that it is more pleasant or stronger. Burning this synthetic fragrance could be potentially harmful and irritating. Unfortunately, ingredients are often trademarked and not reported unless they could be considered hazardous in home products. When you choose to buy a mainstream candle, many times you will not know the ingredients.
2. You Could Be Burning Chemicals
Take a look a the information provided for this citronella candle on the US Household Products Database. The ingredients listed are 1% citronella. That’s it; 99% of the formula is left out. It isn’t recorded on the label or on any MSDS. The ingredients could certainly be benign, but if you don’t have access to the full ingredient list then you cannot make an educated decision about purchasing it.
3. Open Flames Can Be Dangerous
This might seem like an obvious reason, but open flames can be dangerous to children, animals, and the environment. Many times I’ve been outside burning a citronella candle and I think it’s out of reach for my child. But somehow he always manages to get close! I prefer not to use any open flames when my kids are outside.
Additionally, open flames can be very dangerous when you are camping or spending time in wooded areas. Forest fires start very quickly and can be devastating to the land.
4. Many Commercial Candles Contain Palm Oil
If you don’t know what the big deal about palm oil is, you should! Palm oil is harvested in tropical areas of Africa and South America. It’s highly valued by native cultures and peoples.
However, palm oil has recently been harvested for commercial use in soaps, foods, and other home products like candles. Many companies harvest this precious resource using unethical practices, which results in deforestation, damage to local animal habitats, and a significant impact on local people. In addition, it puts palm trees in danger. It’s always important to look for sustainably sourced palm oil or products that do not contain any palm oil.
5. There are BETTER and MORE effective alternatives to Citronella Candles
Did you know that there are other, more effective alternatives to citronella candles? My favorite natural replacement for citronella candles is using my diffuser when I am outside enjoying summer nights on my porch. (See my favorite essential oil mosquito repellent diffuser blend below.)
Note: You can also find our essential oil based homemade mosquito repellent here.
If you want to read a very informative scholarly article on the effectiveness of a variety of herbs, plants, and essential oils in relation to their effectiveness against mosquitoes, check out this article on PubMed. The article states that, “the most effective of these include thyme oil, geraniol, peppermint oil, cedar oil, patchouli and clove that have been found to repel malaria, filarial and yellow fever vectors for a period of 60-180 mins.” However, these oils dissipate quickly and often need a fixative (a heavier weighted oil) to help them stay effective for longer periods of time.
That’s why I love using my diffuser outside. It provides a nice mist of protection for my small area. While I occasionally include citronella in my preparations, I have found that patchouli, clove, and lemongrass essential oils work particularly well.
Below is my favorite essential oil mosquito repellent diffuser blend that I use while sitting outside.
Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent Diffuser Blend
I add all essential oils to my large capacity diffuser (find one here). I set it to mist intermittently, 30 minutes on, 15 minutes off, while I sit and enjoy summer nights on my porch.
Do you have an essential oil mosquito repellent blend you prefer? If so, what is it?