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Do Citronella Candles Keep Mosquitoes Away?

Citronella is touted as an effective mosquito repellent in stores and online. Citronella oil has been made into sprays, candles, and lotions, but does it actually help to keep mosquitoes away?

If you light a citronella candle outside this summer, the burning oil may help to repel mosquitoes and other pests. However, the effects won’t last for long. Some research has actually shown that citronella candles might only be effective for up to two hours.

Person lighting citronella candle

What is Citronella Oil?

Citronella oil is extracted from leaves and grass. It has a yellowish-brown color with a grassy, floral, and citrus-like scent. Citronella essential oil has many purposes; it is a natural insect repellent, but it’s also used in perfumes, as a food additive, to promote wound healing, and even as an antifungal agent. Citronella candles have become a staple in the world of natural mosquito and insect repellents.

Do Citronella Candles Work Well?

Citronella works by masking the scents that would otherwise be attracting bugs. The scent of citronella can throw mosquitoes off your trail. But just how long will it work to keep mosquitoes away? Research has shown that when combined with vanillin, citronella can provide mosquito protection for three hours. Combining citronella with DEET can work for twice that time. However, citronella candles on their own provide weak protection at best against mosquitoes.

Do Citronella Plants Repel Mosquitoes on Their Own?

Citronella plants like lemon-scented geraniums do not repel mosquitoes without alteration. The oil within the leaves only works to prevent mosquito bites once it has been extracted. The leaves have to be crushed or rubbed to let the oil out. When you need to repel mosquitoes, you should always rely on more effective and approved prevention tactics.

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