Scented candles are one of the most popular mosquito repelling methods same as other repellents such as DEET and picaridin sprays or eucalyptus oil. There are many different opinions regarding the effectiveness of scanted candles, when it comes to insect repelling. One thing that makes these type of candles so popular is that they usually contain only natural substances, so people that do not like to put a toxic substance such as DEET on their skin, or in that matters put any mosquito repelling lotion or spray on their skin and clothes, much rather choose to use scanted candles to repel mosquitoes and have a mosquito free outdoor time. But how effective are these candles and what substances are used in these candles that repel mosquitoes?
What substances are used
The most common substance used in mosquito repelling scanted candles is citronella oil. We have previously looked at what citronella is and how effective it is for repelling mosquitoes when added to skin in from of a lotion. Citronella oil is obtained from leaves of a lemon grass plant. When it comes to scanted candles no other substances are so widely used in these candles as citronella oil. Besides that it is a natural insect repelling, candles containing this substance have long burning time and they can also be made at home.
How scanted candles repel mosquitoes
As most scanted candles use citronella oil for mosquito repelling, they work in the same way a citronella oil works, when applied to the skin in form of a spray or lotion. In general citronella oil blocks scents from our bodies that mosquitoes can detect, which makes use more invisible to them. Scanted candles with citronella oil will be more effective on some mosquitoes breeds and less effective to others, because some mosquito breeds detect carbon dioxide more than other scents to find humans, while other mosquito breeds may be more attracted to heat, sweat and different odors from our bodies. When scanted candles burn, citronella oil evaporates from the candle and releases around the candle, which makes people and animals in close range of scanted candle less visible for mosquitoes and other insects. Scanted candles do not kill or stun mosquitoes, just repel them for certain amount of time, while candle is burning and releasing mosquito repelling substances in air.
Effectiveness of scented candles
There are different opinions, whether scented candles are effective mosquito repellents, but some studies have shown, that scanted candles do indeed repel some percent of misquotes when used in a short distance of 1 to 2 square meters. However, when the distance increases, the effectiveness of a scanted candle decreases dramatically. So if you want to use a scanted citronella candle as the only mosquito repellent, you will have to sit close to the scanted candle in 1 to 2 meter range for the candle to provide some level of protection against mosquito bites. For more effect you could use multiple scanted candles together, to allow the candle to repel mosquitoes in a greater area. Besides the small working area of a scanted candle, wind will also decrease the effectiveness it. Smoke from the candle can easily be blown away with smaller wind gusts. However, mosquitoes also do not like wind, so if its windy outside, you probably won’t need to use a mosquito repellent in the first place.
While scented candles that contain citronella oil for mosquito repelling may repel certain amount of mosquitoes in close range, other scented candles may cause an opposite effect. When candles burn they release a carbon dioxide which is a strong attractant for almost all mosquito breeds. And what is even worst is that mosquitoes can detect carbon dioxide from a longer distance, so a burning candle will not only attract near mosquitoes, but also mosquitoes from further away. So in opposite to repelling mosquitoes, the candle will attract more mosquitoes from around. I would be more useful to put a burning candle away from an area you are, so mosquitoes close to these candles can detect a carbon dioxide from a burning candle and not your breath.
Another weakness of citronella oil in compression to other mosquito repellents such as DEET is that it provides a short term effect for mosquito repelling. For example, DEET can provide more than 6 hours of protection against mosquitoes, while citronella oil will only provide from a half an hour to hour protection. This means that when the candle will stop burning, mosquitoes will again be able to sense a human body. The good thing is that most of scented candles will provide from 10 up to 50 hour burning time, so you can use a single candle for multiple times, until it will burn out.