Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Fogging Solutions

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If you want to fight and win against mosquitoes, you should try using a mosquito fogger. Foggers are an extremely efficient tool that lets you keep mosquitoes at bay for several hours.

To choose the best type of fogger, it isn’t enough to know about the different types of mosquito foggers. You also need to know about the insecticide that goes inside the mosquito fogger, since this is what will kill and repel the mosquitoes.

Mosquito fogging solutions are divided into two main categories:

  1. Water-based solutions
  2. Oil-based solutions

To know which liquid to use, you’ll need to know a little more about them and where each is used. Don’t forget that foggers can also be used for odor and mold control, not just pest control.

Water-Based Fogging Solutions

Let’s discuss water-based fogging solutions first. This kind of insecticide is newer and less expensive than oil-based solutions.

You can use water-based fogging solutions at home, in picnic spots, or even at campsites. Many commercial fogging companies also use water-based solutions for mosquito fogging or other types of fogging, such as odor control and disinfection.

Water-based solutions offer some advantages over oil-based solutions besides cost.

They are:

  • virtually odorless,
  • won’t stain the area that is being fogged,
  • pose a low fire risk,
  • safer for the environment.

Water-based insecticides are lighter and will disperse quicker. This makes them perfect to use a little while before a party or a BBQ so that by the time the guests arrive, the insecticide will be out of sight and the mosquitoes will be, too.

Oil-Based Fogging Solutions

The other type of fogging solution is oil based. As the name suggests, these use oil instead of water as the base. This makes the solution heavier than a water-based insecticide, so it won’t stay in the air as long. They are only effective against mosquitoes as long as they’re airborne. However, for other applications, it will stay on the surface being treated longer than water-based solutions.

Unfortunately, this also means that an oil-based fogging solution might stain surfaces, which is why oil-based fogging solutions are used outdoors more than indoors.

Oil-based solutions are better in bad weather, though. For example, let’s say that you live in a coastal town near the sea and there aren’t many days with just a light breeze. If you often experience strong wind, you won’t have to wait for calm days if you use an oil-based solution. You can fog anytime and the solution will still work because it is heavier than water-based solutions and less prone to being blown away.


To sum up, there are four main differences between water-based and oil-based fogging solutions. These differences also dictate their use.

  1. Water-based solutions are odorless while oil-based solutions might have a bit of a lasting odor.
  2. Water-based solutions don’t stain surfaces, but oil-based solutions might.
  3. Water-based solutions dissipate more quickly while oil-based solutions will linger on the surface.
  4. Water-based solutions are not flammable, while many oil-based solutions are.

The third difference is also the reason why you should use a water-based insecticide when there is little to no wind and precipitation. These are also the better choice when you want no trace of insecticide to remain a short time after fogging. The final difference makes water-based solutions better for indoor use, too.

Use an oil-based solution if you are fogging in stronger wind or precipitation conditions.

They’re also perfect if you don’t mind the insecticide having a slight odor or lingering on surfaces for a bit longer. Never use them near open flame.

One word of caution, though. Check your fogger first to see what type of insecticide it’s meant for. Some foggers only work with water-based solutions while others can only use oil-based solutions. With luck, you’ll have one of those foggers that works with both types of solutions, which allows you a larger variety of insecticides to work with.


Lynn Harvey

I just read your online article on water versus oil fogging. It was informative, and I think you for it. However, it seems to me that you neglected to cover the most important issue relative to these products. That question, and it is my question, is: Is fog from oil-based foggers explosive. Could that fog be caused to explode by phones ringing, pilot lights, motors starting, static sparks, etc.

I would appreciate very much an answer to this issue, and also think that it would be very beneficial to update your article with this information.

Thanks very much for your support


    Hi Lynn,
    As long as you don’t use a flammable oil-based liquid with the fogger, there shouldn’t be any danger of an explosion.


    I have a small propane fogger for home use. I want to fog a durable mosquito insecticide in my overgrown back lot.

    What would you recommend?

Anil Desai

I would like to know whether I can use water based insecticide or oil based insecticide into thermal fogging machine for Mango hoppers control. If oil based then which oil & what will be the cheapest I can use.
Anil Desai


    It depends on what type of thermal fogger you have because there are some that work with both oil and water-based insecticides, and then there are some that don’t. Just check the manual of your fogger to see what type of liquid the fogger can be used with.


What type of oil should be used as a carrier for fogging cattle. When I was a kid we used diesel as a carrier and I do not think that is the best option. Should I us mineral oil, cooking oil, etc. that is my main question.
Thank you,


    Yes, you can use diesel or biodiesel as a carrier to fog cattle. Another option is deodorized paraffin oil.


I’m thinking of using essential oils (citronella/lemongrass).Mixed with vegetable glycerin in my propane fogger as a mosquito control. What do you think? Am I on to something? You’re opinion please.


    This could work, Sal, at least for a while. Not sure how long the effects will last tho since I have never tried using this mixture myself.

Jim Capone

For mosquito control – outdoors small yard + landscaping can you recommend a good water-based and a fogger?


    I would say go with one of the smaller propane or electric foggers on this list and pair it with the Black Flag, Bonide or Repel fogging insecticides.

Donnie Koym

What would be the ratio of Malathion to diesel to use as a fog?


    It will depend on what type of Malathion product you are using. The dilution instructions should be noted on the label of the product.

Billy Reid

Am working as a gate guard in south Texas near Corpus Christi. Had large amount of rain last week.. I am in a kind of swamp area. Mosquitos are getting serious. Ordered a Burgess 980 electric fogger today. Can I use a diesel and permitherm mix in this unit. Have quite a lot to fog and need as strong a mixture as I can. No worry about neighbors.


    I would advise you to use the Black Flag Insecticide with your Burgess 980 since this fogger is designed to be used with this particular fogging liquid.


    Hey billy ! What did you end up doin ? did you try the diesel and permitherm mix ? did it work ? how does this not ignite ?


I use a longray ts35 thermal fogger and i dont know what i can use as a solution with it it snot written in the manual ??


    The Longray TS-35A Thermal Fogger is capable of dispensing both oil and water-based solutions.


My coy just purchased a China TS-95 Durable product materials thermal fogging machine. Please, I would like to know if it uses oil or water based or both.
It has a single tank with 2 compartments, hence, which of the compartments can I use for the oil-based solution.
Thank you


    Hi! Unfortunately, I have no experience with this specific fogger. Have you tried reading the manual? These sorts of things are usually mentioned and explained. However, from what I could find on the internet, the machine is supposed to work with both water and oil-based formulations.


Hi… There are aquatic plants, fish and lobster in front of my home…
Every time after fogging (waterbased) all of my pets died…
I have 3 ponds at home…
Any neutralizer, please?


    Can you specify which product you’ve been using? Many pesticides are dangerous to aquatic life forms. If you are fogging an area close to these water bodies, you need to make sure none of the product gets in these water bodies, as it is likely the reason why your pets died.

Mark Poole

I’m looking at buying a fogger. They all mention diesel as a carrier. I’m worried that diesel will leave a taste on my vegetables, particularly in my greenhouse. Should it be ok if I don’t overdo it? Can I use water instead (all the foggers are propane powered)?


    Always follow the instruction manual of each product, as doing otherwise might cause problems with the functioning of the product ( not working, working improperly, losing efficiency, etc).

Gino Cuglietta

Can l use water base fogging solution with a Propane fogger

    Kristiana Kripena

    It depends on the fogger you have. Some foggers work with only water-based solutions, others only with oil-based solutions, and there are even some that you can use with both.

Simon Miller

I have a thermal fogger which will work with both oil and water, so if I use oil based ti spray crops and trees what type of oil can I use in order for it to be safe to be used around the farm

Lim Yaw Tee

Is mosquito fogging harmful to aquatic life like fishes in pond?


    This depends on the insecticide you’re using. However, often that is the case, so you really need to pay attention to the label.

Mikey Principe

Is thermal fogging is effective for disinfection against covid-19?


    Due to it not being our field of expertise, we can’t give you any guarantees. Though, generally, we would suggest going for a ULV fogger (especially, if you’re fogging indoors). A lot also depends on the solution you’re about to use. You can try contacting a company that specializes in disinfection. Good luck!

Afolabi Olaniyi

I just aquire a thermal fogger from China and black flag insecticide, I tried mixing the black flag with water but it kept flowing on the water. What else can I use to mix it with? Also want to know if I can fill one tank with only black flag and the other with water?


    The label suggests you should pour the product in your fogger undiluted.

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