Citronella Candles

How Do Citronella Candles Work To Repel Insects?

How Do Citronella Candles Work To Repel Insects?


You may have heard that citronella, an herbal oil found in lemongrass, may ward off insects naturally without using harmful pesticides like DEET while summer is in full swing and mosquitoes are buzzing about you. 

But do citronella candles work? We questioned the bug specialists about how citronella works and other commercially available all-natural mosquito repellents.

How To Use Citronella Candles?

To start, it's helpful to comprehend what citronella candles are meant to do. Contrary to common belief, mosquitoes are neither poisoned nor irritated by the aroma.

According to Joseph M. Conlon, technical consultant at the American Mosquito Control Association, The technique by which citronella repels mosquitoes includes it disguising human scents so that mosquitoes don't identify the presence of a possible host.

In simple terms: You're essentially found by the fragrance of these minor bugs. They can detect substances on your skin, smells from your breath, and carbon dioxide from your exhalation. Citronella is meant to neutralize all the smell cues mosquitoes send out.

Citronella candles are meant to operate in this manner, at least. The problem? For it to occur, the appropriate circumstances must exist. Because they are outside items, candles, and other spatial repellents can fall short of expectations. 

Additionally, Conlon notes that outdoor wind, rain, and humidity dilute the substance and reduce its repulsion ability. To put it another way, the citronella candle won't function if it's windy since the fragrance cloud concealing your location will be carried away.

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Are Citronella Candles Effective?

There have yet to be any clear studies that demonstrate how well citronella candles work to keep mosquitoes away. According to the study, we do know the following:

  • The citronella plant indeed has natural mosquito-repelling capabilities. However, it is not nearly as effective as DEET when applied to the body as a mosquito repellent and needs to be reapplied regularly to stay effective.
  • The percentage of oil discharged into the air when candles are used does not have enough weight to deter insects.

Should you thus stop purchasing citronella candles? Contrary to popular belief, these candles make a lovely addition to your patio or other outdoor spaces if you like the aroma and don't expect much more from them than aesthetics. Continue reading if you want to know how to prevent mosquito bites!

What Discourages Mosquitoes?

Fortunately, there are several methods to properly ward off mosquitoes so you may take pleasure in your time outside.

  • Use insect repellent with at least one of the following components, as advised by the CDC: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanoate. If you want a natural option, use a repellant containing lemon eucalyptus oil.
  • Using outdoor fans on your balcony or patio would be best. Mosquitoes struggle to fly in the "wind" that a fan produces. Carbon dioxide also attracts insects. The carbon dioxide you exhale is spread out by fans, which makes it more difficult for mosquitoes to locate you.
  • Don't wear black or other dark hues. Because these hues retain more heat and carbon dioxide, a hungry mosquito is more likely to target you.
  • Around dawn or dusk, stay away from using cologne or perfume. Around such times, mosquitoes are most active, and the aroma will attract them.


According to experts and study, citronella candles aren't quite the magical cure many of us hope it is. There are several different approaches to avoid being bitten, though turn on the fan, make some homemade insect spray, and perhaps have some scratch-relief remedies on hand.

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