Are Citronella Candles Effective?

What is Citronella?

Citronella is a clumping, lemongrass type plant which grows to a height of five to six feet; a plant which is native to southeast Asia and grown commercially in Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Indonesia and Java. The plant is also grown as an ornamental in south Florida and southern California. Citronella is a perennial grass that flourishes in direct sunlight and well drained soil. In northern climate zones, people often grow citronella in large pots that they bring indoors for the winter.

The Citronella plant in and of itself, is not an effective mosquito repellent; rather it is the oil compound found within the plant that does the repelling. When the oil is extracted from the plant, it can be used in a number of product types, like lotions, sprays, soaps, incense, perfumery, cosmetics, and candles. It is also used in flavoring industries. The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers the oil of citronella as a bio-pesticide with little to no toxicity when used as a topical insect repellent, with no reports of adverse effects of concern over a 60-year period.

What repellent products are the best?

It’s the middle of July and summer has officially arrived, driving sun-deprived workers into the great outdoors to enjoy a bit of warm weather, great cookouts, and meeting up with friends and family.

This is a great time for mosquitoes to enjoy a feast as well.

How do I know what product types are the best to keep these pests at bay? Soaps, lotions and sprays have been proven effective, but have to be reapplied frequently. Insecticides work great around your house but only kill bugs in close proximity, Your neighbor may not have used any around theirs.  Plus you don’t really want to use insecticides at your backyard barbecue, or around kids and pets. There are killer traps that lure the insect to your party and then eliminate them. The mosquito, however, may decide that you are a better prospect before it even reaches the eliminator.

A common sight on backyard decks everywhere are citronella candles, with their clean, fresh fragrance. Citronella candles keep a continuous flow of natural, plant-derived repellent that is safe around food.

Are you a mosquito magnet?

Mosquitoes have very acute receptors in their antennae and heads that can detect human scents up to 100 feet away. The air you exhale, perspiration odors, and lactic acid found on the skin are among a few of the things that draw mosquitoes to their prey.

How to deter the pesky insect?

Shields Up Scotty! Because we are vulnerable, what can we do to protect ourselves? Since it’s the receptors of the mosquito that draw them to us, we need to find some way to cloak ourselves and the area we want to protect, so that we can enjoy our summer cookouts. While Citronella is not an insecticide (it does not kill mosquitoes); studies have proven its effectiveness as a repellent.

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario studied the effectiveness of citronella by using candles with a three percent concentration of the oil. The citronella candles effectively reduced mosquito landings by 42 percent, according to their study published in the National Institute of Health library.

Choosing the Best Citronella Candle.

citronella bucket

First of all, make sure the citronella candles you buy have the real citronella oil in them, not just a fragrance imitator. Next, buy citronella candles that create a liquid pool of warm citronella-infused wax when lit.

When you light a candle, some of the liquid wax flows up into the flame as fuel for the chemical reaction that takes place in the flame creating heat and light. The heat from the flame melts the surface wax and increases its temperature which causes a more rapid movement of the molecules of the wax and the citronella oil in the wax. The increased motion of these molecules causes more of the citronella to be released into the air. The heat from the flame also causes a flow of warm air rising off the top of the candle. This flow of warm air helps to draw the citronella oil from the wax and push it into the air. The hydrocarbon molecules that enter the flame are broken down in the chemical reaction, oxidizing them, and changing their chemical structure. The larger the pool of wax, the more Citronella will be released into the air.

Buy several candles, depending on the size of the area, and ward off more pests.

Make your summer gatherings great with the warm glow from the candles, the ambiance they create; and help protect yourself and your guests!

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