Mosquito season can take much of the delight out of outdoor spaces, with the constant buzzing, the stinging bites and the welts they often leave behind. Homemade mosquito-repelling candles can help shoo away these pests and make for an interesting home crafting project with friends and family.
Dipping a votive candle in citronella oil, then burning it inside its proper holder is probably the simplest way to make a mosquito-repelling candle. But many home crafters instead melt the wax to make the candle, then add mosquito-repelling essential oils to the mix to ensure that the oil is spread through the candle uniformly. Repelling mosquitoes with essential oil is hardly a new idea; a Popular Science magazine from 1946 recommends drilling 3/16th-inch-wide holes into the top of a wide candle, about 1 inch deep, then filling these openings with mosquito-repelling essential oil.
Different essential oils have varying efficacy in repelling mosquitoes. Catnip oil is rumored to be 10 times more effective than citronella oil. The University of Wisconsin at Madison notes that peppermint, cinnamon, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary, thyme, lavender and sage are all marketed as being able to repel mosquitoes, but only citronella and lemon eucalyptus are recognized by the EPA as effective repellents because the others lack sufficient testing.
Integrating Mosquito Repellents
Burning homemade mosquito repellent candles may reduce the number of bothersome mosquitoes, but determined bugs might still come along to bite. Using mild insect repellents on the skin as well -- and even surrounding outdoor areas such as campsites or patios with mosquito netting when mosquito populations are high -- enhances the chances of repelling mosquitoes effectively.
Essential oils may cause allergic reactions in some people, whether through skin contact or when released into the air while the candles burn. Test a small area of skin with diluted essence and wait 24 hours to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction. If using the candles at an outdoor gathering, ask around to make sure no one is allergic to the essential oils in your homemade mosquito-repellent candles.
- "Cathy's Candles"; Catherine Basten; 2011
- "Handmade Candles: Recipes for Crafting Candles at Home"; Jane Blake, Emily Paulsen; 1998
- "Popular Science"; Keeping the Home Ship-Shape; Joseph Aronson; June 1946
- Cordite Country: Easy Homemade Bug Repellents; May 2009
- University of Wisconsin - Madison: Integrated Mosquito Management
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