Citronella Candles all they are cracked up to be?

Posted on January 14, 2014 in Mosquitos | Share on Facebook | Twitter | Google+

The first response we usually get when first talking about the SureDuz Mosquito Candle is “Oh, is it Citronella?” (Usually spoken in a slightly ‘heard it all before’ tone of voice). This is our one of our biggest problems when talking about our mosquito candle. Most people have used citronella candles at one time or another and they generally leave something to be desired. This is because citronella candles are designed to mask our scent and body heat from the mosquito so they cannot detect us.

Citronella Oil is a distilled from the Lemongrass plant and has been used as an ingredient in perfumery throughout the world for many years. It is also a renowned plant-based insect repellent and has been registered for use as such in the United States since 1948. However, since citronella insect repellent effects were not proven within Europe, the use of citronella as an insecticide is prohibited under the Biocidal Product Directive 2006. This poses the questions, Why, if it is such an effective insect repellent, was there no evidence to back up its claims?

In Australia, as with most other countries, there is a government body to regulate the safety and effectiveness of all insect repellents. The process involved to release a repellent product on the market is long and expensive, as there are many different tests relating to effectiveness and safety. Yes, most insect repellents are not natural and should be tested for safety before sale, but what of effectiveness? After a bit of research on the net I have found some efficacy studies relating to Citronella products. Let’s start with topical products, The New England Journal of Medicine studied the effectiveness of different topical mosquito repellents against mosquito bites and found that DEET based topical applications were by far the best at stopping bites but here’s the rub, DEET or its scientific name N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide is a chemical reputed to cause fatal seizures in a small number of people. It found topical citronella products, ranging in concentration from 5% to 12% provided protection for at most 20 minutes. So as a topical application citronella has some effect, but what about candles and coils?

Citronella candles are available everywhere from high end retail to discount stores, but how effective are they really? A study by Dr Robert Novak of the University of Illinois tested citronella candles and coils for the ABC News in the United States and found that for citronella candles and coils to be effective you must remain in the smoky plume, that’s not exactly an appetising thought while enjoying a barbecue. He also reported that when smoke form the citronella coil covered a human test subjects shin the mosquitoes flew around the leg and bit the test subject’s calf. Studies by the North Dakota State University found citronella candles and other devices to be ineffective in open areas, generally the place you are going to be using insect repellent products. There are many more studies available on the internet to back up these results, the best results I found are actually our own comparison studies where the citronella candles we used gave a 45% effectiveness. But this is still 40% shy of the independent testing for the SureDuz Mosquito Candle.

Why is SureDuz different? SureDuz works in a totally different way to citronella candles; we use a synthetic pyrethroid that affects the mosquito’s neurological responses. Once the mosquito inhales the active ingredient released by the SureDuz Candle it becomes confused and is unable to bite. Further exposure to the active ingredient will knock down the mosquito and in most cases the mosquito will awaken after a few hours and fly way. This is the prime difference between Citronella candles and the SureDuz Mosquito Candle, to be truly effective the smoky plume from citronella needs to be constantly surrounding the people being protected whereas the SureDuz Mosquito Candle will disturb the neurological pathways so even if a mosquito lands on you it’s probably not going to bite you. While no insect repellent is 100% effective the SureDuz Mosquito Candle provides an 85% reduction in mosquito bites compared with other products.