How many times have you bought a citronella candle, put it on your patio table to keep the bugs away during dinner and then felt cheated because you were still covered in mosquito bites at the end of the night? We get it, in fact most of our team admits to making the same mistake before we started at Patio Essentials and learned about what we call the “Barrier of Protection.”
Citronella oil does work as a natural bug deterrent and has for a long time. It was first registered in the United States in 1948 and it’s currently on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of minimum risk pesticides. As it turns out, the reason that one candle at the center of all of our patio tables doesn’t work as well as we’d hoped is because citronella helps keep bugs away by masking the scents that they’re attracted to (aka us and our food) – and when we put a single candle on the table and then we all sit around it, we’re actually masking the citronella scent of the candle more than the candle is masking the scent of us. Enter the Barrier of Protection.
The idea is to create a barrier between you and the bugs by placing multiple citronella candles, torches with citronella torch fuel and AquaFlames with citronella essential oil around the perimeter of your outdoor space. The illustration in this post is a perfect example of a Barrier of Protection where the scent of citronella is better able to block the smells of people and food inside the perimeter that would otherwise be attracting mosquitoes and other pesky bugs. All of the yellow hexagons represent garden or tabletop torches and the orange circles represent citronella candles or indoor/outdoor AquaFlame fountains. We recommend spacing products 18-36 inches apart.
You can see that we do still have candles, tabletop torches or AquaFlames in the center of both the dining table and the coffee table in the seating area, they just aren’t the only citronella product in the area so they work with the other candles and torches.
Right now you’re probably thinking that’s a lot of torches and citronella candles, but the good news is that a lot of our products come in three or six packs on our website just for this reason. We also specifically design some products to be beautiful, eye-catching pieces so that you don’t have to put anything that you don’t love at the center of your table. And we’re constantly doing product development research to come up with new, on-trend designs so that you have options no matter what your style or budget might be.
The Barrier of Protection doesn’t just apply to your backyard or patio space, if you’re hosting a party or picnic at a local park or heading off to the woods for a weekend camping trip, we’ve got plenty of easily portable products to pack up and take with you to create your barrier wherever you go. The handles on our bucket candles make them ideal for transporting and several of them come with plastic lids to keep the wax and wick protected. Several of our bamboo torches have a removable head that screws on and off, making them easier to fit in your car for a trip. And our Bug Bands are a great option for camping, hiking, summer sports, and the cabin – just slip one on your wrist to keep the bugs away!
All of our citronella candles are made with 3% real citronella oil, and we're committed to testing our products efficacy, so you can rest assured that all the candles in your barrier of protection are holding up their end of the bargain. Whenever we work with an outside company to do efficacy testing on our products, we'll put together a blog post with a summary of the report. You can find those here.
If you’re using garden or tabletop torches in your Barrier of Protection, we have two different torch fuel options. Our Citronella-Scented Torch Fuel is a great option that will add to your Barrier of Protection, as is our Scatterbug Torch Fuel which is a more premium fuel blend with both citronella and cedar oils.
Once you've got your Barrier of Protection set up, make sure that you light your candles and torches about 20-30 minutes before getting the party started. This allows the scent from the torch fuel to start to distribute through the air and the candle wax to start to melt, which is what releases the citronella scent to help keep the bugs away. You should never leave torches or candles burning unattended, but if you light them when you head outside to warm up the grill or get your patio furniture arranged just right, they should be kicking out that citronella scent by the time you're ready to settle down!
The first time you light your citronella candles, be sure to keep them burning until the wax pool extends across the top of the candle before extinguishing it (usually around 1 hour/inch of candle circumference.) This helps to ensure an even burn and prevent tunneling (when the candle burns straight down the center). This is extra important with citronella candles because an uneven burn inhibits the release of the citronella oil, which means they'll be less effective at keeping mosquitoes away. An even burn also makes the candle last longer!
Once you’ve set up your own Barrier of Protection, share a photo with us and tell us how it’s working! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @PatioEssentials, use the hashtags #YourYardYourWay and #BarrierOfProtection!