Cedar oil is unique among the several essential oil-based mosquito repellant candidates because it actually derives from several sources, rather than one plant or tree alone. In fact, cedar oil (also sometimes labeled as “cedarwood oil”) can be harvested from a wide variety of conifer trees, including those in the pine and cypress family.

Cedar oil is used in fields ranging from industry to perfumery, with insecticidal uses becoming slightly more popular recently. However, this later use is not currently supported by any major regulating or certification authority, likely due to the general lack of research into its effectiveness. In fact, one of the only major pieces of peer-edited literature on cedar oil covers its safety, which was found to be potentially hazardous at concentrations over 1% (due to allergens) (1).

Simply put, cedar oil does not carry with it a body of evidence to back up its efficiency when it comes to repelling mosquitos or any type of insect, for that matter. Also, given its poor safety rating when used in this manner, those looking for a natural insect repellant alternative will be better off using a more commercially-available option.

Forms of Cedar Oil and Where to Get Them

  • Trees

    As noted, cedar oil derives from pine and conifer trees, which can be found throughout North America. These trees typically take decades to come to maturity, so growing one’s own cedar oil source from scratch is inadvisable. That being said, those with existing pines and conifers on their property may be able to extract this essential oil from its foliage and wood.

  • Essential Oils

    This essential oil is readily available, both online and from natural sources. Cedar oil typically derives from pine and cypress foliage, though some mixtures also use oils drawn from those trees’ respective woods. Because of its limited (and potentially hazardous) use as an insect repellant, this oil is often used to provide aromatic qualities to soaps and perfumes.

    When purchasing cedar oil, remember that this product is also typically used for wood treatment. As such, all types of cedar oil are not the same, with some being more hazardous to human use than others. 

  • Sprays

    Though its effectiveness is not clear, some anecdotal sources point to a cedar oil spray as being an effective method of abating bothersome insects. Such a spray can be created by combining ½ pint of cedar oil and 5 gallons of water together. This spray can then be applied to garden plants and other resilient surfaces in order to drive away the pests with the oil’s notably pungent odor (2)