While there are scents that repel mosquitoes, such as citronella and lemon balm, there is no evidence of the scent of incense repelling mosquitoes. In fact, incense has been claimed to attract mosquitoes(1).
However, there is no solid, published evidence about either result. As of now, it’s good to assume that incense is not as effective as alternatives like natural citronella or other mint plants. Actually, mints like lemon balm are very effective against mosquitoes.
Many online retailers sell “incense sticks” and “incense coils” as a way to repel or kill mosquitoes, but these typically don’t contain true incense(2). Many of these products end up using citronella or another mint plant as the repellent.
These coils and sticks don’t have high success rates either, so you may be setting yourself up for disappointment by using them(3).
You’d be better off growing your mint plants or going outside with a bottle of Listerine and splashing every mosquito you see.
Where to Get Incense Repellents & How to Use Them
Incense comes in the form of coils and sticks. You can burn these on any old dish in your kitchen cabinet, or you can purchase incense holders to add to your home decor. Secure the incense coil or stick into one of these holders and light the tip with a candle lighter (you can use a regular lighter, but be careful). After a few seconds, gently blow out the flame and leave the incense burning.
These items can be found on any major online retailer like Amazon or Walmart. Most of the time, you can also purchase incense products at local smoke shops and head shops. You may even find some at your local gardening store, though those might be limited in your area.
To sum things up, burning citronella, sage, etc. to create an incense is not a guaranteed way to reduce the presence of mosquitoes. Candles, incense sticks, citronella coils: all of these are pricey and, in my opinion, not worth the risk.
Due to incense being vulnerable to wind, other scents, and any outside force, it may not spread around the area in an effective fashion. Your yard may smell good, but your arm won’t be feeling good after the mosquitoes get to it. We recommend burning some incense if you feel like leaving your window open for a little while on a summer night, but you’ll probably need extra protection if you plan on going outside.
1 – skeeterbite.info – “Now we’re being just plain silly. Incense (the stick kind which you can buy at the mystic’s store, anyway) in fact attracts mosquitoes rather than repels them. This myth arises from confusion with citronella candles and torches, which do, indeed, repel mosquitoes.”
2 – today.com – “These repellent incense sticks are plant-based and DEET-free. The sticks use a combination of citronella, rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, cedar wood and bamboo to ward of mosquitos.”
3 – mosquitonix.com – “Since coils emit smoke, they must be used outside. That also means that winds can waft the smoke in various and shifting directions, providing spotty protection at best.”
Other Household Items as Mosquito Repellents
Checkout our analysis of other household items as natural mosquito repellents: