D​oes Incense Keep Bugs Away? (Explained)

I​f you’re looking for a natural way to keep away pesky bugs, you may not need to look any further than the incense you have on your shelf. It’s certainly a more natural choice than chemical-based bug repellents, but does it really work?

The smoke produced from burning incense messes with a bug’s sense of smell, as well as their ability to take in oxygen. Bugs will avoid this smoke, making incense a great way to keep them away.

I​f you’re looking to keep those nasty bug bites away this year and also like to keep your home smelling amazing, this is just the article for you. Read on to learn how this method works, what scents to use, and the best types of incense to use to ward off uninvited insect visitors.

D​oes Incense Keep Bugs Away

H​ow Incense Affects Bugs

For thousands of years, ancient peoples have smoked a variety of things like incenses, plants and woods to keep away bugs. This method is still effective in keeping away all sorts of bugs and critters, such as mosquitos, spiders, and other insects.

This is because there are three main things burning incense produces that aids in warding off bugs:

  • S​moke
  • S​cent
  • H​eat

Like most land and air-based creatures on this planet, bugs need oxygen to survive. Smoke hurts their ability to take in oxygen from the air, making smoke-producing things like incense incredibly uncomfortable to be around.

The scent of the incense you choose can also greatly affect your incense’s ability to ward off insects. Blood-seeking insects rely heavily on their sense of smell to find prey, so when a scented incense is burned, it creates a sort of scent-smoke-screen that those insects have a hard time smelling through. If they can’t find you, it’s certainly even harder for them to bite you!

Mosquitos and most other bugs avoid high heat due to the danger that is usually associated. Incense is a source of heat when it is burned, and the smoke it produces alludes to a risk of fire and therefore, a risk of danger.

B​est Types of Incense for Keeping Bugs Away

Any kind of incense will help keep bugs away, but certain scents and types fare better in their bug-repelling properties.

W​hile any scent will work to keep insects away, certain scents that have been found to be particularly effective. Some of the best scents for your anti-insect arsenal are eucalyptus, cedar, cloves, citronella, peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender.

Besides, if you’re going to burn incense to keep away pesky bugs, you might as well make your home smell good, too!

To keep away bugs outdoors, there are thicker incense sticks and coils that produce a thicker smoke and more pungent odor than most indoor incense. As they also tend to be larger than most common indoor incense, they will burn for a longer period of time, making them great for camping or spending time outdoors in the warmer months.

B​e mindful when burning incense outdoors–on windy days, smoke from incense might get blown away, making it less effective. On days like this, you should always come prepared with a second, non-smoke-based form of insect repellent.

I​f there is a fire warning or risk in your area due to dry and windy weather, use caution before lighting incense outdoors as well.

Health Risks of Using Incense for Bugs

I​f you’re looking to keep bugs out of your home, it is not recommended that you burn the larger outdoor incense inside your home. The larger and more powerful kinds can release pollutants into the air that are not safe to have indoors.

Studies have found that in some mosquito-repellant incenses, dangerous chemicals are released when burned. Some of these chemicals include volatile organic compounds, reactive oxygen species, secondary organic aerosols, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

While these chemicals cause no harm when used outdoors, they can pose long-term health problems in humans if inhaled in large amounts. Burning these in enclosed and indoor spaces can increase the risk of inhalation of these chemicals in quantities larger than what is safe.

B​urn regular incense that is designed to be used indoors if you are looking to keep insects out of your home.

Scientific Research and Using Incense to Repel Bugs

People have continued to use smoke and incense to keep away bugs throughout history because of one main reason: it works. It is also important to note that there is no scientific evidence that this is a foolproof method of keeping insects at bay.

Studies have been conducted that show which scents tend to be the most effective, the likeliness of mosquitoes to bite when incense is being burned, and how smoke in general affects insects. There have been no studies as to whether incense in particular is as effective as other bug-repelling methods.

That being said, burning incense is a historically tried-and-true method. All other scientific reasoning has led to the general conclusion that incense is an effective way of reducing uninvited visits from mosquitoes and other bugs.

I​f you are in an area where diseases like malaria and other mosquito-transmitted illnesses are a high risk, it is advised that you do not rely on incense alone. Things like spray-on bug repellents and oils are still recommended, with incense being a secondary defense.

Other (Great-Smelling) Ways to Keep Bugs Away

If incense doesn’t feel like a great fit for you and your situation, no worries! There are other natural (and great-smelling) ways to ward off bugs.

Burning citronella candles is another great method to keep bugs away. Candles also produce heat and smoke–two things bugs really can’t stand. You can even find specifically outdoor candles and candles that are designed to keep away bugs.

Other scents of candles are great for keeping away insects as well if citronella is not your favorite. Lemongrass, clove, cedar, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender-based candles are also great options for keeping away insects.

Rubbing essential oils and essential oil-based lotions on your skin may also keep blood-seeking bugs away, as the scent will distract them.

Use caution if putting essential oils directly on your skin. Many are not safe for use directly on the skin without using a carrier oil to dilute them first.

Next time you’re looking for a more natural and pleasant way to keep insects out of your home and away from you, think about burning some incense! Not only will you be able to wave goodbye to unwelcome bugs, but your home will smell great, too.

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Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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