As the summer heats up, backyard enthusiasts are looking for ways to keep the bugs at bay while they enjoy the outdoors. Citronella candles and fueled torches have become a popular way of warding off mosquitos and other insects. While citronella products are derived from natural oils, there are still some dangers to using them.
What is citronella?
Citronella is one of the essential oils obtained from the leaves and stems of lemongrass. The oil is used in soap, candles and incense, perfumes, cosmetics and also as a plant-based insect repellent.
Danger #1 Fire Hazard
Citronella candles and torches pose a serious fire hazard. Always place your candles on non-flammable surfaces such as a concrete or brick patio. Never keep a lit candle near or on a flammable surface such as wood or plastic. The same goes for citronella fuel torches. Ensure the areas you set up your torches are clear of any flammable materials in the event that they should topple over. Do not places torches near mulch, wooden or composite decks or fencing, etc.. Always make sure flames are completely extinguished after use and trim your wicks regularly to about ¼” thickness in order to avoid flare-ups. Never refill your torches while they are still hot.
Danger #2 Skin Irritation
Citronella causes skin irritation in some people, especially young children. Try not to handle citronella products directly by hand and wear safety gloves when refueling your torches. Be careful not to touch your eyes or mouth after handling citronella candles or fuel and wash your hands thoroughly after handling these products. Keep children away from citronella candles and torches.
Danger #3 Pets
Citronella ingested by pets can cause serious illness and even death. Licking or eating citronella oil is extremely dangerous for household pets. Be sure to not spill any of the citronella fuel on the ground when you are refilling your torches.