Food Trends

These All-Natural Incense Sticks Saved My Backyard from Mosquitos

Summer 2020 has been deemed the summer of "stay-cations". With many weddings, travel plans, and summer camps canceled or postponed due to coronavirus, your own backyard, patio, or deck is the hottest destination of the season. But when your outdoor space is swarming with pesky, blood-sucking mosquitos, it can make spending time outside almost unbearable, especially if you (like me) get an intense allergic reaction to bug bites. My legs (and arms, and shoulders) have the red, itchy welts to prove it.

Even when I was dousing myself in some serious, chemical-filled bug sprays, the mosquitos were still undeterred. Despite the sweltering heat, I wore jeans and sneakers to protect myself, only to have the bloodthirsty bugs bite the exposed inch of ankle between my pants and sneakers. I invested in enough citronella candles to encircle my small outdoor bench and patio table in a ring of bug-repelling essential oils, but the citronella seance simply wasn't enough. They kept biting.

That's when I tried some all-natural mosquito-repelling incense ($15 for 100 sticks, etsy.com). I have to admit, having never been a fan of incense or the smoke it produces, I was hesitant to try it out—but Farm Raised Candle Co.'s promise that theirs is DEET- and chemical-free convinced me. And after a few nights of testing them out, I was sold. With one incense stick burning on either side of my outdoor table, I could finally enjoy an evening outside without getting bitten.

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To buy: $15 for 100 sticks, etsy.farmraisedcandlesco.com.

While incense can oftentimes be overwhelming, I was glad to find the scent pretty mild. The chemical-free sticks are made from bamboo sawdust, with a blend of citronella, lemongrass, and peppermint essential oils. The smell is smoky with a subtle hint of mint. The only downside is how quickly I seem to burn through these—each stick lasts for between 30 and 45 minutes, depending upon how windy it is. The packaging recommends placing several sticks around the perimeter of your patio, and from my personal experience, this method helps repel the mosquitos in all directions. Luckily, the pack comes with 100 sticks, because you'll want to keep lighting more to keep the bugs at bay.

The true sign of a bug repellent that actually works: I've gone through so many of the 100-pack of incense sticks, I'm already placing another order. These have earned themselves a top spot on my summer stay-cation must-have list.

This article originally appeared on Real Simple.

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