Burn Herbs In Your Campfire to Repel Mosquitoes Naturally

Tent, weedwhacker,

Whether you are camping or enjoying a little backyard entertaining around a fire pit, you can easily repel mosquitoes by tossing in a few herb branches. Burning herbs is a natural and safe way to keep mosquitoes from making you their next meal. Read on to find out which fresh plants and herbs repel mosquitoes and how to use them.

Herbs to burn in a campfire to repel mosquitos

Spending time outside is one of my favorite things to do. I can home garden practically all day and not be the least bit bothered by insects. Then, the evening comes, and the mosquitoes come out. UGH! My least favourite insect of them all! 

Without any mosquito intervention, I become the meal du jour, and my lovely day turns into an evening of waving hands and smacking myself in an erratic and awkward dance to prevent the inevitable itchy welts that are sure to follow.

As I have learned more about plants over the years, one of the things I have discovered is methods for using plants to naturally repel mosquitoes.

This both allows me to appreciate the natural benefits of plants while also avoiding the use of potentially damaging chemicals in commercial bug sprays.

Over time, I developed my which is made with essential oils and has worked wonders when it?s mosquito season. Another method that I use to deter mosquitoes is burning branches of herbs over the fire pit (or campfire).  


Garden Sage

History of Burning Herbs

Indigenous Peoples, healers, herbalists, religious leaders, and the spiritually devoted from all over the world have burned herbs as a part of their religious and cultural traditions for centuries.

Indigenous Peoples sustainably harvest sacred plants native to the land with appreciating and reverence. Drying and bundling them, and burning them in a cleansing practice called smudging. Smudge sticks are used for ceremonial and purification purposes.

These practices are steeped with tradition and deep spiritual meaning. With all that has been taken from Indigenous Peoples, it?s essential for non-native folks to avoid culturally appropriating these rituals. 

How to Burn Herbs With Appreciation For Other Cultures

In modern herbalism, so much of what we use today is based on the practices of many cultures. There is a deep appreciation for the history of using (and burning) herbs and allowing herbal studies to include both the past and the present.

Burning herbs over a fire for the herbal properties is a respectfully different practice than the use of smudge sticks for ceremonial or religious purposes. Smoke cleansing is the act of burning herbs without the cultural or spiritual, and is an enjoyable way to experience the beneficial herbal properties.

When I burn herbs over a fire to repel mosquitoes, I do so with appreciation and gratitude for both the ancient knowledge of herbs as well as the use of herbal plants (not sacred plants) to safely and effectively keep bugs at bay.

making lavender bundles

Which Plants Repel Mosquitoes?

To put it mildly, I hate getting mosquito bites. My immune system reacts very strongly to their saliva which means I end up with large, itchy, welt bites that bother me for days. I used to use large amounts of to save myself from mosquito bites, but the spray bothered me too.

Fortunately, there are natural ways to successfully deter those pesky bugs!

Mosquitoes hate strong-smelling herbs like:

  • Citronella

We can use these herbs in several ways to help deliver the one-two punch that will keep pesky bugs away so we can enjoy evenings outside.

Another tool for your mosquito-repelling tool belt is to toss a few branches of herbs (fresh or dried) into the fire. Thankfully, what smells heavenly to you, will send bugs packing. Let?s dive a little deeper into each herb to find out why.


has a well known ? and widely used ? pleasant scent that fortunately, people love and mosquitoes hate. Burning lavender is highly effective at repelling flying insects.

Fun fact: you can also rub the plant directly on your skin to release its oils as another way to tackle pest control.


Members of the family (peppermint, etc) all have a strong, pleasant smell that flying insects hate.

Lemon Balm

is part of the mint family that has pleasant white flowers and a mild lemony fragrance. It works well to keep mosquitoes away.

However, the potential downside to lemon balm is that it grows fast and can quickly take over your garden. It?s best to plant lemon balm in a container or other contained space to keep it from running wild.


Burning emits pleasant aromatherapy that makes an evening outside even better. The other benefit is that the same smell deters mosquitoes and other flying pests.


One very well-known and common ingredient in mosquito-repelling candles is citronella. Its strong smell does a great job of masking the very aspects that attract mosquitoes to us. Fortunately for us, citronella is easy to grow.

Of course, just the smoke from the fire helps keep bugs away. But, by adding in some herbs that keep mosquitoes and biting insects away, they help to mask your smell. So, if you?re like me and seem to attract biting insects away from other people, the addition of herbs to your fire could likely be that extra step you need to REALLY keep the bugs away.

How to Repel Mosquitoes Without a Fire

Even if you don?t have a firepit, then you can still create bug-repelling smoke. Making your own citronella candles is easy and inexpensive if you use recycled materials. See how to make these or these  to have throughout your garden.

DIY Citronella candle as a way to get rid of bugs naturally

For an extra line of defense, don?t forget to spritz on this that really works (and I would know, because even though I don?t love mosquitoes ? they LOVE me)!

I?ve also been dabbling and planting a few to have around the areas I tend to frequently be in and I have to say, they have been helping tremendously.

All natural bug spray to repel pests


Between burning herb bundles, using my , and , you can finally (and safely) say ?buzz off!? to pesky mosquitoes and get back to enjoying your evening outside. 

You May Also Enjoy These Other Pest-Repelling Posts:

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Just like superheroes, there are some planting flowers that have some pretty amazing superpowers. Learn about companion planting with 5 of the best flowers that keep bugs away from your garden.

Super flowers that work great for companion planting

Did you know that flowers have superpowers? Some stop nematodes in their tracks. Others attract aphids away from your veggies. And, some are just so darn powerful that they will repel every , cockroach, and bedbug in sight! 

Pretty and powerful? Now that?s the kind of organic gardening I can get behind. These 5 super flowers repel bugs in the garden and add their own special brand of style too.

What is Companion Planting?

First, let?s talk about companion planting. Companion planting is taking advantage of the strengths of some flowers by planting them near certain veggies. Some flowers have benefits for your garden that go beyond a pretty face. Those benefits include:

  • Aiding in pollination
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects
  • Pest control
  • Increasing productivity of crops

Adding flowers to the veggie patch is both pretty and practical. You can add these five super flowers to the vegetable garden to send pests running.

companion planting with flowers

Top 5 Flowers To Use For Companion Planting

These hard workers will add beauty to your garden while doing some very important jobs. Learn about my favourite flowers for companion planting.


Plant borage near your to deter tomato hornworms. In addition to preventing those pesky little fellows, borage makes a lovely ornamental with its delicate star-shaped light blue and pink flowers. 

Bonus: Borage is ! The flowers taste like a mild, sweet cucumber and are a good addition to summer salads along with those pest-free tomatoes growing beside them.

Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade

Water Needs: Moist, well-draining soil

Start From Seed: Sow directly into the ground after the threat of frost has passed

Companion Benefits: Deters tomato hornworms and cabbage worms; attracts bees

Companion Planting: Plant near , , and  

borage growing in a vegetable garden


Aphids are attracted to . We know, we know, you thought this was supposed to be about deterring pests, not attracting them, but hear us out. Aphids are so attracted to nasturtiums that they prefer them over your more prized veggies, such as peas or beans. This means they will leave the vegetables alone and simply head to the nasturtiums planted nearby to feast. 

Then? all those aphids hanging around in one spot will in turn attract like ladybugs that will eat the aphids and benefit the garden in other ways too. Nasturtiums also deter whiteflies, squash bugs, and potato bugs, so they are a great choice to add to any vegetable patch.

Light Needs:  Full sun to partial shade

Water Needs: Moist, well-draining soil

Start From Seed: Sow indoors and transplant or sow directly into the ground after the threat of frost has passed

Companion Benefits: Deters whiteflies and cucumber beetles; trap crop for aphids; attracts predatory insects

Companion Planting: Plant near cucumbers, radishes, melons, Brassicas, , and



contain a natural insecticide called pyrethrum, which means they keep away silverfish, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, lice, and even ticks. Talk about a powerhouse

However, pyrethrum will also deter beneficial insects, so you may not want to plant too many around the garden if you are trying to encourage good bugs.

Light Needs:  Full sun 

Water Needs: Moist, well-draining soil

Start From Seed: Sow directly into the ground after the threat of frost has passed

Companion Benefits: Repel ticks, silverfish, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, and lice

Companion Planting: Plant near any plant to you want to deter pests from 

mums deter pests in the garden


Plant some marigolds next to your tomatoes to keep them healthy and happy. Marigolds contain a phytotoxin called alpha-terthienyl which prevents nematodes (AKA roundworms) from munching on the roots of your precious tomato plants. 

Marigolds also work wonders planted near Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower because they will prevent cabbage worms from joining the party.

Light Needs: Full sun

Water Needs: Moist, well-draining soil

Start From Seed: Start indoors or sow directly into the ground after the threat of frost has passed

Companion Benefits: Deters nematodes, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, tomato worms, and cabbage worms; attracts slugs away from your vegetables

Companion Planting: Plant near , cucumber, , peppers, potatoes, ? most vegetables other than beans.

Marigolds planted for pest control


are gorgeous and come in every colour of the rainbow. As if that weren?t enough, they also protect beans from most pests and work to prevent squash bugs, potato bugs, and are a good general pest deterrent that keeps most bug baddies at bay.

So go ahead, brighten up your vegetable garden and protect it at the same time with petunias in every bed.

Light Needs: Full sun 

Water Needs: Moist, well-draining soil

Start From Seed: Start indoors because they are slow to germinate

Companion Benefits: Deters squash bugs, potato bugs, general pest deterrent

Companion Planting: Throughout your garden

This list of Modern Petunia Varieties is amazing

I hope this helps you know which flowers to plant in your garden to take maximum advantage of their superpowers! And while we are talking about natural pest control, take a look at on organic ways of getting rid of pests in the garden.

a garden full of companion planting flowers

More on Companion Planting:

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Rose water is so much more than a fragrant way to stay hydrated. Read on to learn more about rose water and the bounty of benefits it can provide for your body?s largest organ, your skin! Plus, learn how to make your own batch of rose water easily at home.

DIY rose water in a jar and a spray bottle

As I?ve thoroughly researched and studied natural skincare over the past several years, I?ve come to the conclusion that there are few ingredients as beneficial and all-around good for your skin as rose water. This ultra-gentle, natural ingredient is fairly easy to make and can be used in so many different ways.

Plus, it has a fantastic scent that I find so calming.

Ways to Use Rose Water

Many people think that rose water is simply for drinking as a refreshing cool drink or a rejuvenating hot tea. Due to its versatility, there are SO many more ways to use it.

Here are just a few to give you an idea:

  • As a on your face after washing
  • To hydrate skin as a
  • As a makeup remover
  • Reduce puffiness under the eyes
  • As a mouthwash
  • In your bath
  • Spritz on clothes while you?re ironing
  • Add it to baked goods

rose water in a mason jar with roses beside the jar

The Benefits of Using Rose Water

Not only are there many uses when it comes to rose water, but they are also some incredible benefits that come along with it.

  • Maintains skin?s pH balance
  • Helps hydrate and moisturize the skin
  • Astringent properties that help cleanse pores and tone skin
  • Anti-bacterial properties that help clean and heal wounds
  • Anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness in irritated skin
  • Antioxidant properties that help regenerate skin cells

How to Make Rose Water

There are a number of different ways that you can make rose water. You can use fresh or , as long as they are grown without pesticides or herbicides in a nice and healthy organic garden.

Rosewater can be made on the stovetop by steeping the petals in distilled water. This is the simplest method and the one I tend to prefer over the others because it makes great rose water that?s scented nicely and even has a bit of a blush pink colour to it. 

Since rose water does not have any preservatives added, it only lasts for three to seven days after making it. This is why I want to make sure that it?s easy to do in small batches so that I?m not wasting my efforts of making larger batches and having them go bad (or worse, having to add preservatives to them).

rose water in a mason jar with dried rose petals in another jar and on the table

Alternative Methods For Making Rose Water

While I share my personal favourite method below, I realize there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Here are a few alternative methods to consider:

Rose Water From Perfume

For example, in Janice Cox?s iconic book , she shares a recipe for Attar of Roses that can be used to make rose water.

In this recipe, both rose petals and leaves are layered in a , with each layer sprinkled with a thin covering of salt. Leave the crock in a cool, dry place for 3 to 6 weeks.

At this point, you can strain the extracts from the petals and leaves from the bottom of the jar and filter it for a highly fragrant perfume.

This perfume can then be added to distilled water to make rose water!


Rose water can also be made as a hydrosol. Essential oils and hydrosols are both made through the process of distillation.

The difference between the two is that essential oils contain the fat-soluble parts of the flower while the ?flower waters? (a.k.a., hydrosols) are made up of the water-soluble parts of the flower. 

To make hydrosols, the petals and leaves of the flower are distilled. Although similar to essential oils, hydrosols still smell nice but are less potent.

How to Harvest Roses 

One important thing to know is that rose petals tend to easily break down, so use these tips to properly harvest your rose petals so you are able to dry them.

  • Pick the petals in mid-morning once the dew has dried but before the hottest part of the day
  • As you gather the petals, lay them in a single layer on absorbent paper to prevent them from touching each other

How to Dry Rose Petals

Dry your petals by hanging the stems upside down or by removing the petals and putting them on a tray. Let them dry slowly and naturally to maintain the most colour and fragrance possible.

Dry your petals in a cool, dark place in a single layer with lots of airflow.

It is possible to dry your rose petals in a , but I find that even at it?s lowest temperature, it?s often still too warm to properly dry rose petals.

Regardless of whether you use a tray or a , it?s important to ensure that your petals get plenty of air circulation.

NOTE: Do not leave these in the sun or they will brown and lose some of their fragrance.  

rose water in a mason jar and spray bottle with roses and dried rose petals on the table

My Favourite Way to Make Rose Water

I love all the various ideas for making rose water, but my preferred method is to steep rose petals on the stovetop. Here?s how you do it.


Makes approximately 2 cups of rose water

  • Two cups fresh rose petals OR one cup of
  • Two cups of distilled water

rose water in a pot on a table

Step by Step Instructions for How to Make Rose Water

  1. Add the rose petals to a small pot with water
  2. Stir them together well to saturate the petals as they will tend to float to the top.
  3. Put the pot on the stove, on low heat.
  4. Continue to stir. I mix in the petals so that they are completely covered in the water.
  5. When the water starts to steam, cover with a lid, and set a timer for 20 minutes. The lid is crucial because you don?t want the essential volatile oils to escape with the steam.
  6. After 20 minutes, strain the mixture through a lined with or through .
  7. Add a lid to the rosewater and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  8. Rosewater can now be used to make soaps and lotions, a , , or simply added to an atomizer and used as a rose-scented body spray.
  9. Store the jar of rose water in the refrigerator, and use within 7 days.

rose water in a mason jar in front of a pot and a jar of dried rose petals

Use Your Rose Water in These Recipes:

That?s it! Easy, right? Just a few steps will yield beneficial rose water that you can use in many different ways and recipes.

rose water in a spray bottle on a table with dried rose petals

More Posts About Roses


rose water in a mason jar and spray bottle with roses and dried rose petals on the table

Homemade Rose Water


  • 2 cups fresh rose petals
  • OR 1 cup
  • 2 cups


  • Add the rose petals to a small pot along with some water.
  • The petals will tend to float to the top. To make sure the water is saturated with the rose properties, make sure to stir continually.
  • Place the pot on the stove over low heat.
  • Continue to stir. I mix in the petals so that they are completely covered in the water.
  • When the water starts to create steam, cover the pot with a tight lid to prevent the oils from escaping.
  • After 20 minutes, strain the mixture through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or through a nut milk bag.
  • Add a lid to the rosewater and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Store the jar of rose water in the refrigerator, and use within 7 days.


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