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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to Be Awesome at Making Bug Spray

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Bugs are my least favorite thing about summer.

Well, that and excessive heat.

Ok, and humidity.

Summer is not my favorite season.

Anyway, bugs are on my list of top ten worst things about summer.

Previously, I have just solved this problem by covering myself in whatever bug spray has the most DEET.  Mosquitoes, ants, and people with weak constitution start dropping when they got within five feet!  Awesome!

However, being afraid that my baby would also not be able to get within five feet of me, and definitely not wanting to use such harsh methods on her, I have been scouring the Interwebs for a different approach.

I found several, actually dozens, of websites that had "recipes" for home made bug spray, but what I have learned is this:  there is no perfect recipe.  It's all about finding some essential oils that are known bug repellents and mixing them with a carrier oil or other carrier medium since you aren't supposed to put most essential oils directly on your skin.

There are TONS of websites that can help you figure out which essential oils to use.  Some of the most popular bug repellents are:

Tea Tree

There are more, but that gives you some to go with.

If you are new to essential oils, here's a set that has several you could use for insect repellent:

Here's one blend that has a bunch of bug repellent oils in it:

Ok, back to making bug spray.  Interestingly, I recently learned that catnip is 10 times more effective than DEET and lasts much longer than citronella.   I also know for a fact that rosemary is effective against bugs because it is the one plant in my garden that NEVER has a single bug on it.  Whenever I pick herbs, the basil plants always have tons of bugs, and the rosemary is completely clean.  It's weird.

I already had some tea tree oil, eucalyptus, and lavender, so I went to the health food store to get a few more.  They only had catnip in like, distilled form instead of essential oil, but I figured it would be ok for what I'm using it for.  They were also out of citronella, which is a bummer, but not really surprising for summertime.

I also got some almond oil to use as a carrier oil.  I ended up using eucalyptus, tea tree, catnip, and rosemary.  (Oh, and my essential oils aren't fancy expensive brands.  They are whatever is at the store.)

I was unsure how much of each oil to use, so I went with 10 drops of tea tree and eucalyptus and 20 drops of catnip and rosemary.

The first time I tried to make this, I also used some apple cider vinegar, based on what one blog recommended, but I hated it instantly.  Every time I used the bug spray, I smelled like pickles the rest of the day, which is gross.  Also, I think the bugs liked the vinegar, because I spilled some, and the ants swarmed it by the next day.  Not a good sign.

I  made another batch without the vinegar, and it's much nicer.  I will say, the oil as a carrier means you are going to be kind of greasy.  I saw another blog that used witch hazel as a carrier, and I think next time I will try that.  It's good for your skin anyway, and it would be a finer mist in the spray bottle.

Of course, any time you are using essential oils, you should be careful to keep them out of reach of children and don't use them if you're pregnant because some can induce labor.

I was still skeptical of my bug spray though, and honestly, I didn't use it much for about a month.  Then, one evening recently, we were sitting outside while Cricket was playing in the baby pool.

We do baby pools right!

We were all just getting eaten up by mosquitoes!  I killed several on her and at least four on my legs.  Then I remembered I had bug spray, so I thought I would try it.  I put some on my legs, Brian's feet, and the back of Cricket's neck, and from that point on, none of us got a single bite.  Wow!  I guess it works!

What about you?  Have you made your own bug spray?  Let me know which combinations of oils you try and how they work!

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