If you have made a commitment to sustainability, it is natural that you would respect the natural order of the environment and use only organic and natural insect repellents. It means you wouldn’t want to spray yourself or your children with products containing DEET, a toxic chemical solvent once tested as a pesticide, and now sold under such labels as OFF. Here are some of the best healthy alternatives.
The most basic step to avoid mosquitoes is to know what draws them:
• Carbon Dioxide –You give off more carbon dioxide when you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide.
• Lactic Acid –You release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain foods (e.g., salty foods or foods high in potassium like potatoes or bananas).
• Floral or Fruity Fragrances — In addition to perfumes, hair products, and scented sunscreens, watch for the subtle floral fragrance from fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
• Skin Temperature –The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to the slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.
• Moisture — Mosquitoes are attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also because it increases the humidity around your body. Even small amounts of water (e.g., moist plants or mud puddles) will draw mosquitoes. Standing water allows mosquitoes to reproduce.
The basics of natural insect repellent
There are a few different formulations for natural insect repellent. These repellents involve diluting essential oils that the insects find distasteful or which confuse them. The oils don’t mix with water, so you’ll need to add them to other oils or to alcohol. The repellent’s effectiveness is enhanced when a few different insect-repelling natural oils are combined, as different chemicals repel different insects.
Mix the essential oil with the carrier oil or alcohol. Rub or spray the natural insect repellent onto skin or clothing, being sure to avoid the sensitive eye area. Re-apply the natural product after about an hour, or after swimming or exercise. Store unused natural insect repellent in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight. To change the consistency of the repellent combine the oil with aloe vera gel.
Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are oil derived from a natural herbal substance. To make large amounts of insect repellent, a good rule of thumb is to mix the repellent so it’s 5-10% essential oil, or 1 part essential oil with 10-20 parts carrier oil or alcohol. For a smaller batch use 10-25 drops (total) of essential oils and 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol.
Essential oils that work well against biting insects (mosquitoes, flies, ticks, fleas) are:
· Cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
· Lemon eucalyptus or regular eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
· Citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
· Castor oil (mosquitoes)
· Orange oil (fleas)
· Rose geranium (ticks and lice)
· Most mints
· Cedar wood
Other recommended essential oils include: Rosemary Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Cedar Oil, Peppermint Oil, Clove Oil and Geranium Oil.
Safe carrier oils, vinegars, and alcohols include:
· Olive oil
· Sunflower oil
· Almond oil
· Jojoba oil
· Grape seed oil
· Any other cooking oil
· Apple cider vinegar
· Witch hazel
It’s important to use an oil or alcohol that is safe for your skin. Essential oils are potent and could cause skin irritation if you use too much. Try a small amount of the repellent on the inside of the arm for twenty minutes to check for sensitivities or allergies. If you are pregnant or nursing, do not apply an insect repellent, natural or otherwise, until after you’ve gotten it cleared by your physician.
Recipes for natural insect repellent
Combine in a large glass jar 8 and 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic.
Add to this 1/2 ounce each of the following herbs: rosemary, rue, sage, wormwood, and peppermint.
Add 2 ounces of dried lavender flowers, 1/2 ounce of camphor, and 1/2 ounce each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and root of Calamus aromaticus (also known as Sweet Flag).
Seal and allow to steep in a sunny windowsill for about 2 weeks. Shake well daily. After the 2 weeks, strain the mixture.
Seal and store in a cool place.
Add 2 ounces of fried lavender flowers, 1/2 ounce of camphor, and 1/2 ounce each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and root of Calamus aromaticus (also known as (Sweet Flag).
Mosquito Repellent for People
This formula can be put in a spray bottle and stays on better than water-based formulas.
Start with 60 drops catnip essential oil (this is a 5% dilution), and add
· 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
· 10 drops lavender essential oil
· 2 oz. fractionated coconut oil
Be sure to keep the total percentage of essential oils under 15% for safety.
Insect Repellent Butter-bars (from wellnessmama.com)
•1 cup coconut oil
• 1/2 cup shea butter, coco butter or mango butter (or a mix of all three equal to 1 part)
• 1/2 cup beeswax + 2 tablespoons
• 1/4 cup fresh or dried rosemary leaves
• 1 teaspoon dried whole cloves
• 2 tablespoons dried or fresh thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
• 1/4 cup dried catnip leaf
• 1 (or more) tablespoons of mint leaf (optional but adds great scent)
• Optional: 1 teaspoon olive oil to preserve.
Essential Oils Blends
Bug off blend
This contains all of the above, along with 10 drops of lavender and lemon. Herbs can be infused into the coconut oil rather than using expensive essential oils.
Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of water until starting to boil. Place the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip and mint in the top part of the double boiler and add the coconut oil (can also use almond, olive or other oil but you will need to add more beeswax later on to get the bars to firm.
Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium/high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until oil has adopted a darker color and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.
Then, strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or cheesecloth and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about 1/2 cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time! Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler and stir until all have melted. Remove from heat, add Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils and pour into molds. Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best) or you can speed up the process by placing in the fridge.
Organic Insect Repellent
5ml Neem Oil
2ml organic washing liquid, or soap
1x Spray bottle (clean)
* Add 5ml of Neem Oil to the 1L of Water (or 5% Neem if you want to make a different quantity).
* Add 2ml emulsifying agent, like washing liquid or soap.
* Pour into a clean spray bottle, shake and apply directly to exposed skin.
More good ideas
A smoke smudge created by dropping handfuls of lightly dampened dried pine needles on smoldering coals will drive mosquitoes away.
A strongly tea brewed of equal parts chamomile and elder leaves can be used as a wipe to repel mosquitoes for about 20 minutes.
Lemongrass pulpy goo, which is extracted from the stem, is an effective mosquito repellent.
The Annals of Internal Medicine have reported that citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, pine, cedar, verbena, geranium, peppermint, cinnamon, thyme, basil, garlic, and allspice essential oils repel mosquitoes for up to two hours.
Essential oils need to be diluted with host oil, such as almond, jojoba, or olive at a 1 to 16 ratio (1 part essential oil to 16 parts host oil). Spot test essential oils on your wrist and wait one hour to check for sensitivity. If you’re pregnant, consult your doctor first.
For more information
Published with permission from AlignLife. Original article link is here.