I am usually the favorite target of bugs when outside – and I am outside a lot. Not wanting to go camping the last two weeks and come home bitten up there was a need to fill. Commercial bug sprays are too harsh for me, so I made my own and checked it out before writing.
Success! For the first time I was not the main course for generations of mosquitoes; I enjoyed my time and am looking forward to this summer on the deck.
Witch hazel, available in pharmacies and on-line, and water is the base and a variety of essential oils provide the protection, naturally. A small amount of glycerin stabilizes the mixture. My concoction was partially out of my kitchen spice rack and herb garden. In a small saucepan I boiled water and turned off the heat, then placed the whole cloves, cinnamon stick, branches of spearmint and peppermint to steep in the covered pot. My purpose was to remove essential oils without boiling them away. I had eucalyptus and tea tree in my stash of oils, so a couple of drops each of those went in too.
Using a home scale I measured out the witch hazel, glycerine, water from the tisane (you would use a 1:1 ratio of witch hazel to water), and added the few drops of essential oils that I wanted in a small canning jar as the metal lid has a rubber gasket to seal the jar, and I shook it. For convenience I poured it into a blue spray bottle. A colored container, amber or blue, is better than clear to store the essential oils.
This mixture works well for me, you might have to experiment to see what each oil is best for you – some people do not tolerate cinnamon or tea tree oil well, so these should be kept to a minimum or eliminated based on the reaction.
For example, to make a four-ounce bottle of spray :
- 2 oz witch hazel
- 2 oz water
- 10-12 drops of essential oils total OR extract the oils from the plant bases directly into the quantity of water you will need, a combination of the two will work
- 1/2 teaspoon glycerin
Spray bottles, recycle a well cleaned empty from your hair care products or purchase one from a craft store as they are smaller than the ones in general circulation for house keeping. Label the bottle well. I keep mine in the refrigerator until I am going outside since the cool spray feels fantastic in the heat. On the boat, camping, gardening or on the deck, I am ready to face this summer without blotchy red bumps as a regular part of my summer look.
Protective herbs and spices, all are available as essential oils:
- clove (small quantities)
- cinnamon (small quantities)
- peppermint (most mints will work)
- tea tree
- tansy (related to lavender, but not as nice smelling)
I anticipate making sun screen next, as a fair-skinned, easily burned body it seems appropriate that this happen soon since our summer is here and I need to be out in the garden.