Homemade Bug Repellent

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your bug spray? Here are some of the common ones and what you should know about each:

  • Deet- According to the Environment Protection Agency, “wash [Deet] off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face.” In studies conducted on lab rats, Deet caused brain cell death and behavioral changes after prolonged usage. In humans, Deet has been known to cause memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath. Click here for a short article from MedMinute regarding the dangers of Deet.
  • Citronella oil- Direct application of citronella oil has been found to raise the heart rate of some people. Canada Health is starting to phase out using citronella oil in products because of uncertainties regarding its safety.
  • Neem Oil- Can be irritating to the skin and eyes. In cats, neem oil has caused sluggishness, excessive salivation, impaired movement, trembling, twitching, and convulsions. In one study, pregnant rats were exposed to neem oil and their pregnancies ended shortly after.
  • Ethanol-  associated with skin irritation or contact dermatitis
  • Fragrance- aka chemicals. Virtually unregulated by the FDA and could contain any number of harmful chemicals.
  • Aminomethyl Propanol- The EWG gives it a toxicity rating of 3. According to the EWG, research has shown it to be an irritant, an endocrine disruptor, and as having respiratory effects
  • Sodium Benzoate- has been linked to asthma attacks, hypertension, and ADHD.
  • Prallethrin- Can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue. Severe cases involve fluid in the lungs and muscle twitching. Seizures may occur and are more common with more toxic cyano-pyrethroids
  • Sodium Nitrite- large amounts can cause rapid heart rate and rapid breathing, as well as seizures, coma, and death. Excess contact with skin and eyes causes redness, itching and swelling. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/283826-sodium-nitrite-dangers/#ixzz2aep7Kzb3

The great news is that it is easy and inexpensive to make your own bug repellent, and you know exactly what you are putting on your body. Here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) halfway with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent

What does your family use for insect repellent? Do you have a recipe that is tried and true? 

bug-spray

By Courtney Perry

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3 thoughts on “Homemade Bug Repellent

  1. Currently, I use lemongrass or nothing. Nothing, because I just plain forget to put anything on!

    • I know what you mean, it’s easy to forget! When you use lemongrass by itself, do you feel like the bugs stay away? Might have to try that out!

      • I bought a few vials/bottles (glass) and found they didn’t come with lids. SO, I added some of my organic lemongrass oil, then some jojoba oil, and just kept it in my shirt pocket. Seemed like I didn’t get bitten (I did put some on the back of my legs) at all, but I already have bug bites that haven’t healed/still itchy, so being precise? Hard to tell. : )

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