Written by Nicole
Like many of you reading this blog, spending time outdoors is an essential part of our family’s soul-soothing, unplugged time together. But what about the mosquitoes? A swarm of bugs can put a damper on a nice hike in no time!
Luckily Mother Nature has given us a solution to keep pesky insects away: essential oils. There are several essential oils that are very effective bug repellents. Catnip, one essential oil used in the recipe below, has been shown to be more effective than DEET (the harmful chemical in most conventional bug repellent products) at keeping away mosquitoes!
Making your own bug repellent is the perfect unplugged, rainy day family activity.
As you prepare for your next outing together you’re imparting a sense of self-reliance to your children; slowing down and choosing to make rather than to buy. Of course you do have to buy the ingredients, yes. However the act of making our own repellent carries us much further than going out and purchasing a bottle of bug spray—physically (we get more for our money), emotionally (we create an opportunity for bonding) and lastly making our own is an investment into our health. I love knowing exactly what I put in or on my body, don’t you?
Having said all that, let’s get to it, shall we?
There are two ways I make bug repellent: as a spray and as a salve. Personally, I like having both when the air is thick with bugs. First I slather myself with the salve, and then use the spray for “touch ups” throughout the day.
Today, I’ll show you how to make insect repellent salve.
Step 1: Gather your materials.
Double boiler (or a pot and a glass bowl)
Liquid measuring cup with spout
Small glass jar or bowl
Pipette or dropper
4-4oz cosmetic tins or jars with lids
1 cup dried calendula (for its skin soothing properties)
1 cup fresh rosemary (for its bug repellent properties)
Enough olive and/or coconut oil to cover herbs (as carrier oils)
¼ cup beeswax
30 drops Catnip essential oil (for its mosquito repelling ability)
10 drops Lavender essential oil (for its lovely smell and bug repellent ability)
10 drops Lemon essential oil (for its uplifting quality and to complement the other oils)
Step 2: Set up your double boiler by placing water in the bottom pan and setting a bowl or a pan on top. Bring your water to a boil then turn down heat until your water is lightly simmering.
Step 3: Place 1 cup dried calendula and 1 cup fresh rosemary into your bowl or pan. Pour in enough olive oil and/or melted coconut oil to cover your herbs (half olive, half coconut seems to be a good ratio. Adding more coconut oil will yield a harder end product. You can add less beeswax if you’re using more coconut oil).
Step 4: Cover your bowl or pan and allow the water to simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Tip: Make sure your simmering water does not heat the oil too hot. You want to heat the oil as gently as possible.
Step 5: Pour the oil and herb mixture into a liquid measuring cup. Tip: Use your plastic spatula to guide the mixture into your measuring cup.
Step 6: Strain the oil into a small glass jar or bowl.
While straining, press the herbs with the back of a spatula or spoon to expel as much oil as possible. This should yield approximately 1 cup of medicated oil.
Step 7: Place the oil back into the double boiler with ¼ cup beeswax. Melt the beeswax over low heat.
Step 8: Once the beeswax is melted, turn off heat and pour your mixture into a liquid measuring cup. Add 30 drops Catnip oil, 10 drops lavender oil and 10 drops lemon oil. Stir gently.
Step 9: Pour the liquid into your cosmetic containers (you should have enough for four 4oz tins) and allow the salve to set up. Once the mixture is completely cooled, cover with tight fitting lids and store in a cool, dry place.
Your family is now ready to brave the wilderness together—armed with natural pest protection. In addition to keeping the bugs away, you’ll smell pretty fabulous too.
Happy hiking friends!