This is an insect repellent for the skin. I’m not going to misrepresent–for me, it isn’t the holy grail of natural repellents which would last indefinitely and be 100% bugproof. I keep a bottle in my back pocket and reapply frequently and I still get the occasional bite. I do like it, though. In a weird way the fact that it fades after about half an hour can be an advantage because by the time I go back inside the odor fades in time and I don’t end up smelling like bug spray for the rest of the day. If I’m out for longer I just keep spraying if I see the need. With other sprays (or Skin-So-Soft bath oil) I had to wash if off immediately even if I was only outside for a few minutes.
It may perform better or worse depending on your body chemistry, the kind of bug conditions you face, and other factors.
In a competitive market manufacturers of insect repellents aim for maximum efficacy. Understandable. Without being overly alarmist, I sometimes wonder whether the line between safety to humans and repellence to bugs is somewhat thin. The question here for me becomes a matter of weighing the relative risks. Before West Nile, mosquitoes in my part of the world were mostly an irritation–itchy welts and possible allergies were the results of being unprotected. With West Nile, mosquitoes have become more than an inconvenience. The possibility of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from ticks is another thing to worry about. Personally, I use this spray, cover my ankles, etc., and try to stay out of the worst parts of the yard during insect feeding time (dusk to dawn).
Homemade Insect Spray
1 cup vodka
2 T. aloe vera juice
2 tsp. favorite conditioning liquid oil (soybean, olive, castor, etc.)
1 1/2 tsp. essential oil blend (I use this preblended one)
Combine in a spray bottle and shake before each use. These oils have less staying power than chemicals such as DEET so they need to be reapplied about every 30 minutes or as needed.
You can buy a blend or create your own blend from these oils found to have insect repellent properties.
- Catnip Oil–mosquitoes
- Cedarwood Oil–lice, moths
- Cinnamon Oil–ants
- Citronella Oil–mosquitoes
- Clove Oil–mosquitoes
- Eucalyptus Oil–mosquitoes
- Geranium Oil–flies, mosquitoes
- Lavender Oil–mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, flies
- Lemongrass Oil–mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, flies
- Litsea Cubeba–mosquitoes
- Peppermint Oil–lice, spiders, ants
- Rosemary Oil–fleas, ticks
- Tea Tree Oil–mosquitoes, lice, ants
Although found in many lists of repellents, I avoid pennyroyal because of its potential toxicity.
All essential oils are best used in dilution. Don’t apply them directly to the skin in full strength.