Choosing and Making Bug Spray

No matter where you live, you'll undoubtedly face bugs at some point during the year. What's your best defense against bug bites? It turns out that not all chemicals in insect repellant are created equal.

It’s important to be mindful of what we’re slathering on our skin. This protective sheath is the largest organ of the body and readily absorbs what it’s exposed to. We all want protection against critters but when you consider the long-term implications of exposure to the chemical cocktails often found in bug repellants, you may want to explore your options.

Better bug management

The most commonly used chemical in insect repellents is DEET. While effective, high levels of exposure have been linked to negative health effects. Fortunately, we have safer options for keeping bugs at bay. Some botanical oils and extracts have been shown to be as effective as DEET in areas where insect-borne illnesses are not an issue. Cinnamon oil, Neem, from the Indian tree Azadirachta indica, and geraniol, a plant-derived compound, all provide significant protection. Other powerful protectors include citronella, peppermint oil, and lemongrass oil.

Look for repellants containing the following natural ingredients make your own super effective oil or spray. Here is a natural insect repellent recipe, adapted from and courtesy of herbalist Debra Nuzzi-St. Claire:

Base oil concentrate*

  • 1/8 ounce citronella oil (72 drops)
  • 36 drops lavender oil
  • 18 drops lemon eucalyptus oil
  • 18 drops tea tree oil
  • 18 drops jojoba oil

*Do not use this blend undiluted on your skin. Follow these instructions for diluting:

Insect repellent oil

Add 4 ounces of jojoba or almond oil to the base oil mixture and blend thoroughly.

Insect repellent spray

Add 4 ounces of vodka to the base oil mixture, pour into a spray bottle, and shake before using.

Here's a useful resource for more info: Environmental Working Group's Guide to Bug Repellents

Tags: diy, summer