Q. Is there a natural bug repellent without DEET?
There are several natural bug repellents made without DEET, however, because I make my own, I can’t tell you which ones work and which ones don’t. How about I just tell you how to make your own? This especially important with Zika Virus making its unwelcome appearance. You may have to try several before you find one that works for you.
As I write this, I am making a Lemon Verbena/Chocolate Mint hydrosol as the base for making this week’s batch of bug spray, which this time of year I sell as fast as I can make. Hydro-sols are distilled plant/flower waters, not oils. They are more gentle than oils and therefore may be applied directly to skin on most people. However, I always recommend you do patch test on a small area of your arm before you spritz yourself. Doing this might help prevent a major allergic reaction if you are allergic to any of the plants or flowers you choose to use.
I am sure you have heard of rose water. It is pretty pricey but delightful to spritz on. Rose water is rose hydrosol and if you grow roses, you can make your own rose water using the following recipe.
Place a clean brick in a large stainless steel kettle with a glass lid and then go gather enough plant material (which today will be lemon verbena, chocolate mint, wormwood and yarrow) to make two batches of hydro-sol. For the first batch, I cover the bottom of the pot with lemon verbena and wormwood, then add water until it is just to the top of the brick. I place a large glass measuring cup (the four cup size) on the brick, and cover the pot with the lid. The secret here is to turn the lid upside down and place ice cubes in the lid. This really enhances the condensation rate. I turn the burner on high just until the water starts steaming and then turn it to low. This is important because I don’t want to boil the herbs, I just want to steam the essence of them into the distilling process. Once the water is steaming (you can see the condensation beginning as the steam hits the cold lid and streams down to drop into the glass bowl), set your timer for 20-30 minutes and relax. When the timer beeps, I turn the heat off, and carefully remove the glass measuring cup. It is really hot, so be sure to use a pot holder or towel to lift it from the pot. (This process consistently makes just a bit more than four ounces for me.) I set the hydrosol aside to cool and gather materials for the next step which include bottles, spray atomizer and essential oils. Once cool, I pour into my two bottle(s), add essential oils, cap with an atomizer lid, and shake vigorously and then like magic, I have bug spray!
I use two ounce bottles and add 4 drops of each organic essential oil. For pests like mosquitoes, I add variations of lemon, eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, cedar, wormwood (especially if ticks are a problem) and rosemary essential oils. As a rule, I do not use all of them in one mixture, so experiment and see which oils work best for you and which scents you like. I have found that if I don’t like a scent, I am less likely to use the spray, so I make sure to add favorite scents to my blends. Now, just spritz yourself and your clothes and take a walk!
If you want to make cooling spritzes to mist your self with on hot days, I find the mints, lemon verbena and rosemary very refreshing (which scents do you love?). I keep these in the fridge to add to the cooling power. If you like lavender, make a relaxing hydrosol or spritz lightly on your pillow before going to bed. I like to spritz the air in front of me and then slowly walk into the mist and let it settle on me. You could also make hydrosols which are soothing to skin issues (ie., calendula, comfrey, plantain, chickweed, burdock). I even make aThieves Oil Hydrosol which I spray into the air and onto handles/door knobs to prevent colds and flu from spreading.
Organic essential oils are expensive, so you may want to take advantage of a workshop where a large variety of oils are available for blending your own custom hydrosol. Discovering which oils you like and dislike in a class like this will save money as you won’t buy bottles of expensive essential oil only to find out you don’t like the scent. (Later on this fall or winter, I am going to teach a workshop on making hydrosols and hydrosol blends and will have 10+ oils from which to choose. If you would like to be notified of the date and location, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will let you know the details as soon as they are available.
Hydrosols are easy to make, inexpensive when you use your own plants, and delightful to use. And making your own from your garden gives you a deep sense of satisfaction!
Important Note! The information in Wholistically Speaking is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and/or treat diseases. If you have a health problem, I highly recommend you consult a competent health practitioner and educate yourself before embarking on any course of treatment.Important Note! The information in Wholistically Speaking is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and/or treat diseases. If you have a health problem, I highly recommend you consult a competent health practitioner and educate yourself before embarking on any course of treatment.