Natural insect repellents
Use these essential oils to create your own insect repellent.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - 14:11
NIX THE SPRAY: Use essential oils instead of chemicals to keep the bugs away. (Photo: ilovebutter/Flickr)
Things are warming up in Chicago, and with the changing weather the bugs are starting to come back to the city and rest of the northern Midwest. Instead of buying manufactured bug repellent sprays, consider creating your own batch made from essential oils.
Essential and carrier oils
The nature of some oils naturally repels or confuses insects so that they keep away from you. Depending on the insect, a number of different oils will do the job of keeping your outdoor activities bug-free. For instance, cinnamon, citronella or castor oil tends to repel mosquitos. Eucalyptus and rose geranium oils tend to keep ticks and lice at bay.
The key to making a batch of bug repellent is to mix your essential oils with carrier oils or rubbing alcohol since they do not mix with water. Some good carrier oils to use include sunflower oil, olive oil or other cooking oils. If you decide to use alcohol to mix, a good choice is vodka.
When mixing, use 1 part essential oil and about 10 to 20 parts carrier oil or alcohol to create an effective yet safe solution. Reapplication should occur about every hour or after exercise or showering. If you have leftover solution, the repellent can be stored in a dark bottle, making sure that it is kept away from heat and sunlight.
When it comes to buying essential oils, look out for low quality products. Oils labeled as fragrance oils, nature identical oils, or perfume oils entail that the product is not a pure, essential oil. These products can be oils mixed with chemicals, or just plain chemicals.
An article on the subject of buying quality oils explains the various red flags that consumers should look out for when selecting which oils to put their money toward. For instance, the type of container the oils are sold in can make a big difference. Oils should be sold in dark glass bottles, or if they are sold in an aluminum bottle, the inside must be lined. Vendors that sell oils in clear glass or plastic containers should be avoided. Also, it is a good rule to avoid oils that contain a rubber bulb dropper attached since the oils can dissolve the rubber and contaminate the product.
Before ever applying an essential oil mixture to yourself, take into consideration the risks that may be involved with the product. A homemade concoction is not regulated by any federal office like with manufactured bug repellents. Though essential oils tend to have such low toxicity that they are not deemed necessary to be regulated by the federal government, some oils can contain allergens or other irritants that can affect certain people negatively.
With careful consideration of what essential oils you use, what you mix it with, the quality of your oils and proper mixing of the solution, you can have a cheaper, more natural bug repellent solution to use all summer.
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