We’re in the thick of summer and the bugs know it. Maybe it’s because last winter was mild for the majority of the country that the insects this summer seem bigger and badder than ever. But, you don’t have to buy the chemical-bath bug sprays from your big-box store in order to ward off mosquitos, ticks, and other creepy-crawlies. You can make your own with just a few relatively inexpensive and easy to find ingredients.

Why would you want to make your own bug spray? Well, because the stuff you are buying at your local superstore isn’t exactly good for you or your children.

bug spray
Trying to get the season bugs away? While there are some natural sprays on the market, it doesn’t get much better than knowing exactly what’s in something because you made it yourself. (Shutterstock photo)

Conflicting studies about the safety of traditional bug sprays abound. While the federal government hasn’t gone so far as to ban DEET in topical insect repellents, studies have shown that it affects the central nervous system by interfering with the function of essential enzymes.

And regardless of what the studies say or don’t say, there’s something unsettling about breathing in when you are spraying yourself down and immediately understanding why bugs stay away.

While there are some natural sprays on the market, it doesn’t get much better than knowing exactly what’s in something because you made it yourself.

  • The ingredients

We are working with essential oils in this recipe, so you need a carrier, or a liquid that can stretch the benefits of the oils. The first ingredient is your carrier and the oils follow. Choose at least two of the essential oils for the best results. But you can use all of them if you like.

  1. Witch Hazel: This is your carrier liquid. You can find it at local drug stores. It’s made from a shrub called the Hamamelis and is an astringent.
  2. Eucalyptus Oil (or lemon eucalyptus): From a plant native to Australia and a favorite of koalas, eucalyptus oil has natural insect repellent properties and has been used in this manner for centuries.
  3. Citronella Oil: We commonly see this in outdoor candles, but the oil can work topically to ward off insects as well.
  4. Lavender Oil: Not only does lavender have aromatherapy uses, able to sooth tension and aid in relaxation, it’s also a great repellent!
  5. Cinnamon Oil: Another extremely versatile ingredient, cinnamon oil can kill bacteria and ward off common summertime insects.
  • The recipe:

Assuming you want this spray to last the weekend and you want to use it on yourself and your kids, friends, or spouse, put 8-10 ounces of witch hazel in a new spray bottle. The amount of essential oil you use will not only affect the smell, but the strength of the spray. I would recommend a total of about 50 drops of essential oil, but you can play with this amount. Mix.

Use just a few of the recommended oils or use all of them. Remember, they give off a scent, so you may want to choose those that go well together. Lavender and eucalyptus are a great combination.

Other essential oils that may help ward off insects include: lemongrass, rose geranium, lemon, clove, and peppermint.  Spray it on your skin and rub it in. Simple, inexpensive, and completely natural.

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