DIY: Natural Bug Spray & Natural Bug Balm
Bitten by the DIY bug, these fun DIY natural bug spray ideas are handy for the summer months!
Homemade Bug Spray
Natural bug sprays are quite different to conventional sprays: they are gentle and safe, but you need to spray them regularly for maximum effect. The essential oils, including basil (Ocimum basilicum), peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), are included for their bug-repelling qualities—and they also smell great.
Quantity for the DIY Bug Spray:
Makes a little over 500ml
250ml distilled water
250ml witch-hazel or white vinegar
20 drops of basil essential oil
20 drops of peppermint essential oil
20 drops of lavender essential oil
1. Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle.
2. Shake well.
3. Spray on benchtops and tables.
If you don’t have these specific essential oils handy, any combination of citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, geranium, lavender, mint or pine will work. Feel free to play around and mix and match.
Natural Bug Balm with Citronella, Lemongrass + Geranium
This natural bug balm is perfect for use on ankles, wrists and behind the ears—places mosquitoes love to bite! The essential oils of citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) are included as powerful herbal repellents but are in safe ratios to keep your skin happy. As you should do with all products, patch test a small amount on a small part of your skin to assess any potential reactions.
Quantity for the DIY Bug Balm:
Makes a little more than 150g. Can be scaled up or down: it’s all about the ratios.
50g cocoa butter or shea butter
40g coconut oil
15g castor oil
20 drops each of citronella, lemongrass and geranium essential oils
1. Place all of the ingredients except for the essential oils in a heat-safe bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt while stirring gently.
2. When the beeswax melts completely, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the essential oils.
3. Add the essential oils, mix thoroughly and pour the mixture into glass jars, metal tins or cosmetic-grade plastic containers to solidify.
This balm can be used on kids over four years of age (after patch testing).
For a milder balm, which may be more suitable for younger, pregnant and older people, swap out the lemongrass and citronella for lavender essential oil.
To test the consistency of a balm, place a spoon in the freezer and let it cool. Pour a little balm onto the cold spoon and put it back in the freezer for a couple of minutes. This will speed up the process and show you what the final consistency will be like. To adjust, add more oil for a softer balm, or more beeswax for a firmer balm.
Cream/Balm for Bites and Stings
Chickweed Anti-Itch Ointment
Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a small plant with succulent leaves and white star-shaped flowers. It’s traditionally used to calm itchy skin conditions such as insect bites, rashes and eczema. This anti-itch balm can easily be slipped into a purse, pocket or first-aid kit. Adding beeswax helps to protect, soothe and nourish the skin.
Makes as much as you like, with the ratio of 4 parts infused oil to 1 part beeswax
For the infused chickweed oil:
Dried chickweed plant, from a health food store or your local herb shop
extra-virgin olive oil
glass jars or bottles
1. Place dried chickweed into a dry and sterilised glass jar (almost to the top). Cover with extra-virgin olive oil and cap the jar tightly.
2. Place on a sunny, warm windowsill. The jar can be covered with a paper bag or a box so the oil isn’t exposed to direct sunlight.
3. Shake the jar once or twice per day, or as often as you can remember.
4. Allow to infuse for 2–3 weeks (if the herbs absorb the oil, then add more oil so the herbs are always submerged).
5. Once the oil is ready, strain the herbal oil using cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze, so you don’t waste any precious herb oil.
6. Store in a glass bottle or jar (amber bottles are great).
7. Label the jar with the ingredients and the date you made it. This infused oil will keep for up to 1 year if stored in a cool, dark place.
To turn the oil into a salve:
Makes approx. 250g
200g infused chickweed oil
10 drops essential oil of your choice, optional (common oils are lavender and tea tree)
1. Place the oil and beeswax over a saucepan of simmering water to melt while stirring gently.
2. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool slightly before adding the essential oils.
3. Pour into prepared tins or glass jars and allow to cool completely. Store in a cool location. If stored correctly, this salve can last for up to 3 years.