NOTE: This article is my recipe for a bug repellant stick balm. You could also use the essential oils in a lotion or a spray as well. Keep those insects away!
We have yellow jackets. TONS of them! We also deal with mosquitoes. There are bees, flies, and other crazy flying insects here in the panhandle. Mr. V. brought home these cute Citronella bracelets the other day, and to my surprise, they actually worked great! However, in order for these to work, you have to keep that bracelet on...and bracelets kind of "bug" me (get it?).
I decided to use my lotion bar recipe as the inspiration for a rub-on insect repellent balm that can be kept in a stick for easy use. This way, I can rub it on before going outside, and it will work for hours! Plus, it's great for my skin, and can even go on my neck without "bugging" me. (OK! LOL. I'll stop with the puns!)
How does this bug balm stick repellent work? Well, the balm is quite hard, but melts easily into warm skin. The oils and essential oils used in this stick are all safe and soak into the upper layers of your skin to repel most insects, including wasps and mosquitoes.
This hard lotion bar recipe is so easy to make, too. It literally took me about ten minutes to make it, and another 30 minutes for it to set up and be ready to take camping, boating, picnicking---whatever your outdoor heart desires!
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Why Should You Bother Making Your Own Bug Spray or Stick?
Why not just go grab some bug repellent from the store? You know. The kind with DEET in it? And all those other chemicals?
Well, let's quickly take a look at the toxic effects of these wonder chemicals the FDA has so graciously allowed into commercial insect repellent products that get soaked into our body through the skin.
The chemicals allowed in commercial insect repellents have been proven to worsen the allergies in some people, they can cause health problems, and they just smell bad. These chemicals make the liver work extra hard to filter out the poisons slathered on our skin (and therefore enter into) our body and may have dangerous effects on other organ systems as well.
I haven't even mentioned the toxic effects these chemicals have on the earth, either!
In fact, a study done in 2009 that was published in the BMC Biology website, clearly showed that DEET adversely effected human nervous systems by interfering with important enzymes. DEET has also been linked to tremors, hypotension, impaired brain function, and even seizures and hives.
Why anyone would want to put this chemical poison on their body, and especially the fragile bodies of their children...is beyond my comprehension. Especially when there are super inexpensive and easy options, like my bug repellent recipe right here.
How to Make Effective Homemade Insect Repellent (Including Wasps and Mosquitoes)
You know what? This insect repelling balm actually smells good, too. Personally, I'm not a great fan of Citronella Essential Oil, but Citronella is one of the most effective essential oils available to repel a broad range of insects. So, I combined it with three other effective essential oils, and I was able to create an insect repelling balm that smells great too!
Here is some information real quick about the active ingredients in this bug repellent balm, so you can be sure to know how they work:
Peppermint Essential Oil:
Peppermint smells delicious to us, but many insects and even mice can't stand it! Mosquitoes, beetles, ants, spiders, fleas, and even flies are repelled by simple Peppermint oil. Peppermint essential oil also kills mosquito larva up to 24 hours after use! In fact, in places where wild peppermint and spearmint grow, mosquitoes are just not as prevalent.
I actually use a solution of Peppermint essential oil, vinegar, and water to spray in areas where ants come into our home. It works like a charm! AND, it smells good, too.
Lemongrass Essential Oil:
You know what? Lemongrass essential oil has a ton of uses, besides being a super effective insect repellent. This is one essential oil you should absolutely have in your home. But for use as a broad spectrum insect repellent, it's pretty incredible.
I have used Lemongrass all by itself to repel wasps. I just mix it with some water and vinegar and spray it anywhere I don't want to ever see a wasp or yellow jacket.
Lemongrass is great for our skin, too. So including it in this bug repellent balm is doing double duty!
Citronella Essential Oil:
We all know about Citronella candles, right? Citronella essential oil is a natural insect repellent. In fact, did you you the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) views Citronella as a biopesticide? It's effective against a multitude of insects, including mosquitoes.
Like Lemongrass, Citronella has many other uses and benefits too. Just a few of these include having antibacterial and anti fungal functions, cleaning, reducing inflammation, and helping with the stress response of humans and animals.
I'll be honest: Neem oil smells REALLY bad! Like, extra yuck-o. Luckily, very tiny amounts of this special oil is helpful for repelling a range of insect, including mosquitoes and sand flies. It's also useful for treating lice and scabies, and even helps with termite control!
Neem oil is great for mature and aging skin and helps boost collagen. I know this has nothing to do with repelling insects, but hey? That's just another great reason I chose to include it!Get the Newsletter and Never Miss a Thing!
Ingredients for Your Homemade Bug Balm Repellent Stick
** 1/8 cup Olive Oil
** 1/8 cup Shea Butter
** 1/8 cup Beeswax pellets
** 25 drops Citronella essential oil
** 20 drops Peppermint essential oil
** 15 drops Lemongrass essential oil
** 10 drops Neem Oil
NOTE: Make sure the Neem oil you purchase is 100% pure and not adulterated. It should be cloudy and have a yellow or gold color. I bought mine from Starwest Botanicals, but the link above is for Amazon. I did read the ingredients, and it looks like a good brand if you like shopping Amazon.
ANOTHER NOTE: The amount of essential oils I used is an approximate 5% dilution. Cut the drops in half for a 2.5% dilution.
Feel free to make any adjustments in the essential oils above for scenting the way you like it, too. Other essential oils that work for many insects include lavender and cedarwood.
Directions for Making Your Homemade Insect Repelling Stick
Step 1) Measure out the olive oil, shea butter, and beeswax into a double boiler or a pint size Mason jar.
If using a Mason jar as your makeshift double boiler (like I do), just set it in a pan of about an inch or two of cool water. Bring the water to a low temperature and allow the oils to melt together in the jar.
Step 2) Remove the liquid oils & beeswax. Stir in your essential oils.
Step 3) Pour carefully into your tubes or tins or whatever container you choose.
Step 4) Let your balm set up until firm, about an hour more or less, depending on the temperature in your home.
Step 5) Enjoy! Just rub it lightly into your skin. It will moisturize and not feel greasy at all---and the insect repelling properties will be super useful!
Would You Rather Have an Insect Repelling Bug Spray Instead? No Problem!
If you'd rather have an actual spray, that's easy to do, too! Just take a two ounce spray bottle and add in your essential oils. Then add water to just before the neck. Then add a bit of Witch Hazel or Vodka to top it off.
I've made this spray plenty of times, and I love it. You can mist it all over yourself, including on your hair. You'll need to reapply it more often than the balm, but it's cooling and refreshing so that's ok!
Make sure you close your eyes before spraying it around your face!
Final Thoughts on Making Your Own Homemade Bug Repellent Stick or Balm
HAH! Take that, wasps!!!! I am invincible now!
But all joking aside, I'm really impressed with how well this balm turned out. This repellent rocks!
Friend, I am SUPER serious when I say, "WHY, people!?? WHY would you put dangerous chemicals on your children or yourself when it's just this easy to make your own? And less expensive in the long run too?"
I love making salves and balms. It's so easy, and you can do all kinds of things with herbs and essential oils. I'm especially loving this Insect Repelling version of a lotion bar push-up! It's easy to take with you, and it works! **I'll have a new Herbal Salve eBook out soon! So watch for it! :-)
One thing to be aware of though---Extreme heat could cause it to soften or even melt and create a mess. If you are taking this stick any where it's really warm, you might want to put it in a container that won't leak. I like screw top tins for this.
Also--if you want more of an ointment-type balm, just use about half the beeswax. It will be softer and go on more like an ointment.
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Do you have a favorite essential oil blend for repelling insects? Are there any others you would have added? Leave a comment or question if you have one in the comments section!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or chemist. No statement made here is meant to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent any disease. Please seek medical attention from your doctor if you have health issues. These statements are simply my own personal opinions based on years of study and experience. They are also not evaluated by the FDA.