My boys love the outdoors. In fact, my youngest doesn’t say many words but one of the words he does say is “outside, outside!” while banging on the glass of our sliding back door. Due to an incredibly high number of man-eating mosquitoes, it is not a good idea to go out there unprotected. We need some insect repellent!
I didn’t take much time to research commercial bug repellent sprays, but the fact that they leave me gagging and gasping for air makes me think they are not great for you — DEET or no DEET. There are probably some commercial natural-type repellents, but I can only imagine they’re expensive. We’re going to be slathering this stuff head to toe most days this summer, so I wanted it to be safe AND economical.
There are several essential oils that those nasty critters just hate, so I made up a cocktail that should prevent them from thinking our skin is an all-you-can-eat buffet. Enjoy!
Homemade Insect Repellent
- 4 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
- 10 drops citronella oil
- 10 drops lemongrass oil
- 10 drops eucalyptus oil
- 10 drops lavender oil
- 10 drops peppermint oil
Step 1: I like to put my coconut oil in a glass dish (or whatever I’ll use for storing the final product) on top of an upside down cookie sheet or cooling rack, straddling a burner that was heated and turned off. This way the oil melts quickly, but I don’t have to worry about over heating or dirtying a pan.
Step 2: Once the oil is liquid, stir in the essential oils. I use a metal skewer so I don’t have to waste any oil on a spoon. Let it sit and cool.
How to Use
You can apply to skin as a liquid or semi-solid (coconut oil should be solid below 76F). The essential oils can be adjusted depending on your preference and supply, the most important being the citronella and lemongrass oils. The ratio should remain 50 drops per 4 Tbs. carrier oil in order to prevent irritating sensitive skin.
I tried this on my two little boys and myself today and I have not found a bite on anyone yet!
While another carrier oil could be used (like olive oil), there is one significant benefit to making this with coconut oil. Coconut oil according to Jennifer of Hybrid Rasta Mama has an SPF of between 4-6. In combination with a diet rich in omega-3s (including coconut oil!), this bug repellant should help prevent sunburn as well. Our backyard is fairly shady so I feel completely comfortable sending my boys out there with this as their only sun protection.
And if you aren’t aware of the many benefits and uses for coconut oil, you can check out Hybrid Rasta Mama’s extensive list here. It is one of the most versatile products in my house, right up there with baking soda and vinegar!!