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Archive for August, 2009

This has to be my favorite time of year.  Summer is dwindling away and with it the hot, humid weather.  Cooler temperatures make the daytime bearable and the nights perfect.  Except for the bugs.

spider

I hate bugs.  Well, not all bugs.  Just the ones that bite, sting or swarm me as I try to enjoy a little time outdoors.  The rest of the bugs I like.  Kind of.

Apparently, I’m not alone.  I have had multiple requests this year for products that will help keep away the bugs ~ from both the home and the body.  So, over the last few months I’ve been busy on my quest for the perfect bug repellent.

Maybe I should define ‘perfect’.   I’ve been on a quest to create a bug repellent that is safe for both the body and the environment, that repels mosquitos, bees, gnats, flies, chiggers, ticks and spiders without killing them and that doesn’t make me wanna hurl when I get a whiff of it.  I’ve scoured the internet, the library, the bookstore and the minds of fellow naturalists.  I’ve tried everything from orange peels and cinnamon to exotic oils and powders.

Now, my quest is complete. Wanna know what I came up with?  It’s awesome!

My first brainstorm came with my Bite & Sting Balm a few years ago.  You remember reading about that, right?  If not, you really oughtta.  Really.  Go ahead….I’ll wait!

Okay, so the Balm is fantastic for getting rid of the burn and itch from insect bites, but what about preventing the bite or sting in the first place?   So when, a customer requested something to help repel the ants, spiders and waterbugs that were plaguing her home, I knew it was time to undertake a new experiment.

I have to be honest…I didn’t hold out much hope.  I live in Missouri, land of changing weather, changing minds and massive bug infestations.  I’ve tried everything over the years.  Boric acid, that clear gummy gooey stuff, osage oranges,  herbs…even the so-toxic-it-runs-you-out-of-your-home stuff.  Nothing really worked for everything.  If it stopped the roaches,  the ants loved it.  If it stopped the ants, the waterbugs loved it.  And the mosquitos?  Forget it.  Nothing stops a Missouri Mosquito.  Or their companion, the pecker gnat.  Yes, I said pecker gnat.  I don’t know if that’s their technical name.  Probably not.  That’s what they are called here in the Ozarks, though, and anyone who’s ever visited a river in Missouri knows what they are.  They are the large group of tiny flying insects that swarm around your head and try to take up residence in any available orifice.

Anyway, not much hope, but, hey…I’m always  up for a good challenge!

The lady who requested the bug repellent is actually the one who pointed me in the right direction.  She’s a fantastic customer and endlessly patient, not to mention brilliant!  What I came up with is a blend of oils that, while a bit expensive, works like a charm.   It’s unbelievable!  Fantastic!  Amazing!

I bet you thought this was gonna be  a huge sales pitch, didn’t you?  You thought I was gonna tell you how awesome this product was and then make you come and buy it from me, didn’t you?

Nope.  Now, I’m not going to give you the recipe, mind you.  That’s all mine and I worked really hard to get it.  I’m gonna give you all the ingredients, though, so you can come up with your own version.

Be smart, though.  If you don’t know what you are doing when it comes to essential oils then educate yourself.  Some essential oils, while safe when used properly, can be dangerous. Don’t ever use any of them on your skin full strength.  Most essential oils, especially therapeutic grade oils,  need to be diluted in a carrier of some type ~ oil, butter or liquid, preferably organic and unprocessed.  In most cases, only a few drops of the essential oil needs to be used.

Also, don’t bother buying the cheap oils.  They don’t work.  If you are going to invest any money into oils, I suggest Aura Cacia, Young Living or Ananda.  They are a bit more expensive but well worth the extra cost.  They are more potent and last longer, so in the end you save money.  No, I don’t get any kickbacks for mentioning them, either.  I only wish I was that cool!

Okay, so the ingredients are…

Eucalyptus atlas cedarwood, tea tree, citronella, rosemary, basil, spearmint, pennyroyal and blue tansy.

I’ll be honest.  If you were to purchase these oils for yourself, whether online or through a local merchant, you are looking at a minimum of $75-$100.  Some of them are very expensive and difficult to come by.  Blue Tansy oil, for instance, is roughly (including shipping) $22.00 for  1/16 of an ounce.   That’s at the cheapest wholesale price.  That is a bottle about half as tall as my pinky.  However, it also has some amazing healing benefits and is very expensive to harvest and process.  This is an exceptionally potent oil that only needs 1 or 2 drops and it goes a very long way.  Plus, it is actually blue, which is so cool!

My husband, who works outdoors in terrain that ranges from open construction sites to heavily wooded areas, begged me to make a bug spray.  The chemical-laden sprays combined with the heat from being in the sun all day often made him physically ill and only kept off a minimal amount of bugs.  I modified my Body Spritzer formula, added 15 drops of the Bug Repellent Oil Blend to 8 0z of it and used it spray our bodies.

Don't Bug Me Insect Repellent

Don't Bug Me Insect Repellent

I added the same to a watered-down version of the Spritzer blend and sprayed our tents  and covers when we went camping a couple weeks ago.  Interestingly coincidental, my son, who chose not to spray his sleeping area down because it was “too much trouble”, woke up every morning to a tent full of spiders and 16 mosquito bites.   His sisters, in a tent not 5′ away, awoke spider-and-mosquito-bite free.

I add 10 drops to 2 cups of a borax/boric acid/salt powder blend and sprinkle it around our aluminum-can bin and trash dumpsters to contain all the ants that flock to them.   I also add a spoonful of diatomaceous earth to this and sprinkle it around our cat’s bedding area and anywhere she spends a lot of time.

I apply a single drop to a q-tip and rub it anywhere that I find ants sneaking in, like windows and cabinets.

Our results have been pretty unbelievable.  It has repelled every insect we’ve used it against, though a few of the more hardcore mosquitos have managed to get us.

If you are interested in a more in-depth discussion on each of these oils, feel free to send me an e-mail.  I’m always more than happy to share what info I have!

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