In the post find out some easy ways to naturally keep bugs away. The ingredients can be found right in your kitchen!
It is definitely warming up and my family really cherishes our time outside. You can find us on hikes, (exploring waterfall is our favorite) we’d like to start camping, gardening, and we go to my mom’s many times over the summer to enjoy time on the lake.
That’s probably a huge factor in why my husband and I connected so well when we first met. He was an avid mountain biker, surfer, and loves fishing. I grew up camping and my favorite activity was hiking. When we met in Arizona, I would walk trails on the mountain close to my home everyday.
Although our lifestyles don’t look entirely like that anymore, we still want to incorporate the outdoors into our lives. It’s so therapeutic and it helps us forget about the busy world around us.
My Daughter Wasn’t Always Fond Of The Outdoors
I went through a spout of postpartum depression and anxiety after she was born and I regretfully used the tv a lot to “babysit.” So when I started getting better and trying hikes, it was a whole new world for her.
Getting sweaty was not fun and her least favorite part was bugs. A simple bug recipe melted away her fears. She made sure to remind me to put bug spray on and she was ready to go!
Why Do I Make Homemade Bug Spray To Keep The Bugs Away?
You heard me talk about endocrine disruptors before and they’re everywhere. Store bought bug spray is no different and that’s why I make my own.
Heather of Mommypotamus writes about the most commonly used bug spray (DEET):
N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) is the usual go-to for commercial bug spray. It’s incredibly controversial, and for good reason. Recently Dr. Abou Donia, a Duke University pharmacologist, found that “rats treated with an average human dose of DEET (40 mg/kg body weight) performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination.” (source)
In the same study, Dr. Abou Donia found that DEET caused “neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration.” (source) The pharmacologist says that children are at a higher risk for brain changes after DEET exposure because their skin absorbs it more readily.
It’s also interesting to note that as of 2018 the EPA has yet to complete an endocrine disruptor screening on DEET, so that data is still unknown.
The Harmful Effects of PUFA’s On The Skin
I already wrote a whole post on PUFAs that primarily touched on ingesting them, but we also need to consider what we’re putting on our skin.
I found a great article by A Life Adjacent that goes over how PUFAs can age your skin. In my previous post, I explain how these oils are easily oxidized by light, heat, and oxygen. If you go out in the sun, that guarantees you’ll be exposed to high levels of light, heat, and oxygen.
Not only will the sun oxidize the lipids in the oil, but it can also extend this damage to the lipids in your skin. PUFAs have been identified as one of the main culprits that cause cellular damage in the presence of radiation. And as we know, the sun emits radiation in the form of ultraviolet (UV) light.
In one study, two groups of shaved rabbits were fed diets containing either corn oil or coconut oil. After exposure to sunlight, the rabbits fed corn oil developed wrinkled, aged skin. Conversely, the rabbits fed coconut oil showed no such damage from the sun exposure.
PUFA Oils To Watch Out For In Body Care Products:
- argan oil
- black cumin seed oil
- camelina oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- evening primrose oil
- flax/linseed oil
- grapeseed oil
- hemp oil
- maracuja oil
- peanut oil
- pumpkin seed oil
- red raspberry seed oil
- rosehip oil
- safflower oil
- sesame oil
- soybean oil
- sunflower oil
- walnut oil
Look For Products With Monounsaturated Fats Instead
PUFAs have two or more double bonds which causes the damage to ourselves. Monounsaturated fats on the other hand have only one double bond at which oxygen reacts, so a reaction is FAR LESS likely to happen.
Examples of Monounsaturated Oils:
- avocado oil
- baobab oil
- buriti oil
- camellia oil
- carrot seed oil
- castor oil
- crambe oil
- jojoba oil
- macadamia oil
- marula oil
- moringa oil
- olive oil
Most Store Bought Bug Sprays Contain PUFAs
The reason I mention all of that information on PUFAs is because there are a lot of other companies that are considered “safe” but still contain some sort of polyunsaturated fat in the ingredients.
Examples: Badger, Babyganics insect repellent wipes, & Herbal Armor all list soybean oil as the first ingredient.
Purpose of Each Ingredient
I wanted to share a bug spray recipe with ingredients that were not only healthy for your skin, but also easily accessible. After all, homesteaders try to use what they have on hand. This recipe is very versatile and I even have my daughter help me pick out what she’s feeling called to on that particular day.
Most recipes you’ll find require essential oils. I don’t like to heavily rely on them. For one, it still keeps me reliant on a company. Also, I’m not a certified aromatherapist so I don’t feel qualified to make many recipes using essential oils.
For me, it’s easier and cheaper to use what I have in the garden.
Witch hazel: This is an astringent that is primarily used as a topical remedy. Its compounds contain anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. Because of this, some people use it as a facial toner. It’s perfectly safe if you’re pregnant. It helps the water in the recipe to stay purified as well as help the scent linger for a long period of time.
Water: We’re using the water so we can infuse it with the smells and properties of the herbs.
Herbs: This is the
Why Does This Recipe Help Keep Bugs Away?
I have no scientific evidence to make this up, but this is my theory based on recipes and some gardening hacks.
Bug Spray Recipe
1 c. witch hazel
1 c. distilled water
4 Tbsp. dried herbs of choice
vanilla extract (optional)
Bug Spray Instructions
- Add one cup of distilled water to a pot.
- Add herbs to the water.
- Bring to a boil.
- Steep until cool.
- Strain the water.
- Add water to a jar
- Add one cup of witch hazel to the jar. (This would also be the step where you could add some vanilla)
- I keep mine in a bigger bottle and refill my small spray bottles as needed. I love to keep one at home, in my purse, and in the car.
The Best Tips To Naturally Keep Bugs Away Video
Other Insect-Repelling Tips
- Plant certain herbs in your backyard: basil, lavender, lemongrass, lemon thyme, mint, rosemary, catnip, bay leaves, chives, dill, fennel, lemon balm, oregano, parsley, and thyme.
- Plant certain flowers in your backyard: alliums, chrysanthemums, marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias, geraniums, floss flowers, and pitcher plants.
- For backyard fires, throw in a little sage or rosemary to the fire.
- Cut some lemon pieces and stuff cloves in it. Place it around wherever you’re eating outside to deter the flies.
- Rub some lemon balm or a mint plant on the parts of your body that are exposed.
- To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard, make sure you don’t have any standing water.
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What homemade bug sprays to you swear by? Share your favorite concoctions in the comments below.