Update May 2019: We’ve now tested this new, less intense repellent on a humid spring day with trails covered in thick swarms of all kinds of bugs, especially the black flies… you definitely have to reapply FREQUENTLY on days like that (every 20 mins?) but it was just as effective as my original blend, definitely exceeding expectations. Hooray!
I shared my go-to homemade bug repellent on this blog last year – a blend that’s kept me (a literal bug-magnet), Powder the adventure Lhasa-Apso, and all of our friends and family safe and bug-free for over 10 years.
Things changed this year for us.
Powder developed idiopathic epilepsy last year. It’s been one of the wildest rides of my life…
However, little man is doing much better AND continues to hit the trails with us, even with his 14th birthday quickly approaching… (I’m so excited I have to write that in bold!!!) so we’ve had to find an epilepsy-safe blend that our family can continue using.
[Some essential oils or scents in general have been proven to have properties that can potentially trigger or worsen seizure activity – be sure to do thorough research before exposing children or animals to essential oils.]
Behold! A blend just as effective and not intense enough to trigger seizure activity!
I may actually prefer this blend, but I’ve still got to test it in hotter weather. You know those days – our humid 30 C feels more like 40 C, not a cloud in the sky, the cicada sounds deafening, the trails alive with black flies, horse flies, and mosquitos… the kind of day where you take a deep breath and you’re not sure what’s thicker, the humidity or the stream of insects you’ve just inhaled… (free protein!)
This blend lasted us a full 60 mins this weekend with no need for re-applying.
I always look for a glass spray bottle, or BPA-free plastic. Try not to spray in the mouth or eyes – it doesn’t taste very yummy, and will sting the eyes.
Ingredients (makes about 250 mL):
- ¼ cup witch hazel
- ½ cup filtered water
- 10 drops pure lavender essential oil *
- 10 drops pure peppermint essential oil *
- 5 drops pure eucalyptus essential oil *¹
- 3 drops pure thyme essential oil *²
- 20 drops pure lemongrass essential oil *
Combine ingredients into a bottle.
[I like to use amber glass bottles like in the photo above – you can purchase them in 100mL size with a spray lid attachment (I get mine from www.newdirectionsaromatics.ca). This recipe fills two 100mL bottles.]
Shake well and apply immediately after shaking.
Continue to shake the bottle once and a while as you are applying to keep it well mixed.
Reapply every half hour or as needed.
* Pure means UNDILUTED. Most essential oils need to be diluted before they can be used on the skin, so many companies sell essential oils pre-diluted in a carrier oil (e.g. hemp, jojoba, grapeseed, argan, etc.).
Please make sure that the essential oil you are using is undiluted, or else the potency and effectiveness will be adversely affected.
Please choose organic oils when possible to reduce exposure to chemicals.
¹. Eucalyptus oil can be a potential trigger for seizure symptoms due to its intense scent – by reducing this to 5 drops, the scent is minimal. You may omit eucalyptus entirely, but the effectiveness of the repellent may be affected.
². Thyme oil is has very HOT properties and can be a potential trigger for sensitive systems. It also has phenomenal anti-septic, anti-bacterial, and even anti-spasmodic properties – by reducing this to 3 drops, you get the benefits without overloading sensitive sysems. You may omit thyme entirely, but the effectiveness of the repellent may be affected.