Once rock fishing at the beach, we had forgotten our repellent and were all getting badly bitten. Finally my mother had enough and climbed the bank to see what she could find. She came back smelling like Fennel. She had found a fennel bush growing wild and crushed hand full's and rubbed it on her exposed skin. We laughed at her but she suffered no more sand fly bites. Even sceptics use natural products when nothing else is available.
Some sites claim that DEET is safe to use but even Wikipedia has a concerning write up on the effects of this synthetic, chemical insecticide on health. Even if you are not concerned about it, we are so overloaded with chemicals that we should eliminate what we can. If it is simple to make your own with natural products it only makes sense to do so.
There are many Essential Oils that can be used in insect repellent.
I have these ones because Neem oil works against the malaria mosquito (we travel overseas sometimes) and Lemon Grass because of its similar constitution to Lemon Eucalyptus and pleasant smell.
Neem Oil 8gm
Lemon Grass Oil 8gm
Clove Oil 4gm
In 100gm coconut oil and shea butter carrier mix (thicker to prevent leakage in my purse).
Some essential oils do not work on certain genus of mosquito so research your choice. Neem oil has an unfortunate odour but I find it is acceptable with the lemon smell. You could also use Lemon Eucalyptus which is an excellent insect repellent (I don't have any). You can mix these into a cream, carrier oil or use in an infuser.
Because of the volatility of Essential Oils reapply every 2 hours.
I have read that if more volatile essential oils are mixed with something like vanilla extract which has a larger molecular structure it "holds" the essential oil and decreases its evaporation. I am wondering if the mix with Neem Oil acts the same way as Neem is a lot more viscous. Time will tell.
I will be trying it in a cream to reduce the oil build up as I reapply it through the day.
100 gm water with Borax as an emulsifier (combine oil and water)
30 gm Coconut Oil
15 gm Bees Wax
Melt bees wax and mix in coconut oil. Dissolve 50gm tsp of Mg in water or 1/4 tsp Borax. Pour water into oils while blending to make a cream. If the water fails to emulsify completely add a little more borax. Mix in Essential Oils.
Not only does this repel insects but is excellent for your skin and general health.
There is concern that health issues blamed on mosquito born viruses are actually a result of insecticides.
For those who are travelling into area's where malaria is a problem please read the side effects of the anti malarial tablets. Health agencies have known for over a decade that the pills can cause psychiatric problems.
Alternatives are wearing clothes that cover more skin, using insect repellent, washing with soap that has insect repellent oils in it, not eating bananas (serious- it true) and using defusers with insect repellent oils in your living quarters.
As a precaution, manufacturers advise that DEET products should not be used under clothing or on damaged skin, and that preparations be washed off after they are no longer needed or between applications. DEET can act as an irritant; in rare cases, it may cause epidermal reactions.
In the DEET Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported 14 to 46 cases of potential DEET-associated seizures, including 4 deaths. The EPA states: "... it does appear that some cases are likely related to DEET toxicity," but observed that with 30% of the US population using DEET, the likely seizure rate is only about one per 100 million users.
The Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University states that "Everglades National Park employees having extensive DEET exposure were more likely to have insomnia, mood disturbances and impaired cognitive function than were lesser exposed co-workers".
When used as directed, products containing between 10% and 30% DEET have been found by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be safe to use on children, as well as adults, but recommends that DEET not be used on infants less than two months old.
Citing human health reasons, Health Canada barred the sale of insect repellents for human use that contained more than 30% DEET in a 2002 re-evaluation. The agency recommended that DEET-based products be used on children between the ages of 2 and 12 only if the concentration of DEET is 10% or less and that repellents be applied no more than 3 times a day, children under 2 should not receive more than 1 application of repellent in a day and DEET-based products of any concentration should not be used on infants under 6 months.
DEET is commonly used in combination with insecticides and can strengthen the toxicity of carbamate insecticides, which are also acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. These findings indicate that DEET has neurological effects on insects in addition to known olfactory effects, and that its toxicity is strengthened in combination with other insecticides.