Friday, June 10, 2011

Living Raw with Natural Insect Repellants

Summer is here and the mosquitoes are feeding!  In the midst of itching and scratching it is really tempting to spray on poisonous DEET laden insect repellents.  However, what if I told you that CINNAMON (yes, that delicious spice) could save you from being the focus of a mosquitoes feeding frenzy.

In fact, a study published in the the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that the compounds in cinnamon oil are more potent in killing mosquitoes than DEET. The researchers tested eleven compounds found in cinnamon leaf oil for their capacity to kill the larvae of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries yellow fever. Further, the researchers went on to explain that the cinnamon oil prove similarly lethal against larvae of other types of mosquitoes, providing a safe, natural, pleasant-smelling alternative to other pesticides.

Different essential oils have been found to be effective against different insects.  For instance, below are some that work against biting insects:
  • cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • lemon eucalyptus or regular eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • castor oil (mosquitoes)
  • orange oil (fleas)
  • rose geranium (ticks and lice)
Since different insects respond to different chemicals you can combine a few of these oils to customize the "insect repellent blend" you need.

The basic recipe for insect repellents are 1 part essential oil to 15 parts carrier oil.  Safe carrier oils and alcohols include:
  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • any other cooking oil
  • witch hazel
  • vodka
  • 10-25 drops (total) of essential oils
  • 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil or alcohol
Mix the essential oil with the carrier oil or alcohol. Rub or spray the natural insect repellent onto skin or clothing, using care to avoid the sensitive eye area. You'll need to re-apply the natural product after about an hour or after swimming or exercise. Unused natural insect repellent may be stored in a dark bottle, away from heat or sunlight. If you wish, you may combine the oil with aloe vera gel to change the consistency of the product.

Hope this helps you enjoy a bite and itch free summer!