Some creatures are attracted to sweat and bacteria, while others are attracted to carbon dioxide or the specific smell of hands. What reliably repels most nasty insects, especially mosquitoes, is DEET and the repellents that contain it. However, we know about DEET that it can cause health problems and is not exactly good for the environment either.
If you are traveling to areas with an increased risk of mosquitoes (or other insects) that can transmit dangerous diseases, it is certainly appropriate to use a "chemical" repellent with DEET. But if you stay in our little pond, walk in the mountains, work in the garden or run in the meadow, it is worth trying natural alternatives to conventional repellants, which can easily deal with mosquitoes and insects.
Natural insect repellents are especially great for people with sensitive skin, for children, and they are also sure to please pets, which usually don't do well with classic repellants.
However, it is necessary to bear in mind that the duration of natural repellants is much shorter than that which we are used to with ordinary ones. Therefore, if you decide to try natural insect repellents, be consistent and do not forget to apply the chosen repellent repeatedly , especially if you sweat, bathe or if you are in direct sunlight, which will cause the active substances to evaporate quickly.
The vast majority of natural repellents are essential oils or strongly aromatic cold-pressed oils, which must always be diluted . If, with the best of intentions, you applied them to your skin in their pure form, you could harm yourself.
If you want a repellent in a spray, you can use the active substances in flower water or hydrolate , which have a specific insect-repelling aroma in themselves (elf water is excellent, for example), but ordinary water will also work well.
But we all know that oil and water don't get along and don't mix, that's why it's reasonable to use a substance that will help the essential oil disperse evenly in the water , ensuring that we don't apply pure essential oil to our skin, which could burn us, or only pure water that would protect us from nothing. Such a substance is, for example , Solubol .
Solubol is an absolutely wonderful natural alcohol-free solubilizer, which only has a very mild aroma, so it will not affect the smell of the product, and which is also suitable for sensitive or children's skin. The recommended ratio of essential oil to Solubol varies, the ratio of 1:4 worked best for us, i.e. we use 4 drops of Solubol for 1 drop of essential oil. First, we always mix the essential oil with Solubol and when the mixture is formed, we pour it into the hydrolate or water.
If you prefer an oil or butter consistency of a repellent that you rub or massage into the skin, there is nothing easier than mixing the selected natural repellent in an appropriate amount of your favorite carrier oil ( coconut , sunflower or jojoba oil is great, for example) or in vegetable butter .
And now to the most important thing! What are these miracle repellants?
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is probably the best-known natural repellent, which has been popularly used since the 1940s. The Eucalyptus citridora plant, i.e. lemon eucalyptus, is very unique due to the high amount of the substance citronellol, which gives this type of eucalyptus a fresh, citrus scent with notes of camphor and rose. Well, citronellol is exactly what mosquitoes and other critters really don't like.
Mix 5 ml of lemon eucalyptus essential oil in 100 ml of sunflower oil or disperse it in water or witch hazel hydrolate using a solubilizer. Apply at least every 2 hours and do not use for children under 3 years of age.
Crushed lavender flowers, like lavender essential oil, do not smell at all to mosquitoes thanks to their linalool content. That lavender essential oil deters adult mosquitoes from attacking the skin was also confirmed by scientists who examined its effectiveness in a study with naked mice. In addition, lavender relieves pain, has an antiseptic and antifungal effect, so lavender oil will be useful not only for warding off insects, but also for soothing and healing the skin, if one of those insects does bite you.
Be sure to plant lavender in a flower pot on the window and in the flower beds around the terrace or outdoor seating area. Then crush the flowers and rub them on parts of your body that attract mosquitoes, such as your ankles, neck and hands. Lavender oil, as one of the few essential oils, can be applied directly to the skin even undiluted, or you can drop it on a clean handkerchief and use it to rub the oil into the skin.
Thyme oil , according to a study also conducted on naked mice, is one of the best natural repellents against malaria mosquitoes. A five percent thyme solution applied to the skin of mice gave these little rodents 91% protection against mosquitoes! And it's already worth it!
When you make a campfire or fire in the garden, be sure to remember thyme and throw a sprig of thyme into the fire. It will provide you with protection for a full 60 to 90 minutes!
For a homemade thyme repellant, mix 4 drops of thyme essential oil for every teaspoon of a carrier oil, such as olive or jojoba. If you prefer a spray, mix 6 drops of thyme oil with 24 drops of Solubol and dilute in 60 ml of hydrolate or water.
We probably won't surprise you with citronella on this list, right? :) We all know citronella candles or garden oil lamps or citronella-scented beams. Citronella essential oil is a great and widely used natural repellent, which is why you'll find it in most "off-the-shelf" natural repellents.
However, research emphasizes that citronella must be applied regularly and in the right amount, then according to some studies it is even as effective as DEET. It's also worth noting that citronella evaporates quite quickly, so if you're going to make citronella repellent, be sure to reapply it at least once an hour.
Make citronella candles and decorate your terrace or balcony with them. Drip citronella into aroma lamps, diffusers, or room sprays, and be sure to add it to your natural repellent, whatever its base.
Tea tree oil is literally the darling of the nation these days due to its antibacterial and antiviral effects. And it will be even bigger, because according to new studies, tea tree oil also acts as an effective natural repellent. According to practical tests, repellants containing tea tree oil are effective against mosquitoes, midges, flies and biting midges.
Geranium essential oil contains a great combination of mosquito repellents. It contains the already mentioned linalool, citronellol and geraniol. Natural repellents containing geraniol show protection against mosquitoes for two to four hours (depending on the type of mosquito).
Decorate your window frames with boxes of geraniums and use geranium essential oil in aroma lamps or diffusers. Disperse it in a favorite carrier oil, such as almond oil, and apply to the skin. Not only will it protect you from persistent insect attacks, but it will also ward off nervousness and stress. If you are going to make a natural repellent, be sure not to leave out geranium.
According to scientists, cloves are one of the best plants for repelling mosquitoes. A 2011 study showed that topically applied clove oil provided 100% protection for 120 to 250 minutes. However, it should be noted that clove oil is very strong and if we want to apply it to the skin safely, it needs to be diluted, which will probably reduce the percentage of effectiveness or shorten the duration of action.
Drop clove oil into aroma lamps, make candles from it or dilute it in oil or water. If you are going to make a natural repellent from several types of oils, definitely include cloves in it!
Cinnamon is much more than a spice for strudel! A Taiwanese study showed that cinnamon oil can effectively kill mosquito eggs and act as an effective repellent against adult mosquitoes.
Cinnamon oil is very strong and can irritate the skin when concentrated, so it needs to be diluted well. Experts agree that a one percent cinnamon solution is effective enough. Mix a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon oil (about 25 drops) with a teaspoon of Solubol and then dilute in 120 ml of flower water (vervain will be great) or ordinary spirits. Pour into a spray bottle and spray as desired on clothes (always for children, adults can apply directly to the skin), on upholstered furniture or bed linen, in areas in the home and everywhere else where mosquitoes are prohibited from entering.
Nimbus oil is a miracle (you can find the whole article about it here). Unfortunately, it smells bad, not only to mosquitoes and insects, but also to us, humans... :) But a study carried out in Ethiopia showed that nimbus oil acts as a great natural repellent (70% protection for 3 hours), so we advise you to bite it "smell" and be sure to add it to the oil repellent. If you also add essential oils, you may not even notice the unpleasant nimbus smell.
Nimbus oil is excellent for homemade natural antiparasitic drops for pets (which you can also apply to yourself :)). You can also mix nimba oil with your favorite cream or butter and apply it on your skin to repel mosquitoes and keep your skin clean because nimba is unbeatable in the fight against acne.
Never apply essential oils (except lavender) to the skin in undiluted form! Always disperse them in a carrier oil. The recommended approximate amount is 3-5 drops of essential oil per 30 ml of carrier base oil.
Essential oils are not recognized by the FDA as "true" repellents. Therefore, if you are going to travel to countries where you will encounter insects that carry serious diseases, you should always choose "chemical" repellents.
Essential oils (like everything else) can cause allergic reactions. So if you're going to experiment and try a new type of essential oil or home product, always test the product first on a small area of skin and wait an hour or two for redness, burning or itching.
Research into natural ingredients that effectively repel mosquitoes continues to grow. Which is great news for everyone trying to avoid "unnecessary toxins", but especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women, people with sensitive skin and small children. Don't be afraid to experiment with natural repellants (but always follow the recommended safety measures!), look for and try what works and what works well. It's a fun and educational way to stay free of stings, swelling and itching!