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Monday, June 20, 2016

Repelling Summer Bugs with My Soothing Herbal Spray

As we break out and take this time to soak up all that summer sun, so do pests. As many of you know, while being a nuisance, there are many insects that carry diseases which can be very harmful to us (I’m looking at you mosquitoes).

What many people don't realize is that your insect repellent may also be just as harmful. It’s true; many insect repellent sprays carry DEET, a chemical that, if used frequently, can potentially be dangerous. 

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), first used by the U.S. Army, has been sold to consumers since the 1950s. It can cause allergic skin reactions, particularly at concentrations of 50 percent and above, and eye irritation. A 2013 analysis of about 4,000 DEET-related calls to poison control centers found that 450 people needed medical treatment after applying DEET; two died. Most cases of seizures, slurred speech, coma and other serious side effects have occurred in people who ingested DEET or applied it for three or more days in a row, or used products with 95 percent DEET or more. -The Washington Post

But have no fear! We've got a great alternative that is not only effective but will sooth your soul.

This insect repellent spray (recipe discovered here) was pretty impressive. Because it’s a natural insect repellent it’s definitely one that you should re-apply a little more often. I reapplied about every hour while running errands without getting a bite.* Herbs that are a part of the mint family are great natural insect repellents. The best part, was once the smell of witch hazel faded, the smell of the herbs sat really nicely onto my skin. It was very soothing!

What I used for my spray were witch hazel, distilled water, two cloves and a tablespoon of each of these herbs: peppermint, lavender, rosemary and lemon balm. According to the recipe you could use 3-4 tablespoons of any insect repelling herbs such as catnip, lemongrass, citronella or any herbs within the mint family. I chose these herbs because they were what I had on hand, so it was an easy decision. It also said you could use rubbing alcohol instead of witch hazel.


Boil one cup of water, then remove it from the heat. Add your herbs and cloves, stir it all up, and cover the pot. Let this cool. 

Once it's cooled strain the herbs out (note: A few herbs still got into my mix, so next time I'll use something like a cheese cloth or a mesh strainer). Then, mix your water with the witch hazel and pour into a spray bottle (or spray bottles).

Keep your homemade insect repellent in a cool place (the fridge makes applying it extra refreshing) and enjoy!

*Keep in mind everyone is different and every situation is different, so some people may need to reapply more often than not. 

Sara is currently studying romance languages at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a student and a team member of Bazaar Spices, she is able to fuel her interest in understanding different cultures. For Sara, understanding different cultures is key to connecting with people, and there is nothing more gratifying to her than that. 

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