Why You're Better Off With A Healthy & Environment-Friendly Bug Spray Using Essential Oils (+ A Simple Recipe To Follow)

Photo: milanzeremski/shutterstock
friends camping

Summertime brings hot, muggy days. It's the perfect weather for flowers to bloom and for bugs to come out of hiding.

Mosquitoes, stinging ants, and ticks lurk in the soft green grass. Their stings can harbor infectious diseases including West Nile virus, dengue fever, malaria, and Lyme disease.

Your best bet this summer is essential oil bug spray.

N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, more commonly known as DEET, is the current gold standard among insect repellents, and that protection comes with a price.

First tested in the 1980s in the Everglades, the researchers found that 25 percent of those using DEET experienced immediate side effects such as rashes and skin irritation, numb or burning lips, headaches, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and insomnia.

According to Duke University pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia, rats exposed long-term to DEET had diffuse brain death and behavioral changes. Abou-Donia recommends avoiding products containing DEET.

RELATED: What Are Essential Oils? + How They Work & Which Are The Best To Use

You can learn how to make bug spray with essential oils.

They are a welcome alternative to commercial insecticides.

In 2005, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approved lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) essential oil as an insect repellant.

Citrus essential oils — like lemon, orange, and bergamot — are also good insect repellents, but they can cause sensitivity to the sun or, in the case of bergamot, even skin cancer.

Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) is an effective, safe alternative to citrus essential oils.

And Juniper (Juniperus communis) essential oil is almost as effective as DEET for repelling mosquitoes.

The combination of the following essential oils was as effective at a five percent concentration than DEET at a 20 percent concentration, so it's four times stronger than DEET for repelling mosquitoes:

Holy basil (Origanum sanctum essential oil)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita essential oil)
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus essential oil)
Mexican mint (Plectranthus amboinicus essential oil)

This is exciting news if you want to repel insects and avoid big brand bug sprays!

Before you run to the store to buy the essential oils, though, you need to be savvy about mixing and applying them safely, both for adults and children.

One drop of essential oil is roughly equivalent to 30 cups of tea! Essential oils are so concentrated that they border on a synthetic substance.

Often people think, "Oh, a little is good. A whole lot must be a whole lot better!" That's not true with essential oils.

RELATED: 20 Best Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffusers That Make Your Home Smell Like Heaven

Here is an easy-to-follow essential oil bug spray recipe for adults (16 years old and up):

30 drops of Holy basil (Origanum sanctum) essential oil
30 drops of Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil
30 drops of Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil
30 drops of Mexican mint (Plectranthus amboinicus) essential oil

Use a 4-ounce glass bottle with a sprayer top.

If you will be using up the bug spray quickly, a plastic bottle works as well. Be careful — if essential oils are left in contact with plastic for an extended period of time, they will eat through the plastic.

Fill the bottle half with water (2 ounces) and half with a high-proof alcohol (2 ounces), ideally Everclear or the highest proof vodka you can purchase.

Add the essential oils and count the drops carefully.

To apply: shake the bottle to mix thoroughly, and spray with your eyes closed. Cover exposed skin and clothing.

Reapply as needed, every 2 hours. Use a maximum of 5 times a day. Be cautious using with children and the elderly, as their bodies are more sensitive to essential oils.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Keep in mind that if you're in a swamp, nothing may be effective against mosquitoes! So, use common sense.

Use for a maximum of 2 weeks before taking a 2-week break.

You could alternate the above blend every two weeks with the combination of 60 drops of Juniper (Juniperus communis) leaf essential oil and 60 drops of Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora) essential oil.

Follow the same instructions, adding the essential oils to a combination of 2 ounces of water and 2 ounces of high-proof alcohol.

Using homemade bug spray with essential oils offer high potency insect repellents that can rival the effectiveness of DEET.

But, use them respectfully with the understanding that "natural" bug sprays can be as toxic as chemical ones if misused.

Your essential oil bug spray, when used correctly, can help you and your family enjoy the great outdoors, naturally.

RELATED: 4 Calming Essential Oils For Taming Your Anxiety Naturally

Dr. Judith Boice is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, and fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. Increase your energy without caffeine! Join Dr. Boice for the free 7 Day Healthy Habits Challenge.

This article was originally published at drjudithboice.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.