Hey Everyone! It's finally spring . . . even here in Maine! And what accompanies the welcomed longer days and warmer temps? Bugs! Not just annoying mosquitoes and black flies (the Maine "state bird"), but also nasty, disease-carrying ticks. What to do? How do you enjoy the great outdoors while being protected and comfortable? Well, if you're like me (with both delicate skin and a sensitive nose, plus concern for the environment), you'll want to avoid using chemical-laden, "DEET-based" insect repellents whenever possible. Why? Let me share some of the history and facts about DEET . . .
Developed in the 1940s by the U.S. Army for protection of military personnel in insect-infested areas and registered in the U.S. for use by the general public in the mid-1950s, N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) is one of the most widely used ingredients in store-bought, conventional bug sprays for personal use. It is a colorless, oily liquid with a mild odor and is designed to repel, rather than kill, insects, including mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas, ticks, and other small insects.
DEET is used by an estimated one-third of the U.S. population each year. Its use has increased dramatically since the 1970s as an aid to protect against Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other tick-borne illnesses, as well as West Nile and Zika viruses. Although it clearly works as intended, it is not safe - even the EPA, as well as the product package label, says that you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in, and not spray it directly on your face. A known eye irritant, it can cause rashes, soreness, or blistering (which is what it does to my skin - within 10 minutes of application).
A mosquito repellent containing 25% DEET - such as "Deep Woods OFF" - cannot be applied on or near plastic, leather, synthetic fabrics, watch crystals, or painted or varnished surfaces, including automobiles. Why? It breaks them down and/or etches their surface! If this chemical, which in addition to being toxic to insects is also toxic to birds and aquatic life, can damage plastic, leather, and glass, then what is it doing to you? Keep this in mind . . . your skin is your largest organ and it can absorb up to 60% of what you put on it.
So . . . if you want to avoid DEET AND enjoy the outdoors, while keeping bugs at bay, then you need to find a chemical-free repellent. Guess what? I wrote an entire book loaded with recipes that are easy to make, kind to your skin and nose, and completely non-toxic when used as directed. It's called "Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects" (Storey Publishing, c2016). It's only $10.95 folks - a bargain for a wealth of information! Available from www.amazon.com and www.mountainroseherbs.com and other retailers of quality books.
Today, I'm going to share with you one of my favorite recipes for repelling ticks - which are out in FORCE this spring in Maine!! This powerful recipe is to be applied to clothing, not your skin. Even though it is natural and of plant origin, and consists primarily of lavender essential oil (one of the most gentle and safe essential oils) it is too strong for topical application. If you've never tried your hand at making natural repellents, please give this simple recipe a whirl. You've got nothing to lose - except annoying bugs - and everything to gain!
Essential Tick-Repellent Clothing Drops
This formulation combines 100% undiluted essential oils for a potent aroma that most humans find appealing, but ticks and flying insects absolutely abhor. When applied by the drop - to clothing, shoes, or accessories only - not your skin - it creates an aromatic aura that repels these nasty pests for hours.
CAUTION: This is an aromatherapeutically concentrated formula, so use only by the drop as directed. Do not use with children under 3 years of age except on the lower portion of their pants.
- 2 drops EACH of the following essential oils: geranium, catnip, and peppermint
- 1 scant tablespoon lavender essential oil
- 1/2-ounce dark glass bottle with screw cap
- glass dropper with rubber top to dispense blend
1. Add the geranium, catnip, peppermint, and lavender essential oils to the storage container. Screw the cap (not dropper top) on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend. Allow the oil to synergize (or chemically combine for maximum effectiveness) for 1 hour.
2. Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 2 years. DO NOT store the bottle with a dropper top, as the strong vapors will degrade the rubber tip. Store ONLY with a screw cap. Dispense with a dropper.
Application: Shake well before using. Apply a few drops to your hat, bandanna or neck scarf, lower leg and hem of pants, hem of untucked shirt, cuffs or ends of shirt sleeves, inside shirt collar, and on socks. Reapply up to 3 times per day.
NOTE: The recipe in this blog was excerpted from the book, "Naturally Bug-Free", by Stephanie Tourles. The information is true and complete to the best of her knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Ms. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.