As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of hiking. Not only does it allow you to enjoy nature, get fresh air, and raise that heart rate…but, it also allows you to elevate walking to a form of respected exercise. I’m kind of kidding about that last part, but not really. Anywho…
Because I love hiking so much, and I’ve actually gotten some hiking and camping related wellness questions recently, I thought I’d start a mini-series here about how I’ve been improving my hiking and camping experiences with some natural upgrades. For instance, abandoning the carb-rich dehydrated meals you can make on the trail, upgrading my sunscreen to a natural variety, and switching up my bug repellent to homemade natural insect repellents, using essential oils and ingredients that most people already have in their pantries!
First, a note on essential oils. I really like them, a lot. Mind you, I don’t have unrealistic expectations about what they can accomplish. I prefer to rely on science and reasearch-backed claims, instead of wishful thinking, in terms of what essential oils can do for you. I also am not a fan of ingesting oils, or of using them without a carrier, so you will not find anything about that here. I do, however, enjoy using essential oils for their amazing aromatic qualities, as well as those properties that are backed by research – and there’s still a ton of them!
Secondly, another note on essential oils – quality is crazy important. There are many oil companies out there that really don’t care about quality. Then there are others that have made up their own standards, and claim that only their oils are of a quality grade. The companies in the latter group also tend to inflate the efficacy of essential oils in serious medical conditions. I think both of these practices are equally deceptive gross, and these types of companies should be avoided at all costs.
When choosing oils, you want to look for an essential oil company that is transparent about their product, from sourcing to bottling. It’s even better if you can find an essential oil company run by people who really know and love essential oils! I’d actually been looking for a new source of essential oils that could provide high quality and transparency in sourcing and production, so you can imagine how excited I was to be contacted by Aroma Foundry. Aroma Foundry is a small company out of Santa Barbara, CA that sources super high quality essential oils, made from plants grown in their natural habitats, and distilled with care to produce totally natural products. They also number each batch, so they know exactly what plant materials went into each oil.
The timing of their email was perfect, because I had been planning to make my own natural bug repellent from essential oils and had actually been searching online for a few that would be needed. Aroma Foundry offered to send me four (!!) bottles of their high quality oils to try. After researching their company for a little bit, I excitedly agreed! It should be noted that while they did send me free product, all opinions are my own. So, let’s get cracking on those natural bug repellents! There are three recipes here – one for your clothes and stuff, one for your hair, and one for your skin! They’re all easily customizable and really simple to make.
Natural Bug Repellent Recipe #1: Vanilla Citronella Bug Spray
Vanilla in a bug spray? This didn’t really occur to me either before I started doing some research. We’ve all heard that citronella oil can repel bugs, but did you know that vanillin (a compound in vanilla) can actually increase the duration of citronella’s efficacy? So, not only is vanilla functional here, but it also smells delicious. This natural bug spray is meant to be applied to your clothing and stuff (like a backpack), and should not be applied directly to the skin, as citronella can irritate sensitive skin and mandarin oil can react with sunlight. Alternatively, you could use lemongrass or just omit this oil entirely, and use only the citronella and vanilla. I’m just obsessed with this mandarin oil, and only use this spray on my clothes and backpack. Plus, I tend to hike around dusk, exchanging lack of sunlight for a whole bunch of mosquitos.
I use a small bottle (1 ounce), so if you are using a bigger bottle, just increase the measurements of everything accordingly!
Citronella Vanilla Bug Spray Recipe:
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp witch hazel or vodka (so the spray evaporates)
- 5-10 drops citronella essential oil
- 5-10 drops mandarin essential oil or lemongrass essential oil (to be sun-safe for skin!)
- filtered water to fill the rest of the bottle
Natural Bug Repellent Recipe # 2: Basil Sage Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo? What?? I know, it seems like a strange way to make a bug repellent, but hear me out – when you’re on a camping trip, certain things are often forgotten. Like shampooing. In order to keep my hair from feeling gross and greasy, I like to bring along a DIY dry shampoo, as it’s light and easily applied without making a mess. I realized the other day that I was wasting this opportunity to make a bug repellent out of a dry shampoo, as some essential oils that are known to repel bugs, are also good for your hair! These oils are specifically basil and sage. A quick note, sage contains compounds which can be toxic at higher doses, so epileptics, small children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it. If you are avoiding sage, try replacing it with rosemary or even cinnamon essential oil. It’s a totally different scent profile, but is really pleasant.
Basil Sage Dry Shampoo
- 1/4 cup arrowroot starch
- 3 drops sage essential oil (or rosemary, or cinnamon)
- 3 drops basil essential oil
Mix everything together in a small container, and apply to the roots of your hair with either your fingers, or a makeup brush. This will repel bugs, and keep you looking super stylish on longer hiking and camping trips!
Natural Bug Repellent Recipe #3: Basil Rosemary Lotion
So, yes, you’re going to smell like a salad, but this will keep bugs off you you! I usually use coconut oil for this, as it’s far more easily stored in jars for travel, but if you have small glass bottles, you can definitely use almond, jojoba or pretty much any other oil. This is particularly delicious smelling with olive oil, hah. While the other two recipes are not intended to slather on your skin, this one definitely is. The oil will actually be nourishing, while both the rosemary and basil will keep bugs at bay! Eucalyptus also works in place of the rosemary, and wil definitely help clear those sinuses!
Basil Rosemary Lotion
This is another super recipe – melt the oil, remove from the heat and add in the essential oils. Boom. Done.
Hopefully you enjoyed these recipes! If you try them, let me know in the comments, or on social media. I always love hearing about your adventures!