Go Natural!

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By Paula Detwiller Special to The Pineapple Are you old enough to remember getting sprayed with mosquito repellent as a kid? You’d close your eyes and hold your breath while Mom or Dad bug-bombed your arms and legs, sending up clouds of noxious vapor. Back then we didn’t pay attention to the dangers of DEET and other chemicals contained in those commercial bug sprays. Thankfully, today we know better, and we have options: we can buy “natural” mosquito repellent (be sure to read the ingredient labels!)—or even make our own with a few simple ingredients. Recipes Vary There are many different recipes out there for homemade bug spray, but they all have the basic types of ingredients. They all include a carrier liquid of some kind—distilled water, lemon juice, witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, or vodka—and a mixture of insect-repelling essential oils. Essential oils that are most effective in repelling mosquitoes include clove, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, basil, geranium, thyme, lemongrass, cedar, and lavender. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started: Using a funnel, pour 1/3 cup witch hazel into a small spray bottle. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon each of lemongrass, eucalyptus, and citronella essential oils. Shake well. Be sure to test your solution on a small patch of skin before spraying all over your body. (Eucalyptus and citronella oils in particular may cause skin reactions in chemically sensitive people.) Hello scent, goodbye bugs The website greenyour.com has many more homemade bug repellent recipes, including one safe enough to use on the face, and another that creates a lotion (no spray bottle required). To protect your outdoor living spaces from mosquito invasions, check out Garden Therapy’s tutorial on how to make real citronella candles. Unfortunately, many of the store-bought ones use a synthetic citronella scent instead of the essential oil, so they don’t offer any real protection against pests.