Essential oils are growing in popularity each day. With such a wide variety of choices, there are beneficial options that may help with illness, stress and even… bugs!
We made this guide to help you learn about essential oils and how you can use them to repel mosquitoes. We will even show you how to make your own oil blends.
Brief History: What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are not a new phenomenon because they have been around for centuries. In fact, evidence of medicinal essential oil use has been found all over the world. As our knowledge of medicine grew and new technology was discovered, essential oils started to fall by the wayside. Doctors dismissed their uses as anecdotal and their popularity fell to a smaller audience.
Now, the more we learn about the harmful effects of medicine or home products like bug spray or pest repellants, essential oils have slowly started to gain popularity. But what are essential oils?
You might see essential oils go by a few different names like ethereal oils, volatile oils, or even aetherolea but they are all the same thing. These oils are literally “essence” of the plant in which they were derived. They have the fragrance and characteristics of the plant in a concentrated oil. Almost any plant can be turned into an essential oil, so there is almost an endless variety you can choose.
How Essential Oils Are Made
There are a few different ways that essential oils can be made. This includes cold-pressing, enfleurage, solvents, resin tapping, and carbon dioxide extraction. The most common way to extract oils from a plant is through distillation. This process uses steam and water to extract the oils and then separates the oil from the water.
The way an essential oil is extracted can be a factor in the effectiveness or safety of the final product. For example, professionals tend to shy away from using chemical solvents as the main form of extraction because a trace amount of the solvent can be left behind. This could be harmful to the user so you should know the way your essential oil was made.
Benefits Of Essential Oils Over Other Methods
There a lot of benefits when you opt to use essential oil to get rid of mosquitoes. Traditional methods tend to rely on chemicals and other potentially harmful substance to keep mosquitoes at bay. DEET is a hotly debated ingredient in most commercial bug sprays on the market. It is highly effective at repelling mosquitoes but the effects on humans are not entirely known.
There are studies that show there are no adverse effects to DEET yet there are others that present evidence to the contrary. Research has shown that DEET could cause skin and eye irritation as well as interfere with enzyme activity in our nervous systems. This causes problems with the brain and its signals. While officials recommend using no more than 30% DEET, it’s easy to overexpose yourself because DEET is in more products than ever before.
Traditional bug sprays also use propellants that can be harmful to those with respiratory problems like asthma. For these reasons, natural alternatives like essential oils are appealing to people.
There are no added ingredients in essential oils, just the oil of the plant it’s extracted from. Essential oils are good for more than getting rid of mosquitoes. You can use it for medical treatments, as a house cleaner, or to calm anxiety and stress. A few essential oils are even antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial.
They are also cost effective because even though the jars of essential oils might be smaller than a can of traditional bug spray, you only need a very small amount to be effective. This means your little bottle of essential oil will last much longer than your can of bug spray.
Essential Oils To Repel Mosquitos
While essential oils can help with a whole host of ailments or problems, let’s focus on how they repel mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance because of their itchy bites, they can spread dangerous diseases like malaria, West Nile virus, and most recently the Zika virus. There are a few methods to repelling these pesky bugs but many use harsh chemicals and dangerous substances.
Essential oils offer a safer, more natural way to deal with mosquitoes and can be better for families with allergies, small children, or pets. But which ones are best for keeping mosquitoes away? There are a lot of options to choose from:
- Peppermint Oil – This is one of the most popular essential oils and that’s because it’s extremely versatile. The menthol undertones make a great bug repellant and keep mosquitoes at bay.
- Lemon Oil – Not only does lemon oil have helpful antibacterial properties, this common citrus oil is great at repelling mosquitoes.
- Lavender Oil- Humans love the relaxing scent of lavender, but it is a highly potent repellent to mosquitoes.
- Eucalyptus Oil – Not only is eucalyptus a powerful medicinal oil, when combined with lemon it’s an effective mosquito repellant.
- Thyme Oil – Mosquitoes aren’t the only bugs that don’t like thyme oil. It can keep away other bugs that feed on humans like fleas, bedbugs, and lice.
- Geranium Oil – This oil is gentle on skin, repels mosquitoes, and can help soothe their itchy bites.
- Clove Oil – Clove oil is actually a common ingredient in insect repellent and is even more powerful on its own.
- Sage Oil – Sage is often planted in gardens to discourage pests and works well as a mosquito repellant.
- Cinnamon Oil – This versatile oil tastes great, has antibacterial properties, aids in detoxification, and also helps deter mosquitoes.
- Rosemary Oil – Rosemary is often used for stress and anxiety relief but it is also another plant in gardens used to repel pests and bugs.
How to best use essential oils to repel mosquitos
There are a few ways you can use essential oils to help repel mosquitoes. Each one has their own pros and cons. It’s important to choose a method that is safe for you and fits the situation. You most likely won’t have an oil diffuser with you while you’re camping, so you would want to choose a different way to use oil. Here are the three main ways to use essential oils:
- Inhalation- This is one of the most common ways to use essential oils. You can do this in one of a few different ways.
- Direct inhalation- This obviously won’t help much with repelling mosquitoes since you are the only one who can smell the essential oil. This works best with oils meant to calm and soothe.
- Diffuser- You can purchase a special diffuser that will help expel the essential oil into the air. It doesn’t heat the oil, which could damage the quality of the oil, but will diffuse the scent into the environment. This is an excellent way to repel mosquitoes around your home and even on your deck or patio area as most diffusers are portable.
- Humidifier- If you don’t have a diffuser but do have a humidifier, you can use it to help disperse the essential oil into the air. Add a few drops of essential oil to a cloth or towel and place it on top of the steam vent to help spread the oil into the air. DON’T add the oil directly to the water because it will just float on top and not disperse.
- Hot water- This is another method that won’t help too much with getting rid of mosquitoes. You can add a few drops of oil to hot water into a bowl, place a towel over the bowl and your head, and inhale the fumes.
- Topical Application- You can also apply oils to your skin to help repel mosquitoes. This is the best option if you’re going to be out and away from your home, say camping or hiking. It’s important to apply essential oils to your skin safely, no matter how you do it. Most essential oils MUST be diluted before they are applied to your skin so they don’t cause irritation.
- Rubbed onto skin- Again, be extremely careful to not just rub essential oil directly onto your skin without diluting it first. You can use a carrier oil, like almond oil or jojoba, to help dilute the essential oil you wish to use. This is a good method for repelling mosquitoes if you’re outside for a long period of time. Just remember if you’re sweating, you will have to reapply periodically.
- Spray- You can make your own bug spray (more on that below) to spray on your skin or the air around you. Don’t just pour the essential oil into a spray bottle and spray because it can cause irritation. You need to properly dilute it and mix it with ingredients that will make it effective.
- Creams/Lotions- You can add essential oils to unscented facial creams and body lotions or make your own. These can help give you a repellant boost but should not be your only line of defense against bugs.
- Ingestion- While this method of using essential oils won’t help you get rid of mosquitoes, it is worth mentioning. When some essential oils are ingested, they can help soothe itchy bites or other effects of mosquito bites.
- Capsule- You can buy empty capsules and add a few drops of essential oils and then swallow. Do this with caution and under a professional’s care because this is potent.
- Water- Simply add a few drops to a full glass of water and drink.
- Cooking- You can always add a few drops of essential oil to your cooking. This works especially well with oils like sage, rosemary, cinnamon, or lemon. Remember, oils will be more potent than dried herbs or spices so don’t use the same amount as listed in a recipe.
- Honey- Add a few drops to a teaspoon of honey and take orally. This is a good way to mask the possibly off-putting taste of any oil.
Both inhalation and topical application techniques are going to be your best bet to get rid of mosquitoes. If you will be traveling, make your own bug spray to take with you and while you’re at home have a blend of repellant oils to put in your diffuser or humidifier.
DIY essential oil blends for repelling mosquitos
Now that you know what types of essential oils can help you repel mosquitoes, it’s time to make your own blends. You can use any one of the oils listed above alone to repel mosquitoes but they work best in combinations. Here are a few recipes for repellant sprays as well as rubs to be applied directly on your skin.
A few supplies that you will need for these recipes:
- Clean jar and/or spray bottle
- Essential oils
- Carrier oils
- Witch hazel
Rub On Mosquito Repellant #1
- 2 tbsp sweet almond oil or jojoba oil
- 12 drops lemon oil
- 5 drops peppermint oil
- 3 drops eucalyptus
- Place the tablespoons of sweet almond or jojoba oil into a small clean jar.
- Add the essential oils.
- Cover jar and gently shake to combine everything.
- Rub a small amount on your skin before you go outside.
Rub On Mosquito Repellant #2
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 10 drops lavender
- 10 drops cedarwood
- Place the two tablespoons of coconut oil into a small clean jar.
- Add the lavender and cedarwood
- Cover jar and gently shake. Rub a small amount on your skin before going outside.
Spray Mosquito Repellant #1
- 1 tsp sweet almond oil
- 5 tbsp distilled water
- 1 tsp witch hazel or vodka
- 10 drops rosemary
- 8 drops cedarwood
- 6 drops cinnamon
- Add the almond oil and distilled water to a small spray bottle.
- Add the witch hazel or vodka and essential oils.
- Close bottle and gently shake.
- Spray on skin, clothes, or other gear you will be using outside.
Spray Mosquito Repellant #2
- 1 tsp jojoba oil
- 5 tbsp distilled water
- 1 tsp witch hazel or vodka
- 5 drops sage
- 5 drops thyme
- 5 drops rosemary
- 5 drops clove
- 5 drops cinnamon
- Add jojoba oil and distilled water to a small spray bottle.
- Add the witch hazel or vodka and essential oils.
- Close bottle and gently shake.
- Spray on skin, clothes, or other gear you will use outside.
Essential Oils To Soothe Bug Bites
No matter what type of insect repellent you use, essential oils or traditional methods, you might still get a bug bite. Mosquito bites are annoying and pesky, but the good news is that you can use essential oils to soothe their bites as well as keep them away.
- Lavender Oil – This is one of the most highly effective oils for soothing bug bites. You can use them in one of two ways.
- Rub 1 drop of lavender oil onto your bug bite. If you have highly sensitive skin, you can mix the lavender oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil to minimize any irritation.
- Mix 1 tsp baking soda, 1 drop of lavender oil, and enough water to make a stiff paste. Spread the paste on your bite, reapplying until soothed.
- Tea Tree Oil – Another popular oil for bug bites is tea tree oil. It has antibacterial, antimicrobial, as well as antiseptic properties and it can soothe inflammation which is good for bites.
- Rub 1 drop of tea tree oil right onto the bug bite or mix it with jojoba oil if you have sensitive skin.
- Peppermint Oil – The cooling properties of peppermint are a great way to block the itching and soothe the inflammation of a bug bite.
- Mix 1 drop of peppermint oil with 1 teaspoon coconut oil and rub onto your bite.
- Chamomile Oil – Perhaps one of the most soothing oils, chamomile can help with inflammation and there are numerous ways you can find it like tea, dried herbs, or oil.
- Mix 1 drop chamomile oil with sweet almond oil and apply to your bug bite.
- Mix 2 drops of chamomile oil with 1 tsp witch hazel and ½ cup distilled water. Freeze this mixture into ice cubes and then apply to bites.
There are plenty of other oils that are good for soothing bug bites and plenty of ways to use them. Find one that works best for you and stick with that. If the bite doesn’t get better within a few days or starts to change, make sure you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Safely Using Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great and natural alternative to traditional repellent methods. They are safer, but there are still a few things you need to do so you don’t use them improperly.
The most important thing about essential oils is properly diluting them. Essential oils are highly concentrated and even a small amount can cause irritation if they aren’t diluted. Carrier oils are the best way to dilute your oils and will enhance the effectiveness of the essential oil.
You also want to make sure you aren’t using too much essential oil because it is possible to overdose yourself. It only takes a small amount to be highly effective. If you’re unsure of how much to use, follow the directions on the bottle or talk with your doctor.
Always consult with a physician or healthcare provider if you are considering ingesting essential oils, especially in capsules or in water. While it’s not entirely out of place, it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Inhalation and topical applications are highly effective methods when it comes to essential oils so don’t dismiss them.
Pregnant women and small children should always check with their doctor before they use essential oils. Generally, essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin of children two and younger. Most oils are safe for pregnant women, but not all so use caution during your pregnancy.
As long as you follow simple instructions when it comes to essential oils, you should have no problem using this natural, and highly effective, form of mosquito repellent to keep those pesky bugs out of your house and away from your skin!