designing ways to a better world

Feeling Make-y: BuggOff Blend No1

Feeling Make-y: BuggOff Blend No1

The ingredients I used in my first experimental batch of natural homemade bug repellent: almond oil, neem oil, cinnamon leaf oil, clove bud oil, tea tree oil, and lemongrass oil.

Mosquitoes are thick and aggressive here, and we avoid toxins as much as possible. What to do? Rather than cloak ourselves head to toe on a hot summer afternoon, let’s have some natural bug repellent. Okay, but… so far the ones we’ve bought have been essential oil based, halfway effective, and quite expensive.

I got excited when a friend told me a few weeks ago how she made her own from oils of cinnamon, clove, and neem. I love to make my own stuff, especially when it’s super simple. Maybe I could mix something that worked better than the store bought natural stuff. Plus, she smelled great! My goal became to make a blend that smelled so good I would put it on with pleasure – without the whole routine where I go outside and hang out, get annoyed by several bites, then reluctantly go back to the house for my bitter lemony spray.

After a little research, I figured the multi-function supplies fit well into a maker lifestyle. The same ingredients can be blended and applied in different ways for skin moisturizing and cleansing, aromatherapy, ant-icide, safe flea guard, lice removal and repellent, and much more: neem and almond oil in particular have many applications and benefits.

I bought quality oils from Oliver’s Market; 1 oz. organic 100% neem oil, 10 ml 100% pure essential oil of clove bud, 10 ml 100% pure essential oil of cinnamon leaf, and 16 oz 100% pure almond oil for skin – total bill $39. It sounds like a lot, but some of these oils will be consumed over the course of 20+ batches. I also used a few essential oils already on hand: 100% pure pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil, 100% pure essential oil of lemongrass, and sandalwood* in jojoba.

NOTE: Sandalwood* is for fragrance only. Substitute with any essential oil of your choice that will compliment the active oils. Woodsy, nutty, and subtle spice scents would work well. Adjust as needed for your taste and the potency of your selection. Avoid anything too sweet or powerful, which may attract some insects.

Always check labels for ingredients and warnings; neem can be applied directly to skin, but cinnamon and clove oils must be diluted in a carrier oil. I like almond oil because it feels light and not too greasy, and has nearly no fragrance. You can use almost any carrier you like for your skin, including aloe gel, coconut oil, or natural lotion.

I chose a small clean glass container with an air tight lid; my man quit smoking cigarettes in favor of tapering down with his e-cig, so now I have a supply of fancy little glass 15ml dropper bottles, which are perfect.

BuggOffNo1 Recipe Notes Blog
The notes I kept as I refined and sniff tested my mixture.

I guessed at a recipe, then carefully counted drops into my bottle. I noted the amounts of each oil, mixing and sniffing, testing after every major addition on each pulse point in turn (not dignified sniffing the inside of my knee, let me tell you). When it smelled lovely and the concentrated oils filled up one third of the bottle, I filled the remainder with almond oil, secured the lid, and shook it all up.

I have a bottle of palest yellow oil now, slightly clouded with neem (which solidifies when cool), that smells absolutely delicious. It’s diluted enough that I can dribble a blob of it in my hand and skim it all over my exposed skin and not feel greasy or sticky at all – but strong enough that I can smell it well everywhere I can reach with my nose an hour after application. In a few hours I’ll be out there, dining al fresco, putting it to the real world test. I’ll let you know how it goes.

BuggOff Blend No1 Recipe

Approximately 1:2 ratio of oils to carrier, blended in 15ml bottle;
adjust amounts proportionally to your container.

Essential oil ratios;
neem : fragrance : cinnamon : clove : tea tree : lemongrass = 20:15:10:5:2:1

Active Oils

36-40 drops neem
18-22 drops cinnamon leaf oil
8-12 drops clove bud oil
2-6 drops tea tree oil
2-4 drops lemongrass oil

Inactive Oils

30-34 drops preferred fragrance
fill remainder with chosen carrier

What do you think, easy enough to try out for yourself? Have a recipe you like better?


*Sandalwood; I love it so, but feel guilty about buying it. I allow myself a 10 ml bottle every few years as perfume and aromatherapy, applied sparingly with conscious gratitude and reverent appreciation.


Paprika Clark

I’m a lifelong student of language, art, and human nature: an ENFP Aries Fire Dragon Sex Positive Intersectional Feminist Independent. Join me as I feel my way through this. If you have any questions, send them my way - as far as I'm concerned, every day is an Ask Me Anything.

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