For the first few years that I made all natural skincare products for our local farmer’s market there was one recurring request from customers. Everyone wanted a natural bug repellent. At this point I don’t remember why I decided to make it in cream form, but when I finally set about creating one, that’s what I went with, and I’m glad I did!
Also, because we already shared a natural insect repellent spray, this cream recipe offers a nice alternative.
It took me a lot longer than it should have because I don’t suffer like those around me in bug season. They don’t tend to mess with me too much and while my husband is dancing around beating them off with a stick, I am barely aware of a faint buzzing sound.
Regardless of whether you tend to be bitten or not, you have to be aware that there are a number of diseases being carried by the mosquito. Most notably this list includes dengue and west nile virus. There are a number of very effective antiviral herbs that can be used to recover from illnesses such as these, but it is much better to avoid them altogether.
When I got my cream developed I sent it with a customer on the worst trip I could imagine. She was going to Alaska during black fly season. At that point in the season, campers are advised to basically wear a walking tent to prevent the biting. She used my cream exclusively, avoiding the chemicals the other campers were using. A few of her friends stopped using their store-bought sprays in favor of her cream when they saw it was working better. When she returned and pronounced it a winner I knew my other customers would love it! This cream works in part due to the essential oil combination, but it also packs a punch with the coconut oil. Coconut oil is a bit of an insect repellent all on its own.
Why cream? Well, I really like the added support from the coconut oil, but I’m also a bit of a multi-tasker. If I’ve got to put a moisturizer on in the morning I don’t want to have to carry around another product to spray on. I like that I can just apply the cream a couple times a day and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. So here goes. If you’ve been a regular customer of ours at Mockingbird Meadows, you’ll be happy to know that this is the actual recipe I’ve made all these years. Enjoy!
Bug Repellent Cream
(Makes about 12 oz)
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp stearic acid powder or beeswax pellets (find stearic acid here or beeswax pastilles here)
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp coconut oil (find organic unrefined coconut oil here)
- ¾ tsp baking soda (find natural baking soda here)
- ¾ cup distilled water
- ¼ tsp Vitamin E oil (find non-GMO Vitamin E oil here)
- 10 drops each of two of the following: citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender (if you’d like to repel ticks), pennyroyal (find 100% pure organic essential oils here)
- Melt the beeswax and/or stearic acid, Vitamin E, and coconut oil over low heat. I like a double boiler or a large metal bowl on the lowest setting (around 100°F) in the oven.
- Heat the distilled water to almost boiling, remove from heat, and stir in the baking soda.
- This next part is the tricky part. Just like you are making homemade mayonnaise, pour water slowly into oil while mixing with a hand blender. It can be helpful to have a partner for this step. You will see the oil turn white immediately if you have successfully achieved emulsification.
- Immediately place pan in an ice water bath in the sink.
- Add essential oils. I prefer a combination of citronella and eucalyptus for general insect repellent. Mix occasionally until evenly and completely cooled.
- Place into the jar of your choice and label jar well.