Being lovers of the outdoors, we have always had to apply some sort of bug repellent spray or rub to avoid being chowed by mosquitoes or bothered by flies. We always reached for the chemical option since we knew no better. But when our daughter was a baby that came to an end. We decided that if it was not safe to spray the stuff on your children then it was probably not ideal for us to use it on ourselves either.
DEET in commercial bug repellents
Recently, with the onset of summer, a number of people started asking us if we could make a natural mozzi spray. Doing some research I found that all the popular insect repellents that are available in our shops contain a variety of harmful chemicals including DEET. This pesticide was originally used by the American army during jungle war-fare and was later introduced in products for civilian use.
DEET is noted to be a very effective insect repellent. The higher the concentration of DEET in a product, the longer-lasting are its repellent effects. One of our local brands boasts effectiveness for up to 8 hours after application.
What worries me is that products containing this ingredient should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be kept out of the reach of children because it is toxic if ingested. In fact, you should ensure that you do not apply it to an area where the skin is broken and avoid getting any of it in your eyes or mouth. It is even recommended that you wash it off when you are no longer outdoors. Here is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) fact sheet which describes precautions when using products containing DEET. That doesn’t sound like a substance I would want on my skin!
We set about testing different recipes and combining various essential oils that are noted for their bug repelling properties. The result is a spray which repels everything from mosquitoes and flies to ticks. We have had lots of positive feedback from happy clients that were mozzi-free on their camping trips over the December holidays.
So what’s in it?
We use Vodka as our basic ingredient in the Mein Herr Bug Spray. Vodka is, in itself, an excellent bug repellent. It is also a natural preservative which means that the product has a longer shelf-life.
Since Vodka could be irritating to more sensitive skin we have now also developed a Bug Spray: Sensitive which has witch hazel as its base.
The essential oils that we have chosen are Ti-Tree, Lavender and Rose Geranium. Not only do these oils protect you from pests in the household and out in the bush, they also sooth the skin in the case of an insect bite. We particularly selected essential oils that are not stimulating so that you can apply the bug spray at bedtime and enjoy a peaceful night’s sleep.
As with all our products, the Mein Herr Bug Spray is made from natural ingredients with no artificial fragrance or preservatives. Its effectiveness is not as long-lasting as the chemically-based alternative, so you may need to reapply more frequently. But the health of your skin and body make it worth while in the long run.