Chasing Bugs Away: Natural Bug Repellent Essential Oils

MosquitoMosquitoes or flies, which do you hate the most? For me, it is flies, those evasive creatures tickling the skin with their tiny legs and antennae! It is a real hassle to keep them away, so we use chemical repellents to keep them away.

I am not a fan of those chemical insect repellents though. Their smell or mist makes me nauseous and gives me headaches, literally. Which is why I recently searched for natural bug repellents. That is when I came across – to my surprise – a list of natural bug repellent essential oils.

This was in fact the motivation to start this blog, as I immediately knew essential oils have many hidden benefits apart from producing nice aromas. In this case, one could hit two birds with one stone; a pleasant aroma to repel bugs. No headaches, no nausea! Viola!

Side Effects of Bug Repellent Chemichals

Take a look at the cover of a bug repellent chemical product. Yyou are very likely to come across DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) as the key active agent used in it.

DEET is a very effective bug repellent. But, it comes with some bad side-effects. Some of them include:

  • Rashes
  • Headaches
  • Dzziness
  • Concentrating issues
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations

Well, I still have not got any hallucination (or have I?), and I have always had problems concentrating….

Now where was I?

Ah yes… I know though I am seriously allergic to these chemical products. I strongly oppose them even when I visit my friend’s or relation’s.

Plants to the Rescue!

As I always believe, nature has answers for many issues we face – big or small. In the case of chasing away bugs also, it stands true.

From my experience, Citronella Oil is been used prominently by elders Sri Lanka to shoo away mosis from the vicinity of their kids. The essense or smoke generated from Sacred Basil/Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) leaves is a very commonly used mosquito repellent in our part of the word. The dried leaves can be applied on a bed of charcoal to make an effective mosquito repellent.

Now we know plants have some uses to keep away bugs. So, then how essential oils come into play?

Essential Oils as Bug Repellents

Essential oils are essentially essence of trees (nice pun ha?). They are very powerful agents that can help keep those nasty bugs at bay.

Chasing Bugs Away: Natural Bug Repellent Essential Oils

Let me list down some popular essential oils for bug repelling:

  • For mosquitoes: Citronella, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil.
  • For fleas: Cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemongrass, lavender.
  • For ticks: Rose geranium, juniper, rosewood, oregano.

It is possible to use one oil or a mixture to make a very effective and a harmless bug repellent. This is a very basic example:

Take:

  • 30 drops citronella oil
  • 25 drops peppermint oil
  • 15 drops tea tree oil
  • 1.5 ounces witch hazel or vodka
  • 1 teaspoon of jojoba oil (This is optional. But if you use this only 1 ounce of vodka or witch hazel is required)

Then:

  • Fill a 4 oz spray bottle with 2 oz distilled or boiled water.
  • Add witch hazel or vodka.
  • Add the essential oils.
  • Shake well.

Use:

  • This mixture can be applied to skin or clothing, avoiding eyes.
  • Can be applied again every 2 hours, or as required.
  • The bottle need to be stored away from heat or sunlight.

There are hundreds of recipes out there, including diffusing essential oils to air as bug repellening mist. So, all you have to do is jumping into Google search.

***Note of caution: Many essential oils cannot be directly applied to the skin as they can case, severe reactions including skin burns. So, carefully read the instructions before applying ANY essential oil. Even after diluting, apply the mixture to a small skin area to see if it is completely safe before a wide-range application.

Essential Oils to Treat Insect Bites

No matter how hard we try, there is always that stubborn mosquito who battles her way to suck on our blood. So, how essential oils can  help us treat such insect bites?

Tea tree oil is a natural acne treatment that can be used to treat dark spots on face. I have used it personally to a good effect (those teenage times though!) It is an equally useful against insect bites. Just apply a little tea tree oil on to the bite time-to-time. Lavender oil has the same property plus a very pleasant scent too. Both these oils can be directly applied to the skin.

 

This is just an overview of the use of essential oils as bug repellents.

I would love to hear your thoughts. So, please do share you knowledge, including cool recipes!

 

Till next time,

RR

A Natural Remedy: The Healing Power of Essential Oil

In my home country, Sri Lanka, trees are the prime source of medicine in indigenous medical practices. Indigenous (or Ayurveda) doctors utilize parts of plants to cure a multitude of illnesses. Almost every plant has some medical use. I personally prefer these nartural medicines which have very few or NO side-effects compared with chemically composed drugs.

So, I guess it is safe to assume that oils made out of trees have the same effects. In this article I will be talking about the amazing healing power of essential oil.

The healing power of essential oil

Range of Healing Benefits

Almost every essential oil out there has one or more healing qualities. These may include fighting cold and flu, soothing sore, reducing pain, improving digestion, balancing hormone levels, improving skin health, and more.

The practice of using essential oils to treat medical conditions is called aromatherapy. This is a quite popular practice in traditional healing methods. Nowadays even modern hospitals are beginning to use essential oils for the benefit of their patients. For examples, using certain essential oils to help reduce fear and anxiety during childbirth by midwives.

Methods of Healing

Essential oils can be applied in different ways in different conditions.

  • Perhaps the most common method of healing using essential oils be diffusing the aroma to the air. This can be done by fragrance warmers or electrical fragrance diffusers. Some people use tiny diffusers even in their vehicles as an alternative to vehilce air fresheners.
  • Many spas use ointments with essential oil as skin applications to treat medical conditions and improve health. A soothing massage with essential oils could provide you with numerous benefits.
  • A few drops in your bath can make your bathing experience pleasant and refreshing. A few drops (of eucalyptus oil for example) in your disinfectant liquid can give you a pleasant scent.
  • Some essential oils are taken orally too, especially to boost immune system and improve digestion (for example grapefruit oil). But, this should ONLY be done with proper medical supervision. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so direct application – either external or oral – may be harmful. Know before you use!

Use of essential oils in a spa

Healing Qualities of Different Essential Oils

Here are some popular uses of essential oils for healing purposes. Their application methods vary from one to another though.

  • Eucalyptus: Combat respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies. Has an invigorating aroma which purifies the body.
  • Peppermint: Improves digestion. Can boost energy and is used to treat fever, headache and muscle pain.
  • Lavender: A great oil to help relax. Can improve mood. A great addition to a first-aid kit as it can heal burns and cuts.
  • Lemon: A great alternative to harsh antibacterial liquids.
  • Ginger: Fights against inflammation. Can improve digestion and relieves nausea.
  • Tea tree oil: A natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agent. It can reduce bad odors and can stimulate the immune system.
  • Clove: Provides antibacterial, anti-parasitic and antioxidant protection.
  • Cypress: Improves blood circulation, reduces varicose veins, lifts confidence and helps to heal broken bones.
  • Sandalwood: Natural aphrodisiac to improve libido.
  • Rose: Incredible for reducing skin inflammation and great for maintaining a glowing skin. This is one of the most priced essential oils in the market (around $1000+ for 15ml).
  • Rosemary: Thickens hair, making it a great addition to homemade shampoos. Improves brain function and memory.
  • Grapefruit: Improves metabolism.

We will have to discuss essential oils one-by-one to have an in-depth understanding of the benefits of each. We wil lhave to do this later though. For the time being let me stop here.

Again, reminding you know before you use essential oils. They are powerful substances with high concentrations. Poor application will result in bad effects. But, if used properly, they offer a wealth of benefits!

A Step Closer to Nature: Aromatic Quality of Essential Oils

A Step Closer to NatureHave you ever gone for a bush walk? If so, close your eyes and try to feel the smell of the forest. Calming isn’t it? The aromatic quality of essential oils offers you the same experience. That is, if you use them purposefully and properly.

 

Let’s have a little chat on the aroma of essential oils.

Many Kinds of Aroma

Different essential oils give you unique experiences. Let’s have a look what some popular essential oils offer us.

Peppermint

Peppermint leavesI love this leaf as a herbal tea. It packs a punch. Whenever I feel lethargic, I zip a nicely brewed peppermint tea. The oil of peppermint leaf is no different. It has a cooling, refreshing effect and is widely used to enhance mental alertness.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus trees

Eucalyptus oil is distilled from leaves and twigs of some variants of Eucalyptus tree. This tree is native to Australia. This oil has a powerful and an easily recognizable aroma.

Lavender

A lavendar fieldLavender is a very commonly used air-freshener in the market. It is also quite popular as an essential oil. The name Lavender originates from the Latin word ‘lavera’ meaning ‘to wash’. It certainly can wash away odors and mental stress.

Tea Tree

A tea estateTea is my favorite drink next to water, any form of it – black, green, mint, ginger, and the list goes on. The oil of tea tree leaves produces a sharp but a pleasant aroma and is useful for many other applications also (I remember using tea tree oil to treat my acne problem during teenage years.)

Bergamot

A bergamot tree with fruitThis oil is distilled from the peel of the bitter orange fruit or Citrus bergamia. Bergamot extract is known for flavoring tea and Turkish delight. Its oil has the same fresh floral, herbal and citrusy aromas. Who don’t love those invigorating citrus scents?

Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticksI am sure you have come across cinnamon in your food, or may be not. It is a heavily used spice in Asian cuisine. I have seen cinnamon oil being used in hotels and spas in Sri Lanka (and in fact in my home too) to create a soothing atmosphere.

There are hundreds of essential oils out there that gives very unique experiences.

Diffusing the Aroma

Now we know a little about the aromatic quality of essential oils. But, how can we effectively diffuse this aroma into our home atmosphere?

There are mainly two (2) types of essential oil diffusers; 1. Fragrance warmers and 2. Electric diffusers.

Fragrance Warmers

These are cheaper than their electrical counterparts. They are often made from clay. and their working principle is quite simple. You put a little water onto the top basin of the clay warmer. Then, add a few drops of essential oil on to the water. Place a candle in the heating chamber.

Essential oils have a very low boiling point than water. So, water acts to control the rate of evaporation of the essential oil. Simple, yet effective!

A fragrance warmer

Electrical Diffusers

Electrical fragrance diffuserThese diffusers use electrical energy to generate heat that casue essential oil to be evaporated into the air. Some diffusers expel a mist time-to-time as well.

These are little expensive than the fragrance warmers, ranging from about 15 USD to 100 USD.

Where to Buy?

Essential oils and warmers are available from many places. For example, I bought the fragrance warmer and the small cinnamon essential oil bottle (came as a package) in the above picture from a supermarket for about 3 USD. Shops that sell herbal products have various essential oils too. There some shops that specializes in essential oils that houses a wide variety of oils and related accessories. The other place to look for is the Internet where many online sellers offer a variety of oils and accessories.

But, how to select the high quality products at a reasonable price? Let us try to have a chat on that in another encounter.

Essential Oil Extraction Process

Essential Oil ExtractionHello again! We humans are curious bunch of creatures, aren’t we? We always ask the questions of “how” and “why”. Essential oils are no exception I think. I thought it is time we have a quick look at how essential oils are made. In this post, I will be talking about the essential oil extraction process.

There are three main ways people do this. Namely; Distillation, Expression and Solvent extraction.

Distillation

This is a most commonly used method to produce essential oil. It is not that difficult to understand.

  1. First, the plant parts (for example, tea or cinnamon leaves) are put into a container called still. They are been steamed with water. The heat from steam will cause aroma to be extracted and mixed into the steam.
  2. Then, the heated steam runs through a condenser, where steam gets cooled into a liquid. A condenser is essentially a coiled tube submerged in a cold water tank.
  3. The cooled off steam is then collected in a container called separator where and oil will be separated. Some essential oils are lighter in weight than water like Cinnamon, that will be collected in the top of the separator. Oils that are heavier than water like Clove will be collected in the bottom.
  4. Finally, the oils will be separated.
Essential oil distillation process
Essential oil distillation process. (not a great artist, am I?)

Expression

Some oils are better extracted in this manner due to the cost and yield. This is especially the case with citrus oils like tangerine, lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, and lime.

Early days

Back in time, people ‘expressed’ essential oils in the form of sponge pressing. This was literally done by hand.

  1. They first soaked the zest or rind of the fruit in warm water to make it easier to express.
  2. The rind is then pressed by a sponge to break essential oil cavities. The sponge absorbs the oil.
  3. When the sponge is soaked with the extracted material, it will be squeezed and the oil will be then separated.

Modern times

Squeezing thousands of sponges will not be so much fun now, would it? So, people started utilizing physics – precisely centrifugal force.

  1. In this method, the rind of the fruit is placed in a rotating container with spikes that will puncture the peel.
  2. The essential oil is then collected in a little container.
  3. The separation process is as the same as above.

Oil expression is also called cold pressing.

Solvent Extraction

Some plant items are too delicate, for example flower petals. You cannot simply heat them or spin them to extract their essence. So what do you do? You put them in a solvent such as ethyl alcohol. The aromatic oil will then be absorbed into the solvent.

As you might have guessed, these essential oils are not pure and not recommended for therapeutic purposes.

Flower Petals

There you go, simple isn’t it? Wonder if we can make these at home? Of course, we can. Let me write on that in a separate article.
Let me know if you have any question.

 

 

Until next time,

RR

Using essential oils in the home: Their Multi-fold Benefits

Essential oils are extracts from different parts of trees.  What are the benefits of using essential oils in the home? Before answering that, let’s hear a little story.

Fragrance Warmer

I was doing my usual supermarket shopping in the afternoon of one of my salary days. I came across this thing. I have seen this before. Where? At a toilet in a hospital. What did it do? Produces fragrance. I thought I should give it a try, and so bought it. This is called “fragrance warmer” or a “warm essential oil diffuser”.

Its principle is simple. You fill the top container with a little water and add a few drops of essential oil – in this case, cinnamon. Then place a lit tea light candle in the chamber. The heat will cause the essential oil to be evaporated, while water controls the rate of evaporation.

I tried this at home, and fell in love instantly. It not only produces a very nice fragrance I noticed mosquitoes do not really like the smell too.

I was curious for what purposes could I use essential oils in the home. It turns out that the benefits are multifold.

Use of essential oils for the home

A Pleasant Aroma

Now tell me, do you really like the air fresheners you have at home? Don’t they have a ‘chemical-y’ smell? Just have a look at the packaging of one of them and do a Google search on the list of ingredients. You will see the bad effects they can have on us.

Essential oils provide a great alternative to chemical air fresheners for home. There are many options that suit different occasions, many places to buy and many ways to extract their fragrance (which we will discuss in due course). Here, I will briefly outline some key benefits of essential oils.

Essential oils for healing

Many essential oils have healing powers – some of which we could not have thought of! They can improve immunity and speed-up illness recovery, balance hormones, support overcoming depression and anxiety, ease respiratory issues, and the list goes on.

Use of essential oils for the home: A healing aroma

I will write a separate article on this later.

Essential oils for home cleaning

While some cleaning products we use have pleasant fragrances, they are often filled with harsh chemicals. Essential oils could be a great alternative and supplementary.

For example, lemon oil is a great cleaning agent. Eucalyptus oil acts as a great addition to home-cleaning products.

Effective bug repellent

Am I the only one getting headaches and breathing problems when using those nasty chemical mosquito and fly repellents? We can make effective bug repellents by using essential oils.

For example citronella oil or peppermint oil can act as natural remedy mosquito repellent. Lavender oil repells flies.

These are some great applications of essential oils in the home. I am quite passionate about re-connecting with the nature and interested in inspiring you to do the same. I feel ‘essential oils and the home’ would be an interesting topic for us to have a chat on.

I will share my knowledge with you to help you reap benefits from these magical drops of nature.

 

Until next time,

RR

About ‘Essential Oils for Home’

Welcome to Essential Oils for Home.

My Story

I am a researcher who likes to learn new things (well it is my job rather!). I enjoy listening to music and playing cricket. I am a movie buff, plays a video game or two once in a while. I love to work with people.

Why this Site?

We are becoming busy, day-by-day, getting away from nature, opting for more artificial things, some of which could harm us.

While we don’t feel like, everyday consumption of artificial things could result in dangerous effects. I believe it is time we re-connect with nature.

Person wearing a gas mask

My Goal

I would want to make you aware of the benefits and uses of natural oils – essences that we extract from nature.

I want to share my knowledge and whatever I learn, with you, so you can make your home a pleasant place to be.

 

Cheers!

Ravihansa Rajapakse

Yes, this is me…Ravihansa