To make your own natural repellent you will need essential oils and a base, such as water, witch hazel, vegetable oil or alcohol. Excellent natural oils for deterring insects and possibly ticks (there is not published evidence on the effectiveness of essential oils for preventing tick bites, only mosquito bites) include:
- Rose Geranium
1. Start with a four-ounce spray bottle. Be sure to use one that is clean and that was not previously filled with chemical cleaning products. A darker bottle will help to protect the essential oils. Sunlight will degrade the potency of the oils.
2. Decide on your carrier. Options include three ounces of distilled water with one tablespoon of cider vinegar (to help dissolve the oils), three ounces of witch hazel, 1.5 ounces each of water and vegetable oil or of water and alcohol.
3. Add a total of 25 drops of essential oils. Try blending different oils for a more potent effect against different insects. Rose geranium essential oil is reputed to be the best choice for ticks, but there is no scientific evidence to support this. Great combinations include:
- 10 drops rose geranium oil
- 10 drops citronella oil
- 5 drops cedar oil
- 10 drops of lemongrass
- 10 drops of rose geranium
- 5 drops eucalyptus
Close your spray bottle and shake well. Spray over the clothing and skin, avoiding the face altogether. These essential oils are non-toxic, but be sure to test this homemade repellent on a small patch of your skin before repeatedly spraying it on you. Take the bottle with you on your outdoor adventures and reapply every twenty to thirty minutes. A chemical product would need to be applied every hour or so, but with a natural product more frequent applications are necessary for protection.
Essential oils do not have a long shelf-life. For best results mix right before use. If in a situation where you need to pre-mix, such as if you are going on a camping trip, do your best to keep your tick repellent from heat, light and moisture.