22 May Resource Guide on How To Keep Mosquitoes Away Without Toxic Chemicals! (Africa Trip Edition!)
Remember that these simple DIY mosquito and bug repelling recipes can be used anywhere on this magnificent planet that these bloodsuckers may be! … However, this is a special post for my Gabon, Africa bound Bwiti brothers and sisters!
“Okay, now onto the DIY Natural Mosquito and Bug Repellant Resources! ”
The following list of EO’s are most effective as safe mosquito repellants when properly mixed. (*IMPORTANT NOTE: Any citrus essential oils will cause skin irritation in the sun so only mix these EO’s for night time repellant blends and wipe/wash away before sun exposure.)
- Citronella* (only for nighttime)
- Lemon* (only for nighttime)
- Tea Tree
- Cinnamon leaf
- 8oz or 10oz Spray bottle (brown glass is best, blue glass good although for travel purposes plastic will suffice!)
- Essential oils (Be sure to have Lemongrass, Citronella and Lavender)
- Distilled/Spring Water
- Witch Hazel (Thayers Lavender Witch Hazel has no alcohol or parabens. Available at most health food stores!) Amazon link here if you can’t find it in your area : )
- Vegetable Glycerin (for the EO’s to be able to mix with the water/witch hazel mixture)
Logical Tip: It is best that you purchase high quality essential oils. This means that they have not been mixed with carrier oils which lowers their potency. Look for ‘100% Pure Essential Oil’ on the label. The ingredients list should only contain the essential oil unless its a blend of EO’s. Our Bwiti sister, Elizabeth Bast, is a distributor of doTERRA Essential Oils and swears that during her stay in the village December 2014 that they helped keep the bugs away! (Leave a comment if you’re interested in ordering these delicious smelling blessings and I’ll send you her way!) You can also purchase 100% Pure ‘NOW Essential Oils’ at most health food stores.
How to Properly Create Your Natural Mosquito Repellant!
Keep in mind the spray bottle size you’ve purchased and create a 20:80 mix of water and witch hazel. Separately mix a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin and 30 drops of essential oil. Combine together in spray bottle and give a little shake to the bottle and your booty! You may now spray away!
Blend options: (Be free and play with your own creations. Eucalyptus can have a foul smell when mixed with oils other than Lavender but hey, you might love it!)
- 10 drops Lemongrass, 10 drops Peppermint & 10 drops Lavender.
- 15 drops Geranium & 15 drops Peppermint.
- 25 drops Eucalyptus & 5 drops Lavender.
- 15 drops Cedar. 10 drops Lemongrass & 5 drops Lavender.
- 15 drops Tea Tree, 10 drops Rosemary & 5 drops Geranium.
- 30 drops Tea Tree (best used on it’s own though you may substitute 5 drops of Lavender)
- 30 drops Cinnamon (highly effective against mosquitos!)
- Night Time Blend: 15 Drops Lemon & 15 drops Eucalyptus.
- Night Time Blend: 15 Drops Citronella, 5 drops Lavender, 10 drops Lemongrass.
*Blending Tip #1: Lavender will enhance the benefits of the other oil(s) it’s blended with!
Conscious and constant reapplication of your blend will help the little buggers stay away. *If you have a negative skin reaction, or if you really don’t like the smell, discontinue use and make a new batch.
*Blending Tip #2: Always mix your EO’s together and smell BEFORE adding the vegetable glycerin. You’ll save product this way and enjoy the scent experience! (the bugs won’t be able to smell you with all the layers of natural oil!)
LOVING TIP: You will want to have all of the required items with you in order to make new batches during your stay. It is best to mix small batches often as the efficacy will diminish as the aroma wears away through oxidation. Enjoy experimenting with new scent combinations and share what works for you in our comment section! **You can also leave what you do not use during your stay in the village for our Bwiti family to continue to enjoy their benefits!
SAY WHAT! ? In my research I’ve learned some people have found that rubbing dryer sheets on their clothes and skin before heading outside helps to keep the bugs away! Of course in the spirit of keeping as natural and toxin free as we can I’d recommend using a natural dryer sheet like Mrs.Myers Lavender, Lemon Verbena or Geranium as another great tool in your anti-bite arsenal!
“EXTRA, EXTRA!” Extra Thiamine May Make Mosquitoes Think You Stink!
A study back in the 1960s indicated that taking vitamin B1 (thiamine) may be effective in discouraging mosquitoes from biting. However, studies since then have been inconclusive. The theory is, taking more vitamin B1 than your body requires causes the excess to be excreted through your urine, skin, and sweat. Vitamin B1 produces a skin odor that female mosquitoes seem to find offensive.
This vitamin is water-soluble, and there is no danger of toxicity—even at high doses—so it is a safe measure to try. Dr. Janet Starr Hull recommends taking one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. (*Information courtesy www.Mercola.com)
Supplements: Venture into your local health food store and ask for assistance in the best supplements. You can also do your own research online before investing. Look for a daily vitamin B1 tablet as well as daily B100 complex. Begin taking these supplements 1-2 weeks before travel to Gabon and daily while there.
*Garlic supplements can also help to keep mosquitoes away… and maybe potential suitors!
Food Naturally Rich in Thiamine (Vitamin B1): Oatmeal, flax, sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole grain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, oranges, liver (beef, pork and chicken) and eggs. Pasta, legumes and watermelon are also good sources of thiamine.
Bananas are a food to avoid as something about how they are metabolized appears to attract mosquitoes! It seems that both Iboga and mosquitoes are no friends of the illustrious banana !
“DUMM DUMM DUMM” … DEET !
The wiki page for DEET mentions it causing seizures in some humans… not cool. Never fear! (The rites of passage will eradicate any remaining fears during our stay ;D ) That being said we have added benefit of ingesting fresh Iboga in the village which will detox us from any toxins we absorb from commercial insect repellents! I do suggest having some DEET (or an alternative such as one listed below) on hand in case the follow on location DIY natural remedies do not jive with your body, mind or soul! Standard 20% DEET repellent will usually last 4 to 5 hours, while a product with 80% DEET will last for 8 to 10 hours. (Authors note: On my first visit to Gabon someone brought 100% DEET! It made me feel sick as it’s nearly impossible not to breathe it in when applying it but boy did it keep the bugs away!!)
*THE GOOD NEWS* is that there are some products available without DEET that are highly rated by customers on Amazon! The following products are rated the best mosquito replants for South Africa!
- Natrapel 8 Hour insect repellent: this is a CDC recommended product based on 20% Picaridin formula and is DEET FREE. It is safe to spray on your skin and clothing. Click here for many Natrapel product options on Amazon.
- Picaridin (20% solution): this product is said to be as effective as DEET, but more pleasant to use. Could be used together with RID. Click here for Picaridin on Amazon.
- Mosi-guard (NATURAL OPTION): this is another Australian produced product that contains the active ingredient OLE (Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus) “Mosi-guard is often praised by travelers to Africa, and is often available in African and English stores. Click here to browse Mosi-guard product options on Amazon.
- Jungle Formula: contains 50% DEET and is often recommended by travel clinics. This is an ozone friendly product and comes in a spray form which makes ease of application to the skin easy. This is also an appropriate product for children 6 years and up. Click here for some different options of Jungle Formula on Amazon.
IMPORTANT: Times of the African Day to Cover Your Skin
Bugs do not like the direct sun (“woohoo!!”) so you can get your tan on and show some skin during the daylight hours! Of course it is wise to use a high SPF sunscreen during this time.
Informational Tip: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the theoretical amount of time you can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. For example, an SPF of 15 would allow you to stay in the sun 15 times longer than you could without protection. So, if your skin starts to redden in 20 minutes without sun block, applying a product with SPF 15 increases that time by a factor of 15, meaning you could stay in the sun for 300 minutes. In addition, a higher SPF blocks out more rays—a product with an SPF of 15 will filter out approximately 93 percent of UVB rays; SPF 30 filters out about 97 percent.)
Back to the (potential) bloodsuckers! These little vamps will come out when the clouds are in front of the sun, before sunrise and after sun down aka ceremony time! This is the time to cover up your arms, legs, back etc and spray your night time blend on any remaining exposed epidermis.
Comfort Tip: Do your best to bring clothes that are lightweight and 100% cotton. Synthetic materials aren’t as breathable as cotton and even though you’ll be coated in gorgeous smelling essential oils your body odour may prevail altering the bugs to your scent!!!
Sleeping Quarters and How to Keep the Bugs At Bay
This tricky tip was brought to me by our Bwiti sister Bette Corsan and confirmed via numerous online accounts.
- One Larger Spray bottle
- One Bottle of Yellow Listerine
How to Make: Fill the bottle three-quarters of the way up with the mouth wash. Fill the rest of the bottle up with water. Shake bottle and smile!
How to Use: Spray the solution around the perimeter of the area that you would like to get rid of the bugs in. In and around windowsills, doorways, corners of your bedroom and around your bed. This will keep the bugs from entering the space. Use a generous amount of the solution. You can always mix up more! Repeat this process every 2 to 3 hours or if you see the bugs come back into the area. Voila !
… AND if you DO get bit!
- Lavender oil: Put a drop onto the bit to relieve itchiness. Lavender is soothing and antimicrobial
- Calendula: An herb with soothing, moisturizing, and rejuvenating properties
- Chamomile: The most soothing herb of all, whether used in a tea or applied to the skin; rich in the bioflavonoids apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin
- Aloe Vera: Contains more than 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that are beneficial to your skin
- Tea Tree oil: Helpful for healing cuts, burns, infections, and a multitude of other skin afflictions; also a good antimicrobial and antifungal
- Peppermint: The cooling sensation can block other sensations, such as itching, and provide temporary relief; either crushed fresh leaves or the essential oil will do
- Tea bags: Swiping a cooled tea bag over your bites can help, as the tannins in the tea act as an astringent, to reduce swelling
- Witch hazel: Make a paste out of witch hazel and baking soda, and apply directly to your bite to reduce swelling
- Basil: Contains camphor and thymol, two compounds that can relieve itching; crush up some fresh herb and apply directly to the bite, or buy the essential oil
- Cinnamon: In addition to repelling mosquitoes, cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal properties
In addition to these topical treatments I’ve been advised that our Bwiti family will instruct us NOT to smack at the bugs OR itch ourselves during the rites of passage.
Mental strength by keeping your focus away from the sensations will be your best bet. Mind over Matter.
“Phew !! Good to know!”
Be sure (if possible) that the mosquito did not have white bands on it legs. (see images below)
Do your research to learn how to detect mosquitoes that may carry Malaria.
Most of all have fun in Gabon and refrain from being scared of getting bit or infected with Malaria. As long as you’re aware of when the bugs come out and have your anti-bite tool kit you’ll be fine!
This is a trip of a lifetime and I’m honoured to share it with you all. I’m so excited to be marrying the love of my life, Mark Howard, on the first trip (July 1 – 15) If you’re on the second trip have a great journey with our Bwiti family! Let’s all work together to make this experience the best that we can because we are family <3
I’d love, love, love to read you comments, connect with you and learn about other ways we can protect ourselves naturally from mosquito and bug bites!