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Natural repellent

Of all the seasons, summer is closest to my heart, when the day is long and it is still warm outside in the evening. I have in mind, above all, vacation time, when we sit with friends in the evenings in a relaxed mood. It is then that we are most haunted by mosquitoes, which are an eternal nuisance, even at night, when they shorten our sleep with their buzzing.


For several years now, I have been making a natural repellent for this purpose, which effectively protects our family from annoying mosquitoes. We also use it to protect against ticks when we go to the forest or to the hills. It is also an indispensable companion for a picnic in nature. I make it in the form of a body spray, but can also be used as a room spray. I especially use it when we are at the seaside, where there are more mosquitoes,as it effectively protects bedrooms.


I am a lover and connoisseur of essential oils. Among them, there are quite a few that act as repellents and can be proven to compete with synthetic preparations. The latter have a right stink to me, and I am also aware that they contain chemicals that are harmful to the body and the environment.


Conventional repellents often contain the harmful chemical DEET (diethyltoluamide) and icaridine, which irritate the skin, mucous membranes and eyes. I do not recommend the use of such repellents, I would only think about them in the case of going to tropical and subtropical countries, where more resistant species of mosquitoes that transmit dangerous diseases such as malaria, yellow fever and other viral diseases.

Otherwise, these harmful chemicals can be avoided and we can be protected with a completely natural and effective repellent.

Essential oils (EO)


EOs are vaporous, highly concentrated substances obtained from various parts of plants. One of the functions of EO in a plant is to repel insects and to protect the plant from parasites. We also take advantage of this feature of EO.


Repellent properties are attributed to many EOs. Particularly effective are EOs that are rich in aldehydes (they contain active ingredients such as citral, citronellal, cinnamaldehyde). These include EO lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), lemon eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora), citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus), also EO cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) and some other EOs.All these oils can be irritating to the skin, so they should be used in mixtures in low concentrations (maximum 1% in the whole mixture). We must be especially careful with the bark of cinnamon or. Preferably, avoid it completely because of its irritability and frequent allergic reactions to the cinnamaldehyde molecule that is predominant in this EO.


However, EO cinnamon bark is an excellent repellent and could be used at most in an evaporator or diffuser (in combination with other EOs), which can also be used to repel insects in the room. Aldehydes are not the only EO compounds that act as repellents. This is how oxides, alcohols, methoxyphenols and hydrocarbons work.


Due to skin irritation, EOs that do not contain aromatic aldehydes and high phenol content, but monoterpene aldehydes and alcohols are preferably used. EO of lavender, lavendum, geranium, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, palmarose…, which are combined with stronger aldehyde oils in mixtures with repellent action, are more mild and skin-friendly.

Repellents are generally highly toxic to insects, this is the basis of the evolutionary struggle between plants and insects. Most EO repellents are neurotoxic to insects

They act on GABA receptors and octopamine receptors and inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. By acting on neurotransmitters, the insect dies quickly. Interestingly, these compounds do not act on the same receptors and enzymes in higher animals as mammals, so they are harmless to us in the context of the nervous system. The evolutionary wisdom of the plant is in principle “two in one”: the plant has not only chosen an invisible toxic substance that will start working only when the insect eats it and thus damages the plant, but actively warns these substances with their fragrant properties.


When making products for the body, we need to know that EOs must not be apllied directly to the skin, but must always be diluted before application. Natural oil or distilled water / hydrosol in combination with alcohol can be used as a base. I always make a water-based spray myself, as it is easier to apply. Since EOs are not soluble in water or hydrosols, I use the Dermofeel G 10 LW solubilizer to combine the two phases. This ensures that the EOs are evenly distributed in the spray.


Recipe for the preparation of 50 g of natural repellent:


-15 drops of EO cedar,

-10 drops of EO citronella,

-15 drops of EO lavender,

-10 drops of EO geranium,

-10 drops of EO peppermint,

-6 g Dermofeel G 10 LW

-10 g of 96% alcohol,

-2 g glycerin and

-up to 50 g of lavender hydrosol or distilled water (30 g).


I  used alcohol as a preservative. I added glycerin as a moisturiser, and lavender hydrosol is a base that also soothes the skin.


The EO concentration is 4%, for small children I would choose a 1% concentration, using EO lavender, geraniums and palmarose for them.


Manufacturing process:

Weigh the EOs and the solubilizer into a beaker and mix well with a glass rod. Add alcohol, glycerol and lavender hydrosol and mix well again. Pour the contents of the beaker into a disinfected spray bottle. We also disinfect all work aids with 70% alcohol. The bottle is labelled and the contents are used up within three months.



The spray is applied to exposed parts of the body, and clothing can also be sprayed. The repellent is used several times a day, about every three hours. The repellent should not be applied to the face or to damaged or inflamed skin. Caution should also be exercised in pregnant women.



I wish you a pleasant and successful creation. If you have any questions for me, write to me at info@mayarula.si. I wish you a wonderful summer with as few bites as possible 🙂

  1. Sources and literature:
    1. Marković, Stribor: plantagea.hr
    2. https://aromaticstudies.com/
    3. https://vizita.si/zdravozivljenje/so-sredstva-za-odganjanje-komarjev-skodljiva.html

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