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"Food based" Mosquito Repellent

I've found an effective mosquito repellent is to cook up cinnamon and clove in a regular food oil (even using nicely ones that have gone 'out of date'). The problem is that it is a liquid that isn't always so easy to apply - it would be a lot better if I could make it 'thicker' as a kind of 'vaseline-type' salve.

Any ideas?

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  1. is this your own concoction, or you've seen this done before? sounds a bit.... odd. but hey, I'll try anything once. especially if it keeps those f#@kers at bay.

    top of my head, xanthan gum, guar gum? mix it with aloe vera? mix it with some beeswax?

    10 Replies
    1. re: reedux

      Needed something for kids - as Off - whatever version - etc. - is nasty stuff - and a stink I don't like - (and expensive).

      Googling came up with cinnamon, clove and oil -- some article tried to pooh-pooh with sticking 'clove.nails'. in fresh limes. That's nonsense - the cinnamon and clove must be boiled in oil to get an extraction.

      It does work - even by a friend in Cuba where they are a super-problem. And kids don't mind as smell is good. But the effect is only for a few hours which is usually quite enough.

      But applying the oil is messy and would be good to have a salve/cream type.

      I have Guar - and maybe the Aloe Vera would work - but not sure how the Guar would dissolve with oil - and maybe the oil would liquefy the Aloe too much - dunno - would have to open the 'lab' - was just trying to see if anyone might have a 'ready' idea.

      1. re: jounipesonen

        This may be crazy, but you could use that oil to make mayonnaise and spread that on. Or at least start from there and tinker.

        1. re: ennuisans

          assuming ur serious (?) - I still think a mayo consistency not 'vaseline-y' enough - also the mayo emulision probably assumes the egg and maybe even a water-based liquid such as vinegar or lemon juice. The result might be to become 'walking potato salad' which insects wd really love :-)

          1. re: jounipesonen

            MUST the thickener be a food-grade item?
            Or can it be any sort of DIY?
            Why not boil down your spice mix and add it to petroleum jelly?

            1. re: Kris in Beijing

              yeah dsnt need to be eaten - but big use wd be for kids so shd be cmpltly non-toxic - as surely wil get into mouth at sm point sometime

              not so sure abt the edibility of petr jelly

              1. re: jounipesonen

                it's not something you really want to sit down and make a meal of, but given the popularity of its use in products to be used in and around the mouth (lip balm, anyone?) it's not toxic.

            2. re: jounipesonen

              I couldn't find any confirmation online but you might be able to use soy lecithin in place of the yolks for an emulsifier. This is getting way out of my own experience but someone else might have some insight along these lines.

              1. re: ennuisans

                i think the 'mayo' direction not the way to go - too 'loose' in any case - to say nothing of getting rthr complicated

          2. re: jounipesonen

            I make "spoon butter" for my wooden spoons and bowls, with melted beeswax and mineral oil. Stir together and cool.

            I see no reason this would not work with vegetable oil (I use mineral because I want to avoid its going rancid in storage).

            3 or 4 oz. oil to one oz.beeswax; melt wax in double boiler (coffee can in sauce pan); stir until smooth; pour in wide-mouth jar to cool.

            The texture is very much like a salve or cold cream -- if it is too hard or too loose, just melt again and tweak.

        2. I was just googling similar recipes yesterday!
          Mixing the essential oils of your chosen herbs and spices into vodka or witch hazel popped up repeatedly. You'd end up with a thin liquid you could just spray on.
          Haven't tried it yet, but it might be worth a look for you. Good luck, those pesky bugs are tough to get the better of.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NicoletteT

            not sure wd get the mother's permission for spraying vodka on kids (and vodka being 6X more expnsv in Finland than US)

            :-)

            also as the effectiveness is a few hrs etc - a thicker layer of 'stuff' prob needed - a sprayed on layer is going to be pretty 'fragile'

          2. why not go directly to naturally occuring pyrethrins in things like citronella?

            There are lots of commercial mosquito repellants that have these ingredients and claim to be effective whilst remaining DEET free. Mosquito-borne illnesses are serious enough that I'd rather pay money to someone who (hopefully) at least knows enough about the topic to sell a product that actually works, even if only a little.

            As a resident of a state where things like dengue fever, encephalitis, and now chikungunya exist because we're in the subtropics, we just go straight to the DEET and make sure we wash it off when we come back indoors.

            I don't want the nurses to be proclaiming that for someone that sick, I sure smell nice -- like cinnamon and cloves!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sunshine842

              except that have found cinnamon and clove to be more effective than citronella - and DEET not something to use for kids

              1. re: jounipesonen

                see below -- clove oil is toxic on the skin.

                I'm a parent, and I'd far rather deal with the minimal risk of DEET exposure for a few hours versus the life-changing effects of contracting dengue fever, encephalitis, malaria, or chikungunya.

                DEET has been around long enough that the health effects are pretty well-known, and washing it off when you go inside ends the exposure.

            2. I think you could use a1:1 mix of coconut oil and beeswax, melt in a double boiler, add your oil mixture, and pour into a container. A lip balm or deodorant container would make it easy to apply. If you have Shea butter, it makes a smoother application.

              I've also heard that mosquitos don't bother people who eat lemongrass. I don't think you have to eat a lot.

              3 Replies
              1. re: hippiechickinsing

                if that were true, there'd be no mosquito-borne illness in areas where lemongrass is a regular part of the diet.

                since that's not the case, I'd be wary of putting much stock in that belief.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  but wdnt be a problem to chuck in some lemon grass to the boil - the coconut oil/beeswax idea definitely worth a try

                  1. re: jounipesonen

                    it won't hurt anything, but it won't help -- if it did, malaria, encephalitis, and dengue fever wouldn't exist in Southeast Asia.

              2. I have heard that taking garlic pills during the bug season can really help make you unattractive to bugs - and supposedly the odorless type works just as well as the regular type (if you're worried about humans smelling you). I'd use repellent as well, but it can't hurt to try the garlic.

                ETA: I just did a quick search for a natural product I used a few years back, when I spent a summer in the (extremely buggy) mountains of North Carolina. I can't find the same product, but I know I bought it at a hippie food-co-op type place, and it definitely had cinnamon, clove and a few other strongly scented oils in it (it smelled like a cross between an Indian restaurant and a patchouli factory), and it was quite effective. You might check that type of store to see what they have on offer.

                Also, coconut oil is solid at cool room temperature - you might try cooking your spices in coconut oil and then storing it in the fridge or another cool place. If you find the coconut oil gets too hard in the fridge you can mix it with vegetable oil to keep it malleable.

                7 Replies
                1. re: biondanonima

                  the garlic capsules didn't do anything to help me. Tried it.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    I've never tried it, but after I got eaten alive on my most recent trip up north, I am considering it for next time. Of course, I think the problem this time was that I didn't have DH with me - he is SO attractive to bugs, they seem to leave me alone when he's around. More reason to take our next trip together!

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    The old natural bug repellant thing was to take a combination of garlic and brewers' yeast supplements daily for a period of weeks to build up enough "smell" to repel insects.

                    I don't know how well it works for humans, but after we began giving the dog version to our doggie, the midnight tick-pulling sessions ended.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      One of my main reasons to use what I'm trying is for it to be compatible with kids - using the stuff described here would turn the kids into de facto orphans.

                      1. re: jounipesonen

                        there are numerous types of garlic that are odorless -- while I've had a couple of brands that I threw out because I could smell it in my skin, most of them do what they say on the label.

                        Garlic capsules are also believed to be effective against a fairly long list of evil things.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          well, brewer's yeast pretty 'strong' - and not a kids' aroma IMO

                          odorless garlic and such are DAMN expensive - especially when one id to use to smear body parts

                          my whole aim was to find something inexpensive, convenient to smear, odor on the pleasant side - and good for kids - as well as being reasonably effective (I did find this aspect to be true)

                          1. re: jounipesonen

                            no, you don't smear brewer's yeast or odourless garlic on your skin.

                            You take them as a capsule -- then your skin smells without anything.

                            I can tell your for certain, though, that the mozzies will not necessarily leave you alone if you take garlic.