Chemical-Free Bug Spray

We are going camping this weekend!! Needless to say, I made it my top priority to DIY various camping must-haves. There are many many DIY bug spray recipes out there, that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but I still enjoy collecting different recipes, and then combining the wisdom in all of them to make up my own.
BugSpray2 Citronella is well-known for its bug-repelling property. There are many bug-repelling products out in the market, such as candles that uses citronella as one of the active ingredients. There are a few other essential oils (EOs) that are also commonly used in bug sprays. I have picked Purification, Peppermint, and Lavender to go with Citronella in this recipe.


Chemical-Free Bug Spray

  • 3 oz spray bottle
  • 40 mL Distilled Water
  • 40 mL Witch Hazel
  • 10 mL of Glycerin (optional. It’s a humectant, which makes the spray less drying for skin)
  • 6 drops of Citronella
  • 4 drops of Purification
  • 4 drops of Peppermint
  • 4 drops of Lavender
  • 2 drops Polysorbate 20 (optional, see note below)

Simply combine all ingredients in the spray bottle (in any order). Cap and shake well before use.

This is where the note on Polysorbate 20 comes in.


Polysorbate 20

It is a surfactant. Surfactants are a class of molecules that lowers the surface tension between immiscible liquids (Wikipedia reference). They are often used to solubilize EOs in water-based products. (Water and oil don’t mix, remember?) I made the spray without Polysorbate 20 at first. The EOs obviously did not dissolve in the water/witch hazel mixture, and the drops of EOs were big even with vigorous shaking. So, I added 2 drops of Polysorbate 20 to the bottle. The EOs were much better dispersed within the mixture after just light shaking. They were not completely solubilized, but I am satisfied with the outcome. (^_^)

No worries if you do not have all the EOs listed above; there are other alternatives that you can use! E.g. Lemon, Geranium, Palo Santo, Lemongrass, etc…


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