Make your own herbal insect repellent spray
This past weekend, I attended an herbal insect repellent spray workshop at Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. This workshop was near my house and it was completely free! When I arrived to the farm I was completely amazed by the beauty of it. The Wyckoff Farmhouse is Brooklyn’s oldest house, it was constructed in the 1600’s. Surrounding the house is a garden and farm where volunteers care for the land. I had to pinch myself because I could not believe we were still in my neighborhood in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. I saw butterflies circling around a patch of flowers, beautiful plots of vegetables, and some friendly resident cats playing in the garden.
Farmer Zach walked us through the process of creating our concoction. There are many herbs that serve medicinal purposes and are natural insect repellents. The herbs that we encountered were : Stinging Nettle, Lemon Balm, Plantain Leaf, and Bee Balm. We went to each plant and harvested some leaves.
The leaves of the herbs have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. They also can be used to treat ailments internally when ingested but for this DIY we will focus on applying them topically.
4 oz amber spray bottle
6 oz glass jar with lid
20 drops of essential oil ( citronella, lavender, eucalyptus are best)
1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin (optional-helps to hold the solution better)
handful of herb of your choice ( lemon balm, bee balm, plantain leaves, Stinging Nettle)
1 bottle of witch hazel
Labels and a marker
Select your plant that you would like to harvest from (this may be a starter plant or an herb that you have grown from seed). Cut off the stem of the plant a quarter inch above the pair of leaves ( I like to cut off at least 2-3 inches).
Take some herbs and fill the glass jar half-way.
Fill the jar to the top with witch hazel, seal with the lid and gently shake it. If some witch hazel evaporated then open the jar and fill it up to the brim and seal jar closed.
Label the jars with the ingredients and the date. Allow the sealed jar to sit in a cool dry place for 2 weeks. Be sure to shake the jar every day during that time and top off with new witch hazel.
After the 2 weeks, grab the mixing bowls and a strainer and pour the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl through the strainer. Add the vegetable glycerin and 20 drops of essential oil ( It does not matter which oils you use just as long as the total amount equals 20 ex. 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops of citronella, etc.).
Mix the solution and then use the funnel to pour it into your amber spray bottle. Make sure to shake before use.
Always do a skin patch test if you have sensitive skin. Spray the solution inside the crook of your elbow and apply a band-aid over it. Do not get the band aid wet and watch for 24 hours for signs of redness, burning, itching. If you are sensitive to the ingredients your skin will show a reaction within 24 hours. If you do feel irritation or reaction remove the band aid immediately and wash area with soap and water.
This was such a fun way to spend a saturday afternoon and I have the perfect all natural arsenal for my balcony gardening this summer. I look forward to more free workshops and events offered at the Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum. Check out their website to learn more at : https://wyckoffmuseum.org/
Cheers to keeping insect bites away the all natural way!