Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Do it Yourself Mosquito Spray - Get Stuffed Health Canada

 Humans have lived with insects ever since the beginning and like most animals we found ways keep them away. Covering ourselves, our homes, creating barriers out of mixed herbs, spices and oils are proven deterrents for all kinds of pests like bed bugs, moths, even the dreaded mosquito. When you make your own products it provides empowerment, it is easy on your budget, and in cases where you can no longer find natural versions available for purchase you don’t need to worry about it.

A little while ago, way back in 2014 Health Canada was making moves to ban citronella based on some animal testing stating that, "citronella contains a substance called methyleugenol. When methyleugenol on its own was administered internally to mice – via a stomach tube – tumours arose at multiple sites" these kind of studies are problematic for various reasons especially when considering that citronella being used on the skin is hardly comparable to internal administration, also as Bruce Ames the developer of the Ames Test to discover if a substance is cariogenic has presented that: "Using this test, you can take a compound and assess its potential to cause gene mutations and based on the outcome, you can determine how likely it is to cause cancer, or not. According to Dr. Ames, you have to be careful about drawing conclusions from this and he used fruits and vegetables to make this point. He noted that, if you take any fruit or vegetable and break it down into its constituent compounds and test them individually, invariably about half of them will cause cancer (i.e. test positive), yet fruits and vegetables themselves don’t cause cancer. They are, in fact, protective against cancer. Thus, the effect of the whole cannot be assessed from the parts and you definitely can’t draw direct conclusions from one constituent. (http://commonground.ca/2012/10/health-canada-bans-citronella/). Additionally frustrating, when we look at products such as DEET who are provably toxic for our bodies and environment are allowed to stay for purchase.

Heath Canada has since bowed into to pressure from the public and the scientific community and will leave these products to be available… for now dun dun dun. http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/citronella-bug-sprays-get-2nd-chance-from-health-canada-1.2881452 

Since this has happened I am driven to share knowledge so people will be able to become self-sufficient and effectively tell Health Canada to piss off. So here we go:

I will include two different types of repellent that can be used, an oil version and an alcohol based spray, like a perfume or linen water. The oil version starts by infusing an oil base of your choosing. For all of my cosmetics I use a combination of grapeseed oil and olive oil this has worked out really well because the grapeseed is light, doesn’t have a strong smell while the olive oil is loaded with omega acids. Don't forget to buy organic where possible as it makes a huge difference in your health, the health our environment and is a great political statement - vote with your dollars! 

I decided to go with a few different herbs including, lavender, peppermint, lemon balm, cloves, rosemary and also included comfrey leaf for skin benefits.  There are a couple of ways to infuse your oil. The most preferable is the slow infusion where you put your herbs into a glass jar pour oil over them and let them sit for a 4-6 weeks in a warm dark space. When using fresh plants (make sure they are completely dry, hanging them in the sun for an hour works great) you can loosely fill the jar up to the top and if you are using dried herbs I generally fill it up to a little under half because dried herbs will get bigger.

If time is a factor doing a stove top method is equally effective and takes a fraction of the time. It is important to use non-metal when you are working with herbs, I have a collection of glass pots that are easy to find second-hand and are wonderful for any herb work. Put your herbs in a pot, pour oil over them, cover, and very slowly heat until the oil is warm, it is quite bad for your oil if you heat to bubbling so keep an eye one it. Again keep in mind that dried herbs will expand to close to double. Once warm turn off heat and allow to cool completely. Something I have been doing that gets even more from my herbs is to repeat this method a couple of times. In my own herbal preparations I heat and cool three times. Once your oil is infused, strain it and label it!
Stove top infusion method

Oils mixed in with the alcohol

The next part is really fun and my favourite when making cosmetics - scenting! I find making perfumes, blending smells to be really rewarding and food for the soul. This particular combination of essential oils includes: citronella, eucalyptus lemon, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, clove and cedar wood. Feel free to play with the balance and leave out any of the oils that you find to be unpleasing, the most important ones to include are the citronella and eucalyptus. Have fun and make it you. Once blended transfer the oil into a bottle for application. I find spray bottles to work really well for this. Super easy to make, and super easy to use.

The other version is even more simple and safe for clothing. Take the same essential oils of citronella, eucalyptus lemon, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, clove, cedar wood and drop them into a jar. Once you have found the correct blend and it smells potent add a ¼ cup of all grain alcohol.
Blending Essential Oils
If the smell of the alcohol is overwhelming just add more essential oils. I generally use everclear for this but if you can’t find any vodka is a good substitute. This is a perfume now and can be put into a bottle for application or you can turn it into a linen water to stretch it out for a bit longer. Linen waters are created by adding a water component to the perfume blend, so you can top it off with just plain ol' water or use a hydrosol – lavender or lemon balm would both be good choices for a mosquito repellent. Voilà, it is finished!
Alcohol Based

Oil Spray
These are two easy methods to create any kind of repellent you are looking for, change the herbs and essential oils and the possibilities grow – for example, use pennyroyal and you’ve got flea repellent, I've even made blends to deter bed bugs . Remember that defending ourselves from insects is not a new thing that came around at the same time big pharma did, we've always had ways of dealing with bugs.  For most ailments there is usually a natural solution, and certainly no need to rely on government agency to tell us what we can use or can’t use or on big businesses to provide for us. Empower and do it yourself. 

Places to buy really excellent organic whole sale essential oils here:
Eden Botanicals - http://www.edenbotanicals.com/
Essential Aura - http://www.essentialaura.com/