"Bug Off" Bug Repellent Recipe

Ahhh, summertime! If you live anywhere near the river or the woods in Philadelphia, then you are very familiar with our active mosquito population. Admittedly this year is not as bad as most, but when the biters come buzzing, I reach for this blend.

Start by mixing your essential oils in a small bottle to create a concentrate that you can add to a base (carrier) of your choice.

Essential Oil Ingredients:

15 drops Atlas Cedar

15 drops Palma Rosa

15 drops Citronella

15 drops Rose Geranium

15 drops Lemongrass

10 drops Rosemary

5 drops Thyme

Mix all essential oils in a small bottle and shake well. This is your concentrate. You'll want to dilute this mix before applying to the skin. When diluting, use 10 drops per ounce of carrier for children, 20 drops per ounce of carrier for adults.

Carrier Choices (select one):

Olive Oil (or other skin friendly oil): this is a great choice but it can feel sticky in the humidity

Aloe Gel


Water: if you go this route, shake before applying every time. The essential oils will separate from the water and need to be shaken back in. High evaporation level. You can help disperse the oil by shaking it first in alcohol and then adding water.

Alcohol (Rubbing or Vodka): evaporates quickly taking the essential oils with it!

Basic Bath Salt Recipe


1 tbsp. dendrictic salt

1 1/4 cup medium to course salt

about 30 drops essential oil


Mix essential oil into dendrictic salt. This is not an absolutely necessary step, but it is good for getting an even distribution of your essential oils. Mix thoroughly (if you use a more resinous oil such as vetiver you will need to use a mortar and pestle). Combine with all other ingredients. Store in air-tight jar.

Lavender and Goats' Milk Bath Salts


1 tbsp. dendrictic salt

1 1/4 cup medium to course salt

about 30 drops lavender essential oil

2 tbsp. goat's milk powder

1 tbsp. powdered honey optional

1/4 cup lavender

Follow instructions for Basic Bath Salts.

Aphrodite's Dream Salts


1 cup of medium to course sea salts

3 tsp. dendritic salt

1-2 tsp. liquid glycerin

1/8 tsp. jojoba

10 drops rose essential oil

15 drops ylang ylang oil

(This is a very safe essential oil combo. If you like a base note, add sandalwood or patchouli. If you like something a little more daring, try jasmine and galangal or rose and cardamom.)


Mix the essential oils into the dendritic salt. Add the sea salt to the dendritic salts. Then mix in the jojoba and the glycerin. You may want to mix this with your hands to really disperse the oil and glycerin into the salt. The oil and glycerin give these bath salts a silky smooth feel. Store in an air tight jar.

Notes on Ingredients for Body Care Recipes

There are many ingredients to choose from for your body care recipes. These are some of our favorites and why we use them!

Essential Oils

Rose – cell regenerator & moisturizer for mature skin. Tones, soothes and cools the skin.

Lavender – calming, soothing and relaxing. Excellent for all skin types, lavender can be used for burns, stings, muscular aches, cuts, blemishes, bruises, insect bites, and cramps. I literally don't leave home without it—I keep one bottle of lavender in my purse and a second in the kitchen.

Chamomile – helps acne, burns, cuts, insect bites, rashes, and sensitive skin. I use it to take the red out.

Lime – good for oily and congested skin. Helps relieve stress and anxiety.

Rosemary – a favorite for hair care, rosemary helps with both dandruff and greasy hair. It is used for dermatitis and eczema.


Argan – is fabulous for both skin and hair care. It has very high vitamin E content and increases the skin's elasticity. It absorbs quickly with no greasy film.

Jojoba – is a skin care favorite because it closely matches the oils naturally excreted by the skin and has virtually no odor.

Olive – this classic oil nourishes the skin and is a favorite of mine for lip balms.

Rosehip Seed – is high in fatty acids and vitamin C. This is a favorite for aging or sun damaged skin.

Tamanu promotes healthy growth of new tissue, making it useful for scarring.

Sweet Almond – is rich, emollient, and lovely smelling!


Hydrosols are a by-product of the essential oil distillation process. While they contain compounds found in specific plants, the levels are gentle enough for use when an essential oil may be too irritating. They are water based as opposed to essential oils which are oil based. Best known among the hydrosols is rose, often called rose water.

Exfoliants and Cleansers

Organic Colloidal Oatmeal – helps to soothe irritated and itchy skin.

Brown sugar – is an exfoliant containing natural glycolic acid that dissolves dead skin cells and clarifies skin.

Honey – is antimicrobial and antibacterial and works well as a cleanser.

Salt – is detoxifying.

Basic Salve Recipe


1 cup infused oil or olive, coconut, apricot, almond, jojoba, castor, sesame, grapeseed oil or shea butter (combine any of these for a total of one cup)

1/4 cup beeswax

40 - 60 drops essential oils


Gently heat oil and beeswax. Do not boil! A double boiler (or two pots which stack) is the easiest way to make sure you don't burn your oil. Once you melt your oil in a pot, it will never come 100% clean again so choose a pot that you are ready to retire. The pot should be made of stainless steel, glass, or enamel. When you are ready to clean your pot, put dish soap in and rub around BEFORE adding water. This will get most of the wax and oil out.

When the wax melts, take off the flame. Add essential oils (essential oils will be chosen based on the desired use of the salve). Pour into containers and let cool thoroughly before putting on the lids.

Salve Suggestions:

For sore muscles start with an arnica or comfrey infused oil. You can mix this with a St. John's Wort Oil which will help with nerve pain. Choose essential oils that reduce inflammation, and warm or cool depending on your needs.

For rashes and itches start with a plantain, calendula. or chickweed infused oil. Add essential oils such as peppermint and tea tree.

For cuts and scrapes start with a calendula, comfrey, echinacea, self-heal, plantain, and/or goldenseal infused oil. Add essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, and myrrh.

For a chest rub for congestion start with a ginger, eucalyptus infused oil. Add essential oils such as eucalyptus, ginger, ravinstsara, ammi visnaga, rosemary, peppermint, or green myrtle.

For a dry diaper rash start with a calendula infused oil and add lavender and tea tree essential oils.

For hemorrhoids start with a black walnut infused oil and add yarrow essential oil.

Medicinal Strength Herbal Tea

Healing teas are made by infusion, decoction, or a combination of the two.

Infusion, steeping in boiled water. This is for leaves, flowers, and soft berries or roots (like goldenseal).

Decoction, boil both the tea and the water for 20 minutes. This is used for hard berries and roots.

If the preparation time is under 20 minutes, you have not achieved medicinal strength! To get the strongest medicinal extraction from a tea, infuse or decoct for a minimum of 20 minutes then allow the tea to come to room temperature, and, finally, put the tea in the refrigerator overnight. It can be reheated (simmered, not boiled) or drunk cold. The tea can also be mixed with juice, put in a smoothie, or made into a popsicle (great for kids!). You can make two days' worth of tea at a time and store it in the refrigerator.

Herbal Vinegar

If using fresh plant material, completely fill a quart (liter) jar with herbs. If you use dried plants, fill your jar three quarters of the way. Pour vinegar over the herbs until the jar is full. Cover with a lid and let sit for four to six weeks.

Which herbs/vinegars should I use?

If you are making a vinegar for culinary purposes choose your herbs and your vinegar for taste. If you are making it for medicinal purposes, I recommend using Apple Cider vinegar. Vinegar is used to draw minerals from herbs. The wild weeds (dandelion, plantain, clover, etc.) all have high mineral content. I like keeping a vinegar made from high calcium herbs on my kitchen counter where I will (hopefully!) remember to take it!

Ginger Syrup

Ginger syrup is great right off the spoon. If you want to make ginger ale add it to carbonated water. This is a “cheat” because you don't go through the fermentation process (which is fun if you want a bigger project!).


1 c. sugar

juice of one lemon, lime, or orange

4 ounces fresh ginger root (or any other herb you feel like syruping!)


Chop the ginger root. Simmer the ginger root in 1 ½ quarts of water for 30 minutes (the more ginger and the longer the simmer, the stronger the brew). Keep a lid on the pot! Strain out the ginger pieces and measure the amount of liquid remaining. Add water so that you again have 1 ½ quarts of liquid. Add sugar and juice to this. Simmer 60 miuntes (the longer the simmer the thicker the syrup). This will create ginger syrup.

Folk Method for Making Herbal Oil

  1. Start with a clean, dry jar. Fill a glass jar halfway with dried herbs.*
  2. Add olive oil, filling to the rim. Stir out the air bubbles with a chop-stick.
  3. Put on the lid.
  4. Place the jar in a sunny window for 3-10 days (the longer the stronger!).
  5. You want the oil to heat slightly. In the winter, I put my oils on top of the radiator.
  6. Strain herbs from oil using a strainer, cheese-cloth, or square of muslin. Discard herbs.

In the kitchen, you can use herbal oils for both their flavor and health benefits. Use the oil you have infused for cooking, dipping, or as a salad dressing. For the kitchen, you'll want to use herbs such as rosemary, thyme, turmeric, or oregano.

You can also infuse oils for using externally on the body. An infusion of comfrey or arnica is great for making muscle rubs, ginger and cayenne are warming (I love to rub a warming oil on my cold toes in the winter time) and lavender or plantain will cool a bump or bite. I often add an infused oil of rose or calendula to my face creams because of their long standing reputation as skin balms.

Finally, infused oils make wonderful ingredients in other recipes such as salves, lip balms, or massage oils.

*Why dried herbs? Remember the saying “water and oil don't mix?” Fresh plants have a lot of water in them. The water can cause mold to grow in your oil. If you want to use herbs from your garden, rinse them, then lay or hang them to dry for a few days before making your oil.

Folk Method for Making an Herbal Extract

What you will need:

  • Fresh or dried herbs
  • A glass jar with lid
  • Vodka
  • Chop stick
  • Masking tape and marker
  • Straining cloth (100% cotton), cheese cloth, or strainer
  • Funnel
  • Bowl
  • Colored glass bottle to store tincture in


  1. Put herb in glass jar. If you are using fresh herbs, fill the jar. If you are using dried herbs, fill the jar three quarters of the way.
  2. Pour the vodka over the herbs. Fill the jar to the rim.
  3. Stir out air bubbles (a chop stick is good for this!).
  4. Close lid tightly.
  5. Label with the name of the herb and the date.

After 28 days or more…

  1. Strain the vodka out of herbs using a strainer, cheese-cloth, or square of muslin. Discard ballast (that's the fancy name for the used up herbs).
  2. Pour your tincture through funnel into glass bottle.
  3. Label with the name of the tincture.

Fire Cider for Cold and Flu Season

This is an old recipe that will drive the chill right out of you! It appears in many herbals in many forms so I pretty much use what I have in the house and I don't worry about “missing” ingredients.

Put equal parts chili peppers, onion, garlic, ginger, and horseradish in a mason jar. Don't pack the jar! Fill with Apple Cider Vinegar and cap. Let sit one month. Strain. Add honey to taste.