My Favorite Mosquito Repellent: Peppermint
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) has always been one of my favorites, I just never really noticed how useful it was as a mosquito repellent until I was in high school. When I was growing up my family would go to our ranch in the mountains in the summer after us kids were out of school. I never really noticed it as a child but even though there was a lot of water around we never had problems with mosquitoes. There was however a lot of wild mint. In high school, one of the organizations that I was involved with was the FFA and every year they had what was call the Ag Tour. We would spend about a week traveling across the state visiting different agricultural businesses and then we had to write a report on what we learned and which tour was our favorite and why. One of those tours was of Rainbow Gardens in Kalispell, Montana. It was a fascinating place to visit and one of the things that they told us on that tour was that when the peppermint and spearmint were growing they didn't have hardly any mosquitoes around. They also gave us each a bottle of peppermint essential oil and a bottle of spearmint essential oil. This was when I remembered the same thing from my childhood, but it was a very busy week and the knowledge got pushed to the back of my mind.
And Then It Came Back To Me
A few years later we had a really mild winter and a wet spring. The mosquitoes were horrible that year. I hate mosquitoes but they love me. I could be surrounded by fifty people and it would be me that the mosquitoes would attack. The moment I stepped outside it seemed like I immediately had dozens of the little bloodsuckers either buzzing around me waiting for their turn or they were biting me and not a single mosquito repellent seemed to work. I felt like I was being eaten alive. And it was then that it came back to me, mosquitoes don’t like peppermint and spearmint. So I took a chance and made my own mosquito repellent.
How much do you think mosquitoes like your blood?
My Mosquito Repellent Was Born
I still had the bottles of peppermint and spearmint essential oils so I took a small bottle and filled it almost full with olive oil, which is was I used to cook with, and added a few drops of each essential oil to it and shook it up to mix it. I coated every piece of bare skin in the oil. Oh boy did I reek of peppermint, it was a little (okay a lot) strong. But when I went outside and went for a walk I had almost not mosquito bites when I got home. I was thrilled. I had been gone for almost an hour and was nearly bite free. To this day peppermint, and spearmint but I prefer the peppermint, is my number one favorite repellent. I no longer make it so strong it’s enough to drive people away as well as mosquitoes, but it is still just as effective. I like it even better since it also doesn’t have the chemicals that most repellents do so I can use it on my daughter as well. This is a big plus for me since my daughter would end up with welts the size of quarters whenever she got bit by a mosquito. I don’t think there is much of anything worse than seeing your baby covered in welts from bug bites.
If you don’t want to use oil you can also add the essential oil to your lotion as well. If you would like a spray or can do that as well, just fill a small spray bottle almost full with water and add a few drops of peppermint and/or spearmint essential oil, then put a little bit of alcohol, I use vodka or everclear, and shake before spraying it. The alcohol is used to help the oil and water mix together and the alcohol does evaporate quickly. Using vinegar or witch hazel in place of the water and alcohol also work. Eventually they will separate again so that is why you need to shake it well before each use. I have used each and I have found that I prefer to use it in the oil, it seems to last the longest for me. Good luck, have fun, and be mosquito free!
Questions & Answers
How much peppermint oil do I use with 8 oz of water?
I would only use about three drops of oil. You will also need to add something like vinegar, witch hazel, or an alcohol to help disburse it in the water because oil and water don't mix without help. Even then you will need to shake it before each use. I would recommend this mixture as a spray, but not something you just pat or rub on because the essential oil would not be diluted in a base oil and could irritate the skin.
After I put 3 drops of peppermint in an 8oz spray bottle and shake it up, do I then spray it on arms, legs etc to work as a mosquito repellent? Also, can I put it on my six-month-old great-granddaughter?