about a year ago at camp, I started experimenting with a formula for mosquito repellent. After refining the formula, I finally found the perfect formulation!
It utilizes commercial and homemade substances that combine to produce a formula that repels mosquitos and even heals existing bites. after testing it, one appplication can last for up to 4 hours of protection! (Protection meaning ABSOLUTELY NO BITES) And now, I can share it with everyone else!
Step 1: Disclaimer
I take no responsibility for anyone getting hurt during the production or use of this formula.
Furthermore, I would like to outline some dangers of this formula:
1. one of the active ingredients in this formulation is N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide;
commonly known as DEET. DEET is a poison that can affect the nervous system, and other parts of the body. This formula uses DEET as one of the main ingredients. for this reason, I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR USE ON SMALL CHILDREN! If a child were to ingest it somehow, it could cause a toxic reaction. Needless to say, this formula is poisonous, and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. In DEET's defense however, these toxic reactions are typically rare. I don't doubt that DEET is poisonous, I just doubt how much they say it is. When you hear people saying things like, "DEET can remove paint and dissolve rayon! do you want that on your skin?!?!?!" I think, "yeah, so can acetone and several other solvents we come into contact with everyday." If you don't believe me, get some acetone nail polish remover and put some on a styrofoam cup. (HOURS OF FUN)
As for the carcinogenic part, I'm not sure I fully believe that either. Until you can scientifically explain chemically or physically why it causes mutations in the DNA of cells, (like they did with asbestos) I don't fully believe it. Partly due to a study done supposedly proving the carcinogenicity of many foods and spices such as cloves and amazingly, drinking alcohol! Next thing you know, they'll link vitamin C to cancer or something. But I digress, I'm not saying DEET is healthy. I'm not advocating that we should start spraying it on infants and in our mouths. What I am saying is that I think DEET is completely appropriate for use as a bug spray on adults and maybe older teens. Is DEET completely healthy? Probably not. But then again are mosquito bites healthy? Absolutely not! Besides being annoying, mosquito bites can cause diseases such as staph infections, malaria, or west nile virus. In fact, the worst staph infection of my life started out as a mosquito bite! Is there a better option? Probably, but at this point in time, no. So the only thing we can do is just trust DEET.
2. This formula is by no means, hypo-alergenic . Some ingredients may cause an alergic reaction. In most cases, this is minor and shouldn't cause a dangerous reaction. The ingredients that could cause this are as follows:
Nepetalactone (catnip), citronella, camphor, menthol, canola, wintergreen, olive, and aloe.
3. there are some other minor poisons that we come into contact with every day, but are nonetheless, poisonous: rubbing alcohol, acetone, and ethanol. (let's face it: ethanol IS a poison.)
Step 2: Ingredients and Tools
This is actually not that simple. it requires a big chunk of time and can take up to 4 hours.
-rubbing alcohol (must be at least 70% concentration)
- ethanol (also known as drinking alcohol, must be at least 50% concentration)
-wintergreen essential oil
-camphor essential oil
-citronella essential oil
-a fragrance oil (if you so choose)
-menthol crystals (may be tough to find) (please read the bottom of page 8 for info on menthol. some may choose not to include it in the formula)
-at least 1/4 a pound of catnip
- DEET (just buy an insect repellent with a DEET concentration of at least 30% The higher, the better. An ideal mix would contain 50% or more, but I've used 100% before with great results.)
-aloe juice or gel (For sun burns and stuff)
-a large soup pot (must have a lid to fit it)
-a metal bowl that can fit inside the pot with room to spare
-a stirring implement
-a measuring cup
-ice (I put ice as a tool because it doesn't actually go into the formula)
-a glass container for mixing (a 500 ml pyrex flask would be nice, but is optional)
-an old washed-out milk jug with it's cap
Step 3: Distilation
Catnip's active ingredient is nepetalactone. as well as making cats hallucinate, it is a powerful mosquito repellent that rivals even DEET in repelling power and longevity! tests have shown it to be at least 10x as powerful as DEET, and it's non-toxic! unfortunatly, Nepetalactone is difficult to isolate, and a pound of catnip may only contain a few milliliters of it. we won't be using the pure stuff, but instead a diluted solution.
nepetalectone is isolated through steam distilation. normally, this requires a big lab setup to do...we will be using pots and pans!
first, pour a 1/4 pound of catnip into the pot and add 1/2 it's volume of water. place a small metal bowl into the center and put some sort of weight in it to prevent bumping. place the lid on the pot UPSIDE DOWN, and put ice into the top cavity of the lid. then, turn on the heat.
What's happening is the nepetalactone is evaporating along with the water and condensing onto the cold lid of the pot. it then falls twards the center and lands in the metal bowl.
keep the distilation process going until about 2 cups of distilate are in the metal bowl.
Step 4: Preparing the Catnip Solution
Take your 2 cups of distilate, and pour it into your glass container. to that, add 1 shot glass full of 50% ethanol. save the shot glass. then, add 1/4 a teaspoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of canola oil. then add the following oils:
-10 drops of camphor
-30 drops of wintergreen
-8 drops of citronella
mix this all VERY well for at least 10 minutes.
set aside to settle out.
when it has settled for 5 minutes, get your dropper and your shot glass and pour some of the mixture into the glass. You'll see 2 layers; a layer of oil and a layer of weird white stuff. You want the oil! oil = :) use the dropper to skim off the layer of oil, and pour it into a seperate glass.
Step 5: Preparing the DEET
Straight from the can, spray your DEET into a narrow mouthed jar until you have about 100 ml of spray. this is best done outside where there's plenty of ventilation.
in a seperate jar, add 20 ml of acetone and 2 large menthol crystals and mix until completely dissolved. add your fragrance oil to this mixture, and then add the DEET. mix well, and then add 100 ml of aloe, (be it juice or gel) and continue mixing.
Step 6: Mixin' It All Up
finally, add the acetone/DEET/etc. mixture to the catnip mixture and then add 200 ml of 70% or higher rubbing alcohol. Let this mixture evaporate for about 3 hours in sunlight, and then it's almost done!
Step 7: Final Mixing
Take the milk jug and add this mixture to it. cap it, and then for a brutal 30 minutes, shake the mixture with all your might. this homogenizes all the ingredients. this ensures that all of the ingredients are well mixed. also, I'm sorry, but the 1/2 hour mixing time is MANDITORY. Oil and water as many may know, don't mix too well. this effect is lessened by the addition of alcohol, but not enough. to get them to mix, you have to homogenize them. (yes, like milk.)
homogenization happens commercially, with a machine with big pistons that crush and pound the fat globules into smaller sizes, making them mix. not many people have such a machine, so mixing well, will have to suffice. alternetivly, you could use a mixer, but you could never use it in the kitchen again due to contamination. another way to do this is to add a chemical called a surfactant. a surfactant is a chemical that binds water and oil molecules. in simple words, soap. the problem with soap is it leaves a sticky residue on the skin when used. pour this mixture into a spray bottle when done.
Step 8: FINISH!
YAY! it's done! now for directions:
1. spray a layer onto your skin and if you want, on your clothes. (this isn't nessesary however.)
2. YOU ARE NOW A HUMAN BUG SHEILD!!!
3. one thing: just don't spray it on your face. it's not a big deal, but the oils tend to irritate the sensitive skin on the face.
Just like commercial bug spray, if you get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth, wash it out with water immediatly.
the repellant can repel mosquitos, ticks, fleas, flies, and it attracts cats! :)
a few notes, you should always mix it before using it. also, when it is sprayed on, you might feel a cooling sensation that sends chills across your skin. this is because menthol, acts on receptors in the skin to give the sensation of coldness. this is similar to the way chili peppers make you feel hot. in fact, menthol is the active drug in many cough drops because the cooling effect it produces has a numbing effect on the throat. this shouldn't be any cause for alarm. however, if the cooling effect becomes uncomfortable, you should stop use. the likely hood is that there is too much menthol in the formula. this won't cause bodily harm, but it can be very discomforting. it shouldn't last more than 10 minutes, but if it is unbearable, you can wash the affected areas with rubbing alcohol. water won't work, because menthol doesn't dissolve in water. unless it's over 200 F. (which of course would be really stupid to wash yourself with.) unfortunately, the solution to this, is to start over. alternatively, you can choose to not include menthol in the formula, but this will take away some of the healing effects in the formula. For any who doubt menthol's power, enough of it can make a hot, humid summer night, feel like taking a walk through snow...IN YOUR UNDERWEAR! not kidding. adding menthol is something one should consider when making this. I personally like a little bit of it. but some may not feel this way.
Step 9: Why Does It Work?
Well other than pure speculation, I really don't know why it works. I have a pretty solid theory though:
So, normally, you look at the active ingredients on a can of bug spray and see one active ingredient. usually DEET.
Maybe other people have seen some with more than one, but I personally haven't yet. I think that in the same way humans can develop tolerence to drugs like morphine, mosquitos can develop tolerence to DEET, or citronella. So, although some mosquitos may be repelled, there are still a few who won't be. I think that because this formula has several different and exotic active ingerdients, if one doesn't repel a mosquito, one of the others is bound to!
Like I said though, this is only my guess. I'm no expert, just a guy with a weird hobby. 8D