Artists of the Month: Michael and Mary Devito, Naked Botanicals Apothecary

The following post is by Michael and Mary Devito, Owners of Naked Botanicals Apothecary, the Herban Lifestyle July 2014 Artists of the Month.

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ABOUT NAKED BOTANICALS APOTHECARY

We’re an organic skincare company dedicated to the prevention of violent, brutal attacks by mosquitoes and other little buggers. Our natural insect repellents harness the mighty superpowers of…lavender! Lemongrass! And peppermint! Which smells like you ran nekkid holding candy canes through lavender fields in Provence. (That’s in France.)

Rise up, friends! We’re empowering adults, children, pets–anyone with skin!–to take a stand against unwelcome advances by would-be predators. We’re arming you with certified organic ingredients and intoxicating aromas, straight from our nation’s capital. YUM.

 

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ABOUT ORIGINAL LAVENDER INSECT REPELLENT
Our organic bug spray harnesses the mighty superpowers of…Lavender! Citronella! Peppermint! Which smells like you ran nekkid holding candy canes through lavender fields in Provence. (That’s in France.) And look, Ma! No itchy, nasty mosquito bites. Best. Summer. Ever.
We take a bold, citrus bouquet of lemongrass, citronella plus energizing peppermint then round it out with woody lavender and cedarwood notes to create our signature intoxicating scent. YUM. Not only does it repel biting insects, but the witch hazel-based elixir also refreshes and purifies your skin in high heat and humidity.
  • Certified organic essential oils of lavender, cedarwood, citronella, lemongrass and peppermint are potent, naturally-occurring insect repellents.
  • Effectively repels mosquitoes, ticks and biting insects for up to 4 hours.
  • Biodegradable, vegan and DEET-free.
  • Contains NO nuts, gluten, dairy, chemicals, dyes, fragrances or preservatives.
  • Safe for the whole family: adults, children over 6 months of age, those with sensitive skin, even pets!
  • Proudly made in small batches in the USA.
  • Each durable, recyclable PET plastic bottle contains 4 fluid ounces. Please recycle.

You can find more about Naked Botanicals Apothecary on their website 

How to Make All-Natural Insect Repellant

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Summer is in full-swing and the bugs are out in full force! Some of my readers have requested a recipe for an all-natural insect repellant, so I developed formula made with essential oils that works well and smells good, too!

Different essential oils repel different insects, so I used a blend of different oils to cover a wide spectrum of pests. For my recipe, I used cedar, citronella, clove, lavender, peppermint and rosemary with castor oil (which repels mosquitoes) in a witch hazel base.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces distilled water
  • 3 ounces witch hazel
  • 3.5 teaspoons of essential oils
  • 1 teaspoon glycerine (optional)

Combine well and pour into clean spray bottles.

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Shake well before each use as the water and oils will separate. Spray onto your skin or clothing, avoiding your eye area, covering as much area as possible. Wash with soap and warm water to remove once you are back indoors. Store in a cool, dark place.

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You can vary the recipe by using different essential oils, as long you keep the ratio of no more than 1 part essential oils to 10-20 parts carrier. Here are some of the best essential oils for repelling insects, along with the insects they repel:

  • cedar oil (fleas)
  • cinnamon oil (mosquitoes)
  • citronella oil (mosquitoes and biting flies)
  • clove oil (mosquitoes)
  • eucalyptus oil (mosquitoes, ticks, and lice)
  • geranium oil (ticks and lice)
  • lavender oil (ticks)
  • lemongrass oil (ticks)
  • orange oil (fleas)
  • peppermint oil (fleas)
  • rosemary oil (mosquitoes)

You can use any combination of the above listed essential oils. And instead of witch hazel and water, you can use olive oil, vodka or straight witch hazel without water.

NOTE: If you are pregnant or nursing, do not apply an insect repellent, natural or otherwise, without consulting your physician

IMG_6725This little nymph recently hitched a ride home on my leg from a hike in the woods. If only I had some of my homemade bug repellant with me, he wouldn’t have had a chance!

NOTE: If you are looking for all-natural pesticide recipes, this post on housekeeping.org has a comprehensive collection, including our neem-based recipe.

How to Make Four Thieves Vinegar

Legend has it that during the Great Plague of the Middle Ages, grave robbers would wash their hands in a solution called “Four Thieves Vinegar,” which was very effective in staving off infection. The concoction was made by infusing vinegar with wormwood, rue, mint, sage, lavender, and rosemary. Because these constituents all have known antibacterial and antiviral properties, it seems like a feasible tale. I was fascinated by the idea and since I grow most of these herbs in my garden, I decided to try brewing up a batch.

I looked at various recipes, and decided to go with the basic set of ingredients, plus some lemongrass for its mild insect-repelling and good antimicrobial properties. The finished product can be used externally, and safely, for a variety of purposes: as a surface disinfectant, a hair rinse, a skin cleanser, to treat insect bites, as a hand-sanitizer, just to name a few. While the ingredients are very effective, it is gentle enough to use on pets and kids, just dilute it one part Four Thieves to three parts purified water.

Here is what you need to make your own:

  • 2 tablespoons of Rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons of Sage
  • 2 tablespoons of Lavender
  • 2 tablespoons of Wormwood
  • 2 tablespoons of Rue
  • 2 tablespoons of Peppermint
  • Apple cider vinegar (enough to cover the herbs completely)

You can also throw in cloves, cinnamon and/or garlic for extra potency.

Fill a pint-sized jar with the herbs. For best results, cut the herbs into small pieces, and packed the jar with the herbs, leaving as little space as possible. Susun Weed recommends using a jar with a plastic lid since vinegar can erode metal over time. If you use a metal jar, place a piece of waxed paper between the rim and lid to form a barrier, or use a cork.

Pour room-temperature apple cider vinegar into the jar until it is full, then tightly cap the jar. Label the jar with “Four Thieves” and the date. Place the jar away from direct sunlight, like a kitchen cupboard, or some other place where you will remember to shake it every day or so. After six weeks of steeping, strain the mixture through cheesecloth and place in a clean jar or spray bottle. It will last at least 18 months (some articles I read say up to 30) if you store it in a cool, dry, dark place.

Let me know what you think. Or if you have your own recipe for Four Thieves, I would love to hear about it!

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