I just moved to Costa Rica, and if there's one thing that you need to pack when moving to the tropics, it's bug spray.
But when I went shopping for bug spray, I found myself confronted with a major problem: DEET
What is DEET?
DEET is a chemical that was patented by the US Army in 1946 and is widely used as a mosquito repellent. A Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist studied the chemical for 30 years and his results were pretty alarming.
"His numerous studies in rats, two of them published last year, clearly demonstrate that frequent and prolonged applications of DEET cause neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration.
With heavy exposure to DEET and other insecticides, humans may experience memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath"
Aside from DEET, commercial bug sprays often contain other harmful ingredients that--when used in combination with DEET--can be particularly dangerous. This is especially true for children, given that chemicals "more potently affect their developing nervous systems".
THE GOOD NEWS: There is a solution. Make your own!
Homemade Natural Bug Spray
Mix the following ingredients together in a spray bottle (2 oz or bigger).
- 1 oz grapeseed oil
- 1 oz witch hazel
- 40 drops citronella
- 20 drops eucalyptus
- 20 drops lemon
- 20 drops lemongrass
- 20 drops lavender
I've been in Costa Rica for 5 days now and haven't had a single bug bite. And I definitely prefer the plant-based smell of this mixture to that of chemical bug sprays. I'm going to continue to experiment with different oils and natural ingredients, but for now, this recipe works great!