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Insect repellent balm (vegan)

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 2 containers (50 ml each)

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Are the mozzies and sandflies getting to you too? It seems this year is worse than usual. It must be all that rain. There’s nothing worse than sitting outside enjoying a glass of chardonnay in the evening and then having to escape inside because of the sandflies! I’m a magnet for sandflies and I hate using DEET insect repellent. So I decided to do some research and formulated my own natural insect repellent. The secret of this balm is that it will not only keep the mozzies away, but the calendula infused sunflower oil also aids the healing and relieve of insect bites and the added shea butter and jojoba oil will nourish and protect your skin.

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Scientific studies have shown the effectiveness of lemon eucalyptus oil as an insect repellent. And although it may not be as effective as a formulation containing DEET, a field trial in Queensland, Australia, demonstrated that lemon eucalyptus oil did provide more than 95% protection over 3 hours.

The special insect repelling blend I use contains lemon eucalyptus, rose geranium, lemongrass, and lavender essential oils. Especially lemon eucalyptus has shown to be very effective against New Zealand mozzies and sandflies. I use a 2% dilution, which is the highest amount of essential oils in a product that is still safe to use without sensitising your skin. The balm also requires calendula infused sunflower oil, and the instructions for making your own infused oil can be found here. Alternatively, you can buy calendula infused oil from Pure Nature.

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ONE: Combine all the oils, butter and wax in a small pot. If you don’t have candelilla wax, you can substitute for carnauba wax, another vegan option, or beeswax, but you will need increase the amount to 30 g if using beeswax. Place the pot on the stove and heat until melted. You will need to find a setting on your stove that will heat the pot sufficiently to melt the wax, but doesn’t bring it to boil! On my stove, I use the medium setting.

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TWO: Take the pot from the stove. If you find it is too hot, leave it for a little while to cool down. Ideally, you want the liquid to be 50 degrees Celsius or less before adding essential oils, however, most waxes have a higher melting point, so you’ll have to eyeball it when it’s cool enough, yet still fully liquid. Add the essential oils and stir to disperse the essential oils throughout the balm mixture.

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THREE: Carefully pour the mixture into your containers and leave to harden and cool down for a couple of hours or overnight. Don’t place the lids on until the balm has completely cooled down to prevent condensation forming on the inside of the lids.

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Insect Repellent Balm (VEGAN)

  • Difficulty: intermediate
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Ingredients

  • 40 ml calendula infused sunflower oil
  • 20 ml jojoba oil
  • 20 g shea butter
  • 20 g candelilla wax
  • 10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 10 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 10 drops rose geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 balm containers (50 ml)

Directions

  1. Combine the all the oils, butter and wax in a small pot and heat on stove on medium setting until everything has melted.
  2. Take the pot of the stove, and if necessary, let it cool down a little. The mixture should still be liquid but not too hot. Add the essential oils and stir well.
  3. Carefully pour the mixture in the containers and leave to harden and cool down for a couple of hours or overnight. Don’t place the lids on until the balm has completely cooled down to prevent condensation forming on the inside of the lids.

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How to infuse oils with herbs and flowers

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 1 jar

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Chamomile infused oil

Infused oils are very versatile and useful. Depending on the herbs and flowers you have used, you can use them in your cooking, as a skin oil, for massage or you can add them to
your balms and lotions. Some of my favourite infused oils are rosemary and garlic infused olive oil, which I use for everything from cooking steak to adding to roast vegetables; calendula and chamomile infused oils to use in balms and lotions (excellent for sensitive skin or baby skin); rose oil made from the petals collected from my own rose bushes (I usually leave some petals in the oil for decoration); and lavender oil as a massage oil or for use in solid lotion bars.

What I do recommend is to use only dried herbs and flowers. Fresh flowers and herbs can cause mould to grow in your oil and it’s easy to prevent that from happening by using dried herbs and flowers. So why risk it?

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Fill a clean, dry jar with dried herbs and/or flowers. Make sure the jar is completely dry, you don’t want mould growing! Fill the jar with oil to completely cover the herbs. My favourite oils to use are sunflower for my balms and lotions, and olive oil for my kitchen oil, but any kind of vegetable oil will work.


Tap the jar gently on the kitchen bench a couple of times to get rid of any air pockets. Then put the lid back on the jar and keep it in a sunny place for a couple of weeks or more. I have my jars on my windowsill where the morning sun can gently warm them up each day. Give the jar a little shake every other day or so.


After 2-4 weeks it’s time to strain the oil. Place a coffee filter in a funnel on top of a bowl or jug. Carefully pour the oil and herbs concoction into the filter. Make sure it’s in a stable set up, you don’t want it to tilt or fall over when it’s filled with oil. If you don’t have a coffee filter, you can also use a cheese cloth or muslin cloth.

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Once you’ve strained the oil, it is ready for use. It will keep for up to 6 months, if stored in a dark coloured bottle out of direct sunlight.

Herb or Flower Infused Oil

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • dried flowers or herbs of your choice
  • 1 jar with lid
  • vegetable oil (enough to fill the jar)

Directions

  1. Fill a clean, dry jar with dried herbs and/or flowers.
  2. Pour the oil in the jar until it completely covers the herbs or flowers.
  3. Tap the jar gently on the bench a few times to get rid of any air pockets.
  4. Place the lid on the jar and keep it in a sunny place for 2-4 weeks.
  5. Strain the oil through a coffee filter, cheese cloth or muslin cloth.
  6. Pour the oil in a dark, coloured bottle. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Where you can get your supplies from

  • dried herbs and flowers: garden, Pure Nature
  • vegetable oils: supermarket
  • jars: supermarket, Warehouse