24 March 2014

31 Days of MOO No. 24 - Bugs Be Gone Lotion Bars

Easter is only a month away, the last great camping weekend of the season for many, including us. It's the weekend when we seem to finally give in and admit that summer really is over and the barbecues, picnics, fishing and camping trips are coming to an end so we all head outdoors.

Well the weather may be cooler, and winter may well be on its way, but the mosquitoes and midgies and other bugs don't seem to know that.

If you're going to spend any time in the great outdoors, either at Easter or any other time, you'll need a good personal insect repellent. You could use a commercial product, but I'm not really keen on the ingredients in them.

Instead I like this recipe. It works, it's easy to make and it doesn't have any nasties in it.

Bugs Be Gone Lotion Bars

1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup shea or cocoa butter
1/2 cup beeswax + 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried whole cloves
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 cup dried catnip leaf
1 tablespoon dried mint leaf
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil

Step 1. Infusing the oil. Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 3cm of water (in bottom pan) until starting to boil. Place the rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip and mint in the top part of the double boiler and add the coconut oil

Step 2. Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until oil darkened and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.

Step 3. When the oil has been infused with the herbs take off the heat.  Strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or chux and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about 1/2 cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time!

Step 4. Add the shea or cocoa butter and beeswax to the double boiler and stir until all have melted. Remove from heat, add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils and pour into moulds.  I use silicone cupcake moulds, they are just the right size for the palm of your hand. You can use any mould in any shape, as long as you can get the bar out cleanly when it has set.

Step 5. Leave in the moulds until completely set (overnight is best).

To use: Rub the bars on exposed areas of dry skin to protect against mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren’t.

*Dried Catnip - Catnip is not just for cat toys. You can get catnip leaf online, from herbalists. Some pet shops also stock dried catnip leaf. It is used in this lotion bar as catnip is about 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, and a lot safer. It's easy to grow from a seedling and they should be available at your garden centre.

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