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Herbal Insect Repellant

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1 pint witch hazel

1/41/3 c high-proof neutral grain alcohol (such as Everclear or isopropyl alcohol)

fresh cedar fronds, cut into pieces

fresh juniper leaves, twigs, berries, cut into pieces

large lemongrass stalk, coarsely chopped

peppermint leaves

cinnamon stick, broken into chunks

lavender essential oil + alcohol to dissolve (optional)

Virginia cedarwood essential oil + alcohol to dissolve (optional)


  1. Roughly chop botanical ingredients, cutting any tough woody stems out of the cedar/ juniper.
  2. Pack a pint-sized mason jar with as many botanical ingredients as will fit.
  3. Barely moisten the plant matter with a shallow layer of high-proof grain alcohol (preferably 190 proof)
  4. Loosely cover the jar with a lid or use a rubber band to secure a scrap of cheesecloth and allow to sit overnight.
  5. Fill jar to the top with witch hazel.
  6. If using, combine essential oil(s) and a small amount of alcohol in a separate bowl/jar and mix until essential oils are completely dissolved before adding to the jar.
  7. Dump jar contents into a high-powered blender, throwing in a bit more chopped plant matter for good measure; blend until you have a gorgeous green slurry.
  8. Return slurry to the macerating jar, cover tightly and shake.
  9. Store jar in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks, shaking every couple of days.
  10. When maceration time is up, strain out the plant pulp using a coffee filter or nut milk bag, squeezing to extract all of the green liquid into a clean glass jar.
  11. Transfer to airtight glass spray/mister bottles.
  12. Spray arms and legs before heading outdoors. ♥


Use caution using this bug spray around light colored clothing, as the green chlorophyll may stain.

I recommend glass containers for storing homemade lotions and potions. Glass doesn’t leach chemicals and it’s easier to clean/sterilize after the product is used up and you’re ready to refill.

If you do choose to use a plastic container, be aware that essential oils tend to react with plastic, so even if you can get it “clean,” your container will likely not be reusable.

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