How to Make an Insect Repellent that:

  • is not full of synthetic ingredients,
  • works and
  • smells great

That was my mission.


I needed an insect repellent to ward off bugs and creepy crawlies whilst I walked (and camped) from the Lizard in Cornwall to Lands End.

Tracy at Lands End, Conrwall

Tracy Tutty at Lands End in Cornwall

After a lot of research, here’s my recipe.


  • 30 mls peppermint tincture
  • 35mls lavender aromatic water
  • 12 mls witch hazel aromatic water
  • 20mls rose geranium aromatic water
  • 18 drops thyme essential oil
  • 9 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 8 drops clove essential oil
  • 12 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 5 drops spike lavender essential oil

Some people react to lemongrass.  If you have sensitive skin, leave it out.  Alternatively, make up a smaller batch and spray it on your skin to check for any sensitivity.

Safety: never apply an essential oil directly to your skin.


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a 100ml spray bottle and shake well.
  2. Shake your mixture before use and spray as required.


Why Have I Used a Tincture in the Mix?

It’s so that the essential oils have a nice alcohol base to hold onto.  You could use tinctures instead of aromatic water.

I used the aromatic waters because they have more volatile oils in them than tinctures (so a nice complement to the essential oils and a stronger smell to discourage bugs) and with less alcohol in the mix, it’s a bit kinder to skin that has been out in the sun, wind, rain or sea breeze all day.  This was really important to me as I was walking between 4-8 hours over each of the 4 days.


Did the Bug Spray Work?

Thankfully, I didn’t encounter a lot of bugs along the walk and when camping in the evenings.  A few of my fellow walkers did get a few insect bites.  I didn’t get any.


Other things that keep the Creepy Crawlies at Bay

  1. Bugs tend towards your ankles, wrists, hands, neck and face.  Dissuade them by placing a drop of lavender essential oil on the hem of your trousers, sleeves and (if you like the smell of lavender) around your neckline.
  2. Citronella candles seem to work well but make sure you don’t leave them unattended and don’t light within touching distance of your tent.  One strong gust of wind blowing your tent flaps into your candle could spell disaster.