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Catnip essential oil has been shown in scientific research to be up to 20 times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitos, and can be used at very low concentrations in your formulas for this purpose. It should work remarkably well at repelling all sorts of biting insects, not only mosquitos!
The active compound within the oil is Nepetalactone. This Canadian essential oil contains a high percentage of neptalactone naturally (the GCMS indicates 80%!), with a more pleasing aroma than that distilled in the USA. Catnip blends well with other insect repelling essential oils…We use ourselves, for example, a blend of 6% Geranium (any type), and 2% each of catnip and citronella.
While the price of the oil is higher than other ‘classic’ insect repellent oils (such as Citronella, Geranium, Cedarwood and Lemongrass), catnip can be used at a much lower concentration, around 1-3%. It can be effectively blended with these other oils in a base to produce a natural insect repellent, without any of the worries of the potential harm from commercial chemicals (DEET has been implicated to potentially cause nerve damage, or disrupt proper growth of the nervous system in children).
One can make a very simple blend including catnip alone in this manner: Mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol (or Vodka) and 1 cup of water, plus 2 milliliters (40 drops) Catnip essential oil in a spray bottle. Shake vigorously. You can spray this on your clothing as well as on skin, though keep it away from the eyes. If you prefer a blend here, use 8 drops catnip, 8 drops citronella, and 24 drops Geranium. For a 4 ounce formula, this is 7 milliliters Geranium, and 2 1/2 milliliters each Catnip and Citronella oils (there are 20 drops per milliliter).
If you’d like to mix this in water, use the equivalent amount of
This same blend can be made in an unscented jojoba cream base, using the same ratio of essential oils. Cedarwood and peppermint also make popular, low-concentration additions to such formulas.