Here on the homestead, flies, mosquitoes, and insects are just part of the experience. If you have chickens, you have flies! I've tried everything to get rid of them and nothing seems to work. I asked my old-timer homesteading neighbor what to do. "Nothing you can do" was basically his answer. So, at this point, all I can do is to accept the flies and treat the itch.
As part of my homesteading journey, I've given up most store-bought skin care products and household cleaners. I believe the cure for almost anything can be found in nature. Essential oils and dried herbs are the best way to use nature's cures in my daily life. But because I am attacked by literally hundreds of mosquitoes just gathering eggs from the coop, I was reluctant to give up my store-bought anti-itch cream. I needed an anti-itch that really works.
That is until I read its ingredient list! It contains 3 of the “Dirty Dozen”, the 12 most harmful ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics and skin care. The ingredients on the Dirty Dozen list are likely carcinogens and hormone disrupters and may cause liver damage.
This is the exact reason I gave up store bought skin care and cleansers in the first place!
So that's when I started researching a natural alternative, experimenting and testing as I went. Below is the one I use and I can say it works!
The first step is to infuse your dried herbs and flowers in your favorite carrier oil. My favorite is Hemp oil but feel free to use Coconut, Jojoba, or Sweet Almond. You will find most of my recipes start with infusing dried herbs. (I'll discuss this in detail in a later blog). The flowers I chose for this balm are Calendula, for its anti-itch properties, and Chamomile, for its inflammation calming effects.
Place the dried flowers in a mason jar and cover with your preferred carrier oil. Here's the hard part - let this infuse for 3 weeks in the jar! Once it's done, drain the oil into a container using a fine mesh strainer. Throw away the herbs. Store your infused oil in a cool, dark place. You can also see from the picture I added a few rose buds, just because I love the smell!
You've made infused oil! I use this basic infused oil recipe for many, many different applications. I just change the herbs and flowers based on my needs.
Next, I chose the perfect essential oils for this particular issue. Lavender and Peppermint are important to this recipe as they both contain anti-itch and skin soothing properties. But, feel free to play around for yourself and add others. Maybe add Frankincense or Tea Tree essential oil? Both have great anti-inflammatory properties and would complement this formula.
Homemade Itch and Bug Bite Relief Balm
3 TBS Infused Oil
2 TBS Beeswax
20 Drops Lavender Essential Oil (10 drops for children)
20 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil (10 drops for children)
How to make the Bug Relief Balm Using a double boiler slowly melt the beeswax into the infused oil. (I make my own double boiler using a heat safe glass bowl over an old pot I don't mind getting waxey). Once the beeswax is completely melted add the Essential Oils and mix. Pour into the container of your choice, good options are chapstick tubes or lip balm tins.
You can also skip the beeswax and simply mix the infused oil and essential oils together and fill a roller-ball bottle. It works just as well.
Use as needed! Carry it with you!
Wondering what to do with your leftover infused oil?
Stay tuned for additional uses, like Toner and Hand Cream!