Many of us grow mint leaves in our gardens to flavor ice tea. Recently, I learned that mint also repels mosquitoes and you can make mosquito repellent with mint! All species of mint, both wild and cultivated, contain aromatic properties repulsive to insects. The essence is contained in the stems, leaves and flowers of the plants. When the plants are brushed against or crushed, the pungent scent is released.
To make mosquito repellent, first you have to extract oil from the mint. Oil is extracted from both leaves and stems. If you are using mint from your garden, water plants thoroughly for several weeks before harvesting. Next, wash the mint and remove any brown wilted areas. Pack the mint into a plastic container. Fill the container completely and then saturate with vodka. Let it soak for five weeks.
Remove the plant pieces from the container and save the liquid portion. Freeze it for two days. Alcohol does not freeze well, so when you remove the container from the freezer, the mint oil will be the frozen portion. Drain off the liquid alcohol. Rinse the ice with water to remove the residue from the vodka. Put the ice in a container and let it thaw on a shelf or in a pantry. This is mint oil. Store the oil in a capped bottle. Keep the bottle on a cabinet shelf, out of the sun.
Since we did not have much of a winter, I expect that the mosquitoes are going to be plentiful this summer. To keep from being bitten, we will need to keep plenty of bug repellent on hand. Store-bought bug sprays are fine, but some people have serious skin reactions to DEET.
Here’s an effective recipe that I found to keep the mosquitoes away:
1. 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
2. 1/3 cup witch hazel (or cheap vodka)
3. 5 drops of mint oil
1. Spray bottle
1. Using the funnel, pour all the liquid ingredients into the spray bottle.
2. Shake the bottle to mix the liquids.
Tada! You have created a bottle of your own organic mosquito repellent. It is safe to use on your pets or around food too. It is not waterproof or sweat-proof so you will need to reapply as necessary. It won’t protect you from ticks, but if you just want to keep the bugs at bay during your next barbeque, this should do the trick. This process takes a bit of time, but to get started I purchased some mint plants this weekend at Home Depot. They had apple mint, sweet mint, peppermint, and spearmint in stock.
However, take care in how you plant mint, because it can become invasive. It is best planted in containers or in a manner that controls the spread of its roots. You can place containers of mint between garden rows to help keep nearby plants insect free.
It seems Jacksonville, Florida is one of the Buggiest Cities!