Self-made BUG REPELLENT - NESSMUK

Discussion in 'Monthly Projects' started by treefrogmt, May 11, 2015.

  1. treefrogmt

    treefrogmt Tinder Gatherer

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    Happy Spring and BUG SEASON!
    Woot.
    Well, the bugs are out in force here in Virginia and I decided to test my self-made Bug Repellent!
    It's the recipe you guys have already heard of - Nessmuk's Bug Dope.

    Well, two weekends ago I went out and got absolutely eaten up. I got chiggers, I got ticks and I got mosquito bites.. I was freaked. I don't have bug-phobia.. but I hate itching and it does take some of the joy out of the woods when you are getting eaten up. Downright distracting while you are trying to enjoy Bushcrafting.

    So.. I did my research: YouTube... the source of all knowledge. LOL That and any bushcraft site (especially THIS one) for any great ideas. Nessmuk's Bug Dope recipe kept coming up. So I ordered the ingredients: Pine Tar, Castor Oil and Pennyroyal Oil. I mixed them into the proper proportions (3-2-1 ounces) and heated it up so they all combined well. My wife opened the kitchen windows and put on some air freshener.. the Pine Tar is really rank.. but once all 3 ingredients are mixed.. it's not so bad. My wife still chased me out of the kitchen and said I had to make the next batch out at the firepit. LOL
    I transferred the mix into a small 6 ounce jar/bottle and headed out this past weekend.

    When I got to the parking area.. I slathered the stuff on all my exposed skin (but not near my eyes). There was rumor that the stuff gives you an unnatural tan.. untrue.. it went on pretty smoothly (and washed off easily with soap and water when i got home). It dries pretty quickly so you don't have to worry about being all 'sticky' in the woods.
    Ok.. I hiked about 2 miles in the same bug infested woods as the weekend before. I made camp, built my primitive shelter, gathered and processed firewood, relaxed and ate lunch, made a fire, slept on the ground on my canvas tarp... with a short sleeve shirt on! No bugs, No bites, no ticks, no chiggers, no mosquitoes.. nothing.

    It works guys. I'm not kidding.. I don't sell the stuff, I just swear by it now. I wouldn't have believed it if you had told me (because the same woods totally ate me up the weekend before).
    So go for it.. make some and use it. Post your results if you like.

    Any other great bug-dope recipes out there? My wife won't use this stuff.. she says it stinks and she is looking for some natural essential oils recipe that smells good. We'll see what she comes up with!

    TreefrogMT
     
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  2. AppalachianViking

    AppalachianViking Tracker

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    I'm glad it works so well! I was just thinking about this yesterday, since modern repellents always feel sticky and smell like chemicals. Where'd you get the ingredients from?
     
  3. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushclass I

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    too funny... god bless our womenfolk...

    Where do you find Pine Tar, Castor Oil, and Pennyroyal Oil these days?
     
  4. beachbunny

    beachbunny Supporter Supporter

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    i'll have to try that again' i was discouraged the first time.it seemed awfully sticky.
    think amazon is where i got the penny royal.
     
  5. Blackhawk45hunter

    Blackhawk45hunter Pronounced sim-bee-duh Vendor Supporter Bushclass II

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    I need to try this, I've been intrigued by the recipe since reading Woodcraft and Camping bothe first time (yes I've read it MANY times haha)

    I would also like to know where to obtain pennyroyal and castor oil.
    I can get pine pitch locally.


    Also, how thick is the finished product when it's cool? Could it be stored in a shoe polish tin?
     
  6. Usingmyrights

    Usingmyrights Supporter Supporter

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    I might have to try that. I have a good native repellent for mosquitoes, but not for chiggers and ticks.
     
  7. Pablo

    Pablo Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    Pine tar is different than pine pitch. I buy pine tar in 1-qt paint cans from our local farm and feed. It's used for "hoof dressing" or something like that.
     
  8. okcmco

    okcmco Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    I have castor oil from swan sons and it's organic. Where do you get the pine tar?
     
  9. dayman

    dayman Tracker

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    Be careful. Pennyroyal oil is extremely toxic. It can be fatal, or cause irreparable liver damage.
    You definitely don't want to ingest any of it - or use it anywhere another person (or dog) might be able to digest it.

    You can also grow the plant itself, and apparently dried pennyroyal leaves are a pretty effective insect repellent as well.

    I'm not sure what the rules are about posting links, but you can google it, and get all the info pretty easily.

    Amazon has all 3 oils, and any natural food source - or company geared towards herbalism or natural remedies - should carry all of them as well.
     
  10. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    may have to try this depending on how the bugs are this weekend....
     
  11. Blackhawk45hunter

    Blackhawk45hunter Pronounced sim-bee-duh Vendor Supporter Bushclass II

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    My bad, I meant pitch. My local Tractor Supply has it in pint cans.
     
  12. Pygar

    Pygar Scout

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    You can still find NOS bottles of bug dope intended for issue to WWII soldiers- any idea what is in it? That was pre-DEET, I am pretty sure...
     
  13. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    I found pine tar at Tractor Supply Co. in the equine area. 16oz. for $12. Castor oil can be found at the local supermarket/pharmacy in the laxative section. 4oz. was $1.99.

    Haven't had any success finding oil of pennyroyal anywhere locally. Most likely because it is so dang toxic that nobody wants the liability of accidental ingestion.

    I wonder if tea tree oil would be a good substitute? I have some of that that I haven't tried out yet. That is available at local pharmacies as well for under $5.

    I think I'm going to need to do some experimenting.
     
  14. Dirtymike

    Dirtymike Scout

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    Are you still alive after your exposure to the bug dope?
     
  15. aktatts

    aktatts Supporter Supporter

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    The mosquitos are so bad here nothing seems to work. At camp I usually burn punk which seems to be the best working thing. I never saw mosquitos so bad until I moved here they're just one huge cloud.
     
  16. designtom

    designtom Scout

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    http://www.junglesnafus.com/chapter13.htm

    Copy & paste
    “612,” SAVIOR OF MANY AMERICAN FIGHTERS IN WORLD WAR II

    The first effective insect repellent I ever used was “612” (1-3, ethyl hexanediol), issued to me in 1940 when I joined a small party of other Standard Oil of Venezuela exploration geologists. We were working south of the Venezuelan Andes in jungle so insect and disease ridden that it had very few inhabitants. With “612” on my face, neck, and hands during my first day of geological mapping in the humid tropics, I did not realize how effective that repellent was for protection from a small swarm of what I thought were hovering black gnats. Those hard-shelled little pests could not bite through my untreated stout khaki shirt and trousers, but when a sudden onset of diarrhea forced me to quickly lower my trousers and squat I soon felt a stinging sensation all over unprotected bare skin that I could not see. Slapping at what my native porter belatedly warned me were “jejen,” I immediately pulled up my trousers, cursing myself, an experienced outdoorsman in other climes, for being a babe in the jungle. Americans in Venezuela called those little pests “bloodblister gnats”; actually they were one of several species of black flies, daytime flyers.
     
  17. dayman

    dayman Tracker

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    Is pennyroyal potentially toxic through absorption?
    I know it is through digestion, but I wasn't sure if there was any worry about it bring on you. Pregnant women aren't supposed to use it, but they aren't supposed to eat fish either. As toxic as fish in okay with.
    It sounds like an awesome recipe, but castor oil makes things absorb more effectively, so if pennyroyal is something you only want to put on sparingly, the castor oil might make it worse.
     
  18. strike3cya

    strike3cya Tracker

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    My wife makes a bug repellent that works well. She uses eucalyptus and a couple other essential oils and then mixes in it vodka. Put it in a spray bottle, and it works! You can probably get the Pennyroyal Oil at a health food store.
     
  19. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    OK, I've been digging around the net looking in to the toxicity issues associated with pennyroyal oil. Here are just a few of my thoughts on it. This isn't a medical opinion and I'm not a toxicologist. If you have concerns with using it, don't. If you do use it, read up on it and make an informed decision for yourself, but know that it is YOUR decision. No one forced you to use it. Now with all that butt-covering done...

    Yes there is a lot of sites on the web stating that pennyroyal oil is toxic. With that said, so is pretty much ANY essential oil. Essential oils are, by their very nature, highly concentrated biologically active compounds. The active ingrediantsents in the oils are concentrated many times more than would be an infusion (tea) or decoction. Many oils frequently used as massage oils fall among these and are sold over the counter. The key to properly using essential oils is dosage.

    From what I was able to gleen off of the net, the studies that portray pennyroyal oil as being so toxic were done on animals through direct injection of the compound into the digestive tract at doses that would require the ingestion of an entire bottle of oil directly. Similarly, in case histories where women were poisoned by intentionally ingesting the oil to cause an abortion, the amounts taken were in the range of 6-10mL. Again, that is the size of the bottles that are for sale. The amount of these comoounds that would be absorbed through topical use would be tens to hundreds of times less than these doses.

    Absorption through the skin is much lower than absorption through the digestive tract, but does occur. The trick is to get an amount of the oil that keeps bugs away without giving too large of a dose. For instance, the methyl salicylate in IcyHot is a safe dose if used according to directions. Several years ago, a female olympic athlete covered her entire body with it after a particularly hard workout and died from an overdose. Similarly, there was a case where a five year old at camp covered his entire body with a 95% DEET solution (Muskol) and then reapplied Off later in the day and ended up on ventilation. Too much is too much.

    If mixed with other compounds and used in small reasonable doses and not applied too frequently, a repellent containing pennyroyal oil should not be any more toxic than commercially available repellents if used wisely. Again, even DEET has a track record of toxicity from prolonged used by people who work in buggy areas for a job. I can personally attest to having developed nervous problems from using 95% DEET solutions every day for weeks while taking classes and doing research in coastal VA back in the late 80s.

    Be cautious with young kids and pregnant women. Young kids have a larger surface area/kg of body mass than adults do. Therefore, they can absorb a larger dose than an adult would/square inch. Likewise, pregnant women have a direct pipeline to the fetus. What may not hurt the mom, may be too much for the developing babe.

    Also, if you do use it, try it on a small patch of skin first as even pine tar is a known skin irritant. And be sure to wash your hands before eating or preparing food. A little hygiene goes a long way.
     
  20. dayman

    dayman Tracker

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    I'm sold. I bought all the ingredients, and will be coming it up on the grill tomorrow.
    This will be a test of whether everything really smells good on the grill.
    Black fly season is in full swing and I'm hoping they won't like it any more than the mosquitoes.
    I have fire wood to cut this weekend, and would like to keep as much of my blood inside me as I can (also the reason I invested in Kevlar chaps).
     
  21. dayman

    dayman Tracker

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    That was easy.
    I will say I'm glad that I cooked it up outside. The smell want entirely unpleasant, but it was strong.
    [​IMG]
    I made up 12oz so I shouldn't run out any time soon.
    I actually kind of like the smell of the finished product.
     
  22. sdjsdj

    sdjsdj Guide Bushclass I

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    Please don't take this as "being a naysayer", because if you say it works, I believe you. But if it is so good, why is something "like this" not sold in a manufactured form?
    I just "dug up" some "Bye Bye Black Fly"n Ointment, that I ordered a couple of years ago and never tried. I'll have to try that out.
     
  23. StevieD

    StevieD Tracker

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    What is your native repellent for mosquitoes? Cause man we got'em!
     
  24. dayman

    dayman Tracker

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    It doesn't pay to advertise something people can make on their own.
     
  25. Sandcut

    Sandcut Bushmaster Vendor

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    Just a few thoughts on this. Take it for what it's worth. I have yet to try this out, but will likely make some this weekend if I want to make the trip to get the pennyroyal oil.

    So, why does no one use it if it is so effective? (Provided that it is effective)

    First off and very importantly, most folks won't use products that smell like this. The pine tar alone has a very strong smell. Pine tar contains creosote. Have you ever smelled a newly installed telephone pole or a newly installed mooing piling in a marine environment? People generally don't like smelling like a wharf in public.

    Similarly, the pine tar will stain your clothes. This won't bug some folks much if they camp in their grubbiest "field clothes", but folks that spend money on high end, light weight, synthetic gear expect it to stay somewhat presentable. This is ironic, because in some instances, the DEET in commercial bug dope will dissolve certain synthetics while the pine tar will not. I've personally had DEET eat the plastic crystal off of a watch face as well as had a bottle tip over on the floor and dissolve a 9" gummy hole into the linoleum floor of the field station in which I was bunking.

    It could be due to a misconception that all things old are "cute" and "archaic", while all things new are "modern" and "advanced". Regardless of true efficacy, perception is reality in the marketing world.

    It may be shunned due to the bad PR given to pennyroyal within the echo chamber which is the internet. As I stated upthread, from what I can find, although it is known that pennyroyal is toxic, the dosage recieved during application of this bug dope is so small that it should not be any more toxic than the N, N, diethyl metatoluamide contained in DEET. Let's face it. Insect repellants don't "keep bugs off of you". They provide a toxic barrier that serve to make bugs reject biting you when the chemoreceptors in their feet or mouth parts come in to contact with it. Typically, they actually have to begin feeding before the bug dope can work. They just don't feed long enough to have the body respond with an itchy welt. Insect repellants by their very nature are either toxins or irritants.

    The proof is in the pudding, which is why I can't wait to try this out.
     
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  26. Seacapt.

    Seacapt. Supporter Supporter

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    Key word is Creosote, old time Maine woodsman trick during black fly season, take 3 or 4 pipe cleaners soak in creosote, bend into upside down U and stick them down in your hat band, also works well for mosquitos around face/head area because it overpowers CO2 from breath which attracts them. Warning, do not forget to take hat off before entering your home.
     
  27. Black Chrome

    Black Chrome Tracker

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    Anyone have any reports on how this worked for them? This thread is almost 2 years since the last reply.
     

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