Making Natural Insect Repellent

Ever thought about making your own natural insect repellent?  Herbs and essential oils have been used for years to deter insects, why stop now?

Deet and other synthetic chemicals have become poplular, but many question their safety, and would prefer an alternative. 

I personally enjoy living with forest all around me, in a community known for it's mosquitoes and blackflies (we don't call it spring around here, we call it bug season)
I haven't purchased a commercial insect repellent in many years. I prefer to make my own natural version using essential oils.
Using Essential Oils in Natural Insect Repellent
Not only are they more economical, you can whip up your own bottle in seconds and you can have some fun with the blends and creating multiple scents. 
But are they effective? A friend of mine took a few bottles to test while they where camping in the deep woods of Muskoka.
The results? She said that they performed pretty much head to head, when the bugs where merely swarming in their normal woodsy day fashion, both where effective although the essential oils do have to be applied more often.
At night when they came out in full force, neither one of them worked well enough to avoid an early night in the tent!
Which one would I choose. Essential oils any day!
One word of caution. Treat your essential oil insect repellent as you would any commercial product, keep it away from children and supervise use. 
Using the right blends, essential oils have the benefit of smelling better, but kids may think they might taste good too.  It can be unpleasant and some essential oils like eucalyptus are fatal in large enough doses (5ml is the documented case, that is a lot of essential oil and no where close to what you would have in a blend, but better safe than sorry, and always keep your raw oils out of reach as well)
And generally essential oils, like chemical products, don't go over well sprayed into eyes either!
If you want to learn more about making your own natural insect repellent – the link will take you to a more comprehensive article.
Growing Herbs for Natural Insect Repellent
Traditionally popular herbs for use against insects are pennyroyal (and other mints), lemon balm and basil. Lemon balm and mints are especially easy to grow, in fact, containers are recommended so they don't get out of hand.
TIP: If you do find that you have some escapees and would like to detain them, simply cut the plants where ever they sprout. In time this will cut off nutrients (via the leaves) to the roots and the plant will die off. I have some lemon balm waiting for the whipper snipper at this very moment.  It makes for a very fragrant garden!
Simply rubbing the leaves directly onto your skin and clothing creates the same effect as many store-bought repellents, I do this often when working in my garden. (Caution: avoid use of pennyroyal if pregnant as it has been known to increase the risk of miscarriage).
Another plus? You can make fresh, nutritious, pesticide free tea from your mint and lemon balm tea too (do not make tea from pennyroyal). You will find the lemon balm immediately calming. 
Additional Information

Insect Repellent Essential Oils
8 Tips for a Bug Free Environment
Treating Insect Bites and Stings