Taking the bite out of summer
Sydney company makes chemical-free bug spray
Bug season is upon us and for many people the thought of spraying chemical-aden bug repellents on themselves or their kids is a repellent in itself. But what do you do to keep those critters from biting?
Amber Tapley and her company Blackbird Healing have a solution — locally made, chemical-free bug spray.
It is a combination of rosemary, wormwood and rue that is pounded down then added to oil to infuse for two weeks. After that Tapley adds vinegar and the bug repellent is ready. The recipe is from Juliette de Bariacli Levy’s book “Traveller’s Joy” and Tapley, who is a folk herbalist and doula, says it is very effective.
“It needs to be reapplied often,” she explains. “I like it because it is safe for children and I can also make it a bit stronger with eucalyptus oil for adults.
“I find it really great for mosquitoes and black flies.”
For Tapley, the quest to find a natural solution to keeping the bugs away started two years ago and was driven by the desire to find a safer option to bug sprays with chemicals like DEET for herself and her family. According to Scientific American magazine, a study done in the 1980s on employees at the Everglades National Park, who used DEET-based bug sprays daily, found 25 per cent of the subjects had negative effects from the chemical, including numb or burning lips, skin irritation and rashes, nausea and even difficulty concentrating.
The homemade bug spray keeps the bugs away without chemicals because they don’t like the scent of the herbs so they won’t bite you, a much better solution to Tapley and she thinks more people are looking for safer options to DEET.
“I think it is a growing number,” she says, “It is hard to tell because I am surrounded by nice hippie types, but I do think there is a growing market for it. All over the world people want healthier food, healthier choices for their makeup, their shampoo, their bug spray.”
Tapley also says curiosity is one of the main reactions she gets from people when they learn about her bug spray but happily reports that most of the people who have tried it have found it very effective for Cape Breton summers.
Tapley’s Blackbird Healing bug spray will be available for sale at the farmers market starting in July. You can also pre-order some through her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/amber.dawn.3975 . A bottle costs $15 but you don’t need much and it lasts a long time.
“I used one whole bottle last summer, for myself and my son. Because it is oil it doesn’t absorb in your skin fast so you don’t need a lot.”
Amber Tapley holds a bottle of her homemade, chemical-free bug spray.