Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

Ever since I discovered how to make my original Lotion Bars, I’ve been experimenting with different variations including Sunscreen Bars, Vapo-Rub Bars, Healing Bars (coming soon), and others. Today’s favorite: Bug-Off Lotion Bars!

They are as easy to make as the original bars, and the seem even more effective at keeping bugs away than regular homemade bug spray, probably because they actually coat the skin with a protective layer. They are easy to take along and the kids can apply it themselves.

Instead of being filled with chemicals and toxins like conventional bug sprays, this recipe actually nourishes and moisturizes the skin while protecting it.

Lotion Bar Ingredients

All ingredients available at Mountain Rose Herbs. I also use silicon molds to set the bars. These are the molds I used but I also love these Sunflower ones and these heart ones, which would both be great for gifts. There are also simple flower molds and actual bar shaped ones.

Bug-Off Lotion Bars
Homemade bug repellent lotion bars soften skin and keep bugs away with natural herbs and essential oils.
Recipe type: Remedy
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup shea butter, cocoa butter or mango butter (or a mix of all three equal to 1 part)
  • ½ cup beeswax + 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ cup fresh or dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons dried or fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ¼ cup dried catnip leaf
  • 1 (or more) tablespoons of mint leaf (optional but adds great scent)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil to preserve.
  • Essential Oils (optional but good): Bug off blend (contains all of the above), lavender and lemon (10+ drops of each)
  1. This version has an extra step that the original Lotion Bars didn't have. To save money on essential oils, we actually infuse the herbs into the coconut oil.
  2. Using a double boiler or glass bowl on top of a small saucepan, heat about 1 inch of water (in bottom pan) until starting to boil. Place the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip and mint in the top part of the double boiler and add the coconut oil (can also use almond, olive or other oil but you will need to add more beeswax later on to get the bars to firm.
  3. Cover the bowl or top part of the double boiler and keep the water at medium/high temperature for at least 30 minutes or until oil has adopted a darker color and smells strongly of rosemary. Alternately, you can fill a crock pot about half full with water, put the coconut oil and herbs in a glass mason jar with a tight lid, cover and keep on lowest setting for several days to make an even stronger infused oil.
  4. Then, strain the dried herbs out of the oil using a small mesh strainer or cheesecloth and pour the oil back into the double boiler. The oil will probably be reduced by almost half and you should have about ½ cup of the infused oil. If you have more, save it for next time!
  5. Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler and stir until all have melted. Remove from heat, add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils and pour into molds. T
  6. Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best) or you can speed up the process by placing in the fridge.
  7. To use: Rub the bars on exposed areas of DRY skin to protect against mosquitos. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren't.

Don’t Want To Make Them?

If you want to use lotion bars but don’t have the time/ingredients to make them yourself, I found a great small business, Made On, that makes all kinds of lotion bars, soaps, natural baby products and hair products that are up to my standards. Their website is HardLotion.com and they have agreed to give Wellness Mama readers a 15% discount on all orders with the code “wellnessmama” at this link. (Note: Affiliate link… the price is discounted for you and I get a small commission to support my blog!)

How do you keep the bugs away? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Sam says

    If you used the Bug off blend, would you still use all the herbs listed and infuse them with the coconut oil?  If not, would you just melt the oils and wax then add the bug off?

    • Sharla says

      I have made a very similar recipe before finding this post. I started using on my dog because he had a terrible reaction to commercial flea treatments. I now wash him with Dr. Bronner Baby Mild soap with my own add essential oils that are known flea repellants (clary sage, rosemary, citronella, etc). Then, I make a spray and a bug lotion bar, which I alternate. It helps A LOT!!!

      • Jennifer says

        Sharla, I found a natural bug repellant for my cat at Petco – it was nothing but essential oils and seems to work!

  2. Alicia Joy says

    You said you can use another oil instead of coconut..I have sunflower oil at home, will that work? And if so how much additional beeswax do you reccomend adding? Thanks! I plan on making these tonight for a camping trip this weekend!

  3. Angela says

    can you turn this into a lip balm?  If so, what do you add?  Or perhaps you have a different lip balm recipe, I searched your site for one, but no results.

  4. Sam says

    Do you know if the bug off blend is safe to use on toddlers.  Was going to use that to make these bars, but wasn’t sure if I could use it on my little guy.  

  5. Kassidy says

    Is there a reason lemon grass oil isn’t used? I bought a little spray bottle of bug spray last summer with that as the active ingredient (and the other listed ingredients were natural) and it worked extremely well. The only problem was that the tiny bottle was expensive and I only saw it available for a week and never since. I work in heavily forested areas with dense tick and mosquito populations during the summer so max repelling ability is a must, but I would really love to use a less expensive natural route.

    • Cheryl Maynard says

      I live in the mountains of Colorado and we have issues with ticks. Spring seems to particularly bad. I found that geranium essential oil seems to work well. I orginally put a drop on my dogs collar. The ticks also seem to like my husband who is very allergic to them. I put some in a carrier oil for him. This year I started making the body lotion bars, so am trying a bug bar with cedar and geranium. The season is just beginning so will have to wait and see what happens.

      • natalie says

        I live in Colorado as well and just recently made a spray bottle with water, lemongrass and eucalyptus! Its safe for childeren and easy on the eyes, plus smells great. Needless to say we had no ticks. I for get the exact recipe but it went by the cup. google tick spray if u haven’t already

  6. says

    I’m wondering if you’ve tried mixing the bug-off bars with the sunscreen bars (minus the citrus oils) to come up with one multi-purpose lotion bar that prevents sunburn and bug bites. Seems like a good theory.

  7. says

    Fantastic find, these bars (and your website) are great! Question…I couldn’t find vitamin e oil so I made six bars without a ‘preservative’. How long will they last before they ‘spoil’? How will I know when they do? Will storing them in an airtight container and out of direct sunlight help them keep longer?

  8. Mal says

    How do you measure the beeswax? I purchase by weight, but volume is ordered? Do I grate it and then measure the volume?

    • Gary Bingham says

      Mountain Rose Herbs carries everything required in most of the recipes on wellness mama.

  9. Genni says

    Hi Wellnesmama, I love your site. How long would you say these last for? Obviously store out of sun if using the essential oils, but would they last for more than 6 months?

  10. Meagan says

    Hi WellnessMama, how long do you think these would last? I would guess to keep them out of sunlight if using the essential oils, but if I just infuse?

  11. JM says

    Would this work as just a lotion with the besswax omitted? My mom is allergic to everything bee related. Thanks!

  12. Eulli says

    If I don’t use the bug off blend how much of each separate essential oil should I use? Would I still use the herbs as well? Thank you and thank you for posting your recipe :)

  13. Vicki Ketcham says

    Is there something you can suggest to do or use instead of beeswax? I made your original lotion bars and after about a month, started to get a rash on my hands and arms. Turns out it was propolis in the beeswax that I’m allergic to. I’m currently using only coconut oil, but with it being summer, the bugs just seem to flock to me. Some help please : )

    • JM says

      I made them just omitting the beeswax and it’s a lovely creamy texture that can be applied like a lotion.

      • Retta says

        You can use candellia wax. It takes slightly less than beeswax to set up. Normally .7oz per 1oz of beeswax called for. You can look it up, I love using candellia. I get it from Oregon Trail Soapers Supply. You’ll get much more precise results if you weigh your product instead of measuring.

  14. heather says

    Thank you for all your sharing, I was wondering do you have a book you recommend with ideas ane recipes for diy nourishing skin care ? I am a book person.
    Your site is awesome.
    Heather Green Blessings from Nova Scotia

  15. Mindy McCrea says

    Would it mess up the whole recipe if I added some nutmeg? Pregnancy brain got the best of me and just went with the motions when I was adding cinnamin and cloves…

  16. Sarah Waters says

    I’m so excited, I’m infusing my coconut oil right now so I can make these bug repellent bars tonight. I’m going to pour some of the mixture into an old cleaned out deodorant container. I can’t wait to test out the finished product.

  17. natalie says

    I’ve made the bug repellent as a tube and it works awesome and easy to apply. I have had some friends ask how it would work on a horse, as many owners are looking for something other then fly spray. Does anyone have any experience with using the bar on animals and will it work with flys? Also if u have any recommendations for all natural fly repellent recipes I would be very greatful!

  18. natalie says

    Also when making these lotions does the coconut oil being unrefined or refined make much difference? I know refined is processed and isn’t considered as natural but ultimately does it make the lotion less effective?

  19. Volet says

    Can I add zinc to make this a bug off sunscreen bar? We’re going up into the mountains this weekend and at that elevation sunscreen only protects from a major burn, not from getting color. But there are also mosquitoes a plenty. Thanks!

      • Volet says

        =) Thank you! We both own spf shirts and use those long scarves that middle eastern people wear to cover themselves. Great for dipping in water and making “air conditioning” in the breezes, and great sun covers.

  20. Susie Keast says

    Hey have just made these bars and have a batch of the herb infused oil left. I also added the essential oils that are in bug off (am in uk and they don’t sell it here). I was wondering whether this could be turned into a spray as well- the Mosquitos here will bite through my jeans unless sprayed with deet normally.

  21. Jade says

    Hi there! Thanks for this, I needed a safe alternative for my kids especially since West Nile is crazy here. Is this Pregnancy safe?

    • crystal says

      When pregnant you have to be careful of some essential oils and rosemary unless it is cooked. If you go on mountain rose herbs site it will tell you on all the ingredients if it is safe for pregnant women or not. I would think since the rosemary is being infused it would be safe to use but always check with your doctor or an aromatherapist

  22. Erin Meryl Lautenbach says

    When you make it do you use a full cup of coconut oil then just use the reduced oil or do you use both the infused and the cup of coconut oil? Sorry I’m a complete newbie to the healthy living make your own world ( but I’m loving it)

  23. Katherine says

    How much zinc oxide would you recommend adding to these bars? We live next to the coast where sun and mosquitos are terrible! I have a new baby that I will be putting this on…. Thank you for all your help!

  24. Rosanna Davies says

    Hi Wellness Muma! I just live by your recipes and informative write ups, thank you for sharing your knowledge!
    I’m from the UK and (embarrassingly) I am petrified of wasps (and bees) would this repel them also? x

  25. Nicolette Maxey says

    Will this be ok without catnip if we have everything else? I won’t be ordering anything else from mountain rose herbs and I can’t pay $10 to ship some catnip lol.

  26. Jess says

    I apologize if this has been asked already, I’m wondering if you can add Zinc Oxide to make this a double duty beauty…I ask because I want something I can just slather on before working in my garden and not have a dozen and one bottles of stuff just so I can stay comfy

  27. Naomi says

    Hi Katie,
    I know you do your research on products- I am wondering if Young Living oils or DoTerra oils are as good as MRH oils. Is there a reason you specifically chose to get all your oils from MRH? I just wondered if it was price or quality or another reason. I have some Young Living oils but they are about 6-7 years old now. Its just expensive (as you know) to order a ton of oils and butters at one time. I really trust your judgement and thank you for all your work.

    • says

      I’ve found that MRH oils are cheaper and at least as good quality as DT or Yl. Also, despite the claims by both companies, I have a source that verified that most of DT/YL oils are made by the same company so there is really no difference in quality

      • Vickie says

        I have come across the same information regarding YL and DT oils… they are fantastically expensive and no better than MRH AND, MRH is clear about which EO’s you can use when pregnant etc… the others, who promote ingestion often neglect to mention these facts, which scare me :( MRH – great supplier, great quality and reasonable prices.

  28. Lindsey says

    I am curious about storage of these. I made them last night, they look and smell wonderful!! But they are very soft already (and it’s not hot out) is this something that you could/should keep in the fridge? closed container?

    thanks so much. having so much fun with your site.
    (already made your boo boo cream!)

  29. Brittany Benson says

    Can I infuse my coconut oil with all of the above mentioned herbs and use said coconut oil in the sunscreen bar recipe? I want a sun and bug repellent!

  30. Jess says

    When it says 1/4 cup rosemary is this the amount used for fresh or dried? I know typically in cooking you’d use 1/3 the amount of dried to sub for fresh.

    Also has anyone tried making these bars in metal muffin tins? I have many pans of these, but no silicone ones. I don’t want to make it and have it stick and ruin the batch.

    • Becki says

      Jess, try using greaseproof muffin cup liners. I’ve read in a few places that they work quite well for lotion bars and the like. I’m about to embark on lotion bar making and that’s what I got to use. :)

  31. Christine says

    Hi Wellness Mama,

    We are being relocated to Tanzania, Africa, which is a Malaria-risk area. I want to keep whole family safe but esspecially my 1yr old and 3yr old. Would you feel confident enough to use this product alone (with Mosquito nets at night), or because of the seriousness of Maleria, would you be inclined to double up with locally used commercial products? Sorry, I realise its at its tricky question I’m asking

  32. Emily says

    Do you know if the herbs and essential oils used in this recipe are considered safe to use while nursing? I have a hard time finding good info about safety while nursing; everything seems to focus on pregnancy. Thanks!

  33. Erica says

    Hi, love your site! We are going to a lake house in the woods in a week and I wanted to make these for myself and my family, however I am pregnant. I started checking the herbs on MRH, but the first two (catnip and rosemary) said no during pregnancy. Would they be as bad if put on skin? Less safe than commercial bug spray? Any substitute recipe for a prego? Thanks!

  34. Steph says

    If I want to put this in the deodorant containers will I follow this recipe or the lotion bar stick recipe and just add the oils? I noticed there is no vitamin e oil in the lotion bar stick recipe. Can I add vitamin e to the stick recipe? Also, will the bars melt if left in the car? Thank you so much!!!

  35. Angelica says

    Hello, thanks for the great looking recipe! Just so I’m clear, if I plan to use just the bug off blend essential oil and no other essential oils or herbs, how many drops of the bug off oil would I use ? Thanks!

  36. Linda Sanders says

    I’m very interested in the bug-off lotion bars. Where can I buy the ingredients? Are they available at a craft store? Or on line? Health food store?

  37. Margo says

    Great stuff; but I am vegan and most of the ingredients call for beeswax. What do you suggest in place of the beeswax? I am always looking for cruelty free, animal free products.

  38. Shanie says

    Can I use more coconut oil in place of Shea/cocoa butter? Iv searched high and low for them here in Uruguay and I’m not able to make online purchases.

  39. Lin Barrett says

    Found your blog on another I follow, which cited yours multiple times (Lifehack). After bookmarking a half-dozen pages, I gave up and subscribed. This is only one of many excellent recipes for self-care I’ve found on your site; thank you.

  40. Jody says

    My friend purchased the ingredients for me to make the lotion and got Shea body butter. I used it and found it doesn’t want to firm up on the bottom. Do you think adding more beeswax would help? Or would it still work ok not firmed up?

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