Bug Repellent Lotion Bars

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Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
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Ever since I discovered how to make my original lotion bars, I’ve been experimenting with different variations including sunscreen bars, Vapo-Rub bars, and others. Today’s favorite: bug repellent lotion bars!

They are as easy to make as the original bars, and they 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.

Items Needed

I also use silicone 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.

Homemade all natural bug repellent lotion bars
4.83 from 17 votes

Bug Repellant Lotion Bar Recipe

Keep away bugs without chemicals using herbs and essential oils in a nourishing lotion bar.
Active Time15 minutes
Infusing Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Yield: 10 bars
Author: Katie Wells



To infuse the herbs into the coconut oil

  • 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 coconut oil in the top part of the double boiler and add the dried rosemary, cloves, thyme, cinnamon, catnip, and mint.
  • 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 the 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.
  • 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!

To make the lotion bars

  • Add the butter(s) and beeswax to the double boiler with the infused coconut oil and stir until all have melted.
  • Remove from the heat and add the Vitamin E oil and any other essential oils.
  • Pour it into the molds.
  • Leave in the molds until completely set (overnight is best). Or you can speed up the process by placing it in the fridge.


To use, rub the bars on exposed areas of DRY skin to protect against mosquitoes. If you are pregnant, check to make sure any herbs you use are safe for pregnancy and omit the ones that aren’t.
I use cupcake-size molds for my lotion bars. If you use a different size, your yield will be different.

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!

These homemade bug repellent lotion bars have herbs and essential oils to repel insects and bugs while you are outdoors!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


160 responses to “Bug Repellent Lotion Bars”

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Slightly when it first goes on but not after a couple minutes

  1. Jane Avatar

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

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It would, but it would be more of a spreadable lotion than a bar….

  2. Meagan Avatar

    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?

  3. Genni Avatar

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      The ones I have are over a year old and going strong…

    1. Gary Bingham Avatar
      Gary Bingham

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

  4. Jane Avatar

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

  5. Sonja Ina McLean Avatar
    Sonja Ina McLean

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      They will still last a really long time since they are all oil based and the individual ingredients have a shelf life of 2+ years…

  6. Rachel S. Bell Avatar
    Rachel S. Bell

    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.

    1. Gary Bingham Avatar
      Gary Bingham

      I was going to ask this as well, did you try it yet? How did it turn out?

    2. jessica Avatar

      I’m thinking about adding a couple tbsp of zinc oxide in order to make it more multi-purpose….pretty much its the only difference between this and the sunscreen recipe I’m planning to use.

  7. Kassidy Avatar

    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.

    1. Cheryl Maynard Avatar
      Cheryl Maynard

      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.

      1. natalie Avatar

        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

  8. missa Avatar

    if i wan’t to have it in liquid form, is it going to have the same performance?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yes, just leave out the beeswax and butters and just use a carrier oil…

    1. natalie Avatar

      I put all my dried ingredients in a tea bag and place them in a jar of coconut oil and let set in my crockpot on low for a few days. I’ve always had great results.

  9. Hannah Randall Avatar
    Hannah Randall

    I just love your site! I found you through a post someone put on fb and I have been surfing thorugh all you neat recipes. You have a new subscriber!

  10. Sarah Tangalakis Breinich Avatar
    Sarah Tangalakis Breinich

    I have sheets of beeswax, typically used for crafts. Can I use those to make this or is there something different that I need?

  11. Sam Avatar

    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.  

  12. Angela Avatar

    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.

  13. Alicia Joy Avatar
    Alicia Joy

    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!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      That will work, and add about 1/3 more beeswax or reduce the amount of oil by 1/2…

    1. Sharla Avatar

      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!!!

      1. Jennifer Avatar

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

        1. Kirstin Avatar

          Jennifer, You should be extremely careful using essential oils on cats. cats don’t tolerate essential oils well and they can be very harmful to them. Cats lack an enzyme in their liver that break down the compounds in essential oils so essential oils can be very toxic for them and problems can occur very quickly after exposure.

  14. Sam Avatar

    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?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      If you just used the essential oil you wouldn’t need the others though the rosemary smells great if you do use it… If not, melt the oils and wax first, remove from heat and then add the essential oils

      1. Kara Avatar

        About how much would you need to add of the bug off blend if that is all you used instead of the herbs?

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar
          Wellness Mama

          20-30 drops probably, but add a little at a time and see how it goes. You should be able to smell it but it shouldn’t be overwhelming.

      2. Robin McGregor Avatar
        Robin McGregor

        I have heard good things about the essential oils but have also heard that they can be really bad for you. How do you know?

      3. Stefanie Avatar

        Is this safe to use while breastfeeding and on young babies and toddlers?

    2. Trina Avatar

      Ok, I’m sorry I am really confused. Is the Bug off blend the Bug out repellent? And if I add the bug off then I don’t add the herbs correct? Sorry, this is my first time trying anything like this.

    3. trina Avatar

      One last question, can you use the herbs that you buy at the store for food; like thyme, cinnamon, cloves etc?

    4. Kelly Avatar

      If I infuse the herbs, and want to add the essential oils, do I use the lavender, lemon AND the insect blend or just one?

    5. Katherine Avatar

      Hi – thanks for all your great recipes – I’ve been really enjoying making lotion bars for myself andy loved ones! For this recipe, if I use the “mason jar in water” infusion method, won’t I end up with one cup of coconut oil instead of the half cup it would reduce to, otherwise? Should I just use half of it for the recipe, in order to keep the proportions correct? Thanks!

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