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. Katherine Avatar

    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!

  2. christina Avatar

    can these bug off bars and sunscreen bars be used on babies…would make great gifts if they could!

  3. Madison Avatar

    What could you substitute for the rosemary. I have always been told not to use it since I have high blood pressure.

  4. Erin Meryl Lautenbach Avatar
    Erin Meryl Lautenbach

    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)

  5. Brigid Fellenbaum Avatar
    Brigid Fellenbaum

    Does Fractionated Coconut Oil work for this recipe? I have some in stock already.

  6. Rebecca Avatar

    Is the citronella essential to this? I have a severe allergy to Citronella.

  7. Jade Avatar

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

    1. crystal Avatar

      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

  8. Susie Keast Avatar
    Susie Keast

    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.

  9. Volet Avatar

    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!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yep, but I’d probably also use protective clothing to help avoid both…

      1. Volet Avatar

        =) 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.

  10. natalie Avatar

    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?

  11. natalie Avatar

    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!

  12. Sarah Waters Avatar
    Sarah Waters

    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.

  13. Mindy McCrea Avatar
    Mindy McCrea

    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…

  14. Tonya Willman Avatar
    Tonya Willman

    How do you buy beeswax? I only know of the sheets you can buy to make into candles.

  15. heather Avatar

    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

  16. Vicki Ketcham Avatar
    Vicki Ketcham

    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 : )

    1. Jane Avatar

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

      1. Retta Avatar

        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.

  17. Cassie Oglesby Avatar
    Cassie Oglesby

    And what is the purpose of said “bug off blend”?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      My kids use them… the bug off blend is just a mix of all the essential oils to make it easier…

  18. Cassie Oglesby Avatar
    Cassie Oglesby

    I’m noticing Mosquitos are getting bad….can my 6 month old son use these bars?

  19. Eulli Avatar

    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 🙂

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I”d use the herbs and about 10 drops of each oil that you have…’

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