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The Best Insect-Repellents tested

Image courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.netImage courtesy of alex_ugalek at FreeDigitalPhotos.netHow is it that the smallest of creatures can have the biggest impact?

The high pitched zzzz of a mosquito in the bedroom sends a shiver down the spine of the toughest of us.


Admittedly they don’t go for me often, I’m one of the lucky ones with bad tasting blood I guess, but when they do... they sure make up for it! My skin reacts strongly and I’ll be a mass of swelling :( Luckily all we really have to worry about in the UK is some serious itching and an unsightly array of bumps (which is bad enough in itself!) but in countries where Malaria or Dengue Fever is rife, or even the more recently worrying Zika virus, one bite can leave you very ill indeed.


When we used to keep horses my mum, using her knowledge as an aromatherapist, would mix a potent brew of essential oils which we used diluted (never put essential oils on your skin undiluted) in a spray bottle on both the horses and ourselves against the big-biters we encountered in the field. If you've not encountered them personally, trust me when I say that compared to Horse and Cattle flies, mosquitoes are wimps! Folks report mixed results using citronella oil, some it works for and some it doesn’t do a thing, but ‘mothers brew’ contained garlic oil as well which drove EVERYTHING away (proving the rule about garlic and vampires – though also earning us many a sideways glance in the supermarket)! To say we stank would be an understatement… 


I’ve been planning a post on repellents for a while but like many things hadn’t gotten around to it until today. I can’t really take the credit since the folks at did the hard work, we just get to reap the rewards in happy bite-free skin! That’s nice of them isn’t it?



OFF! Deep Woods

(contains DEET)

There are many arguments for and against repellents containing the chemical DEET, and of course our attitude at The Waki Way is generally that you shouldn’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat – but then I also appreciate that a zillion mosquito bites (especially in high risk areas) will feel far more damaging than what DEET might do to you, if used correctly. That being said if you’re totally against using it, then stick to your guns and don’t since they found plenty that work well without it – more power to you! Whatever you’d rather, head on over to to see the full report and the runners up.

I’m really impressed that the natural repellent made it into the top 4, although a little pricey I’ll likely be placing an order for some of that and by the sounds of it smells much nicer than ‘mothers brew’ so we shouldn’t clear the campsite!


I only itched my head a few (hundred) times whilst writing this, how did you fare reading? Comments and personal horror stories below… 


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Sarah is a UK artist and writer with a lifetime interest in camping and survival techniques.

Living the #vanlife since before it was a hashtag and touring on two wheels with her husband Ryan, they have a wealth of camping and motorcycling knowledge to share, and know a thing or two about packing light! read more

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