Last year, I made insect repellent using whole stalks of catnip we had growing in our garden. I filled a quart jar as full as possible. Then I filled it with vegetable glycerin and waited about 3 weeks. Then we put about a 1/1 ratio mix of glycerin and water in spray bottles, kept them in the fridge and used them successfully all summer.
This year, I decided to make the tincture out of alcohol instead of glycerin because I thought the glycerin left a slightly soapy feeling on my skin. So… It came out much, much greener than I expected, although it doesn’t seem to stain clothes. I also made a mint glycerin that I am using just to make it smell more pleasant to humans. The ratio so far – and we like to tinker – is about 2 pts tincture, 1 pt. glycerin, 3 pts. water. So far so good. Mint, by the way, while pleasant to humans is unpleasant to skeeters and also a good repellent. You may also want to try any member of the mint family – lemon balm, bee balm – also yarrow, thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender.
Please tinker with this recipe and tell me if you hit on one that is especially pleasant to humans and deterrant to bugs. We live in Georgia and have a pond – so I always start with the ingredient that’s supposed to be 10 times more effective than Deet - cat nip. But if you don’t have the looming threat of West Nile virus, by all means, have fun with it.