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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DIY Itchy Stix for Bug-Bite Relief

Jan Berry
Hobby Farms Guest Blogger

Itchy Stix - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry

Warm weather heralds the return of fun, outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, hiking and gardening. Unfortunately, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats and other creepy-crawlies that like nibbling on humans enjoy this time of year, too!

My homemade anti-itch sticks are perfect for treating the discomfort of pesky bug bites. Their easy-to-apply form makes it convenient for letting older kids self-treat. The ingredients are all natural and can also be used on scrapes, scratches and other minor boo-boos, as well.

The base of the recipe is calendula-infused oil, but if you don't have any flowers available, plantain or violet leaves offer similar soothing properties and can be substituted. Peppermint essential oil is added for its cooling benefit, while lavender contributes anti-inflammatory properties. If you'd like, you can also add a drop of tea tree oil to fight infection-causing microbes.

Infusing the Oil
To make the infused oil, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried calendula flowers to a pint jar. Pour a high quality oil, such as olive or sunflower oil, over the plant matter until you almost reach the top, leaving a little room for expansion. Cover the jar and tuck it away in a dark cupboard for about four weeks, shaking occasionally.

If you want to make this sooner, fill the jar with dried flowers and oil as above, but don't cover the jar. Place it in a small saucepan filled with a couple of inches of water. Set the saucepan over a medium-low burner and gently heat the water for about 1 to 2 hours to speed up the infusion process. Keep a close eye on the pan, making sure the water stays under a simmer and doesn't completely evaporate. Remove the jar from the hot water and let cool to room temperature before proceeding.

Strain the infused oil from the flowers and use in the recipe below. Any remaining oil can be stored in a clean glass jar, in a cool, dark place for 9 months to a year.

Itchy Stix - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry

Ingredients

  • 3 T. calendula infused oil

  • 1 T. beeswax

  • 5 drops peppermint essential oil

  • 3 drops lavender essential oil

  • 1 drop tea tree essential oil (optional)

  • 6 lip balm tubes

Step 1
Combine the oil and beeswax in a small, heat-proof container. A recycled tin can makes for easy cleanup or you can use a small mason jar.

Set the container of wax and oil down into a small saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches water, forming a makeshift double boiler. Place the pan over a medium-low burner until the beeswax is melted.

Step 2
Remove from heat and add essential oils.

Itchy Stix - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry

Step 3
Carefully fill six lip balm tubes with the hot mixture and allow to cool before capping.

Step 4
Print the labels on sticker paper, available in office supply stores. Cut out and affix to each lip balm tube. Regular sticker paper will eventually smudge and smear, so if you plan to give these as gifts, you may want to invest in waterproof paper, available here.

Itchy Stix - Photo by Jan Berry (HobbyFarms.com)
Photo by Jan Berry

Itchy Six Tips:

  • If you find the salve too soft for your needs, try remelting and adding a little more beeswax to firm the texture up.

  • If you don't have a source of lip balm containers, you can pour the hot mixture into a small tin or jar instead to dab on bug bites as needed.

  • If you're allergic to one of the essential oils in this recipe or dislike its scent, you can omit it. Other options include using all peppermint oil or all lavender oil or leaving the essential oils out completely. Calendula oil by itself is still a helpful skin treatment.

  • If you're pregnant, nursing or have chronic health issues, check with a health care professional before using a product containing essential oils.

  • Itchy Stix are not for use by infants or very small children who may try to eat the product.
Jan Berry at The Craft Hub
About Jan Berry
Jan is a goat-chasing, soap-making, homeschooling farm wife who loves vintage tea cups, word games and turning weeds into beautiful things. She joins the Craft Hub each month with DIY body care recipes and projects. She can also be found at her blog, The Nerdy Farm Wife.

 

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DIY Itchy Stix for Bug-Bite Relief

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Reader Comments
Hi Erica,
T=tablespoons. Let us know how your Itcy Stix turn out!
Hobby Farms Editor, Lexington, KY
Posted: 6/16/2014 7:30:15 AM
3T. meaning tablespoons or teaspoons? Would love to try this - just made some infused dandelion oil waiting to be used =)
Erica, Saranac Lake, NY
Posted: 6/14/2014 8:51:11 AM
Hi Rose,

I use plantain leaves from the weed that can often be found growing in backyards across the country, not the fruit. I'm sorry for the confusion - I should have been more specific as to which type!

Here's a link to a bit of info with a few photos: LINK You can dry the leaves and use them at a similar proportion as calendula.

Another option you may want to try are dandelion flowers. Dandelion salve is one of our favorite skin treatments around here. I even use it on my dogs - great stuff. I have info on specially treating dandelions here: LINK You could use that flower oil instead of calendula.

I hope one of those options are available for you, but if not, then let me know and we'll brainstorm some more!
Jan, The Nerdy Farm Wife, VA
Posted: 6/8/2014 6:44:44 AM
Thank you so much for sharing your homegrown knowledge and recipes! I was wondering how much plantain you would add and if you use the skins or actual fruit. I live in S. Florida and can't get calendula locally, but plantain is readily available.
Rose, Miami, FL
Posted: 6/7/2014 4:19:31 AM
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