Lemon Eucalyptus

When I look out my office window, this is what I see almost every time:

Typical view of my backyard
Typical view of my backyard

I know, it’s fuzzy. But do you see the deer? Wearing jewelry? These are a few of the 200 or so deer in my neighborhood. Unlike the deer where I used to live (out in the country), these deer roam visibly in large gangs, and are not terribly afraid of humans (or even small dogs, apparently). This causes all sorts of problems, including home invasion by aggressive deer. I wish I were kidding. The most pressing problem, however, are deer ticks. Deer Tick! I keep bees! Sometimes they crawl on me! Sometimes they sting me! But this! This! Nope! That is a big cup of nope. Don’t want it, don’t like it. Besides being generally gross, they carry Lyme Disease.

Every parent I know starts doing daily tick checks in April and they go on until frost. And yes, I’ve known people who came down with Lyme disease around here, even people who cover up well and do regular checks. And it’s miserable.

So it’s a big deal. No one wants to treat themselves or their kids for Lyme. No one wants to pull ticks off their kids. And if you don’t have a cooperative partner, how in the world do you check yourself? Ticks loves the warm, dark places… you know, the ones you can’t necessarily check, even with both hands and a mirror.

A document by the Connecticut Agricultural Extension makes recommendations for how to handle and repel these ticks (makes sense, right, since Lyme was discovered there). DEET works, of course, but  so does… Lemon eucalyptus. Here’s the thing: lemon eucalyptus is not the best smelling stuff in the world. It’s not horrid or anything, but it’s a bit medicinal. But you can make a spray with it, and spray your clothes and shoes and skin (keep it out of your eyes and mouth!), and that will be as effective as DEET, according to the Extension people (who are entomologists and the like, and should know about this stuff). Now, just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, of course. After all, ticks are natural and they’re not so safe. But it has been rated as safe for adults and children, and I can make it rather than buy it. Which I like. I also made this:

I figure it’s one more layer of scent between my little girl and the 8-legged bloodsucking beasties.

It’s a hot processed soap. Normally, I do cold process, where the oils and lye are mixed, colored, scented, and poured into molds, where they can get quite hot indeed–180-200F–as the chemical process of lye turning oil into soap happens.

Hot processing means you “cook” the soap to saponify the oils, and only once the soap has cooled a bit do you add the scent. The advantage is that the essential oils are less likely to “flash off,” because the soap is around 150F, not 200F, as it is during either the “cook” or the confusingly-named “cold process.”

So it’s rustic looking, but I was able to use a good amount of lemon eucalyptus, and not have any of it flash off in hot soap. Nice, eh? And I added a little mineral green, for looks.

Hot process doesn’t need to cure as long as cold process, since it’s fully “cooked,” and some of the water has been evaporated already. So this will be in GreenStar and the People’s Market of Lansing soon.

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