Spring is here and summer will soon follow for most of us that means two things, bugs and bug bites. Nothing is more annoying that the burning, itching, pain and swelling of insect bites. Whether it is from working in the garden or playing in the yard, those pesky pests never seem to stop. Bug spray's only seem to slow them down and never seem to last long enough, so the result of a day out doors seems to be a night of endless scratching. Now is the perfect time to make a batch of herbal bug stuff. It is easy to make, will keep for years and best of all, it works. All you need to make the best bug bite remedey "not on the market" today is a bottle of vodka, a bunch of basil, and a jar.
The vodka needs to be at least 80 proof, more if you can find it, but any brand will do. After all, you will not be drinking it so it doesn't matter what it tastes like.
The basil can be either fresh or dried and is best if you have grown it yourself. That way you know what is on it and what it has been exposed to. Last thing you want to do is further complicate things with a bunch of pesticides on your plants. If you can't or haven't grown your own, and must use store purchased basil, make sure you buy a brand you are familiar with from a company you trust. If you would eat it, then it is pretty safe to use it on your skin. If using fresh basil, use twice as much as you would dried Fresh basil leaves still contain water which takes up some of the volume. Dried basil has had the water removed leaving only the herb and it's oils behind.
Make sure the jar (or bottle) you are using has been cleaned and sterialized. A dark colored bottle or jar is best, but if you are using a clear one, you can either make a cover for it to block out the light or just store it in a dark place out of the sunlight. Make sure you have a lid for whatever you use. The lid or cap must fit on tight to prevent spilling or evaporation.
Place the basil in the jar or bottle. If using fresh basil, fill the jar to to top, for dried basil half or a little less will be fine. Next pour in the vodka, fill the jar almost completley with vodka leaving a little room at the top. Place the lid on the jar, make sure it is tight, and give the jar a shake, shake, shake, then put it somewhere safe. Placing the jar in a cabnit or cupboard will be fine, but you will need to be able to shake the bottle a little every day or so for at least two weeks. After two weeks you can strain the basil out of the jar, pouring the liquid through a cheese cloth or a coffee filter into a different steralized bottle or jar. Discard or compost the used basil. Your bug stuff will keep in a dark place for two to five years. You can make as little or as much as you want and store it for use all season long.
Place your ready to use bottle of bug stuff in the medicine cabnit or first aid kit. As soon after noticing a sting or a bite, dab a little of the stuff on the area, the sooner the better. Re-apply as often as needed to ease itching and swelling and to speed healing.
I discovered this recipe years ago and have not gone a summer with out it since. I keep a small bottle of it in my bag when going out or in the first aid kit at all times. Just as a sample of how well (and fast) this stuff works, I got stung on my forehead while working in the garden one day. I immedieately put a dab of bug stuff on the sting and went back to work. By the time I finished working in the garden, you couldn't even see where I had been stung.
*Hint: An old wine bottle will hold all the bug stuff you make and you can use old herb and spice bottles to take your bug stuff with you where ever you go.