Summertime often means camping, hiking, and spending more time outside. We’ve compiled some of our best essential oil–related tips for when you are out and about enjoying Mother Earth this summer.
Taking Oils with You
Since space is limited, a little organization and planning can help keep your essential oil necessities accessible and ready to use the moment they are needed. To keep your oils handy, you can try some of the following:
- Place a few essential oils you may use while camping or hiking in 5/8 dram vials. Put these small vials in a small zip-top bag, tin container, or small padded case, and attach to a backpack or place in an outside pocket for easy access.
- Create your own mixtures for cuts and bruises, bug bite remedies, sunscreen, cooling spray, wipes, insect repelling string, after-sun spray, etc., and store them in an easily accessible location.
- Take a metal water bottle with you so that you can easily add essential oils to your water if needed.
Staying Cool and Refreshed
Hiking or camping in the summer months can be very tiring due to the heat. One way to combat this is to add a few drops of peppermint and lavender to a 4 oz. spray bottle filled with water. Mist over your body (avoiding the eyes) to help you cool off. Some people prefer cooling wipes instead of a spray bottle.
You can also try adding a drop of peppermint to a glass or metal water bottle filled with water, and then drink it slowly. If you don’t have a glass or metal water bottle, try putting a drop of peppermint or a peppermint beadlet in your mouth; then as the oil fills your mouth, drink it down with water. Because some oils can break down plastic materials, especially thin plastics often used in making disposable water bottles, it is best to avoid putting oils in plastic water bottles.
Sun Protection and Sunburn
The best way to treat a sunburn is to avoid getting it in the first place. If you plan on spending more than 15 minutes in the sun, wear appropriate clothing and/or an appropriate sunscreen. A natural sunscreen can be made with helichrysum essential oil (see recipe below).
If you do get sunburned, try applying lavender to help relieve the pain from minor burns. A mix of lavender and peppermint (10 drops each) and 4 oz of water in a spray bottle helps cool the sunburned skin.
- Mix the carrier oil and essential oil together, and pour the mixture into a 2 oz. Plastic Bottle with Snap-top Cap.
- Apply the mixture to exposed areas of skin before going out into the sun. Reapply the sunscreen every few hours and after each time you get wet.
According to Modern Essentials, some oils that may repel insects are Insect Repellent Blend, patchouli, basil, lavender, lemongrass, cedarwood, eucalyptus, arborvitae, thyme, Cleansing Blend, and a blend of clove, lemon, and orange (p. 264). Valerie Ann Worwood, author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, recommends either diffusing insect repelling oils or placing ribbons or strings with the oils on them by windows, doorways, or other places that insects might like to enter. To keep insects from landing on you, she recommends using 30 drops lavender oil diluted in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Modern Essentials also recommends using a blend of 5 drops lavender, 5 drops lemongrass, 3 drops peppermint, and 1 drop thyme blended with a cup of water and sprayed on to help keep bugs away. Also, Insect Repellent Blend, patchouli, and lavender essential oil help repel mosquitoes if rubbed on skin or diluted in water and misted onto the skin. As mentioned above, you can also place oil on small ribbons, strings, or cloth and hang them around you. If you do get bitten, lavender essential oil may help soothe the area and reduce itching.
Please see our posts about Repelling Bugs & Insects and Soothing Insect Bites and Stings for more information on these subjects.
Accidentally running into poison oak or poison ivy while outdoors is not very fun. Modern Essentials recommends rose, lavender, Joyful Blend, and Roman chamomile oils for helping to deal with the after-effects of poison ivy if you do run into it (p. 288).
Bears are naturally curious animals and have a sense of smell 2,100 times greater than humans. They are especially attracted to sweet smells found in many essential oils. Be careful using essential oils if you are in bear country. Many wildlife safety tips say to not bring anything with a strong odor if you are camping or hiking in bear country. Contact your local forest station for safety guidelines.
Additional Tips & Testimonials
- “While on a hike, peppermint in a small spray bottle with water helps us cool down quite quickly!” – Adelle Sperry Lems
- “I carry all my oils all the time. When we camp, I use lemon in my water to keep me hydrated. Eucalyptus to repel bugs, lavender and melaleuca to deal with any bites, peppermint to stay cool, Protective Blend to kill germs, Invigorating Blend keeps me smelling nice, patchouli for injuries, and Soothing Blend to keep my body from feeling sore.” – Barbara Anne
- “When I hike or ride my motorcycle, I take my keychain filled with all the essentials. Respiratory Blend is a must for when you’re out of breath on a particularly tough trail. I always like to have Protective Blend and lemon in there as well, just in case it’s necessary to sanitize. Then in case of scrapes or bruises, I bring lavender, melaleuca, Soothing Blend, and peppermint. I also like to use the peppermint if it’s hot out––it really helps to keep me cool and comfortable. Lastly, I bring a little fractionated coconut oil. I don’t always need to dilute my oils, but it’s nice to be prepared in case I do.” – Kresta Sanchez Glaser (Pocatello, ID)
- “I just love Insect Repellent Blend :o). I also make sure to bring lemongrass for sprains and a blend of geranium and lavender for bruises. And a little vial of Cleansing Blend, in case the bugs are REALLY persistent!”
– Annalea Eastley (Sandpoint, ID)
- “When the yellow jackets are out and hovering around, I’ve used patchouli oil applied to my pulse points. When they approach, it makes them do a u-turn and fly away from me!” – Deb Gar
- “Melaleuca and lemon (takes out the sting & itch) for mosquito bites: it’s our Alaskan outdoor go-to combo.” – Sandra Smallwood
- “I make my own face wipes using the oils, and they are so handy for washing your face and hands while in the woods without a shower!!” – Katie Coble (Powell, WY)
- “We used diluted lavender in a spray bottle for sunburn, the recipe in Modern Essentials for insect repellent [above], and we used Protective Cleaner concentrate to wash all the mildew off of the inside of our boat. This worked great!” – Laureen Lees Eichelberger (Irwin, PA)
- “We love to diffuse wild orange at home to help with calming and feelings of happiness; so when we were traveling over July 4th with our four children, I desperately wanted to diffuse it in the car. So I put several drops on a baby wipe and hung it in front of the air conditioner vents. Worked wonderfully!” – Dixie Smith Cornelius
- “For camping, outdoors, or your sitting car (hot areas?), place your oils in a tin box, and then store in your cooler so the heat doesn’t ruin your oils.” – Melanie Poll Fisher (Hemet, CA)
- “I bought the purple mini carry case with the 5/8 dram vials, and I just put 8 of my go-to oils into it and clip it on my belt loop. It is perfect for when we go hiking and camping because all I have to do is unclip it and apply the oils. I can easily refill them but don’t have to worry about any extra weight (not as though the 5 or 15mL are that much heavier, but still), and it allows me to bring my own special mixtures too!” – Christina Donovan
What oils do you use when camping or while spending time outdoors?