With summer fun comes outdoor parties, patio dinners and, inevitably, bugs. But if you’re looking to make a natural bug solution to avoid DEET and other chemicals found in conventional mosquito and insect repellents, an essential oil diffuser bracelet provides a stylish solution. When infused with oils that bugs hate, like citronella, lavender and geranium, these DIY bug repelling bracelets provide a wearable way to keep bugs at bay, and look cute while doing it.
The best part is that these clay beads are cinch to make and so easy to customize. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
- DAS Air Dry Clay
- Clay hole cutting tool (or wooden skewer)
- Stretch Magic 1mm Beading Cord (or other jewelry making stretch cord)
- Acrylic craft paint
- Paint brush
- Paint marker
- Craft paper or wax paper (optional to cover work surface)
Step 1 — Prep your clay and work surface.
Cover your work surface with craft paper or wax paper. Cut or break off a handful of air dry clay. Add a few drops of water to clay to soften and knead with hands to incorporate water.
Step 2 — Shape your beads.
Break off a blueberry-sized piece of clay and roll into a ball. Each bead does not have to be a perfect sphere — we love the organic, handmade nature of each bead. As you’re rolling each bead, the clay should be soft and moldable, not too dry or wet and mushy. If you notice that clay seems dry or is cracking as you’re rolling each bead, add a drop of water to keep clay moist.
Step 3 — Pierce holes in beads.
Once each bead is a nice round shape (again, roughly the size of a blueberry) use your clay hole cutting tool or wooden skewer to pierce a hole through the center of your sphere. Make sure that hole reaches through both sides to ensure you can push string through it later.
Step 4 — Repeat.
Roll about 20 finished beads. The final number of beads you will need to make each bracelet will vary as final bracelet length is determined by wrist size. Optional textured bead design: To increase the amount of oil our beads could absorb, I used my cutting tool to make small round indentations in some of my beads. To do this, use your hole cutting tool or wooden skewer to make small round indentions on the outside of beads. Carefully press your tool or skewer only a few millimeters into each bead, making sure that you don’t alter the shape of the bead or puncture the hole you’ll use to string each bead.
Step 5 — Let beads dry.
Set beads aside on wax paper or craft paper to dry according to DAS package instructions. Ours dried completely overnight.
Step 6 — Paint and customize your beads.
Once dry, use acrylic craft paint to paint beads. A medium or fine-tipped paint marker also comes in handy to create easy patterns on some beads. I used gold, black and white paint markers to make polka dots, lines, squiggles and some more organically shaped spots. I also left quite a few of my beads au naturel because I liked the cool white hue of the clay.
Pro tip: To avoid getting paint on your fingers — or having painted beads stick to paper while drying — I put some extra wood skewers to use. Simply place a bead on the tip of a skewer by sliding skewer into the hole you’ve made in each bead. Then hold skewer and rotate it as you paint the bead. Once you’ve finished painting each bead, place the skewer in a glass while paint dries. Once your beads are dry, simply remove from skewers.
Step 7 — String beads.
Once beads are dry, cut a length of the stretchy beading cord based on the size of your wrist, leaving an extra inch or two on each end for tying. String beads on stretchy cord until you’ve reached your desired length. Tie off stretchy cord in a knot according to cord packaging instructions and cut off excess. If you’d like, you can add a dot of glue to keep the knot secure.
Now for the fun part! Apply a few drops of essential oils to several beads. When applying, keep in mind that many essential oils shouldn’t be applied directly to your skin undiluted, so you’ll want to apply oils to the sections of beads that are away from your skin. Or mix up our Bug Be Gone blend below to dilute the oils before applying to the beads.
If mosquitoes are your main concern, oils like citronella, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, and lavender are said to repel them. If fleas are more of an issue, opt for oils like cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemongrass, lavender, orange, and pine. And, if you’re in a tick-prone area, opting for a few drops of rose geranium, juniper, rosewood, thyme, grapefruit, or oregano should do the trick. Or, if you don’t have those essential oils on hand, try an all-purpose blend like NOW’s Bug Ban.
Bug Be Gone Blend
Add the essential oils to 2 teaspoons of carrier oil and place a few drops to your beads. You can use the above mixture, blend your own or use just one oil. Don’t go overboard; 5 drops of essential oil for 2 teaspoons of carrier oil is a good guideline.
While I love to use a custom mix of some of the bug-repelling oils listed above to keep pests at bay in the summer, you can always mix it up depending on your mood or ailment. Once the scent wears off, you can reapply the same mix or try a new blend. I’ll be adding citronella to mine for weekend BBQs!
Still got bugs? Try adding these bug-repelling plants to your patio.33