Essential oils can be used to great advantage in sprays, particularly to replace potentially dangerous aerosols. Depending on the choice of oil, the spray can be used to repel insects, to deodorise a room, to help prevent the spread of infection during epidemics or simply to create a pleasantly perfumed atmosphere.

A few drops of the chosen oil should be mixed with a little alcohol, and then added to water and shaken vigorously. If you intend to use the spray immediately, you can mix oils directly with water, provided that you shake the mixture well before using, and maybe once or twice during spraying. The oils will not, of course, mix with water, but will stay suspended in it for long enough to enable you to carry out the spraying. Proportions are not particularly important in sprays, but about 5% of oils to water is a good blend. See Dilution Rates for more information.

The best kind of spray to use is the ceramic kind sold for spraying indoor plants, but glass bottles which have originally held perfume or a deodorant can be recycled for holding small amounts of spray. The next best choice would be an ordinary plastic plant spray, but you should not leave an essential oil mixture standing in one of these, as the essential oil may react with the plastic and become contaminated. Just make as much spray as you will use on the same day.

Bergamot is one of the most deodorising oils, and is also a very good insect repellent, either alone or mixed with Lavender. Any of the Lemon-scented oils - Melissa, Lemon Verbena, Lemon-grass or Citronella - will deter insects too.

Oil of Eucalyptus is recommended by Jean Valnet for spraying the room where a sick person is being cared for, to help minimise the spread of infection. Rosemary and Juniper are other oils which can be used in the same way. When there is an epidemic, spray each room several times a day.

As a room perfume, you can spray virtually any essential oil you enjoy. A simple spray can be used to apply essential oils to the skin when it might be too painful to put them on directly. For example, a child suffering with chickenpox can be gently sprayed with a mixture of Camomile, Lavender and Eucalyptus, which will lower the child's temperature and soothe the spots. For this, the water should be very slightly warmed to avoid the shock of cold water on a feverish skin. You might adapt the same method to apply Lavender or Camomile or both to somebody with painful sunburn.

Use 20 drops of essential oil to 200 mls of water for perfuming, air freshening or deterring insects, and twice this amount as a spray during illness or epidemics.

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