I don’t like to use harsh chemicals on me or my animals. Aside from the reactions I usually have because my body is super sensitive, I just don’t understand why we insist on using toxins when natural, non-toxic alternatives are available. The downside is that usually the “all-natural” choices are much more expensive. Fly spray is no exception. Last year, I used a leading brand’s all-natural fly spray in the bright green bottle….to the tune of $26.99 a pop! If you are spraying several horses once or twice a day, that can add up quick!
Since it’s about time to break out the spray again, I looked at the ingredients – 96 percent inert ingredients including water and glycerin? What exactly am I paying for?? The small amount of essential oils? I decided to try to make my own.
This is where having a vet tech hubby comes in handy. I put him to work choosing oils that are safe and effective. Here is our recipe.
Ingredients for All Natural Horse Spray
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Eucalyptus oil
- 1 tsp Citronella oil
- 1 tsp Tea Tree oil
- Optional: 1 tsp cedar wood oil (see comments below)
- 24 oz spray bottle
Makes 24 oz of fly spray
Making the Spray
This is easy! The only main thing is do this somewhere WELL VENTILATED! Remember, the oils (citronella in particular) are very strong. My entire house smelled like it for the whole day with the windows open.
I poured the water in first. Then I measured the apple cider vinegar and added to the measuring cup the essentials oils.
Then I simply poured it in the the spray bottle, attached the top, and shook it.
Comparing To Commercial Spray
The ingredients of the commercial spray mentioned above are as follows:
- Thyme oil…0.01%
- Cedar Oil…0.05%
- Rosemary oil…0.05%
- Citronella oil…0.06%
- Clove oil…0.08%
- Sodium lauryl sulfur…2.50%
- Inert Ingredients…96.50% – water and glycerin
As you can see, we chose very similar ingredients, but left out the unnecessary ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfur. What’s that? Well according to the Open Chemistry Database, it’s used as a wetting and/or foaming agent and a detergent in cosmetics. Not sure why you need cleaners in your fly spray that you are putting on your horse’s coat and leaving on it every day, but there you have it. (Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Glycerin is used for many things – It also attracts moisture to the skin (they use it in soap and lotions), but not sure if that’s helpful in a fly spray. In its natural form, it’s also sweet-tasting which make you wonder if it would attract biting insects? No way to know, but it does not dissolve into oils, only water and alcohol. You can go here to learn more about it, but from what we read we don’t see a reason to put it in fly spray.
At my local feed store, this stuff is priced at $26.99 for a 32 oz bottle, making it roughly $0.84/ounce.
For our ingredients, I paid:
- 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar 32oz – $2.19 ($0.73 per recipe, makes 3 recipes)
- 1 tsp Eucalyptus oil 30mL – $5.99 ($0.99 per recipe, makes 6 recipes)
- 1 tsp Citronella oil 30mL- $10.49 ($1.75 per recipe, makes 6 recipes)
- 1 tsp Tea Tree oil 30mL – $5.99 ($0.99 per recipe, makes 6 recipes)
Water is practically free, so I didn’t include a price for that in my ingredients. The above ingredients totals: $4.46 for 24oz or $0.18/oz. That’s almost a FIFTH of the price. And I paid $2.99 for the reusable bottle. But even with that, it’s waaay cheaper.
About cedar oil. Cedar oil is expensive, which is why we made it optional. I found a 15mL bottle (so makes 3 recipes) for $4.39, making it about $1.46 a recipe. If you add that to your spray, it would increase the price to $0.25 an ounce. Still cheaper than the commercial brand!
Now, I did find this bran online for $18.99, but that still makes it $0.59 an ounce, plus shipping.
BUT does it work? To test it, we sprayed it on our mini mare, Arwen, and sprayed nothing on our other mare. We went back out five hours later to see where the flies were at.
Hard to see, but Rarity had flies all over her face, and her tail was swishing constantly
Arwen, on the other hand, had no flies on her face and was only occasional swishing her tail
Homemade is still cheaper and it works just as well. So, now you can stop using chemicals and go natural AND save yourself some money. You win on all accounts.