Bug Off: Geranium Oil Properties

Posted on March 30 2021

Pelargonium (geranium oil) properties

The purpose of this article is to illustrate why it is not necessary to use Rose-Geranium in home made insect repellents. 

In my opinion it is simply a marketing ploy purported by distributors to encourage the sale of a higher priced oil.

There are no viable resources indicating that Rose-Geranium is more efficient at repelling insects. If you examine the percentage levels of each of the following Geranium Oils you will notice they are more or less on par. The Rose-Geranium from South Africa and the Geranium Bourbon type from Reunion are much more expensive essential oils because the production yield from raw material to distilled oil is less which makes the oil more expensive.  As well there are other constituents that occur in the South African and Reunion oil such as linalool and rose oxide (not listed) that make these oils smell sweeter and more rose-like and are preferred by the perfume and fragrance industry. 

Geranium Essential Oil Comparison: Related to approximate levels of alcohols and aldehydes compared to Palmarosa and Lemongrass Essential Oil.

The chemicals sited in this table are a representation of the most effective insect repellent constituents.

The non-organic Geranium from Egypt (highlighted in blue) which is the more affordable oil is a perfectly fine Geranium Oil for making home made insect repellents. Also notice the high percentage levels (highlighted in blue) of Geraniol and Geranial in Palmarosa and Lemongrass.  These two essential oils are very affordable and effective.

Often customers will ask, why do you stock 3 or 4 varieties of the same essential oil?
I use different species of the same essential oil for different purposes, because as a Professional Aromatherapist I analyze the levels of chemical constituents in order to choose the most efficient for the application.

Often customers will say, I read on the internet that Rose-Geranium is better for repelling ticks.
That's b
ecause the internet is riddled with tonnes of construed and poor information. Geranium Oil does not come from the typical garden variety that are prized as bedding and container plants in North America and Europe.

Geranium Oil is extracted from shrubby evergreen perennials known as Pelargoniums (scented geraniums) and there are approximately 140 varieties that grow native all over the world and most cast a rosy-citrus aroma. Over the last few hundred years these hardy drought and heat resistant plants have been cross-bred to produce a wide range of scents that include almond, cinnamon, eucalyptus, grapefruit, peppermint and strawberry. Commercial Pelargonium farming has become big business due to the abundance of oil that can be extracted from the leaves and flowers which is used extensively in the manufacturing of scented products especially the rose-scented Geraniums.

Often customers will ask, so why do you use Rose-Geranium in your natural outdoor spray?
If I were to make 2 different formulas one-without and one-with the Rose-Geranium type most people will buy the latter because that's what they have heard, and often I find it futile trying to explain.

The constituents that occur in essential oils that are the most effective at repelling  insects are the alcohols Citrolellol and Geraniol and the aldehydes Citronellal and Geranial.

Not listed in the table above but worth mentioning are Citronella Oil and Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citradora) because these two oils contain the highest levels of citronellal.

Citronella: Citronellal = 36.04%

Eucalyptus (Lemon/citriadora): Citronellal = 76.3%
Eucalyptus citriadora should be used in very low dilutions especially with children.

Eugenol which occurs in clove oil is also a very effect repellent and contact insecticide against mites, fleas and other common household pests.

Caution:  It is very important to dilute all essential oils in a medium such as a vegetable oil or lotion.  However, most of the essential oils that contain high levels of aldehydes can cause skin irritation therefore it is best to use them sparingly at low dilutions of 3 - 5% along with other essential oils that are known to be less irritating to the skin such as Lavender and Cedarwood. When making a water based body or linen spray a polysorbate emulsifier is imperative to prevent the essential oils from separating from the water base.

Note: Essential oil products should not be solely relied on with respect to repelling insects and for pest control with humans and dogs.  Never use essential oil products on cats, read this article for more information about pets.

Sharing Truths - Not Nonsense.
Sandra Topper, has been a Certified Aromatherapist in Canada since 1993 and is registered with the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy as a Clinical Aromatherapist & Aromachologist.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or by Health Canada. This information and/or these statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied upon when making important medical decisions.

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.

When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.
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