Natural Herbal Bug Repellent for Ontario Cottage Country

It’s a hit!!! This year I wanted to introduce an all natural herbal bug balm and soap. In researching, I purchased other natural herbal remedies, to try out and compare to my product, researched books, blogs, health and environment websites and then went to the lab and started trying out various recipes. And I’m happy to say we did it!! 

The balm has been tested at campsites, farms with lots of animal doo doo, Rideau lakes and cottages and we are getting positive reports. 

When I was researching I repeatedly read that lemon eucalyptus, not lemon and eucalyptus but the plant “lemon eucalyptus” is the key ingredient that is the toughest at repelling bugs. We also added citronella, rosemary, catnip, cedarwood, lavender and peppermint.

I decided on a balm instead of a spray then I would not have to put a preservative in the product. Also its more concentrated so lighter to carry. Bonus it moisturizes your skin at the same time and it smells good, not like the old spray repellents we’ve gagged over too many times. 

Available on my website, and Pinecone in Westport, Ontario, Herb ‘n Spice in Ottawa, Ontario and Sense of Country in Renfrew, Ontario.

Chemicals, Fragrances, all FDA approved....oh my!!

There has been quite a lot of media coverage around the use of chemicals in our every day household and personal products. I’m super happy that this IS finally getting the media coverage it deserves so hopefully consumers will STOP buying this toxic substances to clean themselves and their homes.


The fact is, there is no requirement for these companies to list the ingredients they put in cosmetics or personal products. Try finding out what is in a perfume?  Or in the huge companies facial cleansers? Often they will emphasize an ingredient if it is popular such as shea butter or argan oil or lavender touting the natural solution of their product. Alas....that is not the whole story. Some companies even are proud to say that their product will cover up the smell of the worst garbage or even 12 weeks later your laundry will still smell like the product. WHAT????? What is in it? And how dirty is your house, clothes, self that you need to cover it up with these chemicals??


I’m not a chemist, nor have I had the time to research all the harmful ingredients put in our products. But I know common sense. And common sense tells me; Keep it simple, Less is more, Know what you are using. I recently met a gentleman at a farmers market and he was looking at my natural shampoo bar. He told me he stopped using shampoo because of dandruff. He tried Head and Shoulders and it made it worst. He just rinses his hair with water while in the shower. His hair was as clean as can be. Just water!!! Amazing. I have heard about that with hair. I’ve yet to try it myself though. I’m happy using my bar soap and my homemade conditioner. Soap is essential in cleaning our bodies from the days dirt and sweat. Just be sure to use a good bar that isn’t packed with fragrance, dyes or chemicals it’s unnecessary and harmful to you and your family.


I list my ingredients on my soap label - ALL of them. Be sure when you’re purchasing anything - food, cleaning and personal products etc. to read the label. Know what you are buying. 


For cleaning supplies, there are some new ones on the market that seem to be good. Seventh Generation has a solid reputation and does use safe plastic bottles and lists ingredients. I use a lot of vinegar and baking soda at my house. I am working on a toothpaste, deodorant, laundry/cleaning bar and laundry powder. However, I think I’ll leave the cleaning solutions to the big companies like Seventh Generation... For now :)


Some good reads on the topic


Slow Death by Rubber Duck, by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith

Not Just a Pretty Face, by Stacy Malkan

Naturally Clean, by Jeffrey Hollander and Geoff David - Seventh Generation


“Unacceptable Levels”, documentary by Ed Brown


Thanks for listening, Stay clean!!  Karen



Unscented and Uncoloured


I’m so happy that I have quite a few customers that love my unscented and uncoloured soaps!!! The biggest reason I started making soap was to develop a soap that was all about the oil and how it treats our skin. 


My skin tends to be dry and sensitive, so my first soap formulas were catered to that type of skin. I came up with my Castile bar, Avocado and Gourmet bar. These are all unscented and uncoloured. I then made my Milk ‘n Honey and Coffee bar also unscented. I recently was asked to make a Goats milk bar that is also unscented and uncoloured. I LOVE this!!!! 


For me the essential oils in the bar smell great but they really do get washed down the drain. I love adding essential oils to my creams, body butters and lip balms since they will remain on your skin so you can smell it for longer and gain some of the benefits of the essential oil.  


And colour. I see no reason to add colour to make soaps look like something they are not. Especially if they are fake colours made in a lab that does who knows what to your skin. I only use natural colourants in my soaps. I do NOT colour my lotions, butters of lip balms. The natural colourants that I add are botanicals, clays, herbs and food additives. Such as; honey, oats, carrots, calendula petals, french green clay, comfrey powder, activated charcoal.  These are all added as they add a component to make the soap more cleansing or nurturing to your skin. 


If you want to know more about what I add to each soap, feel free to email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Earth Day and Natural Soap


Earth Day, I remember when it first became popular in Canada. I was living in Toronto working for The Lung Association.  We were doing stuff like ride your bike to work, adding a 4th R to the 3 Rs of recycling; REFUSE - just say “NO” to styrofoam containers, coffee cups etc. That has always stayed with me. I try to pack some good containers with me so I can ask the restaurant to use them, I already leave my house with my sippy cup full of water that way I can refuse what I can, reduce wherever possible, reuse (myself or give away) and recycle whatever products can be recycled. 


When I started Bell Soap I knew I was on the right path. I could reduce my personal footprint as well as my customers by not purchasing products that were shipped, not full of ingredients made in a lab or packaged in excess with non earth friendly. My products are all vegetarian based, purchased in bulk, local whenever possible, I use minimal labelling and use 100% recycled paper for my soap labels and in my office. I reuse packaging when I need to ship products. My products contain no harmful ingredients manufactured in a lab, they all can go down the drain and not hurt our lakes and earth. They are also great for your body containing no alcohol, petroleum products, SLS, parabens, fragrance or dyes.


Another great products not only last longer, but they are of such high quality you don’t need to use as much.  I’m amazed at my lip balms and hand creams  - seriously I apply my hand cream once or twice a day. In the past I used to put hand cream on about 10-20 times per day. No joke - I would put cream on every single time I washed my hands (now using my soap which also reduces the need for cream because it doesn’t dry you out) I’m told my soaps last 2 months in peoples bathtubs!!! So not only is purchasing hand made bath and beauty products good for the environment, they are good on your pocket book too!!! 


I’m excited!! I love our country and our Earth. It just feels good to do what you can to minimize the damage we do to our earth every day.    Karen