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Many years ago I was having a hard time. Recently settled in my new house in the country, I had been laid off and couldn’t find a new job with pay that would make driving to work profitable. My father was paying for Cobra benefits for me because we both knew what would happen to my future without maintaining credible coverage as somebody who takes a lot of medications every day. Buth my Cobra didn’t pay anything toward pharmacy visits. And in no way I could afford my several thousand dollars worth of medications out of pocket each month. Heck, I couldn’t even cover the several hundred dollars for Cobra on my own.
I spent a lot of time at home trying to hustle up some business so that I could say farewell to the corporate world and make my own income and therefore way in my world on my own terms. But there’s only so many times you can pitch jobs to your small customer base trying to wrangle up some cash before they start to get irritated. And so I found myself with no expendable income and a lot of free time.
During this time I got super into the library because it’s free. Plus the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library is the bee’s knees. I could go to my local library (that used to be an itty bitty bank :) in my little town and pick up books and movies that were delivered just for me from any all of the metro locations for free. Man. I watched so many movies. I read so many books. And it was great but I started to feel a bit sedentary.
And so I took up gardening. As I have learned, there are 2 ways to garden. The first is with a fat pocketbook, which is a lot of fun, and the second is with no budget whatsoever which isn’t quite as fun but it’s a way to keep busy. I learned from my grandmother that people who like to garden like other people who like to garden. And when somebody had a really pretty bunch of bulbous plants that needed to be thinned out, I’d offer to take care of it for them if I could have some of the excess plants. Yep, I’d walk straight to the door and ask and, wouldn’t you know it, nobody ever turned me down. Not once. My flower beds became pretty much nothing but irises, which are super popular in Oklahoma, plus lots of daylilies and anything I could start from cheap seed packets. Hello lots of lovely marigolds. (I LOVE marigolds)
But that darn Oklahoma heat, man, it would do me in way before I was ready to wrap up. And then one day my mom gave me several cans of a new-ish cooling spray from Bath and Body Works. It has some sort of a clean cucumber smell to it, if I remember correctly. These aerosol sprays had menthol in them and a quick mist across my arms and neck and chest and, BOOM! I was instantly cooled down and able to get after round 2 or 3 or 4. Air conditioning in a bottle my neighbor started to call it as I sprayed myself with that stuff liberally and often. Because guess what? When I was out in the heat and keeping busy I hardly realized I didn’t feel well. I totally forgot I didn’t have my medications to take. And that nobody wanted to give me a job. And that I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from to make the next mortgage payment. I was hot and sweaty and gross but I felt somewhat normal.
To this day I love to garden, but it’s a bit more difficult at a rented house. I still like to spend time outside and so sometimes I’ll just sit on the porch with the dogs. And guess what? The South Texas heat is even worse than what I dealt with in Oklahoma. Since the sprays I’ve found to purchase, including the new ones from BBW, don’t really work like that old spray did for me, I decided to make my own.
Want to make your own menthol cooling spray a.k.a. air conditioning in a bottle?
For this project you will need:
- Small spray bottles
- Menthol oil (or peppermint oil) or menthol crystals
- Witch hazel
- Strong fragrance oil (I got my rip off of Coach Poppy here)
- Distilled water
It took me AGES to figure out how to make this stuff. My first batch I was so excited about and sprayed right on my face and, guess what? That business was WAY TOO STRONG and left me with a cold burning on my face for EVER. Like, my eyes swelled up, guys. Oh, it truly was miserable. And stupid. So stupidly miserable was I. But luckily I’ve got things down to where you won’t have to experience that sort of a problem, thank goodness but always be careful when testing your new creations. Maybe shoot for the arm instead of the face to make sure you’re happy with the level of cooling this business puts out for you :)
Today I have 2 ways to make your cooling spray: The first is a big batch using menthol crystals, and the second is tiny batch using menthol (or peppermint) oil.
First, let’s do the big batch and make cooling mist with menthol crystals.
Measure out 0.1 ounces of menthol crystals. This super cheap food scale is perfect for the job and I use it in both soapmaking and cooking. It’s well worth the price (and it’s pink!) And I haven’t figured out any way to measure these crystals by, say, tablespoons because they’re always such varying sizes…
In something glass microwave 2 ounces of distilled water until a hot warm (not boiling but not luke warm). Add your menthol crystals to the water and stir until they completely dissolve. As they do oil will start to blob out onto the water’s surface, which is kind of cool looking :)
Measure out and add an additional 2 ounces of distilled water plus 2 ounces of witch hazel. This will make a little over a cup and does really well in aluminum spray bottles like I use for my beachy waves sea salt hair curling spray.
Nobody wants to stroll around on summer vacation wafting around like a smell-0-vision ad for BenGay. Luckily I have found if you use a healthy amount of a really strong fragrance oil you can mostly cover it up. Now if you’re going to be out, say where there are mosquitoes for days, don’t add fragrance because it will attract those little bloodsuckers to you. Also if you’re going to be spraying yourself really frequently, the scent will build up to be overpowering and you’ll be so strong that like you sampled every bottle in the perfume shop. But for wear like on vacation strolling around an outdoor mall or something where there are no masses of mosquitoes and you’ll just spritz occasionally as a refresher, you should be fine and you’ll smell pretty!
The amount of fragrance you need is TOTALLY dependent on the strength of the oil. I have tried LOTS and I love this Poppy by Coach rip off because it smells gorgeous and totally covers up the scent of menthol with no problems. Plus it’s a good price, which is always awesome. With this oil, I tend to go about 20 drops for my full batch. And even when the cooling has come and gone, I still smell so pretty!
Okay, but what if you probably won’t use up a whole cup of this stuff and want to make just an itty bitty batch? I mean, 8 ounces is quite a bit of stuff to use up and we aren’t adding a preservative…
Let’s make 8ml bottle sized batches of cooling spray with menthol oil.
When using methol oil I like to keep things simple and make my batch directly in my itty bitty spray bottles. These gorgeous little perfume bottles are perfect for DIY sprays and hold only 8ml of spray apiece, but you can get larger ones if you prefer. I like these because I can slide 2 into the interior pocket in my purse and they stay upright and are easily accessible when I need them and that’s about all I need for a week-long vacation.
Directly in your little bottle add 1 drop of menthol oil and 1-3 drops of fragrance oil, depending on how strong it is. If you don’t have menthol and don’t want to buy it, you can substitute peppermint oil but I just don’t like it quite as much. You can modify it to a strength you’re happy with to mask the menthol odor or omit the fragrance oil altogether. Now fill half of the little bottle with witch hazel and finish it off with distilled water and that is that. Seriously. Cap it and we’re done here.
When working with menthol or peppermint it’s important to remember that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. So take care not to oversaturate your cooling spray with too much menthol or peppermint oil because it WILL burn in this weird cold way that is so uncomfortable and takes absolute ages to go away. And if you try to wash it away, well, that just somehow makes everything worse AND spreads the cold burn.
Way to end it on a happy note, right? But really. If you get so uncomfortably hot that you rock a red face and sweat and feel just miserable in the heat, this spray will be amazing for you and I have a feeling you’ll be making yourself a few little bottles every summer once you’ve given this DIY menthol cooling mist recipe a go!