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7 Best Essential Oils for Camping & Recreating Outdoors

7 Best Essential Oils for Camping & Recreating Outdoors

Did you know that essential oils can help you enjoy a better outdoor experience? It’s true! There are specific essential oils for camping that can help with poison ivy, sunburn, bug bites, and more. Before you head off on your next camping adventure, make sure to stock up on these essential oils. Let’s dive in!

What Is an Essential Oil?

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, essential oils “are obtained through mechanical pressing or distillation, are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor of their source.” There are many different essential oils, each with a unique composition and variation. The word “essential” comes from the “essence of” the plant – where the oil comes from.

Essential Oils And How They Can Benefit You In The Woods, Camping, Bushcraft Or The Outdoors

Diluting Your Essential Oils

If you’re going to put essential oils on your body, you must dilute them. If using for aromatherapy in a diffuser, it’s not required since the water dilutes the oil. Still, the potency of some essential oils could be very harmful to your health if you don’t dilute them before putting them on your skin or ingesting them. They’re highly concentrated. When you dilute an essential oil, you use a small amount with a carrier oil like coconut oil or avocado oil.

The recommendation is to dilute up to 15 drops of an essential oil in one ounce of carrier oil. However, this exact measurement might change depending on the type of essential oil and the person using it. After diluting your essential oil, you can then spread it over the affected area of your body.

Woman smelling essential oils outside
When packing for your next camping adventure, add some essentials oils to your bag.

7 Essential Oils That Are Perfect for Your Next Camping Trip

When camping, you run into common problems like poison ivy and sore muscles. Instead of rushing to the nearest pharmacy to grab calamine lotion or Bengay, have a stash of essential oils and carrier oil in your RV. It’s a natural solution and easy to use.


What It Does: Helps poison ivy rash

Why It Works: A poison ivy rash is caused by the poison ivy plant. When camping in wooded areas, it’s quite common to touch one of these plants without realizing it. The calendula plant has soothing anti-inflammatory properties. 

How to Use It: Since you need to apply the essential oil directly to your skin, you must dilute it in a carrier oil. For adults, dilute 12 drops of calendula per ounce of carrier oil. Do a skin patch test before spreading it all over your body to make sure you aren’t allergic. Then once you know it’s safe to apply, spread it over the affected area.

Pro Tip: If you’ve crossed paths with poison ivy, these are the Best and Fastest Remedies to quickly get rid of it.


What It Does: Sunburn soothing

Why It Works: Menthol, found in peppermint oil, has soothing properties that stimulate the cold receptors on your skin.

How to Use It: Just like with the calendula above, you can’t directly apply menthol to your skin. Mix with a carrier oil. The only way to make sure it’s a good essential oil for camping is by doing a skin patch test. Then, when you know you’re not allergic to the oil, apply to the burned area of the skin.

DIY Menthol Chest Rub Using Essential Oils

Pro Tip: Essential oils are not the only way to stay safe and healthy while camping. Check out these 5 Reasons to Not Feed the Wildlife While Camping to help you stay safe and sound!


What It Does: Helps sore throat

Why It Works: Peppermint is an ancient oil used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Its main compound, menthol, is soothing and numbing when used. Some studies show that peppermint also has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.

How to Use It: First, don’t swallow peppermint. It’s safe to gargle, though. Add a few drops to half a cup of warm water and gargle every three or four hours as needed. You can also mix with a carrier oil and apply it directly to your throat several times daily.

Peppermint Oil Benefits and Uses


What It Does: Repels bugs

Why It Works: Thyme oil contains monoterpenes, a compound that repels insects. Studies show that burning thyme leaves or using thyme oil keep mosquitoes away for 60 to 180 minutes.

How to Use It: You can mix thyme oil with water or witch hazel in a spray bottle. Make sure to shake it up before each use.

5 Benefits of Thyme Essential Oil
Lavender oil in canister
There are many amazing essential oils to keep you happy and healthy while camping.


What It Does: Soothes bug bites

Why It Works: Like menthol, lavender has soothing properties, and like calendula, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. It works similarly to calendula as it relieves the itchiness of bug bites, making it a good essential oil for camping.

How to Use It: Just like the aforementioned essential oils, you need to dilute lavender in a carrier oil before applying. You can apply to mosquito bites, tick bites (after removing the tick), bee stings, and ant bites.

10 Reasons You Should Be Using Lavender Essential Oil


What It Does: Eases sore muscles and tension

Why It Works: Originating in the Mediterranean, the marjoram plant is highly potent. You can resolve headaches and muscle spasms with marjoram because of its antispasmodic properties. This is also why many massage therapists will mix marjoram with oil during sessions.

How to Use It: When you need instantaneous relief, mix marjoram with a carrier oil and apply it directly to the location. If you have access to a bathtub, you can put a few drops in the bathwater and soak in the tub.

Marjoram Essential Oil Surprising Benefits and Uses


What It Does: Eases pain and numbing

Why It Works: Clove has antiseptic and numbing properties, which is why dentists often use it before beginning dental work. It works similarly to benzocaine.

How to Use It: If you have a bee sting or a sunburn, you can apply clove oil to provide relief. As always, dilute it with carrier oil beforehand and do a skin patch test for it to work as an essential oil for camping.

What is Clove Oil Used For | Clove Essential Oil Tutorial

Safety When Using Essential Oils

It’s been mentioned several times, but it’s worth mentioning it again because of the potency of essential oils. You must dilute them in carrier oils. Do not apply directly to the skin. Certainly, don’t ingest essential oils without properly creating a capsule. You should not simply drink a drop or two. 

Finally, there are no FDA regulations for the use of essential oils. Many of these plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. So there is history and experience to support their use. However, there have been no clinical trials involving animals and humans.

Woman applying essential oils to wrist
Dilute your essential oils before applying them on your skin.

Pro Tip: Not quite ready to camp on a mountain with your essential oils? If you need a camping starting point, these are 7 Great Reasons to Try Backyard Camping.

Remember to Bring a First-Aid Back Up

Even though there are numerous essential oils for camping use, don’t rely solely on these extracts. Make sure to always have a first-aid kit for bites, sunburns, scrapes, and muscle aches. When hiking, it’s easy to be stung by a bee or slip and roll an ankle. If you’re sitting by the pool, it’s easy to get sunburned. When you’ve spent a day paddleboarding, it’s easy to feel muscle pains the next day. Use essential oils carefully and freely but not solely.

Man applying essential oils while camping.
Heal bites, sunburns, and muscle pain with essential oils.

Soothe Natural Ailments with Nature

When enjoying the outdoors, what’s better than soothing the pain with natural remedies? Take along a diffuser for aromatherapy as needed. Pack a carrier oil so you can directly apply essential oils to bites, sunburn skin, and muscle pain. Add these essential oils for camping to your list to avoid leaving them at home. 

Have you used essential oils while camping? Drop a comment below!

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Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Monday 28th of February 2022

We use peppermint oil on cotton balls to keep mice out the camper when storing.