A Natural Bug Repellent For Your Garden: Hot Pepper Wax

Talk about plants with a lot of uses.

Yes, chili peppers can be used as a natural bug repellent for your garden or indoor plants in the form of hot pepper wax. That’s a fact that not many people know. There are many varieties of sprayable hot pepper wax out on the market or you can make something similar yourself. It’s a safe (and edible) solution for your garden and house plants to keep away everything from aphids and whiteflies to spider mites and leaf hoppers.

How does hot pepper wax work?

It’s capsaicin again: the compound behind the spice in hot peppers. Capsaicin is an irritant to humans, but totally edible and incredibly enjoyable (for most of us!). That’s not the case for many types of insects. When sprayed with hot pepper wax, those insects will either be done in by the capsaicin itself or by the natural paraffin in the spray.

Is it safe to eat plants sprayed with hot pepper wax?

Capsaicin is 100% safe to eat, and so is food-grade paraffin wax and other food-grade ingredients used in commercial hot pepper wax sprays. Food-grade paraffin is used in many chocolate recipes as a way to bind the chocolate, so you’ve likely eaten it before without even realizing it.

Are there other benefits?

Yes, the paraffin itself not only helps kill unwanted insects, it also creates a micro-barrier around the sprayed plant which helps prevent water-loss. That makes for a much healthier plant across the board, especially for new plant transplants.

Hot pepper sprays like this can also be used as an animal repellent. If you have some pesky squirrels, wild rabbits, or deer around, the capsaicin will act as a deterrent to eating plants. It’s a deterrent, not a barrier, so it’s best to use with other tactics as well.

Note: hot pepper wax won’t work on repelling birds eating your plants. Birds are not effected by capsaicin in the way that other animals are, so the spray poses no problems for them.

Where can you buy hot pepper wax?

You can find it in some gardening stores, but it can be hit or miss whether they carry it. The better bet is to buy it online. For instance, there are quite a few varieties of commercial hot pepper wax available on Amazon.com.

Can you make your own?

Dealing with the paraffin may be more than most want to get into, but it’s pretty easy to make a hot pepper spray that’ll give you the same insect repelling abilities. Be careful, though, as you are dealing with some very hot peppers in the process and the liquid itself can irritate skin and eyes. Use gloves while making it, like you should whenever cooking with hot peppers. The steps:

  1. Buy six of the hottest chili peppers you can find. This will typically be habanero peppers or cayenne peppers.
  2. Fully blend the chili peppers with two cups of water.
  3. Let the mix steep for a day in a covered container.
  4. Strain the liquid using a paper coffee filter into a quart jar.
  5. Fill up the remaining space in the jar with water.
  6. Pour it into a spray bottle as necessary.

This is some potent stuff, so keep it away from kids and pets and be careful when spraying it. But it’ll do the trick as a natural insect repellent, just without the paraffin water-loss benefits. If you’ve been having insect issues, and you need a natural solution to use on your garden, this or any commercial version of hot pepper wax spray can definitely help!

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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