Frankly, I’m a bit surprised I don’t already have a recipe for, err, “Bandits” oil up here (apparently the more common name is trademarked and the owners aren’t shy about threatening bloggers with legal action, which is just charming… hence the different name), and I have Michelle to thank for kicking my butt into gear on this one (thanks!). The legend around Bandits oil says it was used by a group of thieves to safely rob victims of the Black Plague. It’s not exactly a cheery story, but it certainly serves to imply that this oil is a powerful antibacterial/antiviral blend. Now, there’s no shortage of recipes for Bandits oil online, so I thought I’d try my best to provide a good overview of the options so you can create your own blend around a basic recipe.
Your basic Bandits oil recipe generally contains essential oils of clove bud, cinnamon bark, rosemary, lemon, and eucalyptus. The proportions are hardly set, but clove oil usually dominates the blend, and rosemary is usually towards the end. The other three seem to shuffle about depending on whose formula you’re looking at.
Clove bud essential oil is best known for its usefulness with toothaches, and it is a fantastic painkiller. It’s also a warming essential oil, boosting circulation to an area when applied topically. It also smells wonderfully of Christmas baking and gingerbread, and is said to be antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral.
Cinnamon bark essential oil smells just like what you’d expect it to—cinnamon. Yum. It’s a definite circulation booster, and can be irritating when applied topically, even when diluted. It, too, has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
Rosemary essential oil is a favourite for antiseptic and antimicrobial uses. Unlike clove and cinnamon bark essential oils, it smells nothing like the rosemary you have in your kitchen, so don’t fret about smelling like roasted chicken if you include this in any blends. Apparently its leaves were burned in hospitals to purify the air, which is a neat bit of history.
Lemon essential oil is fantastic stuff. Bright and cheery in the scent department, it smells just like the ripest of lemons. It is a favourite for cleaning thanks to its clean scent and antiseptic properties. I recommend using the 5 fold stuff, which is five times more concentrated than standard lemon essential oil for a relatively small price increase.
Lastly, eucalyptus. There are lots of varieties of eucalyptus essential oil to choose from. The classic choice for Bandits oil is radiata, but I used globulus because that’s what I had on hand. I would recommend avoiding Eucalyptus citriadora (lemon eucalyptus) as it smells overwhelmingly of bug spray. The compound we’re mostly interested in is 1,8-cineol, also known as eucalyptol. It’s an antiseptic. Different varieties of eucalyptus essential oils contain different amounts of 1,8-cineol. The typically recommended radiata contains about 70%, so anything above that will be stronger. New Directions Aromatics lists the percentages on their website if you’d like to look into it further.
These five oils combine to create a bandits oil essential oil blend that is strongly antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral. They also smell surprisingly nice when blended together, though in a very camphorous, clean way.
So, that’s the base—now we can build up and out if we want 🙂 Here are a few ideas:
- Swap the lemon for orange essential oil which has similar properties, but a sweeter scent
- Swap the rosemary for thyme—similar properties, slightly different scent
- Add some tea tree essential oil, the classic antibacterial essential oil
- Add some lemon myrtle essential oil—it’s even more potent than tea tree essential oil
- Add some oregano oil or origanum oil—both are very potent antiviral essential oils
- Add some classic lavender essential oil—antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and all-around awesome
- Add some niaouli essential oil—another strong antiseptic/ antibacterial /anti-fungal essential oil
- Add some dark patchouli essential oil—the list of anti-this-and-that benefits is ridiculously long
2020 update: Given the irritation potential for the bulk of this essential oil blend, I no longer recommend applying products made with it to the skin. The maximum allowable usage rate for cinnamon bark essential oil is 0.07%, and clove is limited to 0.1%. If you still want to use this for cleaning products, tread very carefully and make sure you wear rubber gloves when using cleaning products featuring this blend.
Count out all the essential oil drops into a 5mL glass bottle. Fit it with a dropper top and a sealing cap.
This is just a basic recipe, and leaves room for about 20 drops of additional essential oils at the top of the bottle, so feel free to add some that sound good to you.
To use, try adding it to your mop bucket, adding a drop to your toilet when you’re scrubbing it out, or diffusing it in your home.
This blend should always be used diluted—don’t apply it straight to your skin!