Some of the "natural" insect repellents I use (the kind you put on your skin) have soybean oil listed as one of the active ingredients.

I've also seen ~6% soybean oil listed as an active ingredient in some of the "natural" garden insecticide sprays at the garden center.

Is there anything different about this soybean oil than the jug of vegetable oil (100% soybean) in my kitchen cupboard?

If it is the same, what would I dilute it with, and what concentrations would be useful? If I can mix my own, cooking oil would be much cheaper than the "insecticide" from the garden center.

2 Answers 2


From what I can tell from reading a number of sources on the web, Soybean oil, Canola oil, etc that are used in "organic" based pesticides are food grade forms of those oils. If that is correct, then those types of oil sold for cooking should be ok! for use in "homemade" pesticides.

Water seems to be the main ingredient used in "organic" oil based pesticides eg

Oil Pharm - Download RTU Label

Active Ingredients: Certified Organic Soybean Oil 1.5%
Pure Rosemary Oil 0.1%
Inert Ingredients: Food Grade Oleic Acid, Carbonic Acid Monopotassium Salt, Non GMO Canola Oil, Broccoli Juice: 10%, Water 88.4%

Using Oils As Pesticides (download/read pdf_1192.pdf on that page) from Texas A&M University

Oil formulations are generally designed to be mixed with water at concentrations of 0.5-2.0 percent (volume/volume). When applying oils, it is best to agitate hand pump sprayers frequently and keep tank spray agitators running. This reduces the risk of oil separation that could result in sprayer clogging, uneven plant coverage and possible plant injury.

A little bit of Soybean information to be aware of, if in fact it's true:

In the Aug 2010 issue of ABJ, Zachary Huang discusses bee nutrition. He points out that about 40% of the sugars in soybeans are toxic to bees. He goes on to say that Brood Builder® and Bee Pro® are soy based. He doesn’t specifically state that they aren’t OK but doesn’t include them in any of his analysis. Take it for what it’s worth.

Then this is worth reading and watching, "Are you eating pesticides? Canola oil, soybean oil used as key ingredients in pesticide products", but only because of the amount of "basic" information it leaves out, thus supporting "their argument". Personally I might go as far as saying, "their argument" borders on scaremonger...

  • Thanks Mike. That last one makes me laugh. Water is toxic when consumed in large enough quantities...
    – bstpierre
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 22:35
  • -1, First off, what's toxic to bees is not necessarily toxic to us. So, using a scaremongering article to debunk a bee scientist's findings about bees is just as or even more distasteful to me as the original scaremongering. Zachary happens to be an acquaintance of mine along with many other well respected bee students and scientists. ANYONE who is concerned about our bee populations should pay attention. The underlying statement behind all these studies is that nature knows her job much better than you do. We need to stop trying to undo what nature keeps telling is us a bad idea.
    – Escoce
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 12:33

Soybean oil is very high in fat, and it is commonly used at around 2% of total volume to ensure the effective natural essential oils do not disappear as quickly (i.e. it provides a covering layer to stop the essential oils from simply sinking into the skin). It needs to be combined with them and a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil).

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