What are the Best Natural Alternatives to DEET? Much as we love the warmer weather, it also brings some unwelcome visitors in the shape of bugs and insects. Try and think of a popular insect repellent and chances are that you will come up with DEET. That’s not a surprise as it is the most popular repellent across the globe, increasingly concerns are being raised about its safety and many wonder if there could be a natural alternative out there which is just as effective.
What is DEET
DEET is a chemically produced repellent which was invented in the 1940s primarily for use by the US Army. Its official chemical compound is Diethyltoluamide. DEET works by blocking the insect’s ability
to bite humans by masking the scent that makes humans attractive in the first place. Without that scent the insect does not feel inclined to bite. Some adverse reactions have been reported over the years which include breathing issues and seizures. Reading the extensive research available online, it’s hard to know what to believe, although it’s interesting to note that Health Canada has banned DEET products that exceed 30% DEET in their make-up. Some recent research has declared that DEET is safe to use, but perhaps the long-term effects of DEET usage are not yet known. It does seem crazy to use a chemically based product when there are other natural products that are also effective insect repellents.
Which Essential Oils can be Used as Insect Repellents?
Here are a selection of 3 essential oils which can be used to repel those annoying bugs and insects, we’ve placed them in order of effectiveness.
Oil of Artemisia
This oil comes from the common Wormwood tree. It is poisonous to small creatures, bugs and insects. As with many repellents it has a strong odor that the insects are averse to. It’s not recommended to rub directly onto skin so distilling into an essential oil makes it viable for repellent purposes.
Neem oil comes from the fruits and seeds of the Neem tree which is exclusively found on the Indian Subcontinent. The active ingredient in Neem Oil is called Azadrachtin, a particularly bitter substance which insects are not keen on and prevents them from feeding on you!
Of all natural insect repellents, Citronella is probably the most well-known. You will have seen how popular Citronella candles are in outdoor areas. The oil itself is made from distilled oils of the Lemongrass family. Like other repellents, Citronella oil works to mask scents that bugs and insects might find attractive such as sweat, carbon dioxide and lactic acid. If the bugs can’t smell these scents they are less likely to bite.