What's In It Wednesday: Insect Repellent

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I was sitting out on the deck with my husband Saturday night and found myself swatting away the mosquitos. It took me back to my childhood and I could clearly remember getting sprayed down with either Cutter or  Deep Woods Off.
I can almost taste that horrible smell and taste 30+ years later.
No one wants to be nibbled on by bugs. However, standard insect repellants can be harmful to your health.

The bulk of popular mosquito repellents contain an ingredient called DEET. The chemical name for DEET is N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide. While this is proven to be effective at inhibiting mosquito bites, it also has been proven to be harmful, and has been linked to ailments as minor as nausea and vomiting to major injuries such as neurological damage, even coma and death. DEET is very harmful to children as well.
This ingredient unfortunately faces little regulation in the United States, as is the case with most products.  In Canada, this is classified as a banned or unsafe for use in cosmetics. In the EU, it’s marked an irritant and also considered potentially toxic if used near the lips.

Since there is more awareness concerning the hazards of DEET, alternative ingredients are in products these days. One popular DEET alternative is derived from chrysanthemum and is called Pyrethrin. While one would assume this naturally-derived ingredient would be safe, it is potentially harmful as well.
Think of it like this–Pyrethrin is used to kill bees and a small amount of this can be toxic to fish. Many studies show that this ingredient is potentially toxic to cat as well. If this natural, plant-derived ingredient can kill so easily, it may not be safe to use regularly on yourself. Breathing in pyrethrins may have major health effects down the road.

Today I’d like us to look at the MSDS of Deep Woods Off. The source for this information is the Consumer Product Information Database :
50-60% Ethanol (SD Alcohol 40)
N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (25-35%)
Water (3-7%)
Propane (1-5%)
Isobutane (1-5%)
Butane (1-5%)

I also want to show you what is in Avon’s popular Skin So Soft Bug Guard:
INSECT REPELLENT ACTIVE INGREDIENT:
beta-alanine,
n-acetyl-N-butyl-,ethyl ester*/carboxylic acid 20.07%
Active Sunscreen Ingredients:
Octocrylene 9%
Octinoxate 6.75%
Oxybenzone 5.4%
Octisalate 4.5%
Other Ingredients:
SD ALCOHOL 40-B
WATER
ISOBUTANE
HEXYLENE GLYCOL
POLYURETHANE COPOLYMER
PROPANE
TOCOPHERYL ACETATE

Clearly, you don’t want to be inhaling these toxins. So what can you do to prevent mosquitos from biting you and your family?
You have choices these days.  You can make your own or find a safe product to buy if you’re not feeling crafty. I like to make a spray to stick in my handbag or keep by the deck. I also recently tried a product that I was able to buy ready made.
At Nature’s Basin, they offer an organic skin care product from Badger called Anti-Bug Balm. This balm uses the finest in organic essential oils to naturally repel mosquitos. Extra virgin olive oil, golden yellow beeswax, and castor oil are blended with citronella, cedar, lemongrass, and geranium oil to naturally prevent bugs from biting. All ingredients in thisnatural skin care product are Certified Organic.
While these gentle ingredients treat the skin by softening and nourishing, the powerful blend of natural essential oils works beautifully to repel bugs. Simply rub the balm into the skin and know you’ll be protected for up to 3.5 hours. Since this is a safe and natural skin care product, you can reapply with confidence.
As a mother to two young children, I feel confident knowing that my boys won’t suffer from the itching and redness of mosquito bites, but know that I am using remedies that won’t be harmful to their health.
Badger Anti-Bug Balm is available in 3 convenient sizes, including the handy twist up stick if the tin isn’t what you’re looking for.
Summer–at least here in upstate New York–is fleeting. We want to enjoy as much time outdoors as possible. Knowing that we can be out and about without swatting away the mosquitos really helps our family enjoy the warm weather and fresh air.

Feeling crafty? Make your own insect repellent:
Click  here for my homemade recipe.


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