Few things should be able to spoil your fun when camping or hiking. Something that is incredibly annoying and can do just this, however, is bugs and insects. If you are one of those people that seems to attract bugs and are irritated by bites, you have no doubt tried many types of Bug Repellent.
There are two main differences when it comes to using repellents. There are products containing DEET, which are powerful synthetic solutions used in a wide range of different products. Or, natural remedies that are DEET-free and rely on more natural ingredients.
So, which is best for you – DEET or no DEET products?
Well, DEET products are very effective in most cases. But, with the power of DEET products comes drawbacks.
Most worryingly there is some evidence that it can be quite damaging to your health with a lot of exposure to the chemicals. Studies on lab rats have shown damage to brain cells among other problems, which is quite worrying.
Some people do have a sensitivity when using DEET products too, so always check it on a small area of skin before going all in when applying it.
Obviously, the product has passed through government regulations and is safe for sale, so I’m not saying it’s too dangerous to use. But if a natural alternative works well for you, it’s always a smart idea to go down that route in my opinion.
Here are the main difference between DEET products, and DEET-Free products.
The Pro’s of DEET Bug Repellents
DEET is a powerful and effective bug repellent. The major drawback is that it’s too powerful in some instances and can cause problems for people with sensitive skin. But I will go into that in more detail throughout the article.
DEET does come in various strengths and is measured by the concentration, however. The lower the concentration, the less effective it is. It’s mainly the strong concentration products that causes irritation, can destroy clothing, and cause breathing difficulties.
Children should never be exposed to anything higher than 20% concentration and use should always be supervised.
Advantages of DEET Repellents
- Very effective at preventing bites and killing insects
- Remains active for hours at a time
- Some products are odorless
Disadvantages of DEET Repellents
- Can cause irritation to sensitive areas on skin
- Damages clothing and items
- Potential long-term health risks if exposed to prolonged use
The Pro’s of DEET-Free Products
As I mentioned, some people have an adverse reaction to products containing DEET. Or they don’t like the oily feel of the products. There are also those lingering health risks attached to using strong chemical products that worry some people.
The good news is that there are dozens of DEET-free repellants to try. It might be a little trial and error to find one that works best for you, but it’s worth it. Some are more effective than others, but the main selling point is that they are completely safe to use.
Advantages of DEET-Free Repellents
- Made from natural ingredients and are safe when coming into contact with skin
- Often have a pleasant odor
- They are inexpensive and can be used generously
Disadvantages of DEET-Free Repellents
- Typically not as effective at keeping bugs at bay as DEET products
- You need to reapply several times throughout the day
Effective Natural Ingredients to Repel Insects
Soy-Based Bug Repellent Products
Soy-based products deserve a mention. Soy has proven to be incredibly effective at repelling mosquitoes in particular. It’s great for use with children as it’s not harmful in any way. It tends to be longer lasting than a lot of other alternatives too.
Essential oils are made from plants and herbs and are completely natural. They do come in concentrated form and need diluting in most cases however, so always read the label carefully. Lemon, clove, and eucalyptus are three of the most effective scents at keeping bugs at bay.
Deciding which type of repellent you want to use will come down to your own preference after weighing up the pros and cons. If a natural bug repellent does the job and stops those annoying bugs and insects from ruining your time, you can’t go wrong.
What’s Best for You? DEET or no DEET?
Taking into account the pros and cons I’ve covered in this post, the answer to this is largely going to come down to personal preference, and whether or not you have any aversions to using products containing DEET.
Personally, I always opt for natural alternatives whenever I can. But it’s entirely up to you. I also know what it’s like to be harassed by mosquitos and other pests when I’m trying to have a good time camping, so I can’t fault anyone for using whatever works best.
The goal of this article was to raise awareness for both DEET and DEET-free products, as well as help you find the best solution for dealing with bugs and pests while camping.
Hopefully, I’ve achieved this. Any feedback is most welcome, feel free to let me know what works for you and is keeping the insects away!