View Full Version : Is Deet good for your health?

2003-07-31, 10:24
I've heard that deet is the best stuff against insects, but that it is bad for your health.

What are the real facts here?

What is the best way to protect against mozzies?

In one of McNabb's books he talks about some super-deet formula that he was given in the SAS that would actually melt plastic, and he cracked a joke about it being bad for his equipment but good for his skin.

2003-07-31, 12:27
DEET is probably not good for you. In Sweden only repellants with 20% deet or less are allowed. I know that authorities lowered the limit level some years ago, but I can't remember how high the old limit was. But there's probably some reasons for the new, limit for deet. Sweden is very good on legislating for personal safety, I might add.

Chemical alternatives to Deet? You could try using something based on Bayrepel instead, like Autan Active (I use it myself). Another new repellant (the working name is Ixnix) is being patented at the moment and have shown impressive results during testing. We haven't had the possibility to test it ourselves, but we have tested an earlier product (Demidex) from the same Swedish research team, with very good results. Ixnix is said to be even better. Time will tell.

What else?

The most important thing to do if you don't want to attract biting insects is to stop breathing. The moist CO2 attracts them, apparently. We actually tested this with a "exhaust" tube that moved the exhaled air to a vent near the knee. It worked but breathing was harder. The U.S. army (or was it the airforce?) used some device that "exhaled" moist CO2 and combined that with a big filtered fan. I hear it was incredibly effective. Is there more data on that device? It's too heavy for personal use, though.

Light clothing is also important in both senses of the word. Wear light colours. Dark colours attract biting insects. (Some yellows attract flies, but most of those flies are just annoying, not biting.) Avoid sweating too. Wear only as much clothing as is needed and drink enough, not too much. If you drink too much you'll sweat more and if you sweat more you will smell more and smells attract biting insects. *phew* Keep cool and be clean, but don't use cosmetics or soaps that contain lots of perfumes. Some scents do help to keep biters away, like garlic, citronella (citrus or limegrass oil), Calendula (Marigold) oil, Beck oil, etc. But most perfumes attract insects instead. Some even attract bears...

Smoke. Let the fire do it or do it yourself. Smoke doesn't attract insects, but smoking might be worse than a bite or two depending on where on earth you get the bite. The bites you get can be treated (for the itching) with Tea Tree oil, if you're not allergic to it of course. Both insect bites and Tea tree oil can cause allergies...

If all else fails then use protective clothing and no-see-um netting. Don't be macho about it. Find clothes and nets that you like that get the job done. A head net doesn't add much weight to your pack either. There are even hats and caps out there that have built in nets. I've modified my net with a metal wire that keeps it stretched out. Saw something like that on a site somewhere but now I can't find it again. Does anyone have the URL? The springing wire works like those mesh sun screens that pop out by themselves and it works pretty well on the head net.

2003-07-31, 13:41
Deet in even fairly mild concentrations will disolve most plastics. The Brit SA-80 rifle was once made with large amounts of a very easily melted plastic and you could even leave fingerprints in the plastic if you squeezed it with a good grip.

DEET isnt GOOD for you, but your body processess it.

Think about it like alcohol... It has damaging effects, but taken in moderation it is easily handled by a well functioning body.

Lots of good Mosquito repellents out there.

DEET, Permethryn, Avons Skin So Soft, Citronella, Mint Oils, Cedar Oil, and light colored clothes all do something to scare them off.

They can all be used in combination too (NOT DEET and Permetheryn however) to cover all your bases.

Ive had good luck with Citonella/Mint/Cedar, Mint/Cedar/Deet and Skin-So-Soft/Deet mix.

2003-08-01, 10:30
Originally posted by Sgathak

They can all be used in combination too (NOT DEET and Permetheryn however) to cover all your bases.

I think maybe you got this mixed up or I misread it. I believe the most effective combination is DEET on your skin and permethrin on your clothing. Permethrin is not to be applied to your skin.


2003-08-01, 15:16
Deet and Permethryn are *beleived* to create a toxic compound when used together, causing neurodamage.

I dont have much to corroborate this, but Im not going to take any chances, and not going to give advice to someone counter to what I myself do.

2003-08-01, 19:56
A buddy once told me that eating match heads would repel mosquitos because you would start sweating out the sulfur. Never had the guts (literally) to try it. B.S. or proven fact? Anyone?

2003-08-01, 20:37
i'm told i ate matches as a child! don't know if it repelled mosquitos though.

here's one. lady at a health food store said vitamin B complex (time released) will repel mosquitos. anyone ever hear of this? sounds like a croc to me.

2003-08-02, 07:39
I'll eat large amounts of garlic before,during and... Oh hell I just like garlic. It keeps the bugs away when it sweats out the pores.:D

2003-08-02, 08:54
I have heard the theories about garlic and B12. Obviously, I don't know for sure, but this is what I think. Insects are sometimes 'picky' and sometimes they're not. I have observed that the insects left me alone and attacked my partner. I have observed at another time the insects attacked me and left my partner alone. This occured with the same partner with a time lapse of two years and both times no one was using a repellent. So, I assume we were emitting something related to diet? However, when there were enough insects out, like a swarm, they would get after both of us. Or if we were seperated, they would get after both of us... thus my theory that sometimes insects are 'picky'. The bottom line as far as I know is to (1) cover up as much as possible, (2) treat clothing, etc with permethrin and (3) use DEET as necessary, preferrable the time released versions. But, it won't hurt to take garlic and/or B12 tablets... I would lay off the match heads.

If you don't want to do all this, maybe you can convince/trick your partner into wearing some type of insect attractant.;)


2003-08-02, 12:04
Sassafras leaves stuck under your hat band seems to work also. I had heard this a few years ago and tried it; it worked! Don't know what the properties are but they are effective. It also works on gnats/noseeums. Of course you will look like an idiot but in the woods who cares.

2003-08-04, 08:34
In the spring I like to mash up some Jewelweed and spread the juice all over my face, arms and legs, to keep the skeeters away, and dribble some in my ears to keep the gnats out, Works good, but it disappears after July. And it only lasts a couple hours then you have to put more on. And yes, I've had luck with Sassafras too, but it doesn't seem to repel ticks at all. Sassafras does smell kinda like Citroenella (sp?).
But as much as I like natural remedies, nothing works like DEET IMO.