Re: Insect Repellent
Charlie Thorpe (charlie2@RO.COM)
Thu, 20 Jun 1996 11:49:20 -0600
Hello All -
John did us the favor of sharing some info from Boy's Life (I STILL don't
get to read a new issue until everybody else has read it...and then I have
to hunt all over the house for it <g>).
>The first section dealt with "DEET" bug repellant. The article recommended
>products containing no more than 35% DEET. ...
The low-% vs. hi-% DEET debate has been cropping up in quite a few forums
lately. We went through a cycle four or five years ago where a few of our
Troop parents were very concerned about the damage that DEET might be doing
to our Scouts. The Doctors that we consulted at the time suggested that we
watch the kids closely for reactions to DEET based products (and any other
chemical they come in contact with). The Doc's said that kids who react
shouldn't be using the stuff and that the others should use it only when
One pediatrician suggested that we be sure to try out any lotions or
repellents (that group members might pass around) on all the kids BEFORE we
get off into a week-long high adventure somewhere. She felt that a little
dabbed on the tender skin of the face or near an arm pit would fairly
quickly produce any negative reaction if one were likely to happen. I
think that she might have underestimated the willingness of a bug-bit 12
year-old to take a bath in the stuff out on the trail <g>.
Over the years we have never had any Scout or adult show any reaction to
any of the various DEET based products we have used (from Ben's 100% on
down). I personally have tried a ton of different stuff on my thru-hikes
(DEET, garlic, chlorine water, B vitamins, Skin-So-Soft, brewer's yeast,
etc.), and I keep coming back to "Ben's 100%" liquid used only as a last
resort (body hair, clothing and head-nets are personal first choices <g>).
>...Additionally they claim lotion
>based repellents last longer since alcohol based sprays evaporate faster...
My son and I tried using a 35% DEET lotion as we hiked thru Oregon and
Washington last summer. We quickly give it away and got our MUCH lighter
and MUCH more effective little bottle of Ben's 100% out of our spares kit
that we mailed to ourselves along the trail. The lotion also left a messy
residue on our skin that made soapless cleanup difficult each night. I
WILL admit that we probably smelled the best of the whole (4 1/2 month)
trip the week or so that we suffered with the lotion repellent <VBG>.
IMHO, there is a much more significant reason for using a lotion instead of
an alcohol based spray. One of our local Scouters took on the assignment
to start the good-sized evening campfire during a Webelos leader training
event. He messed up pretty bad when he ran late and chose to use a liquid
fuel starter...but, he paid the piper when the freshly applied bug dope on
his arms and face caught fire! He got some pretty serious and painful
burns over his upper body.
>The second section dealt with mesh clothing....they recommend coating it
>with repellant that contains very high concentrations of DEET...
I corresponded with some Canadian power company employees (they work out in
the bush all summer) when I was trying to get ready for the dreaded
blackflies I was sure to meet on my AT thru-hike in '93. They used the
mesh suits and soaked them in 100% DEET (ziploc bag) when they didn't have
them on! I didn't take their advice...and I got close and personal with a
LOT of blackflies <g>.
BTW, one of the Doctors that we consulted (when we were deciding if we
should allow the Scouts to use DEET) reminded us that our body can absorb a
fairly hefty concentration of any chemicals that we use through our palms
when we use our hands to rub it on.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking that the current concerns about DEET are
just another fad that will die out after a while...and then I remember when
we used to powder ourselves with DDT in the days before Rachel Carson...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City