As bug season quickly approaches, many outdoor companies are releasing gear with insect repellent integrated directly into the fabric, such as Columbia's Insect Blocker, Insect Shield, and Schoeller's new Inzectic. At the same time, consumers are moving away from synthetics such as DEET and looking for more natural products.
NPR gave us the good news this week that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pushing to develop a new, completely natural insect repellent made from grapefruit. Grapefruit's essential oils contain the chemical nootkatone, which is also found in Alaska yellow cedar trees and other citrus fruit. Nootkatone is non-greasy, dries quickly and has a pleasant grapefruit odor to it.
This natural chemical is effective at repelling not only mosquitoes and ticks, but the CDC believes it might also work against bed bugs, lice and other insects. The best part is that nootkatone is already approved as a food additive and is so non-toxic that you could drink it.
Nootkatone could be used to create the world's first insecticidal soap, meaning you could use the soap to not only repel ticks and mosquitos for up to 42 days, but use it after being outside to kill any insects that may be on you. I would love to see some sort of product created for pets as well since i hate putting the chemicals on Lola every month.
The current barrier in the way of commercialization is that food grade nootkatone costs $4000 per kilo. The CDC is actively looking for cheaper sources, however, such as waste product from the citrus and forestry industries.
So stay tuned for more news on insect repelling grapefruit. In the meantime, I wonder if rubbing the real fruit all over you before heading outside would work just as well? Anyone living in the mosquito and tick infested Midwest willing to have a try and let us know?