Enjoy the outdoors? Top 5 benefits of using natural products this summer
Spending time outdoors this summer? Here are five reasons why natural insect repellent can keep you bug-free and healthy-- in more ways than one.Posted — Updated
Relaxing by the pool, serving up burgers fresh from the grill, enjoying a cold drink as you soak up the sun — summer is a season best enjoyed outside. But pesky insects like mosquitoes and flies can add a layer of discomfort to your outdoor fun, leading to irritated bites, painful stings and endless itching.
While insect repellents are an effective method for keeping these pests at bay, many popular options contain dangerous chemicals that may do more harm than good.
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors bug-free, there are plenty of natural repellent options to consider, made with earth-friendly and safe ingredients to keep your family and the environment protected.
Here are five reasons why a natural alternative should be your bug solution this summer.
What exactly goes into popular insect repellents? In many options, you'll find things like DEET and insecticides, both of which can be dangerous in high quantities, as well as a hodgepodge of other chemicals.
Natural repellent options — like those at Raleigh-based Murphy's Naturals — forgo these risky ingredients, instead utilizing a blend of plant-based essential oils to keep pests away.
"At Murphy's Naturals, we use a variety of highly concentrated essential oils in our products, including lemongrass, rosemary, citronella, peppermint, cedarwood and lemon eucalyptus. We have our repellent balm products that not only repel mosquitoes, but the inert ingredients of olive oil and beeswax are also a plus for your skin," said Philip Freeman, CEO and founder of Murphy's Naturals. "For use around you, Murphy's Naturals has a range of products, including repellent candles and incense. Our repellent incense sticks are made from bamboo and a high concentration of five repellent essential oils."
Whether candles, incense or balm, Murphy's Naturals emphasizes transparency in its products, breaking down ingredient lists and compositions carefully for each of their offerings.
Not all natural insect repellents are created equal. And because some are ineffective, it tends to give them all a bad reputation. In reality, it's not that natural repellents don't work; instead, it stems from the fact certain manufacturers skimp on the expensive ingredients that make sprays and candles effective in order to cut costs.
At Murphy's Naturals, the team has rigorously tested its formula to ensure its effectiveness.
"Citronella gets a bad wrap because of mass brands putting as little as 0.25 to 0.5 percent citronella oil by concentration. The result they produce is an inexpensive 'citronella candle' that doesn't have enough oil concentration to work well. It's not that citronella isn't effective, it just isn't effective when used in low percentages," Freeman explained. "In contrast, Murphy's Naturals uses a minimum of 5 percent essential oil concentration, plus we only use premium natural waxes. In addition, we don't use just one natural repellent oil like citronella. We use up to five oils in combination because our field research has shown using a broader range of essential oils repels a broader range of insects."
Freeman said reading the label can help consumers determine how effective their natural repellent will be, as labels should show the percentage or order of active ingredients in the product. For those with concentrations as high as Murphy's Naturals', consumers can expect higher rates of effectiveness. In fact, the company says its Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Repellent Spray repels for up to six hours.
In addition to transparency with ingredient makeups, natural products are also free of harmful chemicals. In the case of spray-on or lotion-based repellents, many popular options are made up of harsh ingredients with potentially dangerous side effects, including:
- DEET, large quantities of which have been linked to blisters and skin irritation, seizures, headaches and memory loss
- Cyfluthrin, large quantities of which can lead to loss of coordination and behavioral changes
- Insecticides like permethrin and pyrethroids, large quantities of which are tied to nausea, burning and itching, problems with memory skills, and damage to the central nervous system
While it takes large quantities of these chemicals to cause bodily harm and health concerns, smaller amounts can also degrade camping and outdoor equipment like tents, fishing gear, and even watch faces.
Sitting on the deck or in the yard and not wanting to be pestered by buzzing mosquitoes? Candles and incense are the perfect pest repellent options.
Some candles used for this purpose, however, are packed with petroleum, which, when lit, can release carcinogenic soot. Not only can that soot cause respiratory problems, but if lit in an enclosed space, it can also cause soot damage to roofs, walls and electronics.
Natural candles, on the other hand, are powered by more sustainable ingredients, and can even be reused to bring new life into your yard once they're used up.
"Our candles use soy and beeswax, so you won't find any petroleum in them," Freeman said. "We also have a wide range of candle options, including tea-light candles, candle tins and our beautiful ceramic candle, which repurposes as a flower pot once you burn down your candle."
In addition to the harm that repellent chemicals cause to the body, they also cause great harm to the environment. Chemicals like DEET and pesticides have proven to be toxic to fish, aquatic life and bees, and can even seep into the ground and affect water supplies.
By opting for a natural alternative, you can protect yourself and your family, as well as support the environment around you — without sacrificing effectiveness.
"Murphy's Naturals utilizes natural resources that are sustainably harvested, and many of the communities we source our ingredients from are benefited from the trade we conduct. Regardless of where in the world our products are sourced, it is important for us to ensure the ingredients are harvested sustainably and that we pay a fair market price to the communities from which the ingredients come," Freeman said. "Using natural products is a good thing for us and the environment, but how those products are sourced can be even more important."
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