The Citrepel Story

Like many scientific breakthroughs, the element of chance played a role in the discovery and development of Citrepel®.

The story began with an enquiry from an organisation seeking a viable alternative to DEET which referred to a Chinese substance called quwenling.

At that time, Chemian’s principal activities involved product sourcing and the manufacture of ingredients and intermediates, so it was not unusual for the company to receive a request to identify and locate little-known ingredients. In this case the search for quwenling was complicated by the fact that the word is also a generic term for insect repellent in Mandarin Chinese.

The search begins

While it became clear that many people knew what quwenling was, hard facts were in short supply. However, Chemian uncovered references to quwenling being extracted from eucalyptus oil in a scientific paper written in the 1970s and indications that these were materials high in para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD).

By piecing together various sources of information, Chemian identified PMD as the key to the effectiveness of natural products to repel insects, but while PMD is present in a number of natural materials such as citronella and eucalyptus, the level is very low (less than 0.5%).

By chance, Chemian had itself been looking to develop a range of naturally based active ingredients and so started to investigate how to improve activity in the raw material to increase the effectiveness of PMD.

A genuine breakthrough

After months of research, Chemian came up with the formula for Citrepel®, having developed a process to boost the level of PMD to consistently high levels. Initial testing by ARCTEC at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine indicated that Chemian had produced a repellent which showed similar properties to synthetic materials, in that the duration of repellency could be increased by increasing the concentration.

Chemian refined and improved its process over the next few months to ensure consistent levels of PMD from batch to batch and Citrepel® was launched.

Citrepel® is a genuine breakthrough. It’s a natural based product that is as effective at repelling insects as synthetics, offering protection from the bites of insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and sandflies and shielding against insect borne diseases such as malaria and West Nile virus.