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I have heard that eating the tips off a few match heads can help keep the bugs off of you. Supposedly you sweat out the sulfur and it repels the bugs. Has anyone else heard this or is there any truth to it? Is it harmful? Would garlic work better?

Note: I have this on and off for years from random people and always assumed it was hogwash.

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If you have any example articles stating this claim, you could ask it over on skeptics stack exchange. –  Rory Alsop May 25 '12 at 8:26
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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Sulfur is often suggested for natural mosquito repellents. I've seen recommendations for taking sulfur pills, making sulfur creams, or applying sulfur powders. According to the Colorado State University Extension, the sulfur content of cloves is the science behind garlic-based repellents or recommendations to consume garlic.

That said, I would not think eating a match head to be any way to get sulfur into your body. A safety match head is mostly potassium chlorate fixed to ground glass. A strike-anywhere match head will have phosphorous in it as well.

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Yeah, I'd rather just bathe in garlic before I started eating chemicals. –  Russell Steen May 25 '12 at 3:01
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Whether it's hogwash or not is besides the point in my opinion - the fact of the matter is match heads aren't designed to be ingested and therefore while consuming them may increase your sulfur levels which may help keep the bugs off, there's also a good chance you'll be consuming random poisonous chemicals. Weighing it up, I think I'd take my chances with the bugs if that was all I had available!

In general I'd only suggest things like this in an emergency, but since "keeping the bugs off" is never a real requirement of an emergency situation, I'd never recommend it. Have a look at

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