As a freelance writer, Paul's articles often focus on DIY home projects.
Bug-A-Salt vs. Fly Swatter vs. Bug Zapper
My children have a problem with bugs, and they are often calling me to kill spiders, flies, and mosquitos in the house. I don’t like the pests either, but I don’t particularly like going all over the house killing them. So, we purchased an old-fashioned fly swatter for the kids to use.
Most people are familiar with a fly swatter. The bug lands on a flat surface and with a quick flick of the wrist, the swatter whips forward and kills the bug. If it was done properly, the bug is dead—but, often, it is smashed with its guts out, leaving a gory mess to clean up. Not fun! Plus, it’s really hard to get spiders along the crevice of the ceiling with a swatter.
Bug Zapper Racket
Next, we tried the bug zapper racket. There are two buttons on the handle that when pushed, complete the circuit and an electrical current flows through the wire mesh. With a good swing, flying bugs can be zapped out of the air. There was a bee in our house and the bug zapper was perfect, but it doesn’t work well with nonflying bugs or bugs that have landed, so I continued to search for the ultimate in pest control.
My search led me to the Bug-A-Salt air gun. I read several reviews for this product and still wasn't sure if I should purchase it, so I wanted to give the details on how well it works for killing insects inside.
- It’s air-powered.
- It shoots granulated table salt.
- It has a single pump action that loads and compresses the air in the gun’s chamber.
- Each pump automatically turns the gun’s safety on.
- It is for adults only.
- Amazon won’t ship it to California, but if ordered directly from their business, they will.
Pros: What I Liked
- It is powerful enough to kill flies.
- The salt pattern is tight enough to kill small insects like mosquitos.
- It uses a very small amount of table salt per shot so salt isn't all over the house.
- It makes killing bugs a sport of sorts.
- It kills bugs on flat surfaces, along the edges of the ceiling, and in the air better than any alternative.
Cons: What I Wish Was Better
- The trigger doesn’t pull smoothly.
- Each pump sets the safety so it takes getting used to turning it off to fire.
- It is hard to pump.
- It requires getting closer than three feet to take down a black widow or a large insect.
Testing the Gun at Different Distances
The gun works by shooting salt like a shotgun, so I’ve done extensive testing at various distances to measure the pattern and power.
At one foot, it shoots about a one-inch diameter patter that is a bit bigger than a quarter, but the salt is tight enough that it will kill a fly if it's within the pattern. It will easily kill a fly and it obliterated a small moth at this distance, but it didn’t wipe out a large spider. The large spider took three direct shots to kill. The first shot on the spider removed a few of its legs, so I quickly shot it again. I'd prefer to shoot a bug once and have it be dead.
To demonstrate the size of the pattern at one foot, I covered a large coffee mug with tight plastic wrap and shot it. The salt mostly bounced off, but a few grains penetrated it—I outlined the shot so it is visible in the picture below.
Read More From Dengarden
The Gun's Power and Shot Pattern at a Longer Distance
The fly-control gun says it is effective at three feet and my test proves that it is. Just like a shotgun, the pattern is spread out more at longer ranges, but it shoots enough salt to mostly kill mosquitos and mortally wound a large fly at this range. It is possible that big flies will require more than one shot at three feet range.
My test shows that the pattern expands about one inch for each foot of range. Therefore, at three feet, the gun's salt pattern is about three inches in diameter. At this range there is a noticeable drop in power. None of the salt penetrated the cellophane in my test.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on May 23, 2018:
So, I’ve had a number of flies and black widows lately and I wish it had more power, but we do use it frequently.
Dan Reed on May 23, 2018:
I don't know that I'll run out and buy one of these or not but I do love the article. I picture you running these ballistics in true NCIS fashion and think how fun that must have been.
Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on May 23, 2018:
I assume it's not for Jehovah Witnesses? :P
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on May 23, 2018:
Oh man, that is a toy I would love to have.
I'm reminded of how last summer one day I was walking to my parent's back porch, and was shocked to discover two adult copperhead vipers along the flower garden path.
Well, that was unacceptable. Elderly folks and great grandkids running about. Didn't want to end the snakes either. Would have appreciated such a product at that time.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on December 15, 2017:
You won't be able to deter rats with one of these. It just kills small bugs. There is a lawn and garden version that may be more powerful.
Clive Williams from Jamaica on December 14, 2017:
Bug-A-Salt sounds like fun. I have some pretty pesky skitos and a few spiders. I wonder if they work on rats?
Natalie Frank from Chicago, IL on December 13, 2017:
Great article! I live in an old house - as in 1918 with original window and doors. This means large gaps and lots of bugs getting in. In particular, in summer I have a bunch of huge centipedes which totally gross me out. I have paid tons for different bug sprays but unless I essentially drown them in the stuff they just laugh it off and keep running around. This means lots of poisonous fumes and spray in the air and on the floors, walls and ceiling. This seems like a great option! Thanks for writing the article!
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 18, 2017:
That looks like a blast!!:-)
I don't mean to be that guy, but please don't use it to kill your spiders. Try gently escorting them out on a sheet of paper.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 13, 2017:
Interesting review of a product of which I had never previously heard. I usually have my husband dispatch bugs that get into the house. Fortunately there are not too many of them.
Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on October 13, 2017:
I was explaining the issue we had with flies in our house to my brother and he's the one recommended I give it a try. My wife was concerned that granulated salt would get all over the house. It shoots a really small amount, so it's not an issue, but at the same time, I wouldn't use on my bed sheets because it would be like a small amount of sand on the sheets.
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on October 13, 2017:
I never heard of the Bug-A-Salt before, but it looks like it could be useful. In fact, while chasing flies with my flyswatter, I've often wished for some type of gun to shoot them with, but didn't realize such a product is actually available. I'm going to check it out.