Archive for the ‘2012 Household Chemical Elimination’ Category

October Chemical Elimination – Natural Medicine Cabinet

This month’s Chemical Elimination is a major cheater post. ¬†As I was preparing to do this post, Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking did one of her own, and I simply cannot say it any better than she can! She is thorough, informative, and very, very helpful! I resourced this numerous times when my own family recently was struck hard with the influenza.

Go check out her website for Stocking Your Natural Herbal Medicine Cabinet!

I also want to add this recipe for Tried and True Cold and Flu Kicker. I have not tried it yet, but I have heard great things about its wonders!

And here is a recipe for homemade cough and cold syrup!


September Chemical Elimination – Laundry Soap

I still love soap nuts, but if you are more industrious, than here is my very detailed blog post on Toxic Talk Tuesday- Laundry Care! Loaded with info, recipes, and options for naturally clean laundry!

August Chemical Elimination – Shampoo and Conditioner

Better late than never, right? ūüôā

In my quest to rid my home of chemicals, this has been, by far, the most difficult category. After six months of trying various replacements, I cannot say I have found anything I am satisfied with. However, since everyone’s body chemistry is different, I know some things will work for some people and other things for others. It is a process of trial and error. I will lay out some options so that you can knowledgeably try some various options.

Here are some key ingredients to look avoid when shopping for a good product: parabens, sulfates,  fragrance (parfum), derivatives of sulfur sulfate and ammonium, Propylene Glycol, chlorine.  Many shampoos and conditioners also contain plastics and waxes, so be on the lookout for that, too!

Check out my post on Naturally Simple Solutions: Hair Care, for some very economical, healthy options for hair care! I have known many people who have used these successfully, but for some reason they simply do not work on my hair.  I have noticed, however, that a 50/50 baking soda water solution, massaged into my hair and left for 5 minutes, then rinsed with apple cider vinegar, restores my hair to a smooth, soft balance after the buildup of shampoo and conditioner.

Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa line is supposed to be a good, natural, economical solution, and if you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, it is much cheaper than Amazon. I have heard both good and bad reviews on this.

All that being said, if you look in my shower right now, you will find Biolage:-)  I have simply struck out so far in my search for natural and healthy!  What about you? Have you found any good, natural solutions to hair care?

2012 Chemical Elimination Poll: Is it worth it?

Yes, I am still alive here. I have just continued in my laxity on all things blogging. Honestly, it is mostly because I feel like I am writing into emptiness. I have two small children (one who rarely sleeps), a teenager, and a husband to care for. I only want to blog if it is of some benefit to someone. And I have to ask myself, am I the only one interested in the chemical elimination goals I set out to accomplish for the year? It is a lot of work to do the research, implement changes, and then blog about it every month. But it is totally worth it if it is benefiting my family (in living cleaner, safer, healthier) and others (who have the same desires). But honestly, every month that I embark on the topic for that month, I feel a bit like 1) nobody cares 2) if they did care, all of the information is out there for them to find anyway. Am I really doing anybody a service, or am I just wasting time?

This is not a blog post to instigate pity. I just really need to know if it is worth the time and effort to do the last 4? months of the Chemical Elimination posts. I saved the most intimidating ones for last, and we will not actually be able to implement many of the changes I would be researching into our own home until a later, less penny-pinching time. So I feel like a bit of a hypocrite to write about the dangers of flouride, hormones, and pesticides seeping into our drinking water, when the only solution costs more than we can afford anyway. There is also a sense in which I feel that ignorance is bliss if I cannot do anything to change things anyway.

So I am looking for input. Is there anyone out there who is just dying to see the last four Chemical Elimination posts and would benefit from them? Or does everybody have more pressing things to occupy their time? Because I really, really hate to feel like I am behind and not finishing what I started if people are counting on it…but if they’re not, I don’t want to waste my time or theirs.

On the other hand, I myself am curious about the last five topics (Shampoo/Conditioner, Medicine Cabinet, Laundry Soap, Safe Drinking Water, Home/Personal Fragrances) and have half of them halfway drafted and would be more than happy to post about it if other people are interested. I just need to know that so I am motivated:-)

So what do you think? Should I press on and finish the final 5 posts in the 2012 Chemical Elimination Challenge?

And while we’re at it, were people benefiting from my write ups of the Fabry’s Toxic Talk Tuesdays?

July Chemical Elimination- Soap, Shaving Cream, Aftershave, Sunscreen

Okay, so this whole chemical elimination thing has been a lot harder than I bargained for. I apologize once again for my tardiness in posting! But here, at last, is July’s category.

This month we are covering a number of personal care items, such as soap, shaving cream, aftershave, and sunscreen.  Why do we need to make a switch from using these products in our home?  Modern products contain a plethora of harmful ingredients that have a very direct affect on our health and wellbeing.  Unfortunately, the government does not require health studies before releasing these products, since they make no particular health claims.  But the troubling truth is what goes on our skin is absorbed into our bodies.  As we look for natural and healthy alternatives to these products, what are the ingredients we want to avoid?

Look for products that DO CONTAIN:

  • Only high-quality & pure ingredients
  • Organic ingredients as much as possible

Look for products that DO NOT CONTAIN:

  • artificial fragrances or perfumes (these are derived from petroleum and not something we want to put on our skin. Look for ¬†products only scented with essential oils)
  • parabens, phthalates, dyes or sulfates (What is wrong with these?)
  • Genetically Modified ingredients (Why not?)

In keeping with these guidelines, I can highly recommend two companies for their products, and I will also give some homemade recipe options.

Jenuinely Pure is a mom-created company that offers a variety of soaps at a reasonable price.  They are high quality, primarily organic ingredients and they never use harmful or questionable ingredients, artificial fragrances or perfumes, parabens, phthalates or sulfates, or genetically modified ingredients.

Graham Gardens offers a variety of natural products, including soaps, bug repellent, salves, lotions, lip balm, and baby care products.  Their desire is to use natural, safe ingredients that not only work, but heal. And they just added a certified organic line for $5 a bar!

Shaving Cream

Instead of using shaving cream, I’ve taken to just using either a bar of soap and working up a little lather, or some liquid soap accomplishes the same purpose. This is effective, economical, and simplifies what I have in my shower.


Graham Gardens offers a healing salve with safe, natural ingredients.

Passionate Homemaking has a number of recipes for making your own aftershave.


When looking for a safe sunscreen, it is important to remember that exposure to sun in a limited amount is a very good thing! We seem to have forgotten the importance of getting some sun nowadays as we are so fearful about harmful UV rays and getting cancer from that.  But the sun is an important source of the very important vitamin D that our bodies so need.  It is good to get at least 15-30 minutes of uninhibited sun exposure a day, and even better to be out in the sun at 15 minute intervals throughout the day sans sunscreen.

But for those long mornings at the pool, here are some guidelines for finding a safe sunscreen:

  • Look for a sunscreen that does not contain added vitamin A ¬†or insect repellent.
  • Look for a sunscreen that does¬†not¬†have¬†higher than 50 SPF. ¬†It is not only useless, it is possibly dangerous.
  • DO NOT buy spray or powder sunscreens. ¬†These can be ingested into the lungs.
  • Look for a sunscreen that does¬†not¬†contain fragrance
  • Look for a sunscreen that does¬†not¬†contain oxybenzne, a hormone disrupter
  • Look for sunscreens that DO contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Avobenzone ¬†or Mexoryl SX.¬† These are effective, safe UV blocking minerals.

Here is a great resource for finding a good sunscreen.

To make your own, here is a recipe.

And next month we’ll continue our personal care chemical elimination with shampoo and conditioner!

Further Reading:

Cheat Sheet: Paraben, phthalate and PEG free baby products

Recognizing Harmful Ingredients in Labels

How to Recognize and Avoid Phthalates

June Chemical Elimination: Toothpaste & Mouthwash

When it comes to hidden and dangerous chemicals in our homes, not many of us probably think of toothpaste and mouthwash as all that toxic. ¬†Sadly, however, in-home poisoning is the number 2 cause of death in children–and mouthwash is one of those poisonous substances!

We have been making our own mouthwash for some months now and are really enjoying it. It is simple, economical, and tasty!

Homemade Mouthwash

1 cup aloe vera juice (fairly inexpensive at Trader Joe’s among other places)

1/2 cup distilled water (I just used filtered)

1 tbsp. witch hazel

2 tsp. baking soda

20 drops peppermint essential oil


So what’s so dangerous about toothpaste? ¬†Amidst other questionable substances, the key health concern in most toothpastes is their fluoride content. ¬†But isn’t fluoride good for us? Isn’t that what makes our teeth strong? Unfortunately, no. ¬†However, this post is not about the dangers of ingesting fluoride. ¬†More information on that topic will be in our November Chemical Elimination post on safe drinking water. ¬†For now, it is simply helpful to know that, contrary to popular belief, it is best to use toothpaste without fluoride.

Toothpaste sans fluoride can be difficult to find though. ¬†What are some safe alternatives? You could always use good old baking soda and water, but, well, that is simply not a very pleasant experience. ¬†For more palatable options, check out Trader Joe’s fluoride free toothpaste (just $1.99 in store) or Tom’s of Maine. ¬†Or make your own.

May Chemical Elimination: Pest/Weed Control and Natural Bug Repellent Recipe

(Yes, I am aware that I am actually finally posting this in June…things have been very busy lately! Hopefully I will actually get June’s done before the month is out!)

Ever since I began the journey into healthier, more natural living, I have been concerned about the chemicals we so readily turn to to kill unwanted pests in an around our homes.  It disturbs me that we will spray toxic chemicals in our homes, on our floors where our babies crawl, and not give a second thought to the possible danger we may be causing.  But we also do not want bugs, spiders, ants, and mice invading our homes! So what is the answer?

Conveniently, this month’s Chemical Elimination coincides with this month’s and last month’s¬†Toxic Talk Tuesday!¬† For detailed information on each individual topic, check out those posts or MomsAWARE. ¬†I will compile all of the most helpful tips here!

Most pests and irritating rodents do not like the smell of peppermint, so either plant some or sprinkle some peppermint leaves in or around areas where you are having issues with mice, etc. Plant marigolds in your garden to keep rabbits away and chives to keep the deer at bay.  (The marigolds also took care of the beetles eating my green beans!).  Diluted Neem oil is also effective against a whole host of garden pests.  Use garlic/onion/cayenne or all three in a spray on pests inside and out.

Cedar is also another major critter deterant.  Use cedar mulch, or spray diluted cedar essential oil in problem areas (use instead of moth balls!).

Other essential oils that are useful against pests include peppermint, lavender, lemongrass, basil, and clove.

To kill of the weeds, try this recipe for simple, frugal, safe weed killer:

Homemade Natural Weed Killer 

  • 1 gallon white vinegar
  • 1/2 c. liquid soap
  • 2 tbsp. salt

Combine and shake. Place in spray bottle and spray leaves and stems of weeds only. Avoid surrounding plants. ¬†This really works! And I loved spraying the weeds with my two-year old tagging along behind me today, knowing he wouldn’t be harmed by smelling or touching the spray!

Instead of going to the store and buying pricey, toxic bug spray, try this recipe: (Do not be intimidated by the essential oils–check out the link below for suggestions on all sorts of essential oils that can work just as well!)

Personal Bug Repellent

1/2 teaspoon citronella essential oil
1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil
4 ounces distilled witch hazel

Mix ingredients in a 4-ounce spray bottle. Shake well. Spray onto exposed skin, avoiding eyes and mucous membranes. Reapply every 2 hours, or as needed.

Recipe courtesy of Laurel Vukovic.
August 2004
Herbs for Health

I love this website for a list of which essential oils repel which insects and all the possible carrier oils, as well as ratios to mix up whichever bug spray will suit your needs best!

I am excited to try these recipes using coconut oil and essential oils!

Check out the Bug Busting Bonanza for more helpful hints! Happy natural pest-ridding!