Archive for the ‘Naturally Simple Solutions’ Category

Simple, Frugal Chemical-free cleaning that WORKS!

I am extremely excited about April’s “Chemical Elimination” Challenge–Natural CLEANING!

In preparation for the blog post, I have been testing a variety of options in our own home, and I simply cannot wait until April before I give a brief plug for Norwex:-)

In my Chemical Elimination blog post, I will be more thorough, but let me just give you a quick overview of Norwex.

From their website:

“Norwex is committed to radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning to promote health. More than ever we feel the need to emphasize the positive environmental impact of reducing chemical use.”

“In the last 50 years more than 80,000 new chemicals have been produced and introduced into the environment. “Ecology” refers to the way human beings, animals, and other life forms and nature interact and influence each other.

The ecological approach considers that all living species and nature are interdependent, and that there are limitations to what nature can absorb in terms of human activities such as pollution.  Change something here, and the consequences will pop up there.  Radical change — manmade or otherwise — may overwhelm the delicate balance in the environment, resulting in unintended and dramatic negative change.

We must find a way to provide for the needs of the present, without sacrificing the ability of future generations to provide for their needs.  Contributing to the change by becoming part of the Norwex family will result in an improvement in quality of life.

“We strive to improve quality of life rather than standard of living.”

Behind this aim lies the value and beauty of life itself, both for us, and other life forms. 

From a health point of view, it is equally important to radically reduce the use of household chemicals.  Research and information on the health effects of chemicals has not kept pace with their development and use. “Most of the chemicals that people are exposed to everyday have never been assessed for their impact on human health.”

The harm chemicals have on humans is extensive.  Chemicals found in the average home are linked to many serious diseases such as allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.  Many today believe that the extensive use of chemicals indoors contributes to “modern” diseases such as asthma and allergies.”

Norwex allows you to clean and disinfect your entire home with the use of simply a microfiber cloth and water! Check out their website for their full line of products and how this amazing technology works!  You really have to see it to believe it.

On Tuesday at 7pm, we are having a Norwex party at our home.  If you are in the QC  area and are curious, please contact me–I would love to have you come!  There will be light snacks and Christina will be demonstrating how Norwex works…by cleaning parts of my home!!

If you are already familiar with Norwex and are eager to purchase more of their amazing product, check out my consultant’s websiteyou can place an order on-line through me or her!

I cannot say enough good things about Norwex. It will truly revolutionize the way you clean, and you will never have to stock your cupboards with sprays, solutions, detergents, and chemicals to clean your home with again!

March Chemical Elimination: Deodorant

In an effort to progressively rid our home of harmful toxins and chemicals, March’s goal is to replace one of our personal care products, deodorant, with a natural, safe alternative.

Most of us wouldn’t think of the personal care products we use on a regular basis as harmful, let alone toxic.  But the sad truth is, these products do not undergo the same testing as food and medicine do, and do not have the same requirements of safety since they make no health claims. Deodorants, like most personal care products on the market, contain a handful of harmful ingredients. Most deodorants on the market contain aluminum, a toxic metal which can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked with mental illness such as Ahlziemer’s Disease and autism.  Many deodorants contain parabens, a toxic petroleum derivative.  For more reading on harmful chemicals to avoid when shopping for deodorant, click here.

Although it can be discouraging and overwhelming to learn of the presence of so many harmful ingredients in the products we use and love every day, the purpose of this post is to encourage you with finding other, safer options.

Because each of us has different body chemistry, personal care products vary in their effectiveness.  That es why one deodorant may not work for you, but it may work for your spouse.  It is also why it usually takes some trial and error to find what works for you.

Following are a wide range of options to replace toxic forms of deodorant with natural, safe alternatives.  I have included both products available in the store and homemaking options.  If I have tried any of the options, I will include a personal review in italics.  But again, keep in mind that each person is different, so what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa.  Be inspired by how many different options you have, and don’t give up!

Safe Alternatives to Anti-Perspirant:

Meleleuca offers safe, aluminum free options.  This option did not work for me. I have friends who love it, though!

Tom’s of Maine has safe, though pricey, alternatives.  Look carefully at ingredients, though, as some contain aluminum.  They can be found in most stores.  This option did not keep me odor-free, either!

Homemade Deodorant Recipes

We use this recipe from PassionateHomemaking.com with some variations. I am eager for my husband to try it after his current bar runs out. We are going to try this method of putting it in his old stick.

Mix in a small bowl:

6-8 Tbsp Coconut oil, partially melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch (arrowroot is preferred)

Directions:

  1. Combine equal portions of baking soda & arrowroot powder.
  2. Slowly add coconut oil and stir it with a spoon.  Allow coconut oil to set up, stirring occasionally to ensure equal distribution.
  3. You can either scoop this recipe into your old deodorant dispensers or place in a small container with lid and apply with fingers with each use. Makes about 1 cup. This recipe lasts about 3 months for two people with regular daily use.

-Zinc oxide is a natural anti-perspirant.  Including it in your homemade deodorant will most likely help relieve any odor.  For a simple recipe as well as a plethora of variations, For a simple recipe to make your own, click here. I am excited to try this one, too.

Homemade Deodorant Spray

(From MomsAWARE.org)

Make a baking soda spray by blending 3 tsp. baking soda with 1 c. water in a spray bottle. Add 3-5 drops tea tree oil for added protection.

This is what I used and worked fine until after the birth of my daughter.  My hormones must have changed, because suddenly, for the first time in my life…I am very sweaty! This no longer cuts it for me.  But if it works for you, simply spray some on your hands, rub it under arms, and allow it to dry. I added the tea tree oil.

Queen of Hungary Water

(This can also be used as a toner and as hair care!)

Originally used in Europe as a perfume, Queen of Hungary Water is revered for its many healing properties and is widely known as a cure-all.  It can be used as a toner, astringent, a deodorant, a hair rinse, and can even be ingested to help soothe a sour stomach, among other things.  Here is my recipe, but you can really use whatever herbs you have on hand:

Combine in a large Mason jar:

3 TB. Peppermint leaves

2 TB Comfrey leaves

2 Tbs chamomile

4 TB Rose leaves

2 Tbs Lavender leaves

2 Tbs Nettles

3 TB Calendula/Marigold

1 TB Lemon zest

1 TB dried rosemary

1 TB dried sage

Cover with organic, raw apple cider vinegar and leave in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain out the herbs and place in fresh, clean bottle.

To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 1c. total extra liquid (I used witch hazel extract).  Add several drops of essential oil, if using. Stores indefinitely.

That list of herbs may look intimidating, but most of them can be found at your local health food store, or you can place an order at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Or you can ask me for a sample size, and I can mail you one for a small price.

I hope one of these options works for you and your family! I, for one, am glad I have found something that works and saves us from chemical exposure while also saving us money!

January Chemical Elimination: Dish Washing Soap

Update 2/2/12:  I am in the process of evaluating these recipes as they are no longer working for me.  Sometimes hard/soft water can play into the soaps not being as effective and the ratios need to be altered.  Feel free to continue trying some of these options and adjust as needed–if you have better luck than I am having, let me know!

As I move through our home with the goal of replacing all chemical substances with natural alternatives, the month of January brings us into the kitchen. You might not think a chemical that needs to be eliminated in your kitchen would be the soap with which you wash your dishes, but sadly, it is true. Many dishwasher detergents contain bleach, a toxic chemical, and most soaps contain fragrance ( a petroleum derivative) or parabens and dyes, just to name a few harmful ingredients.  Since we are using these soaps to wash the dishes off of which we eat, we run the risk of also ingesting whatever we are using to wash our dishes.

There are two alternatives to harmful dish detergents, and that is buying a natural product or making your own.  Obviously, making your own is more economical, but slightly more time consuming.  I have not found a dish detergent on the market that I am completely comfortable using or recommending–even the “natural” ones (like Seventh Generation and Melaleuca, unfortunately). So I make my own.  However, it takes very little time, and saves a ton of money in the end!

Here is the dishwashing soap that I make and use.

I am almost out of my old stuff and am eager to pour my new homemade soap into my old detergent container.

Dishwashing Liquid:

  • 2-3 c. diluted Castile soap
  • 10 drops tea tree oil
  • 10 drops lemon oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional)

Combine liquid Castile soap with water in whatever ratio you prefer (60-75% soap works well, depending on the mineral content of the water). Add tea tree oil and lemon oil. If desired, add grapefruit seed extract for increased disinfecting properties.

This does not “suds” as much as you may be used to with commercial detergents, but do not let the lack of bubbles deceive you into thinking the soap does not work. It does! I have been very satisfied with the switch. I also love the smell since I used peppermint scented castile soap! I also do not find this recipe quite as economical as it could be, since castile soap is very pricey, but it is still an improvement on the store bought!

More recipes for homemade dish detergent here.

Here is the dishwashing powder I make and use:

Automatic Dishwashing Powder:

  • 1 c. washing soda
  • 1/2 c. borax
  • 1/2 c. baking soda

Combine ingredients and store in mason jar under the sink. Use 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons for each dishwasher load, depending on mineral content of water. Use 1/2 cup white vinegar as a rinsing agent.

This recipe literally costs pennies per load of dishes.  I have really liked this powder, apart from a few washes where something went wrong.  Occasionally my dishes come out with a film covering them.  When this happens, I do an empty rinse cycle with 1/2 cup vinegar in the bottom of my washer.  I also make sure I have vinegar in the rinse cup.  That usually clears up the problem.

You may have to adjust these recipes by adding more or less vinegar, depending on the mineral content and hardness/softness of your water.

For more information on Naturally Clean Kitchens, check out Toxic Talk Tuesday: Kitchens

To check out the schedule for 2012 Chemical Elimination, read here. February is Personal Care: Deodorant!

Household Chemical Elimination Update

As I announced earlier, each month in 2012, I will post our family’s household chemical elimination goal for the month.  January’s goal is to eliminate toxic dishwashing detergent and replace it with something natural, healthy, and economical.

I hope to have January’s post up by the end of next week, but please give me grace with a newborn:-) I have a couple of more things to get in order, and then it will be ready to share with the world.

I also plan to make available for sale samples/trials of most of the homemade product alternatives I post about.  That way if there are deodorants, dish soaps, or skin care options you want to be able to try out, you can try them without having to make a large investment in something that may or may not end up working for you.

Looking forward to it all!

2012 Monthly Goals for Chemical Elimination in Our Home

Becoming aware of how toxic our modern world is can be extremely frightening and overwhelming.  We can have the desire to implement change, but the very magnitude of the task is daunting.  It is helpful to not try and tackle everything at once, but to go slowly, taking baby steps as it were towards a less toxic, more chemical free lifestyle.

That is why I am excited to announce my 2012 monthly goals for detoxifying our home.  Naturally Simple Solutions will be doing a series over the next 12 months to equip you to eliminate chemicals from your home.   Ideally, I will have already worked out the kink with each category before I post them each month and will have some first-hand examples, recipes, pictures, sources, etc. to share.  My desire is to make the transition from chemical to natural as pain-free and simple as possible!  Here is a rough outline of each month’s feature, although it may be changed or rearranged as needed. You may note that the order does not seem to necessarily reflect a scale of more to less dangerous substances.  That is because I will have a newborn in January and will begin the year with chemicals we have already eliminated in our home, to make things more manageable for me:-)

January – Dishwashing Soap

February – Personal Care – Moisturizer, Make up, Skin care

March –  Personal Care – Deodorant

April – Household Cleaners

May – Pest/Weed Control, Personal Bug Repellent

June – Personal Care – Toothpaste, Mouthwash

July – Personal Care -Soap, Shaving Cream, Aftershave, Sun screen

August – Personal Care – Shampoo & Conditioner

September – Laundry Soap

October – Medicine Cabinet

November – Safe Drinking Water

December – Home/Personal Fragrances

Anyone have suggestions for things I am missing? I can easily combine some personal care items into one month, etc, but I am drawing a blank on other household chemicals I may be missing, so please offer suggestions!

Toxic-Free Gift Ideas

Picking up where we left off in our Toxic Talk Tuesdays, I bring you (albeit a little late!) Chris and Andrea Fabry’s Tips for Toxic Free Living and giving of gifts!  I loved this program, as giving healthy, toxic-free gifts for birthday or Christmas is a desire of mine, but it is not an easy thing to do!

Twelve Tips for the Toxic Trainee:

(Found at MomsAWARE.org.  This is my transcriptive combination of the Chris Fabry Live!’s broadcast, mixed with Andrea’s list on her website, along with my own suggestions.)

  1. Books. There’s nothing better than reading how others have created a less toxic environment. Options include:
    • Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond. This is one of the most comprehensive books on the market. From personal care products to cleaning supplies to non-toxic art supplies, the author offers an abundance of recipes and explanations.
    • The Naturally Clean Home focuses exclusively on cleaning your home environment. Karyn Siegel-Maier creatively incorporates herbs and essential oils into her unique recipes.
    • Super Natural Home Beth Greer explains how small lifestyle shifts make a big difference in your health and well-being. Her explanations are thorough and concise!
  1. Essential Oils. Give the gift of natural, healthy fragrance. Beginning oils include lemon, peppermint, and lavender. All three have excellent antiseptic qualities and are versatile. Frankincense and myrrh make great Christmas gifts, and each has unique health benefits. The key is the purity of the oil. Diffuser World offers this list of recommended brands.
  2. Diffuser. Anyone interested in improving air quality in an office or home will appreciate this gift! Diffuser World offers an excellent assortment of products.
  3. Safe Cookware. Enameled cast iron is the least reactive cookware. Brands such as Le Creuset and Staub are made in France with no added chemicals. Costco now offers enameled cast iron products made in France.
  4. All-Natural Makeup. There are numerous options for makeup with no synthetic ingredients, parabens, alcohol, or fragrance. Here are three:
  5. Rhassoul Clay. This luxurious clay can be used for facials, soap, shampoos, and hair conditioning. Sources include:
  6. Natural Candles. 100% beeswax candles are optimal, as they contain no petrochemicals. Sources include:
  7. Car Air Purifier. Great gift for the commuter or traveler. Options include:
  8. Collection of Bottles and Jars. This gift is for the person interested in making their own personal care or household products. Choose an assortment of spray bottles, glass jars, and tins. Sources include:
  9. Gift Card to a Local Health Food Store. Gift cards encourage that detoxifier in your life to try something new!
  10. All-Natural Soap. Look for soaps with natural and organic plant oils, pure essential oils, and minimal other ingredients. Opportunities abound from small family businesses to bigger companies. Some options include:
  11. Homemade Bath Salts. Bath salts are simple to make using sea salt, Epsom salts, and baking soda. For the recipe and our how-to video, as well as additional homemade bath gift ideas, see our Bath Bonanza Gift Set Recipes.

Stay tuned for a simple, practical, economical toxic-free gift idea!

Holiday Awareness Tips

Naturally Simple Solutions: Skin Care

You don’t have to use half a dozen commercial products on your face and body to achieve clear, smooth skin.  You don’t even have to spend a fortune on quality, natural skin care products.  With only three simple, naturally occurring elements, you can cleanse, hydrate, and tone your skin without the risk of harmful toxins present in most commercial products.  And these things can double as your hair care and far beyond!

Here are the three naturally occurring elements I use in my skin care:


1.   Rhassoul Clay

Rhassoul clay is a mineral mined in Morocco that has been used for over a thousand years for hair and skin care.  It is lauded for its detoxification properties, as well as its ability to bind with oil and dirt and wash them away.  It leaves the skin and hair remarkably soft.   When mixed with water, it forms a paste that can be applied to skin and hair. It can be used simply as a face wash, or it can be applied in a thicker paste and used as a mask. It can be purchased by the pound atMountain Rose Herbs for $9/lb plus shipping.  Read more about the benefits of rhassoul clay here. Read more about using it as a personal care product here.


2.  Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for hundreds of years, largely for its medicinal purposes, but also for toning, smoothing and hydrating the skin and hair.  It is important for it to be organic and raw, as this means it has not been pasteurized and has left the healthful nutrients and enzymes intact. It is especially helpful in restoring the pH balance of your skin after washing with a mineral like rhassoul clay.  You can purchase this at your local health food store.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been called the “healthiest dietary oil on earth.”  When ingested, it has dozens of healing properties, but it  also has a plethora of uses in personal care!  It can be used as a deodorant, lotion, aftershave, toothpaste, just to name a few. To read more about its amazing health benefits, click here.

OR

3.  Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is extremely hydrating  and repairing to the skin and hair.  It is also helpful for treating acne.  Jojoba oil can also be found at Mountain Rose Herbsor your local health food store. I purchased my  2 oz. ounce bottle for $9. Since it is used extremely sparingly, it lasts for a very long time. To read more about its benefits, click here.

It is helpful to begin experimenting with natural alternatives when you begin to get low on the products you already commonly use. That way you have a fall-back for if things aren’t working well, or if it takes a couple of days to get into the swing of using the new options. It can be easy to get overwhelmed or intimidated and need to go back to what we are used to for a bit while we get the hang of the new options!

What you will need:

Rhassoul clay

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Coconut Oil

(or jojoba oil)

My regimen:

1.  To wash your face, mix about 1/8 tsp clay with 1/8 tsp water in your hand. With one finger, swirl mixture around to absorb the water into the clay. Apply to face and rinse off.  To use as a mask, mix about 1/2 tsp clay to 1/2 tsp water (or whatever consistency you like!) and apply to face. Allow to dry for ten minutes, then rinse.  My face has never felt softer!!

2. Pour some apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and apply to face.

3. Apply a small amount of coconut or jojoba oil to face to moisturize.

If you don’t have the softest skin in your life, I will be surprised! And to simplify things, these lovely products can double as your hair care!  To learn how to use these products for your hair, read more here.