Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Bad and the Ugly of DIY & Natural Products

Did you ever have something you love let you down? No I am not talking about relationships, but certain products that you love how they work for you. One of my first loves since I have switched over to all-natural is deodorant. Before ditching my chemical laden products I was a heavy anti-antiperspirant user. I always had it with me because I was terrified of sweating! There is a big difference between deodorant and anti-antiperspirant, the main one being the first makes you smell good or just not smell when you sweat and the later prevents you from sweating altogether. I did not even want to sweat at all and if you really think about it that is not healthy. One of the main ways your body eliminates toxins is through sweat so when you are doing an intense workout or really working hard it is a natural detox for your skin and other organs.

One of the main ingredients for anti-antiperspirant is aluminum. What does that aluminum do? Well it irritates the pores in your skin causing them to swell thus blocking the sweat from coming out. So not only can your body not rid it's self of toxins but you are putting more toxic material on and irritating your skin. The other possible concern is that it may cause Alzheimer's disease and breast cancer. While no one out there going to say for sure, there are some concerning studies and findings that cause me to think twice. This is straight from the National Cancer Institute website.  "Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like (hormonal) effects (3). Because estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer." Aluminum can account for up to 25% of your anti-antiperspirant and after one application .012% of aluminum is absorbed by the body. That doesn't sound that alarming but seeing as most people apply more than once per day and it accumulates in your skin and tissues over time this may be your largest exposure to poisonous metal other than vaccinations! 

We tried all kinds of deodorants, Tom's, home made, corn starch, coconut oil and essential oils and non of it worked for us...then we found the crystal and were really happy with the results! In fact we were sure we would never need to look for another deodorant again.  Until while I was doing research on aluminum and what it may be hidden in, much to my surprise and disappointment, I discovered what the deodorant crystals are made of is alum aka potassium aluminum sulfate.  So yes, that is a form of aluminum, and while they (the companies that sell deodorant crystals) claim that the potassium alum or ammonium alum are natural mineral salts made up of molecules that are too large to be absorbed by your skin. There is no research to back up that claim, however it is still a form of aluminum and I would rather be safe than sorry so I guess we are on the hunt again! Any suggestions on what to try are welcome!

With all this trying new recipes for natural house supplies you find some real real gems and you some things that well... are not so great. I was so excited to give my husband this whipped moisturizing shaving cream I made with shea butter and coconut oil. It looked so luxurious and he often has razor burn so I thought this was going to be a real winner! He was excited to try it that evening and did so as I was cleaning up out in the kitchen. Soon I hear him calling me, "Hey honey, have you tried this stuff out?" "No I just made it today" I reply, "Well it really clogs up the razor and there is an oil slick in the sink." All this was true and as I tried it my self that night I found out it was nearly impossible to clean off the tub or sink. It was truly dangerous for anyone that showered after you shaved!

I was also really excited about making my own dish-washing detergent. I was loving the simplicity of the recipe as I already had all the stuff I needed to make it at home in stock! I made a batch and tried it out. Not too bad, yeah not everything came out clean but that happens with a regular dish tab too. However as the months progressed the dishes got cloudier and cloudier and soon even the silverware was starting to be smeary and cloudy! Now as a disclaimer we have exceptionally hard well water. We had our water tested at one point to find out that it was a 12 and 15 was the top. So that being said it is really hard to get things clean with natural detergents and hard water. I know other ladies who do use the same recipe and have success it just didn't work for us and I really wanted it to!

Over all I have good success with making my own stuff but once in a while there is that one project or product that lets me down. I know that the key to success is to try, try and try again so onward and upward I go to a less toxic home and body!

To all the glorious successes and ugly flops along the way!

The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Journey With "No Shampoo"

So if you are not familiar with the "no shampoo" method of cleansing your hair let me fill you in. The idea is you want to avoid the chemicals in shampoo like, Sodium Lauryl Sulfates that give it that nice lather, why? Because it is also used in engine de-greasers and car washes, it is hard on grease and hard on your hair. There is a group studying the effects of SLS and other chemical additives called Environmental Learning Group's Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews and in about 16,000 test and they have come to the conclusion that SLS has shown links to organ toxicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, possible mutations and cancer, endocrine disruption and cellular changes. While the risk is stated to be low I am just not comfortable, using that on my head every time I wash. The load of chemicals that are in shampoo and are applied to the scalp on a regular basis can be more damaging than actually ingesting them according to Dr. Mercola,
"Putting chemicals on your skin or scalp, such as getting a hair dye, may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs.
Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. There are literally thousands of chemicals used in personal care products, and the U. S. government does not require any mandatory testing for these products before they are sold."
So in my eagerness to eliminate shampoo I decided to try "washing" my hair with baking soda and "conditioning" rinse with apple cider vinegar. Let me warn you, it was not pretty, it did not feel nice like lathering your hair in the shower, and the hair has it's detox period which for me was 6 weeks. By then it had stopped over producing oil like crazy and realized that it didn't have to overcompensate for the lack of silicones from the shampoo and it finally started to look nice again. Then a week later it went the other extreme and started getting too dry. I really wanted to make this work and after dealing with the six week oil slick to the now straw dry hair I was starting to get discouraged and have thoughts of just buying organic shampoo and throw in the towel. I confess, I had dreams of lathering my hair again, I missed it's addicting sudsy feeling. I knew I had to try something else. Then as I was researching what other options I had I came upon the shampoo bar. J.R. Liggett Original Bar Shampoo the ingredients were simple olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, spring water, lye or sodium hydroxide, and essential oils. It was only 5 dollars so at this point I was willing to give it a try. That was the answer my hair was so desperately crying for, and after using it for about 6 months now the only thing I use with it is some watered down apple cider vinegar to rinse the bottom of my hair after I "shampoo". Sometimes I need to add a little baking soda to my scalp before shampooing if I feel like I am getting too oily again. I find that my hair feels more balanced now, has a nicer texture, and I really only need to wash it once or twice a week depending on the weather and what I am doing; which for a busy mom of two it is nice to have that extra time. I have to say when I went to get my hair cut I asked the stylist not to shampoo my hair,(didn't want to go through all that again!) I told her that I had washed it earlier in the day and I was not using shampoo anymore and she said that she could see a noticeable difference in my hair and it looked a lot healthier! Needless to say I was so glad to have someone else who knows hair see all the hard work paid off!
Now for my children I use just use Dr. Woods Pure Castile Soap. It is very mild, so it doesn't work well for my hair, but it is perfect for baby shampoo/body wash for little ones!
So there you have it, some people can achieve the perfect balance with just the baking soda and vinegar, and I really wanted to be one of them, but sometimes you have to find what works best with you and your body chemistry. At any rate we now have one less toxic product that we use and that was my goal! I love my new healthy hair and my shampoo bar <3

                                                              The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Clean clothes for pennies!

One of my favorite ways to save some money is with home made laundry detergent. Because then it doesn't come out of the food budget=better or more groceries for us! Hooray! I can get all the ingredients for $9.93 at our discount grocery but it makes many batches so the actual price per load is about 8 cents per load! Not only that but it also eliminates the sodium laurel sulfates that can agitate the skin and cause irritation and sensitivities. The clothes get clean, even with our really hard well water, and everyone comes out a winner. I have made it two different ways now, one as a liquid detergent and one as powder. I have to say it is much quicker and just as effective to do the powder so that is what I have been doing since the birth of my son this past march. Anything to give myself more time in the day, I am sure you like a good short cut too! All you need to get started are these three ingredients, a grater and an optional food processor:
  • 1 Cup super washing soda
  • 1 Cup borax
  • 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha soap
First grate the Fels-Naptha soap bar

Add the washing soda and borax

(Optional) put the mix in the food processor and bled it together till fine powder.

I use 1 Tablespoon per load unless it is a really full load then maybe 2 and I have a top loader washing machine. It is completely safe for those who cloth diaper as well.

 Sometimes when I forget to keep my laundry detergent stocked and I need to do some laundry now, in that case I use soap nuts. They are actually the fruit of a soapberry tree and contain saponins which are a natural surfactant. I just throw 5 "nuts" in a little cloth bag put them in with the load of laundry and they do the job too. You can use the same nuts over again till they loose their smell, I find it to be around 7 loads for me. So weeks like this week where I am running behind on everything I brought out the soap nuts! You can order them online, but to get the best value you need to make sure the company you are buying from is selling them to you without the seed inside as they are mostly sold by weight and the seed is not necessary to make the cleaning work. It is natural and affordable as well. Just a heads up though, nether of these options give your clothes a "smell" in fact they leave them scent free, which is fine with me, but some people like to have a smell to their clothes, and while it does a super job cleaning it doesn't scent them. I love that the laundry is free of toxic chemicals and synthetic fragrances! I hope you like the way it works too!

The Farmer in the Dell

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year=Fresh Start

Last year I had decided to slowly eliminate some different toxic house items and replace them with a home made, natural variety instead. It wasn't really a "new years resolution" per say but after some different study and reading on the topic it made me want to try and change in that area of our lives. There were a lot of reserves I had about getting rid of certain things in our home, would the replacements work? Would they be cheaper, or more expensive? Are the items easy to get or must I scour the internet to find a deal on them? It had to be easy, affordable and effective for it to work for this family! As with any new or unfamiliar territory it seemed like it could take years before I could live a life that was free of dirty chemicals and toxins, how could I even begin to eliminate this stuff when it is in everything! Feelings of being completely overwhelmed by the immensity of the project set in and that is when the words of the Lord gave some peace. In the book of Chronicles 28:20 David is speaking to his son Solomon about the work of building the temple of the Lord. This was something that no king had been able to do before because of not having the promised land of Israel secured. Solomon knew that this was going to be an immense project and he had reserve about being the one to build it, but his father spoke these words of encouragement to his son. David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished." This is a great reminder for me that when you are setting out to do something that will honor the Lord that we have no need to be discouraged or afraid of what we can't do because God is there to help us accomplish the task. So taking baby steps I decided to start out by getting rid of toothpaste. The reason being if you look on the back of a conventional toothpaste tube you find a warning that says if you accidentally swallow any you should call poison control right away. This doesn't sound like something I want to putting in my mouth every day. Not only that but most have artificial sweeteners in them as well, and there are numerous studies popping up about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. So we started with this toothpaste recipe because I had all the ingredients and could make a batch quick and easy.

  • 1/8-1/4 Cup Baking soda (depending on how much polishing you want)
  • 1/4 Cup warmed virgin coconut oil
  • 20 drops of peppermint, clove, or citrus pure essential oil
  • 1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide (optional) 

  1. Warm up the coconut oil till liquid on stovetop.
  2. pour on baking soda and essential oil
  3. Add the hydrogen peroxide to the mix and let firm up
Now if you are using this for children as well just forgo the hydrogen peroxide :) 
This toothpaste works best in 70 degree temperatures, as more than that and the mix liquifies and when it gets too cold it can be hard to apply to your tooth brush, doable just hard. I feel like it cleans my teeth better than the store bought and whitens them too! It is also made with ingredients that are not too hard to find, are inexpensive and I have on hand. So it meets all my criteria! This gave me the courage to try some other DIY and natural house hold products, that I will be sharing with you this month, on our journey to a less toxic home. I hope that you are blessed and encouraged by the Lord to finish the tasks he has for you this coming year!
The Farmer in the Dell