A die-hard City Girl reconnects to the natural world… in the city.

Chemical Free Life

Bonus Post: Homemade Hair Gel

Because it took me so long to post the recipes for the household cleaners for you, Slowvolutionaries, I gift you with another blog post today as an apology.

Now you all have hopefully gotten it by now that I’m trying my hardest to go all natural, chemical-free AND to diminish my consumables. I was running low on my store-bought hair gel and went to my search engine and did a search for homemade hair gel. Now I will admit to you that I wasn’t expecting to find anything but lo and behold, I came across the above video.

You mean to tell me that I can actually make hair gel at home? Holy Canoli! So I finally ran out of the store-bought stuff. I ran to my co-op and got some bulk flaxseed and last night I made the gel. Now I was missing some quality essential oils like she mentions in the video but that will soon be rectified. In the meantime, I did use the tea tree to give it some anti-microbial properties and thus help it last longer and I added a smidge of olive oil to give it some moisturizing qualities. I’m hoping to add vanilla oil to my repertoire soon. But if you don’t have the oils she suggests or one of your own to give it a good odor, there really is no scent to it. Not a bad thing. But I want to smell yummy!

The video made me feel like it would take a bit of time but it doesn’t. The gel starts forming almost immediately and so you have to watch it very closely and keep stirring. I also didn’t have pantyhose and used a regular strainer which was a bad idea because as the mixture cools, it congeals and gets thick and doesn’t strain. So make sure you have all the things she says to save you the headache. I just kept re-heating it to get it out. Took longer, I’m sure.

Now fast forward to this morning when I’m prepping myself for an interview and I go to my fridge and I pull out the gel. It was cold. It was thick and blobby. It worked WONDERFULLY. You don’t need a lot at all, and it does get a little hard but it doesn’t flake and you can moisten and reshape the hair if you’d like. My hair wasn’t weighted down and I used a fraction of the amount I would use if it was the store-bought stuff.

In a nutshell, I loved it and so I’m saying goodbye to the store-bought stuff forever. Hope it works just as well for you! Enjoy!

SIDENOTE: Yes, this recipe is geared toward natural African-American hair. I don’t doubt, however, that all hair types could use this recipe.




Homemade Cleaning Supplies: Recipes and Results

Okay Slowvolutionaries! You’ve taken that shopping list I gave you in the previous post and you’ve gone out and purchased the recommended items. In case it wasn’t clear, here it is again:

  1. The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier
  2. Baking Soda (Local Grocery Store)
  3. Borax (20 Mule Team can be found at your local grocery store)
  4. White Vinegar (Local Grocery Store. I get mine in bulk from Sam’s club.)
  5. Castile Soap (Your choice of scent, I use unscented)
  6. Essential Oils (Your choice of scent, I use Lime and Tea Tree for now)
  7. Lemon Juice (Local Grocery Store)

DISCLAIMER: I linked you to the sites where I purchase my items. This is by no means me telling you where to buy. It’s merely me giving you a visual and a good starting point to do your own research and find the places and prices that are right for you.

SIDENOTE: Some people use bleach or ammonia because they just don’t feel like the items above get their home clean enough. Well, the items above clean and DISINFECT your home just as well as bleach and ammonia do and without the harsh chemicals. I’m taking my home chemical-free. As totally as possible. You can still disinfect without chemicals. But if you choose to continue to use bleach or ammonia, I won’t judge you. Oh who are we kidding, I’m totally judging you.

Okay, so while The Naturally Clean Home has tons of recipes, some of you aren’t like me and you don’t have the time, energy and/or patience to read a book about all this crap. I mean, after all, it’s bad enough you have to take time out of your day to make the stuff, right? Okay fine. Here are five of my favorite recipes I use the most:

  1. GLASS CLEANER: One part vinegar to one part water and about ten drops (or to desired scent) of essential oil of choice. Pour into your spray container of choice. You can also put into a regular box-style container with microfiber or reusable cloths of your choice and have ready-to-use wipes also. 😀
  2. DISHWASHING LIQUID: Fill your container of choice with Castile Soap. If unscented, use anywhere from 10-30 drops of Essential Oil of your choice, to your preferred scent. If scented, then you’re already there. I used a 22 oz. dishwashing liquid bottle and 20 drops of lime oil and 10 drops of tea tree oil. This gives my dishwashing liquid some serious anti-microbial properties! Take that germs!
  3. ALL PURPOSE CLEANER: (for a 20 oz spray bottle) 1 teaspoon of castile soap, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon borax, 2 cups water, 10 drops essential oil of choice. I use 5 additional drops of tea tree to add to my disinfecting power. Combine and it’s ready.
  4. SCOURING POWDER: In your container of choice mix 2 parts baking soda to 1 part borax. I also added 1/4 part of coarse sea salt to boost scouring and disinfecting power. 10 drops tea tree essential oil and 20 drops Essential Oil of choice or to desired scent. Stir with a spoon. (Now I know it sounds weird to add oils to a dry recipe. I thought so too until the oils were absorbed into the ingredients and there was no clumping or moisture to be found. I have no idea how that works but I think it’s awesome. My scouring powder makes Pine Sol smell like weak cologne. It’s AWESOME!)
  5. TOILET BOWL CLEANER: In your container of choice mix 2 parts baking soda, 1/2 part borax, 2 parts white vinegar, 1/4 part coarse sea salt, 1/4 part water, 10 drops tea tree oil and 20 drops essential oil of choice or to desired scent. (I found with the lime oil and everything going on with this cleaner, it did emit fumes. Vinegar and baking soda react with one another as we all should remember from elementary science class so just make sure you’re working in a well ventilated space and I suggest mixing it all together in the sink as it will at times overflow.) I used an old gallon vinegar jug for this recipe. The borax doesn’t fully dilute and you don’t want it to. It adds a scouring quality that is great. I use about a cup of this in my toilet, let it sit for about twenty minutes (enough time to start cleaning other parts of my bathroom) and then brush and done.

Now if you’re expecting these recipes to behave in the same way your chemical cleaners do, you will be very disappointed. Recently a friend gave me her all natural laundry soap because “it doesn’t smell like I’m used to so it doesn’t seem clean”. I happily took the free (of CHEMICALS!) laundry soap and shook my head. It’s because there are no chemical detergents (Soap= natural, Detergent =  chemical) and that’s GOOD. But we have all grown accustomed to the TOXCON goods. It’s why I use a lot of essential oils in my recipes. I don’t feel that way about my cleaners. The dishwashing soap doesn’t suds up as much as the Dawn. The All purpose cleaner doesn’t foam like the Formula 409 did. The scouring powder doesn’t have awesome commercials with bubbles that have faces on them. I don’t need to turn on my vent fan when I clean my bathroom. However, when I’m done, my bathroom and kitchen smell great, look great and are definitely cleaned AND disinfected. And the most important part is that I wouldn’t have a problem with a young baby crawling all over the floor and picking up toys and putting them in her mouth. Because she won’t be munching on a toxin covered block.

So there you have it my friends, 5 great, chemical-free and inexpensive recipes to help you get started cleaning your house. Invest in the book mentioned above or any other recipe book of your choice and you’ll learn about Dishwasher soap, laundry soap, dryer sheets, and lots of other things that will help you on your way to a more natural and chemical-free lifestyle. Oh, and you get to unplug from the TOXCON Matrix a little more too.


Homemade Household Cleaners: Tools for Getting Started

Homemade Household CleanersGreetings Slowvolutionaries!

I spent a good chunk of my day Friday making cleaning supplies for the house. My bathroom was a hot mess and I went to clean it and my supplies were low so I turned on some 80s music and pulled out my containers and got to work (it’s hard to pour vinegar without spilling when you’re Rebel Yelling. I don’t recommend it.).

Now for those of you wondering how you even go about knowing what to make, may I recommend that you invest in The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier. It has tons of very easy recipes and information on the basic ingredients you’ll need in order to make your own chemical-free-and-yet-still-just-as-great household cleaners for your home. This is where I’ve gotten the recipes for all the items you see in the picture there to the left.

When it comes to the containers you’ll be keeping all of your items in, well, that part is easy. Simply re-purpose the items you have in your home already. As you run out of cleaning supplies, THOROUGHLY clean out the spray bottles and containers and re-use them with your own recipes. In the photo there, you can see several spray bottles (I actually purchased those at Dollar General so they were each $1) and some re-used dishwashing liquid bottles (also from Dollar general so also $1), a tub of shortening that I re-used, a re-used lemon juice bottle and a re-used vinegar bottle. The only things that are new are the spray bottles. Moving toward a zero waste lifestyle, the key is to first figure out what you ALREADY have that you can re-purpose and THEN buy if you must.

SIDENOTE: I am trying very hard to eliminate plastic from my life as plastic is composed of chemicals. Not only that but it reacts with EVERYTHING it comes into contact with (yes, even your food) and leeches chemicals into it too. So by that reason alone, my all natural cleaners are no longer natural now that they’re in plastic bottles. Sad, right? However my budget does not allow me to purchase the new, fancy stainless steel spray bottles that are popping up as the plastic-free lifestyle gains steam. At least not yet. I’m willing to buy them new if it will help me get to a plastic-free (and thus chemical-free) life.

Now I recognize that we are all at different stages of fiscal health and so I’ll begin with what I call “The Poor Man’s Starter Kit”. This consists of the absolute necessities: Baking Soda and White Vinegar. You don’t need any special containers to hold these ingredients, simply fill your sink with hot water and 2 parts Vinegar to 1 part baking soda and clean away. For scouring power, sprinkle the baking soda onto the surface and then scrub with a brush or sponge covered with vinegar and water. The baking soda will leave a white film-like residue. To get rid of this, use a vinegar rinse which is 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar and it will go away. Vinegar and water make a great glass cleaner also so there you have it. All purpose cleaners with only three ingredients (one of which is already in your home).

For those of you who are looking to make this a more permanent lifestyle change for your home and you have money to spare for the upfront purchases, I suggest you do so. Adding the additional ingredients will in turn help all of them last longer, particularly if you buy in bulk. Now a cardinal rule of zero waste is buying in bulk as it cuts down on frequent trips to the store, packaging, etc to purchase the items. In some cases, there is no packaging at all. For example, I take my baking soda container to the store and fill it there. And seriously, if you purchase in bulk then it will last you at least 6 months and up to 18 months. So if you factor that in, the cost is next to nothing compared to the store-bought chemical cleaners.

My favorite place to shop is Soap Goods. You basically can get everything you could possibly need from this place. As a matter of fact, your boutique shops tend to get their items from this place. And the prices are incredibly reasonable. And the best thing? Bulk. They have tons of purchasing options from single serve to massive bulk sizes. I’ve developed what I call the $30 rule. This is a reasonable price for me and when shipping is added, never takes me over $50 which is my limit. And each pay period, I take the $30-$50 and buy another item for my repertoire. I’m down to only a few more items I’ll need and other than vinegar (seriously, you use it A LOT. It’s a blessing it’s super inexpensive), I won’t need to buy anything else until 2013. 😀

What’s on my list, you ask? Well the things I’ve purchased are: baking soda, borax, soap flakes, washing soda, castile soap, lime essential oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Lemon Juice and white vinegar. Yup, that’s it.  That’s approximately $200 for something that will last you about a year or more. Take a look around the website and look at the amount you get for your budget. $30 for Borax gets me 24 pounds of it! That should last me at least two years. Did you do the math? Yup, $15 per year, $1.25 per month, 4 cents per day. You could collect four cents a day by walking down a street and picking up pennies. My point? It’s not that expensive.

To go further with my zero waste, we will be slowly relinquishing our dependence on paper towels. We’ve been trying for a while now and have not had the kind of success I’ve hoped for but we’re going hard at it again in the new year. Microfiber cloths work fantastic, last forever and keep coming back for more. I cleaned my mirror with it the other day and it was amazing how little I had to wipe compared to paper towels.

Finally, a note about essential oils. Purchase your scent of choice and know that it will last you a very long time. Some can be incredibly expensive (I’ve seen oils for $4000 a pound. Holy Whoa Batman!) but what you want to make sure you have is Tea Tree Oil. It’s Mother Earth’s Miracle cure. It gets rid of EVERYTHING because of its antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal properties. This oil does it ALL! I’ve kept it in my house for years for use on everything from cuts and scrapes to pimples and even a case of ringworm my daughter developed as a kid (Thank you Chuck E Cheese. Womp). Make sure it’s 100% and not diluted which is surprisingly rampant on the market.  I wanted a citrus scent so I went with the Lime Oil (that stuff is STRONG!). I purchased my 16 ounce bottle over 6 months ago and I’m just now getting into my 2nd ounce so it’s going to last me a good long while. Most recipes call for about ten drops and a dropper can hold up to thirty so you can imagine how slowly you go through the stuff. It’s well worth the price you’ll pay. I mix my tea tree oil with the lime oil and it gives me a double whammy of antibacterial properties for cleaning the worst germ-collecting rooms, kitchen and bath.

Alright, Slowvolutionaries. You have your shopping list. Now go on out there and arm yourselves! Find containers in your home you can re-purpose. Buy, in bulk if you can, the items you want to use that will help you further unplug from the Matrix of Toxic Consumerism (TOXCON) and await further instruction which will be coming soon on how to mix these ingredients together to create products that will clean your home. Don’t want to wait for the next post? The book above is where I get my inspiration. Don’t hesitate to get your hands on it.

And because I always leave you with an educational video…