Archive for December, 2010

Tin Foil Hats and Other Joys

Talking about green alternatives always brings out some craziness. My favourite are the people who immediately start ranting about chemicals being evil.

Let’s try something. Read the following:

_______ is composed mainly of the mixed triglyceride esters of oleic acid and palmitic acid and of other fatty acids, along with traces of squalene (up to 0.7%) and sterols (about 0.2% phytosterol and tocosterols). _________ contains a group of related products with potent properties that give __________ its bitter and pungent taste and are esters of tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, including oleocanthal and oleuropein.

What goes in the blanks? Some evil chemical compound right?

Actually it’s Olive Oil.

Here’s a good one: SODIUM CHLORIDE. Sounds evil right? Easy jump to Chlorine, which is poison right? Well Sodium Chloride is common table salt. I bet you’ve had a ton of it today. And while we’re on Sodium, how about SODIUM HYDROXIDE? Gross! Well no, it’s lye, and yes it’s terribly caustic, but you can’t saponify oils without it, and thus, there’s no soap without lye. None remains in the finished product, due to something called science.

So stop saying things are chemical-free. That’s impossible. What you mean is that you’re concerned about synthetic compounds, as they may not have been thoroughly tested. You’re welcome to be concerned about these guys, but stop calling them just “chemicals.” You sound ridiculous.

Let’s put it as simple as possible: Water is a chemical. Chemical is not a codeword for “nasty harmful thing.”

And try something called research. I remember the first time I heard about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It was a proven carcinogen, according to my roommate, and her dad sold healing rocks online, so obviously she knew her stuff.

Let’s ask Snopes about it

If you didn’t want to read all that let me sum it up: You’re confusing it with Ethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate. Similar name, different composition.

So check your facts. Just because it sounds similar it’s not evil. Dihydrogen oxide (water) is very different from Hydrogen peroxide (bleach.) And let’s face it: just because someone told you something or you read it somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Heck, don’t even take my word for it! Check your sources, read multiple articles. Research is a wonderful thing!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for natural products, and there are many good reasons for going this route! Go natural because you can know what’s in your products without anything unknown hiding behind generic words. Do it for the environment! Do it for your health! But don’t do it because of unfounded paranoia. If you’re going that direction you might as well start folding tin hats.

And that’s always a party and a half!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

The following is the blog post that convinced me I needed a separate blog for topics like this. It’s an exciting post, full of wonderment and rainbows. Enjoy!

I made laundry detergent. Just sayin’

No, if I was “just sayin’ ” I wouldn’t have a freaking blog. I love writing. So here’s my homemade laundry detergent story.

Some time ago, I remember my very cool friend Tara mentioning that she made her own laundry detergent. I initially envisioned a procedure that involved rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a trip to some crazy chemical supply store, but I never asked how she did it. Recently, my skin has been going crazy reacting to something, and I have been trying to watch the products I use more carefully in hopes that I can identify what the culprit it. I decided to research how to make laundry soap at home, just so I know exactly what is going into my products. The recipe I used was jacked from the Castanet forums. I quartered it, because the woman was making ridiculous amounts, and this is what I ended up with:

Like Magic!Congrats, you are seeing the four square feet of my house that is clean.

Contents: 4.5 cups of Borax , 4.5 cups Washing Soda, and 1 Sunlight Laundry Bar, grated finely.

Obviously those pictures are not the entire amount made. I just scooped some out of the ice cream bucket I filled with it so I can carry it to the laundry room in my building. The pretty blue jar was bought for $2 at a thrift store and the measuring spoon is Roommate’s. I found the Washing Soda at London Drugs, the Borax and Laundry Bars at Superstore

Total cost was about $15, I didn’t empty the boxes, and the laundry bars come in packs of two. You only need about a tablespoon a load, so I am pretty sure this is the cheapest detergent out there.

And it worked fine! My clothes are clean! I might try a little more next round though, just to experiment. There isn’t much scent at all, which is fine by me as I tend to think there’s enough smells in our products already. Seriously, if you’re using soap, lotion, shampoo etc, AND laundry detergent all with their own scents, well, no wonder so many people smell gross! I’m becoming more convinced that it’s the perfumes in products that I am reacting to, and while the Sunlight bars do have “perfume” listed as an ingredient, I am hoping that the amount used will be small enough to not cause a ruckus on my skin. A lot of the recipes I found online all called for Fels Naptha soap, but I have no idea where the heck to find that. I might keep my eyes open for a plain fat-lye-water soap, just to be on the safe side though.

This is seriously so easy. There’s no special procedure, just grate the Sunlight bar and mix all three together. It took about 15 minutes to measure out, grate and stir everything together, and I think the amount I made is going to last me a long time!

And I didn’t even need safety glasses!

EDIT: My mom asked me about fabric softener. I didn’t use any, but I should mention that my clothes came out super soft anyways! However, the internet tells me that you may want to mess around with how much detergent you use, as using more can work better for soiled clothes, but leave your clothes stiff. Apparently, though, if you add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle, that will do the trick. Of course, the machines in my building are completely un-programmable, and I don’t feel like sitting in the miserable laundry room where they live waiting to see if I can grab it before the rinse cycle starts. I may look into some kind of alternative dryer sheets in the future!