Many of us have detoxing on the brain around this time of year. It’s a great idea to take stock of (and slowly but surely replace) the products you put in & on your body that are loaded with harmful chemicals. A good one to start with is toothpaste. Check out this list of ingredients to avoid. This Harvard study confirmed that Fluoride actually lowers the IQ of children. No good!
It can be tricky to find a good all natural version at most stores. The good news is that according to this recent study, coconut oil is actually more effective than commercial toothpaste.
I put together this minty-fresh coconut oil based recipe (that actually tastes like toothpaste!) using anti-bacterial + anti-viral spearmint essential oil, and some other ingredients that are good for the teeth & gums.
Check it out here: http://thelotusroot.com/
As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!
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I hope you get a chance to try this natural toothpaste recipe – It’s fluoride free, and leaves your mouth feeling very fresh and clean.
What you’ll need:
How to make it:
Mix everything up in your jar and voila – you have yourself some toothpaste!
Make sure to cap the jar so that the essential oil stays fresh. This amount will last about a week or two for one person.
Let me know if you try it!
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Today I wanted to share a cheap and easy way to soften & soothe dry, itchy skin.
An oatmeal bath can bring you relief from a rash you may have due to an allergic reaction, eczema, dry skin caused by indoor heaters, or anything else that’s causing your skin to itch.
What you’ll need:
• 1/2 cup – 1 cup of organic oatmeal, any type of unflavored oats will work
• A piece of fabric ( I cut a square out of an old t-shirt), you can also use an old sock or a cotton muslin bag
• A rubberband or piece of string
• Optional: lavender essential oil
• Fill the tub up with warm water
• Squeeze the oatmeal pouch to release the liquid – the bath water will turn milky white.
• Optional: Stir 6-10 drops of lavender essential oil into the water, which is also great for soothing skin and is very calming.
• Soak for 10 – 20 minutes
• Rinse off with lukewarm water and pat your skin dry when you’re done.
I’d love to know if you try this!
Do you have any skin issues that you need relief from?
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This is a great natural method for getting an extremely deep clean + leaving your hair shiny and smooth with less frizz (great news if you have curly hair like I do.)
Sometimes called the “no-poo” method, it will remove dirt & build up from hair products without damaging your hair. Many shampoos have surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate that strip your hair of its natural oils and harm the cuticle layer of the hair (Leaving it dry and dull).
Try this method if you have psoriasis and find normal shampoo to be too harsh. It’s also known to relieve an itchy, flaky scalp (check out another solution in this post) and will restore your hair & scalps ph balance.
What you’ll need:
What to do:
1. Mix 1/4 cup of raw apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water
2. Make your baking soda into a paste with a little bit of water in the palm of your hand
3. Wet your hair and then massage the baking soda into your scalp.
4. Rinse well with water (or be prepared for lots of fizzing like the volcano science experiment you may have done as a kid)
5. Rinse hair with apple cider vinegar solution
6. Rinse again with cool water (Condition afterwards, if you’d like)
If you pre-mix your vinegar and water, refrigerate or use within 2 weeks (I mix a fresh batch every time I wash my hair)
* The baking soda may be too harsh to use everyday, a couple of times a week may be all you need, or if you do it more often I would just use the vinegar rinse. Some people who have tried this have mentioned a transition period where their hair was greasy at first after using this method – stick with it and you should see great results.)
Do you use this method? Or do you think you’ll try it? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
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I wanted to share my favorite way to clean makeup brushes (this can be used for skin brushes, too – more on skin brushing in a future post!)
*Make sure you do this when you don’t need to use your brushes, since they can take up to 24 hours to dry.
Making your own cleaner saves money + cuts down on extra packaging waste, and the ingredients are good to have on hand to be used in multiple ways (I use Dr. Bronners soap to wash clothes, and tea tree oil can be used as a spot treatment for acne and is great to have around during cold and flu season).
Many people use shampoo to clean their brushes, but Dr. Bronner’s soap is gentle, and made with all natural, organic oils. A lot of shampoos have harsh surfactants & alcohol which can dry out and break down bristles (and are just as damaging to your hair!)
Tea tree oil is perfect because it’s anti-bacterial & anti-fungal.
What you’ll need:
Tea tree oil (make sure it’s in amber glass – clear glass bottles cause essential oils to degrade from the light)
Liquid Castille Soap
A little bit of water
A cloth to dry your brushes on
What to do:
1. Add some water, a little bit of soap, and about 5-10 drops tea tree oil to your jar (you may need more for larger brushes).
The smaller the brush, the less water I use, since it’s best not to get the metal part of your brushes wet (water can loosen the glue that holds the bristles in place)
2. Swirl brushes around in jar or on your hand to get them clean
4. Repeat if necessary. You may have to start over with a fresh water / soap / tea tree oil solution and rinse multiple times to really get them clean
5. Blot dry on cloth, reshape, and dry lying flat on towel
What’s your favorite type of cleaner? Let me know in the comments if you give this one a try!
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There are many herbs that are fantastic for healing & soothing dry skin. Making an infused oil is a great way to extract an herbs medicinal properties. In this post I’m going to show you how to make an herbal infused oil using the solar method. Once finished – you can even use this oil to give your “oil cleansing method” routine a botanical boost.
Some wonderful herbs for dry skin are Chamomile ( avoid if you have chamomile or ragweed allergies) Calendula & Comfrey. All three soothe & soften dry + irritated skin, promote skin cell regeneration, and have anti-inflammatory properties. There are many more herbs you can use – be sure to do your research before working with any herb, especially if pregnant or nursing.
Start with a high quality carrier oil such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed, sweet almond or jojoba.. Just try to make sure it’s cold pressed / unrefined and/or extra virgin. When starting out, I recommend using dried herbs, since the moisture in fresh herbs can cause your oil to go rancid.
1. Start with a clean and dry glass jar – fill your jar about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way with your herb. (You can always start out with less herbs, if you just want to test a small amount.)
2. Fill your jar with the oil, making sure that the herbs are completely covered. (You generally want to use twice as much oil as the herb).
Cap your jar – label it with the date, and type of herb & oil.
3. Place jar in a sunny spot.
Shake every day for at least the first week. It’s a good idea to open the jar every once in a while, check for mold or to see if it smells rancid, and to check for any condensation inside of the lid (if you find any- wipe the lid with a clean, dry towel). Make sure herbs are under the oil.
4. In about 3-6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil with cheesecloth, muslin, or a nutmilk bag.
Squeeze any remaining oil out of the herbs (that’s the most potent part).
For an even stronger oil – start the process again by topping a new batch of dried herbs with the oil you just made.
5. Bottle the oil and label your jar with the date finished.
Most infused oils are best used within about 6 months (depending on type of carrier oil you use). Olive oil may last about a year (or longer).
Once it’s finished, keep away from heat and direct sunlight. (Store in amber glass and in the fridge for the longest shelf life).
Do not use if the oil starts to smell off, or if you see any mold growing.
You can use the finished product as a soothing massage oil, or you can turn it into a lip balm, salve, cream, or ointment.
Don’t have time to do it yourself? Look out for the ingredients I mentioned in lotions, salves and balms.
What do you use to deal with dry skin? Let me know in the comments below!
photos: © Liz Davison 2013
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If you’re like me, you want to clean your organic cotton clothes in an eco-friendly way, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on “natural” laundry soap, and you’ve read about all of the toxins in laundry detergents and want to get that stuff out of your life.
Or maybe you’re allergic to regular detergents, and need something more gentle.
In an older post, I shared how I made powdered laundry soap with borax, washing soda and a bar of castile soap. The recipe works great, but does have some drawbacks – it’s time-consuming to grate the bar of soap, and doesn’t work well for items you have to wash in cold water (i.e: screen printed clothing, organics, some delicates, anything you want to keep bright & colorful .. etc.) (Edit: See a more recent & simplified version of this post here: http://thelotusroot.com/a-healthier-option-for-washing-your-clothes)
There’s a popular liquid soap recipe out there, but you have to grate soap and then boil it – I wanted something easy.
Many of the recipes also have you make about 5 gallons worth of soap at a time – since I live in New York City I don’t have a lot of extra space for that.
I’ve finally found a solution that works for me. (Hopefully it will make your life easier, too!) It’s cheap, quick, easy, and you only make 2 gallons at a time (or you can cut the measurements in half to make one gallon).
1 cup Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap. ( I used peppermint – it smelled amazing when mixing it, but the scent doesnt linger on the washed clothes)
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing soda ( See part 1 of this series for more info on Borax & Washing Soda)
1 mason jar (or another container to mix in)
2 empty 1 gallon milk or water jugs
Something to stir with ( I used a chopstick)
1. Using the funnel, add your Borax and Washing soda to a container – I used a mason jar since the measurements are already marked – you could just measure it all out and add it to a bucket if you’d like)
2. Add some hot water to the jar and stir to dissolve the powder – try to break up most of the clumps.
3. Pour half of the borax/washing soda/water solution into one jug, and half into the other.
4. Add a little hot water to each jug – cap ‘em & shake ‘em.
5. add 1/2 cup of Dr. Bronners to one jug, and 1/2 a cup to the other.
6. Fill the jugs the rest of the way with hot water (leaving a little room at the top.)
7. Cap & Shake the jugs again to mix everything together.
You can use 1/3 cup of soap in each wash. I added 20 drops of lavender essential oil to the washer, and the clothes came out smelling
fresh. (Some recipes call for you to add the essential oils to the jug – I avoided that since essential oils can degrade plastic, and sunlight can damage them. It’s best to keep them stored in amber glass.)
The borax and washing soda have great cleaning & stain fighting power, but if you want to skip them all together you can simply add 1/3 cup Dr. Bronners liquid soap to the wash. Some people add a dash of baking soda, too.
Some have mentioned that Dr. Bronners may fade clothes, so to be on the safe side you may want to use this only on your whites. Others have said they’ve used it for years without any fading.
To prevent colors from fading; turn clothes inside out, wash in cold water, use the shortest cycle, wash on gentle and hang dry when you can.
Adding 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle is also supposed to keep colors bright, and will act as a natural fabric softener.
I hope these tips help. Have you ever tried this recipe, or do you ever use Dr. Bronners to wash your clothes? Do you have any tips for me? Let me know in the comments below!
It’s a funny thing, detoxifying your life. There’s so much to learn, and it can be really hard to do everything at once. For me, one of the last few things to really dig into and research was laundry detergent. What IS in those conventional laundry detergents anyway, and do they really have to be neon blue? Are they harmful to a person once they’re rinsed out of clothes, and how terrible are they for the water supply & eco-system once they go down the drain? This one is tricky because, by law, companies aren’t required to list their ingredients. And JUST when you think you’ve picked up a natural or eco-friendly alternative that actually lists what its made of, you find out that its main ingredient is one of the worst and most toxic offenders (this happened to me last night, I couldn’t believe I was duped after all the research I’ve been doing.)
Enter, the eco-friendly/natural soap recipe that has been sweeping the internet. How hard is it to make? Can you really make it for pennies on the dollar? Is it to good to be true?
Most importantly, does it actually work?
I put it to the test.
After experimenting with it for a few months, I want to share what I’ve learned.
But first – what’s in it, and how is it made?
1 bar of soap ( I like using castile soap, so I used Dr. Bronners,
but you can use any other bar of natural soap. )
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing soda
How to make it:
Grate up the soap with a cheese grater (the hardest part – I promise)
1. add 1 cup Borax ( I use this trick to mark measurements on my jar so that I don’t have to use a measuring cup. If you use a Mason/ball jar the measurements are already there.)
2. add 1 cup washing soda
3. add the grated soap
4. Cap it & Shake it
Ta-da! You now have your own, homemade, laundry detergent.
Result: Success! It actually does clean clothes, and is very inexpensive to make.
Note: It’s best to use it when you’re washing with warm water, since cold water won’t disolve all of the grated soap. (Soon I’ll be sharing part 2 of this post – where I show how to make a liquid version.)
What shouldn’t you wash in this soap?: It’s recommended to not use it for woolens or silk since it can damage them. You may also want to avoid anything else that’s delicate. I also wouldn’t use this to hand wash clothing.
How much should you use?
Use 1 – 2 tbsp per load. I had one of those little scoops from an old container of protein powder that I threw in the jar to use.
Where do you find the ingredients?: Borax and washing soda can be a little tricky to find in the U.S these days. You may have luck at your local hardware or grocery store. After going to 5 stores I finally found both at Associated Market in NYC – both were around 4 bucks. My mom tracked them down at Crafty Beaver (a hardware store in Chicago.) Dr. Bronners bar soap is pretty easy to find these days at drug & health food stores. Or better yet, support a small business and buy a bar of handmade soap from a local shop or farmers market.
What about that mountain spring, just-rolled-around-in-a-field-of-lavender fresh scent?
The soap on its own does leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean – but doesn’t have much of a scent to speak of.
I used peppermint soap, but the smell does not linger – so I added grapefruit essential oil to the wash cycle. You can also try lemon, peppermint, lavender, etc.. The nice thing is that most essential oils are also anti-bacterial /anti fungal / anti-microbial, and very effective in getting rid of mold & mildew on fabric (and in the air).
The first time I tried 10 drops – the laundry smelled fresh but I couldn’t smell the grapefruit. The next time around I added 20, and the grapefruit scent lasted after the clothes were dry.
According to the environmental working group, “Sodium borate (borax) is a naturally occurring mineral based on the element boron.” There’s a lot of conflicting info about whether or not borax is really natural and safe. Here’s a great blog post about this – after a lot of research the author concluded that it is safe enough to use a cleaning product. Washing Soda is Sodium Carbonate, also known as soda ash. More info can be found here. Overall, both borax and washing soda appear to be safe if not ingested, but can be mildly irritating to the skin, eyes & lungs. So, like any other cleaning product, you should use these things with caution. (warning: when making this stuff – it will get everywhere. Using gloves and/or washing your hands afterwards is a good idea. It helps to put a piece of newspaper under your jar to catch any excess powder. You may want to use a funnel, and hold your breath while pouring so you don’t breathe any in.)
And that’s all she wrote. Tune in next time to learn how to make the liquid version, for all of your more delicate clothes that need to be washed in cold water. In the meantime, I’d love to know – do you have a favorite eco-friendly/natural laundry detergent? Let me know in the comments below. (and please let me know if you try this recipe – I’d love to hear how it goes.)
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As I mentioned in my homemade vanilla extract post, I started some tinctures a few weeks ago. Tinctures are highly concentrated liquid extracts of herbs, made by steeping the herb in alcohol, vinegar or vegetable glycerine.
They absorb more quickly than other types of remedies, and are often taken by dropper-fulls under the tongue (sometimes a few times a day). You can also put your herbal extract into tea or warm water.
They’re often labeled as herbal extracts at the health food store. You can make tinctures for relaxing and reducing stress, bringing your whole body back into balance, boosting your immune system or your mood, reducing anxiety, improving memory, sleeping better, for colds or allergies, etc..
When using alcohol, it’s often recommended that you use 80 – 100 proof vodka, brandy or rum. (I used 80 proof vodka.)
If you want your tincture to be non-gmo, make sure the alcohol is organic.
Adaptogenic herbs help you deal with stress, improve your immune system, and help to bring your body into balance.
To create the tinctures:
There are different ways to make tinctures – I ended up using the simple folk method that’s mentioned in this video by Mountain Rose Herbs.
Keep in mind that some herbs may be treated differently – be sure to research each individual herb before you start. Take a look at this awesome chart for info on different herbs; which ones are best used fresh v.s dry, the best liquid to herb ratios, etc..)
In this great post, Herbalist Kiva Rose goes into detail about different methods, using dried herbs vs fresh herbs. . etc.
“Making Plant Medicine” by Richo Cech and “The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook” by James Green are also two highly recommended books with
tincture recipes for different herbs. Micheal Moores Materia Medica is also an excellent resource.
After my tinctures have been steeping for 8 weeks, I’ll strain them and will put the liquid into amber bottles that have a dropper – I’ll keep you posted on how it works out.
Have you ever made a tincture? What herbs did you use?
A couple of weeks ago I started a few tinctures and some vanilla extract. I had never made them before, and I was surprised at how easy it was. The hardest part will be the wait, which is about 6 – 8 weeks (or longer, depending on how strong you want ‘em).
Tinctures are basically liquid extracts of herbs, made by steeping the herb in alcohol, vinegar or vegetable glycerine. (More on the tinctures in a future post)
Vanilla extract is made basically the same way as a tincture. All I did was make slits in 5 vanilla beans (lengthwise), cut them in half and put them in a jar, covering them with 80 proof vodka.
I used the cheapest vodka I could find, which is perfectly fine for extracts and tinctures. I’ve seen different recipes out there, but learned that the rule of thumb is 5 beans per 1 cup of alcohol. You can also use brandy, bourbon or rum, but vodka has the most neutral taste.
Make sure the vanilla is submerged in the alcohol, and be sure to use a glass jar or bottle with a lid that seals tightly. You’ll want to shake the jar everyday for about the first two weeks, and store it in a cool, dark place. After 8 weeks the vanilla extract will be ready, although the longer it sits, the richer the flavor will be. Some say it will take 3 to 4 months to really mature.
Once its ready, you can transfer the liquid to another glass bottle or jar. You’ll know your extract is ready when it starts to smell more like vanilla than vodka. If you’d like, you can strain it with cheesecloth, or you can just leave the little vanilla bean flecks in the extract. You can then add more vodka to the original jar with the vanilla beans in it to make another batch or two.
You’ll most likely save money buying your vanilla beans online instead of the grocery store ( I got certified organic beans on mountainroseherbs.com )
I don’t have any personal experience with them, but I’ve also heard www.vanillaproductsusa.com and
http://www.olivenation.com are great places to get bulk vanilla, too. Another place to buy inexpensive, fresh vanilla beans is ebay.
Like most things that you make yourself, you can save money making your own vanilla extract, and control the quality of the ingredients. If you’d like, you can even use organic vodka. This DIY vanilla extract tutorial goes into more detail about making vanilla extract, and explains how to find high quality vanilla beans. In this article about the vanilla extract industry the author mentions that additives are often not mentioned on the labels of commercial vanilla extract. Some companies add sugar, corn syrup, stabilizers or caramel color. Imitation vanilla contains glyercine or propylene glycol (yuck), and chemically derived vanilla flavor.
I’m excited to use mine when it’s done. I’m looking forward to experimenting with some gluten free flours and bringing some raw pies back into the mix – recipe posts soon to follow.
Have you made vanilla extract? If not, do you think you’ll give it a shot?
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