Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Tips:

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread Recipe that rises like white!

I have searched for and tried MANY 100% whole wheat bread recipes.  I have ruined countless loaves, and wasted a lot of flour and money trying to make 100% whole wheat bread.  I have tried adding gluten, lemon juice, citric acid, soy lecithin and more to get nice-rising 100% whole wheat flour.  My family has eaten many a failed loaf.  Eventually, I gave up.  I accepted the “fact” that you cannot make 100% whole wheat flour that rises nicely without using strange ingredients and additives.  I settled for a recipe that was about 70% whole wheat and the rest white flour to make it rise.  The recipe never completely satisfied me though.  It was somewhat crumbly and just didn’t really cut it for a sandwich bread.

My mother-in-law came across a great recipe that made 2 loaves of bread, was made from 100% whole wheat flour, and it rose nicely.   I was very envious, but I didn’t want a 2 loaf recipe, I wanted an 8 loaf recipe.  And I didn’t think you could just straight out double (or quadruple) a bread recipe without using too much yeast/salt.  Since I couldn’t figure out how to double it, I started searching again for a good recipe.  I came across a recipe from Heavenly Homemakers that made 2 loaves, and called for soaking the flour first.  I was intrigued by all the good feedback she received and so I tried it.  I had to add significantly more water to the recipe but I was able to make it rise nicely.  My first success!

I contacted Heavenly Homemakers and she informed me that she had doubled it straight across with good success.  So I tried it and it worked beautifully.  I added some other good stuff like flax, hemp hearts and chia seed, and ended up with a recipe that works perfectly, every time.  I am still excited about it!  (Simple pleasures, you know!)  It makes 4 loaves, and I haven’t tried re-doubling it yet to make 8 but that is my next step.  I don’t want to be baking bread more than once a week.  ** I have now successfully TRIPLED the recipe!  15 loaves in one go!

Today my friend, who swears she has never been able to successfully make a yeast bread, white or otherwise, is visiting.  I had her make the recipe following my instructions.  The bread looks fabulous!

Here is the recipe:

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 4 loaves
Ingredients:
  • 12 cups whole wheat flour, divided in 2
  • 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional) (ie. hemp, chia, flax, sunflower, sesame etc)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. yeast
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey plus 1 tbsp.
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • water (see below for amounts)
Directions:

1.   Soak for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours:

  •       6 cups flour in 5 cups warm water (If you are using freshly ground flour cut back to 4 1/2 cups.)
  •       Up to 1 1/2 cups seeds (optional)
  •       Cover with damp tea towel

Flour/water mixture shouldn’t be watery.  Water should just mix into flour without any excess.
Make sure there is no dry flour.  Add by the tbsp. if needed.

2.   Start sponge (half hour before starting):

  •       in 1/2 c. warm water, gently mix 4 1/2 tsp. yeast and 1 tbsp. honey until just mixed. Set aside.  Do not over-mix.

Sponge should be visibly active: bubbles forming etc. before adding to recipe.

3.   Melt 6 tbsp. butter.  Cool to room temperature.

4.   After flour is soaked and sponge is bubbly add to soaked flour/seed mixture:

  •       melted butter at room temperature
  •       sponge (should be bubbly with yeast obviously active)
  •       If you are adding extra seeds or grains you may need to add up to 1 cup luke warm (not hot!) water ONLY as needed.
  •       1/2 cup liquid honey (not hot!)
  •       2 tsp. salt (sprinkled in)

5.   Mix/ knead in 5-6 cups flour to right consistency.  (Stir in until it is too hard to stir, then dump on lightly floured countertop and knead in.)  Dough should feel pliable and not dry. Sprinkle counter top with small amount of flour as needed to prevent from sticking to the counter.  Knead for 15 minutes.

6.   Place dough in large, greased bowl.  Cover with a damp tea towel.  Place in warm (not hot!) corner on counter top.  Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

 

7.   Remove from bowl, punch down and kneed for 2 minutes.  Divide into 4 even sizes.

8.   Kneed each individual loaf.  Roll with a rolling pin and then roll up dough.  Pinch to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Repeat for all 4 loaves.  Cover loaves with damp tea towel.

9.   Allow to rise until double: up to 2 hours.

10. Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until loaves are lightly browned and smell amazing :).

11.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes on wire rack.  Remove from loaf pans and cool completely on wire rack.  Brush tops with butter if desired.  It makes the loaf tops nice and soft.

Notes:

  • Any ingredients added to a bread recipe should not be hotter than luke warm (drop some water on your wrist.  It should feel the same temperature as your wrist) or you may kill the active yeast culture.
  • Bread rising time depends on room temperature, air pressure, altitude etc.  I am located at sea level.
  • Yeast amounts in a bread recipe can vary based on altitude. Click here for an altitude adjustment chart.
  • You can add 3 whole eggs to the ingredients to make the loaf more moist/chewy.
  • Make sure your yeast expiry date hasn’t passed.  Yeast can be too old to work properly.
  • If you aren’t adding extra nuts or seeds then don’t add the extra 1 cup of water unless it feels too dry.
  • I now have TRIPLED this recipe with great success!  I can make 15 loaves at one go :D
  • Click here for a video tutorial on how to knead bread.

Please let me know how this recipe works for you!  Feel free to share the recipe, giving credit where it’s due :).  Enjoy!

This recipe has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #22, Our Simple Lives: Simple Living Wednesday Link Up, Turning The Clock Back: What’s Cooking WednesdayThe Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #3, Whole Foods Wednesday #56, Fresh Bread Fridays and The Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

Salt of the Earth: Making Your Own Sea Salt.

Sea salt is one of those ingredients that you don’t really think very much of.  Or at least I didn’t. Like flour and sugar, salt is a base ingredient that you use in combination with other ingredients to create a master piece.  Run to the store and buy your basic ingredients and you have a homemade meal. Right?  That’s what I thought until I read a blog about a woman whose hobby is to physically collect salts around the world during her travels.  She raves about the distinct differences in salt flavours from different areas of the globe.  So, who would have thought of making your own salt?  (Obviously, not me).

As is often the case, it is easy.  So easy, in fact, you will ask why you didn’t think of making your own before.  You need an ocean (or other large body of salt water), a good sized but manageable container with a lid, a large OLD stainless steel pot, a sieve, a shallow pan and a stove top.  We used an igloo cooler which was a manageable size.  Hawaii was a fun place to collect it… the water was warm.  And if you don’t want people looking at you funny, go at night.  It makes it into a more exciting adventure :).
Go deep enough into the ocean so the surf isn’t breaking any more, (meaning that the water will contain less debris) and collect your water with your manageable container.  I imagine collecting by boat would work too.
Once home, pour your water through a sieve into a large stainless steel pot.  Simmer on low for as long as it takes until the salt crystals start to form, and you have a thicker slurry of salt water at the bottom, about 2 inches.  This could take a day or more.
Pour salt water into a shallow pan and place it in direct sun until the water is completely gone.  You will have gorgeous salt crystals that you can grind in a salt grinder!  This amount of water makes approximately 1 lb of salt.

When I tell people I have made my own salt I get some very strange looks.  Why would anyone want to make her own salt when she could go to the store and buy it, very cheaply?  As with most homemade things, I get a real feeling of satisfaction out of making it.  There is something very appealing to me about making something from basic, earthy materials.  I get the same feeling when I make pottery.  Or when I garden.  Or eat eggs and drink milk from my own animals.  It is an earthy-satisfaction that just does not occur when I run out to the store and buy salt/milk/eggs/vegetables/pottery.  Try it!  It will put a proud smile on your face.

Notes:

  • Use an OLD stainless steel pot.  It will oxidise and never be the same again.
  • Don’t boil water until there is no water left.  Your salt will taste like stainless steel.  (we’ve done that).
  • The deeper you collect your water, the less impurities will be in it.
  • If you are flying, don’t bring your salt home in carry-on baggage.  They might not believe you when you tell them it is salt.

This post has been shared on: Homestead Barn Hop #52, Whole New Mom Traditional Tuesdays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #17, Our Simple Farm Link Up, Living Well Blog Hop #32 The Morris Tribe’s Homestead Blog Carnival #1 and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.