Washing My Hair With Baking Soda

*UPDATE!  After 2.5 years of washing my hair with this method, I have since found something I like even better, and is just as easy!  Check it out here!  Homemade Shampoo With Rye Flour: All Natural Pro-V for Thick, Shiny, Healthy Hair!

I wash my hair with baking soda and I rinse it with apple cider vinegar.  I won’t call it No Poo because abbreviations have always annoyed me.  But I thought I would share my experience because every other green blogger and their dog has shared their experience.  Actually, my dog uses it too.

Why, why oh WHY would I do such a crazy thing?  Good question.  And I have good answers.  Do you know what is in your shampoo?  I mean, REALLY know?  Years ago I used Pantene Pro V.  Here is the ingredient list.

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Cocamide MEA, Glycol Distearate, Dimethicone, Fragrance, Panthenol, Panthenyl Ethyl Ether, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyquaternium-10, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, Disodium EDTA, PEG-7M, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

Whoa whoa whoa!  What?  I am good with water.  Everything else is a chemical.  I am putting THAT on my hair and expecting it to look natural and healthy?   Look ANY of those ingredients up on the safer cosmetics database  and see which ones ARE NOT carcinogenic or at best, an irritant.  Seriously.

OK, so you can use an all natural shampoo.  They are great.  And you know what?  Once I started using a TRULY all natural shampoo my dry, itchy psoriasis on my scalp that I have been plagued with most of my life, disappeared, never to return again.  But those natural shampoos are PRICEY.  And I still am not entirely sure about all those ingredients.

What if you could wash your hair using 1 ingredient?  And actually get better results than these shampoos?  Frizzies disappear.  Dry ends go away.  All are replaced with healthy, shiny, NATURAL hair.  I mean it because I have experienced it.   Now back to where I left off.

I have been tempted to try this method of cleaning my hair for years but was scared off by the horror stories of gross, greasy, smelly hair.  Of course there were lots of success stories too.  But scalp smell is one smell I really dislike.  I also shied away from it because, well, it screams of “hippie” and I have always been concerned about what others think of me.  Funny thing is, I am a self-proclaimed “green” blogger, and all my friends see me as being “crunchy” so I don’t know what the problem is.  Washing my hair with baking soda is certainly a conversation stopper.  But I am good at those.   You should see the effect I have on potty training conversations when I talk about elimination communication ;).

So one day I ran out of shampoo.  I was using Green Beaver shampoo and conditioner, an all-natural brand made from organic, Canadian ingredients.  It worked well but was $10 a bottle.  And you know me… I like to know ALL the ingredients in my products.  This time when I ran out I took the plunge and brought out the baking soda.

1 Tbsp. baking soda dissolved into 1 cup of water.  I scrubbed it into my hair.  I rinsed it well.
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s Organic) into 1 cup water.  I rinsed my hair with this as I would a conditioner and then I rinsed it well.

I smelled like apple cider vinegar.  I towel-dried and brushed my hair, shook out as much water as I could, and let it air dry.  It dried quickly (no oil from a conditioner) and felt smooth, shiny and CLEAN.  Like, really clean.  No greasy hair, no smell, no nothing.  The ACV smell disappeared after my hair dried.  My hair smelled like nothing.  Seriously.  I was thrilled!  I don’t know why I was surprised because I use baking soda to clean everything else, so why wouldn’t it clean my hair?

Things you need to know:

  • It doesn’t feel like shampoo.  It feels like water being poured onto your head.  And there is absolutely no lather because there is no soap.  Nevertheless, rub it  WELL into your scalp, for a few minutes, then let it sit a few minutes before fully and carefully rinsing.
  • ACV rinse does not feel like conditioner.  It feels like water.  So it isn’t thick and creamy, and is more challenging to spread into your hair.  Nevertheless it works well without adding oil to your hair.  Put it on, let it sit a few minutes, then rinse it off.
  • After your hair has been washed and rinsed it doesn’t feel like it does when it has been washed with shampoo and conditioned.  Wait until it is dry to give it a judgement.  My hair feels clean, smooth, shiny and healthy after it dries.
  • Many people take the plunge and decide that, after washing their hair with regular shampoo and stripping the natural oils out of their hair for their whole life, they will go one WEEK without washing.  Don’t do this.  Not only is it gross, but it is setting yourself up for failure.  Your oil glands are so used to producing excess amounts of oil to keep up with all the washing that your hair will get greasy quickly.  Rather than an all out attempt to force your scalp to immediately adjust, wash your hair again when you would normally do it, with baking soda.  Do this for a week or more until you are used to washing your hair with baking soda.  Then, once adjusted, stretch it by a day.  Do that until your hair has adjusted, and then repeat.  Or, just use baking soda to wash your hair whenever you want.  It is cheap, it is healthy, and you know all the ingredients in it, unlike your regular shampoo.
  • Every person is different and so oil production will be different.  Play with the amounts until you find what works for you.  If you find your hair is too oily increase the baking soda a bit.  If it is leaving your hair too dry decrease the baking soda.
  • Some people prefer to use the same amounts of lemon juice and water for a rinse, instead of ACV and water.  Your choice.  I find lemon drying.
  • Hair type will affect how this works too.  MANY people with very curly hair seem to love this method.  My hair isn’t curly.  It is long and straight but it works well for me.
  • I use this method to clean my children’s hair, and my dog’s hair.  My husband uses it too.  If it gets in children’s eyes it doesn’t hurt.  That alone beats regular shampoo!
  • Last of all, again, everyone is different.  This method may not work for you and that is fine.  There are lots of natural alternatives to regular shampoo for cleaning your hair.

My hair is healthier than it has ever been.  I grow my hair for a year and a half and then chop off 8 inches to be donated through my hair dresser for wigs for children living with cancer.  Waiting a year and a half without a hair trim is asking a lot of my hair, but I am closing in on a year now, and my hair is healthier than it has ever been.  I praise the baking soda/ACV washing, the lack of harsh chemicals and the fact that I am now only washing my hair every 4 days (instead of every day).  The natural oil in my hair is keeping it shiny and healthy instead of being dry and brittle as it used to be without trimming it.

I would love to hear your experience!  Are you a believer?  Are you sceptical?  Are you on the fence like I was?  Or do you think I am stark raving mad?  That’s OK!  Let me know how it works for you.

This post has been linked up to The Morris Tribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #4, Natural Parenting Group’s Monday Blog Hop, Homestead Helps Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #23.

The Truth About Brown Sugar

A few years back when I was about ankle-deep in healthful eating knowledge (I may just be up to my neck in it now…) I was surprised and disgusted to discover that the brown sugar I thought was so much better for my family was really just highly-refined white sugar with some molasses put back into it. So I started buying Demerara sugar. I had heard that demerara sugar was a less-refined cane sugar and better for you. THEN I discovered that the sugar I was using was actually just Demerara-STYLE (note the word style was not in bold on the packaging) and was, once again, just white sugar with more molasses and a coarser grain. It wasn’t until then that I really started looking at packaging, researching sugars, and realising that there is more to sugar than I thought.

Brown Sugar: Common brown sugar is really highly processed and refined white sugar that has had the surface molasses syrup added back in, which imparts its characteristic flavor. -Small Footprint Family

www.levelground.com

When looking for a healthier alternative to white sugar, look beyond the “brown sugar” label and go for the less refined, “raw” sugars such as demerara, turbinado, muscavado and rapadura.

For years I have heard that less refined sugar is better for you but I didn’t really know why. Sugar is sugar, and less refined sugar does not contain enough extra nutrients compared to refined sugar to make that matter. I had to spend some time finding out WHY there is some truth to it being less healthy.

Refined sugar has had a number of things done to it during the refining process. White sugar is bleached with sulphuric acid, is spun through a centrifuge to remove the outer coating, and has phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide added to it which is absorbed and traps impurities. It is then put through a carbon filter to remove impurities, then crystallised by vacuum and dried.

Raw sugar is pressed, and the juice is mixed with lime to remove impurities. It is then evaporated and put through a centrifuge to separate the crystals. It is then dried.

See the difference? Much less has been done to it or added to it.

From a green perspective, the production of raw sugar uses much less energy, creates much less waste, and uses fewer chemicals.

Shall we make it greener? 80% of USA sugar is grown domestically. The sugar that is grown out of North America, however, is often grown in poor countries by impoverished farmers. Fair Trade Certified sugar must be grown and purchased following strict guidelines including fair wages, strict pesticide regulations and environmental regulations including ecosystem care and waste control. Don’t buy non-domestic sugar that is not certified fair trade.

And even greener? Buy organic sugar. Most sugar fields have a high rate of pesticide usage. Pesticide use on certified organic sugar is strictly controlled. Sugar cane and sugar beet crops are now often from genetically modified seeds. Certified organic products are not genetically-modified, by regulation.

Honey in a honeycomb.

And of course there are other less-refined sugars that are even better for you such as honey and maple syrup.  Honey is arguably the least refined available.  It is not only delicious, locally-available and pure, but it offers antiseptic, antioxidant and cleaning properties.  Maple syrup is also very lightly refined.  Nothing is added or removed, and it is high in minerals and antioxidants.  Local maple syrup is also easily available. 

So now that I am self-proclaimed “up-to-my-neck in healthy food”,  you will only find in my pantry organic raw sugar, fair trade turbinado brown sugar,  maple syrup and honey.  Quality, eco-friendly, organic and safe.  We just ordered our first batch of honey bees this spring and we hope to someday provide ourselves with our own sweetener on our little homestead. But that is a story for another day. 

This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop #53Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, Green and Natural Thursdays LinkupFrugal Days, Sustainable Ways and Natural Parenting Group Linky.

Surprise! Monsanto et al. Likely Own Your Seed Companies.

Where do you buy your seeds or seedlings from?  I was not aware until very recently that much of our garden seeds are now produced by companies owned by large pharmaceutical/chemical companies such as Monsanto, Dow and Bayer etc. These aren’t seeds that are genetically modified.  These are the plain old garden seeds you see in many grocery stores and nurseries.   What in the world are bio-tech companies doing buying up seed companies?  One can only speculate.  Control is a big word.  What they own they can potentially genetically modify?  Or, what they own they can eliminate, thereby supplying their own GMO seeds to the farmers who can no longer buy the seeds they used to use?

This chart shows us what seed companies are owned by which of the Big Six companies, the largest being Monsanto.  These seeds are NOT genetically modified.  But the patented seed (for example  Big Beef tomato seeds or plants) come from companies owned by these giants.

An article called Forewarned is Forearmed: Veggies owned by Monsanto by A Garden For The House provides a list of seeds and seedlings that are owned by Monsanto.  Take a look: you will be amazed at the plant names you recognise.  You can also assured that the majority of big box stores will be buying their seeds from these guys.

What can you do?  There are still some smaller seed companies around that are not owned by the Big Six.

Ask you seed supplier.  Do they buy from any of these seed companies?  Look for small, local seed companies who collect and sell their own seed.  I am buying from Salt Spring Seeds.  They grow and collect their own seeds.  Unfortunately they can’t ship to the USA because of customs regulations.  They do ship internationally.   Here is a link to a list of companies that do not buy seeds from any of these companies.  I didn’t make the list so I can’t verify it but it looks like a good place to start.

Look for local seed exchanges.  Don’t buy your seeds at all!  Trade them with other gardeners in your area.  Here is an article with a lot of links to seed exchanges.

Start collecting your own seeds.  Cheapest, safest way, hands down.

Where do YOU buy your seeds?  Can you recommend any seed companies that grow and collect their own seeds or buy only from companies that have no ties to bio tech companies?

This post has been linked up to Natural Parenting Group Blog Hop, Patchwork Living Blog Hop,  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #16, Our Simple Farm link up, Living Well Blog Hop 31, Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday and  Hometead Barn Hop #51.

Cheater Vegetarian Chili that Kids Love!

With my latest resolution to start Meatless Mondays this year, comes moments of scouring the internet for kid-friendly vegetarian meals.  Usually right before I need to start cooking, not right before I go grocery shopping.  So then I am forced to use what I have.  Since no one really knows (including myself) exactly what is in my pantry, this can be a challenge.  Or, a great opportunity to look outside the recipe box and into the fridge for inspiration. 
Tonight was no exception, or, the exception being, dinner turned out great, and the kids actually ate it.  I started chopping vegetables, and before long I had what turned into a great vegetarian chili.  With left over whole wheat biscuits from lunch, our meal was done.  No need for a side dish of vegetables when the whole meal is meatless! 
The last time I made a vegetarian chili (and followed a recipe) I used great ingredients like cumin and chick peas.  My husband and I loved it, but the kids did not.  We have to work on these new spices, and while I am not defeated, I didn’t feel like a fight tonight.  Besides, it is so much more satisfying to see empty plates rather than the alternative, and be forced to make a huge bedtime snack.  This recipe uses good ‘ol carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas, corn and pumpkin.  Because that is what I had in my house.  And the kids didn’t recognise the broccoli, pumpkin or cauliflower, fortunately.  The rest, they know and love.  
Now, I call this a cheater vegetarian chili.  The cheating part is not the hidden meat (there is none) but rather, the jars of pasta sauce I had stashed in the pantry.  I usually try to post only made-from-scratch recipes here, but we ran out of my own homemade pasta sauce a few weeks back, and quite frankly, there was no time to whip up another batch.  When you start a meal a half hour before it is served, you have to use what you have.  So, forgive me, this recipe calls for 2 jars of pasta sauce and if you are so good as to have pasta sauce already made up, then please use it in the recipe!  But you can also choose a good, organic, all natural pasta sauce from the store and it is pretty incredible tasting on it’s own.  The beans I used were cooked and previously frozen which is my newest weapon against BPA from the lining in cans.  (There, does that make up for it?)  Of course canned beans would work too.
So let’s make chili!
Ingredients:
  • 2 large carrots, peeled.
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 cups kidney beans (canned, or cooked)
  • 1 cup broccoli, chopped VERY finely
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped VERY finely
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin or squash, cut into cubes.
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
     
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 jars tomato pasta sauce (about 5 or 6 cups)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)

Directions:

  • In a large pot, heat oil, and add all vegetables except corn, peas beans.  Saute until tender, 5-10 minutes. 
  • Add pasta sauce, Worcestershire sauce, corn, peas, beans and chili powder.
  • Bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through.  Stir frequently. 
  • Serve!  makes about 8 portions. 

Notes:

  • Serve with biscuits, on rice, with corn bread, bread or nothing!  Enjoy! 
  • I used organic ingredients because that’s the way I roll.
  • Feel free to use what is in YOUR fridge.  Have some egg plant?  Try it out!  You could change this recipe to make it as gourmet as you like.  Let me know how it goes!