DIY Lavender-Infused Vinegar Household Cleaning Spray

I have been cleaning my house with vinegar and baking soda for years. Part of my household cleaning arsenal is a vinegar-infused cleaner. You get the excellent cleaning and deodorizing power of vinegar as well as the fragrant and antibacterial/anti-viral cleaning powers of lavender. Together they create a fantastic household cleaner that can be sprayed directly on counter tops, toilets, light switches, walls, floors, sinks and any other flat surface you want clean and shiny. [Read more...]

Lavender-infused vinegar spray is non-toxic, effective and economical. The vinegar scent disappears as the surface dries, leaving behind only a mild lavender scent.

Directions:

  • Crush about 2 cups of fresh lavender buds and leaves in your hand. Put them in a 1 L (quart) jar and pour distilled white vinegar on top. Make sure the lavender is covered. Cap tightly. (You can use dried lavender too.  Use only about 1 cup.)
  • Set aside in a cool, dark location for 2 weeks.
  • Strain lavender-vinegar through a colander to remove bits of lavender.
  • Store vinegar in a mason jar, capped tightly.
  • To use: Fill a spray bottle half full with infused vinegar. Then fill to the top with water.
  • Use as you would any spray cleaner: Spray on and wipe clean.

Enjoy!

Purchase dried lavender buds here.

 

This post has been shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 87From The Farm and Homesteader’s Blog Hop.

Faux Badger DIY Sunscreen Lotion. Safe, Effective and Economical!

There are two kinds of sunscreens available: physical blockers and chemical blockers.

Physical blockers coat the skin with either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and reflect UVA and UVB radiation which prevents sunburns and possibly skin cancer.
Chemical blockers absorb UVA and UVB radiation with the use of benzophenones, menthyl anthranilate, and avobenzone which prevents sunburns.

Recent studies have shown that chemical blockers may actually increase the risk of skin cancer. This leaves physical blockers as the best choice.

Not all physical blockers, however, are created equal. Titanium dioxide is toxic and may be carcinogenic. Zinc oxide is a better choice, but it is important to choose non-nano zinc oxide. Nano-sized zinc oxide particles are so tiny they may actually penetrate the skin, which means you are absorbing heavy metals into your skin unintentionally. Non nano-sized zinc oxide particles are too large to be absorbed by the skin. When you are choosing a physical blocker it is important to know what size the particles are. As with anything there is a range for nano-size, and the largest nano-sized particles are very close to the smallest non-nano-sized particles. Choose a physical blocker that is mid-range, non-nano-sized. For more information on particle size, click here. For a fantastic article describing sunscreens in more detail click here.

Naturally, the best way to avoid sunburns and skin cancer is to stay out of the sun. That said, it is also important to absorb vitamin D naturally from the sun. When we are at home we avoid much direct exposure to the sun between the hours of 10 and 3 but if we are at the beach or at a pool it is important to either cover up with clothing, or to use a sun block.

I have been using Badger sunscreen on my children and myself for years now. It works well at preventing sunburns. Badger sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide to reflect the sun’s radiation which prevents sunburn. The only problem with Badger sunscreen is that it costs just under $20 a tube. OUCH! I have been working on a sun block lotion that is similar to Badger sunscreen but costs a fraction of the price and I am thrilled to now share the recipe with you.

My recipe uses my basic fresh lotion recipe which is simple, safe and moisturizing. I then added non-nano zinc oxide powder to the lotion to turn it into a sun block. And it really works!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a thick-bottomed pot melt beeswax with oil just until it is melted. Pour into a wide mouth mason jar, set aside and allow to cool until room temperature.The following ingredients must be at room temperature before beginning. In a measuring cup weigh and add water, rosemary oil or vitamin E, and essential oil. Set aside.
  2. When wax and oil combo has cooled down but is still soft, begin blending with a stick blender. SLOWLY pour your water mixture into the jar in a slow, continuous stream, while blending constantly. Circle around the mixture to make sure it is all blended in, moving the blender up and down, around and around. Continue to blend for 3-5 minutes to ensure your mixture has emulsified.
  3. Measure out zinc oxide powder according to the chart below to get desired SPF.   Sprinkle in and mix well with a small whisk or fork.  You may notice a bit of small lumps.  Let it sit for a day and the zinc oxide will soften, and turn the cream a slightly greyish shade.  Mix again and use!
    NOTE: The chart is based on percentage of overall product.  To figure it out, weigh your lotion, choose your percentage of zinc oxide based on SPF, and then add that amount of zinc oxide.  For example, if you want SPF 10 and your lotion weighs 8 oz, you will add 0.8oz of zinc oxide powder.
  4. Store in a sealed container for up to 2 months. Refrigeration will help prolong shelf life.

SPF Chart:  For Non-Micronized Zinc Oxide Powder Only

SPF                              Percentage
Low (2-5 SPF):                   5%
Moderate (6-11 SPF):        10%
High (12-19 SPF):              15%
Ultra High (>20 SPF):         20%

For a full chart using Micronized Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide and instructions click here.

NOTES:

  1. Non-nano zinc oxide-based sunscreen may appear to make your skina slight shade paler, similar to Badger sunscreen, but nothing significant.  The higher the SPF, the whiter it will seem.
  2. It does not appear greasy on the skin
  3. It is not waterproof so reapply after swimming or sweating heavily.
  4. The chart is for reference only and in no way is an absolute guarantee that your sunblock is the exact number you have chosen. Use with caution.
  5. Mix zinc oxide in well.  Over a few days, it will dissolve completely and make the lotion a bit chalky feeling, and slightly grayish in appearance.  Mix again and use!
  6. SAFETY PRECAUTION: Use a mask when handling powdered zinc oxide. It should not be inhaled.
  7. Seem too hard?  You can also make a simple body butter recipe and mix in zinc oxide powder or you can use your favorite all natural commercial body lotion and mix in the correct amount of zinc oxide powder!
  8. Where to buy Zinc Oxide Powder:  I bought non-nano zinc oxide powder from New Directions.

This post has been shared on From The Farm Blog Hop #41, Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday #36 and Fat Tuesday July 16th.

DIY Sweater Boots for $15 or less. Move over UGGS!

You don’t have to spend over $200 on a pair of UGGs sweater boots.  Make some yourself for less than $15!  Add some of your own personal style at the same time.  And they are much more eco-friendly… you are reusing old clothes!

I have never been a big fan of the bulky UGGS so this version is a sleeker, more personalized variation.  When I saw some girls wearing sweater boots a while back I eyed them up with my usual DIY eyeball… “I can make that…” I thought to myself.  And so I did.

$6 Shoe glue.
$4 Second-hand sweater
$4 Second-hand shoes
Buttons from your button collection or W.H.Y.

Directions:

  1. Find some shoes at a thrift store that fit well and are comfortable.  Who cares what they look like! Remove insole for later use.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut upper off the sole, as closely as you can.
  3. Cut sleeves off old sweater, just above the shoulder.
  4. Cut edging of sweater off sweater to create an edging for your boots. Set aside.
  5. Fit the sweater over your foot and pull up as high as you like on your leg.
  6. Insert upper of shoe into the sleeve and adjust to where you want it.   Carefully put shoe glue between upper and sweater sleeve so the upper is in place.  It helps to do this while it is on your foot!
  7. Pull the sweater tight over the bottom of you foot and pin closed.  Stitch and trim excess so it isn’t lumpy when you step on it.
  8. Apply shoe glue to the sole of the shoe.  Place the sole on the sweater/upper and stand on it until it is dry enough to stay in place.
  9. Carefully squeeze glue into the edge of the sole/sweater and insert your sweater edging to make an edging for your boot, starting at the back of your boot going around to the front, and ending at the back of your boot.
  10. You can add a flap to the top of your boot by cutting and finishing the edge of the sweater and sewing it to the top of the boot.
  11. Insert insole.
  12. Add buttons, embroidery or lightweight buckles to add your own personal touch!
  13. Repeat with second boot and enjoy!

Tips:

  •  Your finished boot will require some attention when putting it on since there is a hidden upper inside the boot.  Put it on carefully!  If you are really creative, you could make a liner for the boot.
  • It helps to wear the boot while you are making it.  Except the sewing part…
  • To make the UGG-like boots with a stiff upper, find a pair of second-hand imitation UGGS, remove the sole, pull the sweater over the whole boot, fold it inside, and glue it down.  Glue the sole back on.
  • Use caution when using shoe glue.  It is toxic.  Use glue in a well-ventilated area.  Use gloves to protect your hands.

 

Top Posts of 2012: DIY Tutorials Rule The Roost!

After reviewing the most viewed, shared and commented on posts from My Healthy Green Family, it is clear that do-it-yourself tutorials and recipes rule the roost!   Here they are, in order.

#1. Washing My Hair With Baking Soda

#2. Homemade All Natural Deodorant with Men and Women’s Fragrances

#3. Homemade Borax-Free Laundry Detergent with Price and Product Comparisons

#4. Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

#5. 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread That Rises Like White!

#6. Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

#7. Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

#8. To Can or Not To Can? BPA Is the Question

#9. Whipped Body Butter with 2 Simple Ingredients

#10. DIY Faux Paper Towels: Upcycled, Eco-friendly and Cheap!

For more eco-friendly and economical tutorials check out My Healthy Green Family’s DIY Recipes page.

Thanks for all your encouragement, ideas and support over the year!  Watch for more tutorials coming soon.  See you in 2013!

 

Plastic Wrap Alternative: DIY Beeswax Cotton Wraps

I was first introduced to beeswax-coated cotton wraps when someone gave me one made locally They quickly became an important part of our food storage regime. They are beautiful, functional, reusable, economical and eco-friendly.  And, as I soon discovered, not difficult to make.

I have been trying to cut back our kitchen plastic usage for years.  I don’t trust plastic especially when it is holding food, and it is simply NOT sustainable.  I replaced all my plastic storage containers and zip lock bags with glass or stainless steel ones.  Other than the cost, those weren’t too difficult to switch over to.  The item that I had a greater challenge replacing was plastic wrap.  The convenience is difficult to replace.  These beeswax wraps, however, have single handedly eliminated plastic wrap from my kitchen.  They are great for wrapping cheese, covering dishes, or folding into snack bags.  They can even be sewn into small snack bags to be used at school or work if desired.

Plastic wrap (I used Saran wrap) is a wasteful, single-use, petroleum product that I am convinced is not an acceptable part of natural living.  When used to store or heat food, plastic leaches toxins into our food that we then consume.  Many studies have now proven that BPA, a chemical that is in many plastics, causes a number of unacceptable health issues in those who consume food products in contact with it.  All plastics contain chemicals, and some are not well-studied to prove their safety. Plastic wrap is no exception.  Beeswax cotton wraps provide a safe and effective alternative.

We have beeswax available all the time since we keep honey bees.  Beeswax is 100% natural, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive.  I use it in my body product recipes such as hand lotions, body butters, deodorant and balms.  It is water-repellent and has natural antibacterial properties.  When applied to cotton, it renders the cotton “unbreathable” which helps maintain the proper moisture content when storing food.  These qualities make it a great candidate for a plastic wrap alternative.

When choosing your fabric, use 100% cotton (organic is preferable).  The ideal thickness is a sheeting cotton.  (Think, your bed sheets or pillow case).  You can reuse old sheets or pillow cases, or you can choose beautiful fabrics for fun.

If you would rather purchase these wraps made in North America by a sustainable company and priced reasonably, click here.

Materials

  • beeswax, grated (or pellets).  I use about 0.5 oz. of beeswax per wrap
  • 100% cotton fabric, cut to appropriate size (12×12 in. or 8×8 in. works for us)
  • old cookie sheet (that will be used for this purpose only, forever after)
  • paintbrush (that will be used for this purpose only, forever after)
  • chop stick for stirring the wax as it melts
  • cheese grater (used exclusively for beeswax)
  • a make-shift clothesline and clothes pins
  • oven

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 185F.  (Higher will burn the wax.  I know from experience…)
  2. Place pre cut fabric on cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle evenly and lightly with grated beeswax.  You don’t need a lot!
  4. Place in preheated oven.  Watch carefully!  This should take 5 minutes or less.
  5. As soon as the beeswax is just melted, remove from oven.
  6. Spread wax evenly with paintbrush to cover over any spots that are not yet coated.
  7. Hang on makeshift clothes line with clothes pegs, to dry.  Once cooled, you can use it!

Notes

  • If your wax starts to harden before you have evenly spread it, simply reheat it in the oven and try again.
  • This recipe uses less than 1 oz. of beeswax per sheet.
  • If you have a lot of wax left on the cookie sheet, place another piece of fabric on empty cookie sheet and it will absorb the extra wax.
  • All of the supplies except the beeswax can be purchased cheaply at thrift stores and can be used again for other DIY projects involving beeswax.  Purchase the beeswax through Mountain Rose Herbs, a trusted company carrying all sorts of ingredients for body products.
  • Wash in cool water with a mild soap.  I use liquid castile soap.
  • Each wrap will last several months or more depending on usage.

This post has been linked to Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #54, Fresh Eggs Daily: Farm Girl Blog Hop #10, Homestead Revivial’s Barn Hop # 89, 116th Wildcrafting Wednesday and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday November 20th.