Sustainable Living Archives - Off-Grid

Category: Sustainable Living

How To Make Your Own Herbal Soap Without Handling Lye

How To Make Your Own Herbal Soap Without Handling LyeHow To Make Your Own Herbal Soap Without Handling Lye – Image To Repin / Share
Image – thenerdyfarmwife.com

Soap making is a rewarding hobby but it carries the danger of working with lye (sodium hydroxide or Caustic Soda) which is a strongly alkaline chemical typically used to produce hard soaps. We discovered a simple tutorial which will guide you through an alternative process where you won’t have to take the risk! There are some good recipe ideas and clear instructions – you will also find helpful links to shop for your ingredients or to find more tips and ideas.

Now it’s possible to work with a ready made soap base that can be melted – all you have to do is add your own scents, herbs or flowers! It’s the perfect way of avoiding unnecessary chemical additives that can be harmful to sensitive skin and to the environment. Natural soaps are often expensive so you could save some money too!

Lye has many other uses, in the manufacture of chemicals, food, paper and textiles to name a few. It is a reactive substance that will burn the skin as it absorbs water and gives off heat in the process – it is very dangerous because it continues to burn on contact with the skin and can even be fatal if swallowed.

During the saponification process, lye is converted into chemicals that are safe – homemade soaps which are not properly cured or mixed can still have traces of lye in them and using soaps with even a trace amount of lye may lead to irritation and even burns.

Releasing lye into the environment can have severe consequences – as an example, there is the practice of “caustic washing” to remove impurities in low grade crude oil. This has been banned for many years because it results in some very toxic substances being produced. There is a reported case from 2006 of illegal dumping of this toxic waste in Africa – it’s here if you want to know more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Côte_d’Ivoire_toxic_waste_dump

Soaps and detergents work by breaking down the surface tension of water – please keep them away from aquatic environments as this property is crucial for all the creatures that live in water! Natural soap will soon combine with fats and minerals in water to become relatively harmless but non-biodegradable detergents will continue to affect water when released into the environment. Here is a link that will tell you more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/151779-environmental-impacts-of-detergent/

If you’re keen to take further steps towards natural products or you have an interest in the magic of herbs, we found this link that gives a list of plants that have a lot of naturally occurring saponins and tells you how to make shampoo with them! http://www.ehow.com/how_6138645_make-shampoo-using-soap-plants.html

OK, here’s the link to the full lye-free soap making tutorial: http://thenerdyfarmwife.com/making-soap-without-lye/

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How To Make Your Own Herbal Soap Without Handling Lye
Graphic – off-grid.info. Image – thenerdyfarmwife.com

How To Make Chemical-Free Scouring Powder

How To Make Chemical-Free Scouring PowderHow To Make Chemical-Free Scouring Powder – Image To Repin / Share
Image – thenerdyfarmwife.com

We found an awesome tutorial for a chemical-free scouring powder. We love the simplicity of this idea! – it will help you to reduce your use of detergents and cleaning products for many household jobs. The recipe for this herbal scouring powder has only three ingredients, so there’s every reason to try it out!

The main ingredient is Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda), which is a very versatile cleaning agent – it is cheap and environmentally friendly! – in fact, there are so many uses for it that we can substitute it for many different household chemicals and it is safe enough to use on the skin! “Bicarb” is ideal for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms. Here’s a link that gives a long list of its uses: http://www.herbs-info.com/blog/30-amazing-uses-for-baking-soda

It could be that you’ve been using bicarb for your cleaning already – if so, you’ll know how well it works – but it has no scent to freshen up your home or to help keep bacteria at bay. Adding herbs and essential oils will make a difference as well as adding some aromatherapy to your cleaning chores! The only problem we could find is that sometimes the baking soda may leave a residue but this can easily be cleaned off with water.

Recent research has shown that some “antimicrobial” products, such as Triclosan – found in liquid hand soaps, can cause problems if released into the environment. Triclosan is defined as a pesticide by the Environmental protection agency and it could cause a build up of toxicity in living organisms. Another significant problem with these chemicals has been highlighted – they can aid disease-causing microbes to develop resistance to antibiotics. Please see this page for more information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16922622

For these reasons, it would appear to be a great idea to minimise their use. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a popular way to clean up if hot water and soap are not available – it is generally suggested only to use antibacterials when there is a risk of spreading illness and hand sanitizer is unavailable. There are safer options including salt, lemon juice and vinegar.

Borax is a common cleaning agent that is suggested in the article to add to your mix to give it a bit more cleaning power. It will certainly do the trick but we have found it to have some health risks attached and it can be especially dangerous if children come into contact with it. This page will give you the details: https://www.hunker.com/12003891/risks-associated-with-borax

Here’s the link to the full tutorial: http://thenerdyfarmwife.com/herbal-scouring-powder/

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How To Make Chemical-Free Scouring Powder
Graphic – off-grid.info. Images – thenerdyfarmwife.com

Video: 30,000 Gallon Rainwater Harvesting System

Video- 30,000 Gallon Rainwater Harvesting SystemVideo: 30,000 Gallon Rainwater Harvesting System
Photo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdwKDVzh1cs

This 4-minute time-lapse video by Innovative Water Solutions, LLC shows the construction process for a large underground rainwater harvesting system! The giant water tank is made from modules that are extremely strong – the video shows us that even with a small layer of earth on top, a sizeable bulldozer can drive over them!

A growing population and increased industry means that water use in some areas is already exceeding the limited resources – this is a trend that is set to become more common in the future. UNESCO has predicted that by 2020 water shortage will be a serious worldwide problem. Damage to the natural water cycle through pollution, deforestation and the draining of rivers and underground water are all major threats to a sustainable life on our planet.

Rainwater harvesting is a great way to avoid a lot of the environmental impact from extraction, transportation and water treatment – rainwater can be used in the same way as tap water and it only needs to be filtered and treated to make it completely safe for drinking – this saves using a lot of treated drinking water for everything else! It is better for watering plants (as there is no added chlorine) and once the system is in place, the water supply is free! All you need to do is maintain the catchment, gutters and filters.

The new industry of “Fracking” for shale gas is already having a big impact on the available water in areas where it has been used. There is also a risk of pollution of underground water – knowing the risks, it’s hard to believe how the technology has been approved at all – for more info, please try this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_hydraulic_fracturing

Related: This Awesome Modular Home Will Run On Rainwater And Sunshine Alone

As I write this, the UK is experiencing the wettest winter on record so it may seem strange to talk of shortage! Unfortunately there are very few systems in place to harvest all this water. If you want to know more about water storage and purification, this site will help – it has a lot of information on all aspects of the technology and its use: http://www.rainwaterharvesting.org/Urban/Maintenance.htm

The company that made the featured system operates in Texas, where there are rebates available for installers of large rainwater collection systems in many areas of the state – it’s good to see this kind of support from local government and hopefully the technology and support will become more common. They provide an in-depth guide to water conservation that can help all of us to use less water, here is a link to their page: http://www.watercache.com/education/water-conservation/

Okay, here is the video: