The Hidden Dangers of Borax

Borax has been considered a “natural” and “green” cleaning agent since the 1890’s when it was discovered in Tibet. Many people view it as a safe alternative to chemical-heavy products, and keep it as a household staple because of its versatility. It can be used as a dish detergent, stain remover, ant killer, rust remover, counter cleaner, and the list goes on and on. Like baking soda, its uses seem endless. The difference? Baking soda hasn’t been linked to hormone disruption.

The Environmental Working Group published an article in 2011 outlining their concerns with Borax. It is a skin and respiratory irritant, but worst of all, has been proven in animal studies to disrupt the body’s natural production of hormones.

“Borax and its cousin, boric acid, may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. Men working in boric acid-producing factories have a greater risk of decreased sperm count and libido. According to EPA’s safety review of these pesticides, chronic exposure to high doses of borax or boric acid causes testicular atrophy in male mice, rats and dogs.

Animal studies reviewed by the EPA indicate that while the female reproductive system is less sensitive to borax, exposure to it can also lead to reduced ovulation and fertility. Borax and boric acid can cross the placenta, affecting fetal skeletal development and birth weight in animal studies of high-dose exposures.”

To date, not many studies have been done regarding what amount of Borax is safe to use in the home. Because of this, the EWG recommends not using it at all. The 20 Mule Team Borax Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) did confirm that animals given borax by mouth showed a disruption in sperm and male fertility in general. They also stated, “Boric acid produces developmental effects, including reduced body weight, malformations and death, in the offspring of pregnant animals given boric acid by mouth.”

You may have noticed that the Environmental Working Group and the MSDS refer to both Borax and Boric Acid. They are not the same, but are close cousins. To clarify, here are the differences:

Borax: Other names are sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. According to the 20 Mule Team website  “Borax is the common name for sodium tetraborate: a naturally occurring substance produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes.”

Boric Acid: An acid crystalline compound derived from borax. Boric acid may be created by mixing borax with a mineral acid, such as hydrochloric acid. Read more about boric acid toxicity here.

If you currently use borax in your home, you may want to replace it with something less questionable and potentially harmful, and it will be easier than you think! Check out our post here on homemade and chemical-free cleaning products to get you started! 

20muleteam

 

By Courtney Perry

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All Natural Shaving Solutions

Does your shaving cream ingredients list contain words you can’t pronounce, or look anything like the following (taken from the back of a popular shave cream)?

Water , Palmitic Acid , Triethanolamine , Stearic Acid , Isopentane , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil Glyceride , Sorbitol , Isobutane , PVP , Panthenol , Fragrance , Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) , Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil , Hydrogenated Olive Oil , PEG 90M , BHT , BHA , Red 40 Lake (CI 16035)

Like many shampoos and soaps loaded with toxic ingredients, shaving creams can be full of them, too. Here are some all natural alternatives to give you silky smooth skin without all of the unnecessary chemicals!

Olive Oil- That’s right, just olive oil! It only takes a tiny bit to cover your entire leg, face, or wherever else you may be shaving.

Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Shea ButterLittlehouseliving.com has posted an easy and scrumptious looking recipe for shave cream! Her site shows a step by step tutorial on how to make the shave cream, pictures included!

shavecream

Dr. Bronner’s Soap– If you keep a bottle or bar of Dr. Bronner’s in your shower, you may not need anything else! It can be used as a soap, shampoo, and shave cream. Anything that takes the place of three different bottles in my tiny shower is a winner, in my opinion.

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Sweet Almond Oil– Moisturizing, safe, and has a nice, light fragrance. Click here to purchase on Amazon!

almondoil

Apricot Oil– Also from planttherapy.com is apricot oil! It is very high in vitamin A so it does a great job of nourishing your skin and repairing cells.

Rosemary Mint Homemade Shaving Cream– Similar to the coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil recipe but infused with essential oils. Makes for a wonderfully scented shave cream to make you fall in love with shaving again!

Green Shave All Natural Shaving Cream– Creamy, eucalyptus scented, all natural- what more could you want?

eucalyptus

By Courtney Perry

Homemade Play-Doh

Since the 1950’s when it was first invented, Play-Doh has been a staple in homes, daycares, and schools across the country. Hasbro, the manufacturer of Play-Doh, claims it to be non-toxic, but a closer look at its ingredients may have you second guessing its safety for your children. According to Hasbro’s website: “the exact ingredients of PLAY-DOH compound are proprietary, so we cannot share them with you. We can tell you that it is primarily a mixture of water, salt and flour.” (source)

While the primary ingredients that Hasbro shares with the general public are non-toxic, their current US Patent lists several more ingredients including preservatives, fragrance, petroleum (to make the Play-Doh feel smooth), and borax (prevents mold growth). Borax is the additive that disheartens me the most. The Environmental Working Group put out a great article in 2011 discussing the dangers of using Borax. Recently, they gave it a rating of “F” on their website mostly due to its developmental and reproductive system toxicity.

It’s one thing for your children to simply touch Play-Doh and then immediately wash their hands afterwards, but we know that is not how most children operate. I can practically still taste the salty Play-Doh from when I was a child, my green pancake and red french fry creations were just too irresistible to not taste. Kids explore the world with their hands and mouths, so shouldn’t they have something more natural and safe to play with? For the older children who use Play-Doh and aren’t likely to eat it, Borax is a known skin irritant and may cause allergic reactions.

Cooks.com has a no-bake play-doh recipe that is safe for those curious kids of yours who may decide to sample their play-doh creations. The recipe is so easy, you could even turn making their play-doh into an activity to do together!

Ingredients

1 cup water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
1/4 cup oil
*food coloring

*click here for ways to make natural and organic food coloring
*India Tree sells some great all natural food coloring, too!

Directions

Combine ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Add small amounts of flour until desired consistency is achieved. Store in a plastic zip-loc bag!

By Courtney Perry

Thieves Oil

In the 15th Century, the Plague, also known as the Black Death, was responsible for killing millions of Europeans-  almost 60% of Europe’s entire population! While so many homes were unprotected due to ailing families, burglars took full advantage of the situation. Homes were robbed, the ill were pick pocketed, and the dead were stripped of all their valuables. The interesting thing, observed by law officials who finally caught a few of the robbers, was that the thieves did not contract the Plague themselves. They continuously touched the sick, rooted around in contaminated homes, and exposed themselves to the extremely contagious virus yet remained healthy.

black20death

Their secret? A blend of essential oils rubbed on their bodies. The oils used were clove bud, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, rosemary, tea tree, and lavender. Legend has it that the thieves traded their secret blend of oils for a lighter sentence for their crimes. Their blend of oils is still used today and has been proven by Weber State University to kill 99.99% of airborne bacteria when diffused into a room. In 2006, the University of Manchester published research regarding the effectiveness of essential oils on MRSA, a major problem in hospitals around the world. The essential oils used in thieves oil destroyed MRSA 100%.

You can make your own “thieves oil” or you can purchase it online, and there are several different ways to use it!

  • Diffuser– You’ve probably seen oil diffusers for sale at Bath and Body Works or other stores. Instead of diffusing chemical-filled, toxic fragrances, put 20-30 drops of thieves oil in the diffuser and let the calming, healing oil fill the room

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  • All Purpose Spray- Fill a spray bottle with 8 drops of thieves oil and add 8 oz. of water, shake well. This spray is safe to use on all hard surfaces, anywhere that is sticky, grimy, or needs disinfecting
  • Massage oil- Use thieves oil to rub onto sore body parts, or just use it as a relaxing massage oil. Make sure to dilute it in coconut oil or some other carrier before using on skin!
  • Sore Throat Remedy- Add 2 drops of thieves oil to a glass of water and gargle

Thieves Oil Recipe:

There are several different variations of thieves oil recipes, but here is one to get you started

  • 40 drops of Clove Essential Oil
  • 35 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
  • 20 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil
  • 15 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil

Mix all oils in a glass bottle and shake well before each use!

Where to purchase thieves oil:

We recommend using Young Living Essential Oils. Click here to check out their site!

Essential Oils Warning

* Keep out of reach of children and pets at all times
* Do not use if you are pregnant or breast feeding
* Never leave oils burning with candles or diffusers without supervision
* Patch test oils on your skin before using on a widespread area. You also may want to consult with your physician before ingesting any essential oils
* Some people experience a rash or burning sensation when using Thieves Oil, probably due to the cinnamon oil. If you do, discontinue use immediately
*Make sure you are using oils that are made specifically for therapeutic use. Cheaper oils found in some stores are not safe for ingestion

By Courtney Perry

Homemade Bug Repellent

Have you ever read the ingredients list on the back of your bug spray? Here are some of the common ones and what you should know about each:

  • Deet- According to the Environment Protection Agency, “wash [Deet] off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face.” In studies conducted on lab rats, Deet caused brain cell death and behavioral changes after prolonged usage. In humans, Deet has been known to cause memory loss, headache, weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, tremors and shortness of breath. Click here for a short article from MedMinute regarding the dangers of Deet.
  • Citronella oil- Direct application of citronella oil has been found to raise the heart rate of some people. Canada Health is starting to phase out using citronella oil in products because of uncertainties regarding its safety.
  • Neem Oil- Can be irritating to the skin and eyes. In cats, neem oil has caused sluggishness, excessive salivation, impaired movement, trembling, twitching, and convulsions. In one study, pregnant rats were exposed to neem oil and their pregnancies ended shortly after.
  • Ethanol-  associated with skin irritation or contact dermatitis
  • Fragrance- aka chemicals. Virtually unregulated by the FDA and could contain any number of harmful chemicals.
  • Aminomethyl Propanol- The EWG gives it a toxicity rating of 3. According to the EWG, research has shown it to be an irritant, an endocrine disruptor, and as having respiratory effects
  • Sodium Benzoate- has been linked to asthma attacks, hypertension, and ADHD.
  • Prallethrin- Can cause headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, fatigue. Severe cases involve fluid in the lungs and muscle twitching. Seizures may occur and are more common with more toxic cyano-pyrethroids
  • Sodium Nitrite- large amounts can cause rapid heart rate and rapid breathing, as well as seizures, coma, and death. Excess contact with skin and eyes causes redness, itching and swelling. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/283826-sodium-nitrite-dangers/#ixzz2aep7Kzb3

The great news is that it is easy and inexpensive to make your own bug repellent, and you know exactly what you are putting on your body. Here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) halfway with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent

What does your family use for insect repellent? Do you have a recipe that is tried and true? 

bug-spray

By Courtney Perry

The Fluoride Debate and DIY Toothpaste

How often do you take medications without knowing the potential side effects? If someone on the street walked up to you and said “here take this pill”, would you? When you ingest fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, mouthwash, and at the dentist, do you know the risks you are taking?

Recently, several counties in the United States have decided to quit adding fluoride to the public water supply because of potential harmful side effects. Recent studies have shown that high levels of fluoride can cause tooth and bone decay. It’s become such a national issue that the Obama Administration is moving towards lowering the amount of fluoride added to drinking water.

In an ABC news article from November 2012, a man named Corey Sturmer described his confusing diagnosis when he went to the dentist at 25-years old and was told he had fluorosis- an erosion of the enamel and discoloration of the teeth due to too much fluoride use. We are all told from the time we are children that fluoride is important for us, we must use it to maintain a healthy mouth. But is this actually the case? In a 2006 study by the National Academy of Science regarding fluoride use proclaimed that fluoride can affect the thyroid gland and potentially lower the intelligence of children. Ummmm, what!? My thoughts, too.

source: wikipedia

Severe Fluorosis
source: wikipedia

Like anything dealing with your health and body, it is important to do research to determine what is best for you and your family- but you may want to consider making the switch to fluoride-free toothpaste.There are hundreds of communities who have decided to go fluoride-free based on scientific findings, here is a list! The Fluoride Action Network has compiled a fantastic list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding Fluoride use. Click here to read the full list, but here are some interesting answers to get you started.

Do we need fluoride?

No. It is now well established that fluoride is not an essential nutrient. This means that no human disease – including tooth decay – will result from a “deficiency” of fluoride. Fluoridating water supplies is therefore different than adding iodine to salt. Unlike fluoride, iodine is an essential nutrient (the body needs iodine to ensure the proper functioning of the thyroid gland). No such necessity exists for fluoride.

Does Fluoride occur naturally in water?

As a general rule, the only fresh water with high levels of fluoride (other than waters polluted by fluoride-emitting industries) is water derived from deep wells. Rather than being something to celebrate, high levels of naturally occurring fluorides have wreaked havoc on tens of millions of people’s health around the world. People consuming water with naturally high levels of fluoride have been found to suffer serious health ailments including disfiguring tooth damagebone diseaseulcersreduced IQthyroid disease, and infertility. Because of this, international organizations like UNICEF assist developing nations in finding ways of removing fluoride from the water.

Thankfully, most fresh water supplies contain very low levels of fluoride. The average level of fluoride in unpolluted fresh water is less than 0.1 ppm, which is about 10 times less than the levels added to water in fluoridation programs (0.7 to 1.2 ppm).  The frequent claim, therefore, that “nature thought of fluoridation first” does not withstand scrutiny.

Does fluoridated water reduce tooth decay?

If water fluoridation has a benefit, it is a minimal one. Recent large-scale studies from the United States have found little practical or statistical difference in tooth decay rates among children living in fluoridated versus non-fluoridated areas. In addition, data complied by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that tooth decay rates have declined just as rapidly in non-fluoridated western countries as they have in fluoridated western countries. Read more.

data1

What are the risks from swallowing fluoride?

Fluoride has long been known to be a very toxic substance. This is why, like arsenic, fluoride has been used in pesticides and rodenticides (to kill rats, insects, etc). It is also why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that all fluoride toothpaste sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning that instructs users to contact the poison control center if they swallow more than used for brushing.

Excessive fluoride exposure is well known to cause a painful bone disease (skeletal fluorosis), as well as a discoloration of the teeth known as dental fluorosis. Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to a range of other chronic ailments including arthritisbone fragilitydental fluorosisglucose intolerancegastrointestinal distressthyroid disease, and possibly cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

While the lowest doses that cause some of these effects are not yet well defined, it is clear that certain subsets of the population are particularly vulnerable to fluoride’s toxicity. Populations that have heightened susceptibility to fluoride include infants, individuals with kidney disease, individuals with nutrient deficiencies (particularly calcium and iodine), and individuals with medical conditions that cause excessive thirst.

To see a complete list of FAN’s research on fluoride’s health effects, click here. 

If you are ready to make a move towards a fluoride-free lifestyle, you can start by making your own toothpaste! It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’ve tried several recipes but so far, my favorite recipe comes from crunchybetty.com.

Homemade Coconut Oil Toothpaste

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp baking soda
  • 25 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)

Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.

 

By Courtney Perry

Chemical-Free Cleaning

A common misconception is that in order to achieve clean, you have to use strong and toxic cleaning products. This is not always the case, and harsh chemicals in cleaning products are not safe for your family or the environment. There are so many alternatives to using traditional cleaning products, and most of them are simple to make!

At Molly’s Suds, we use only all natural cleaning products which is how our laundry powder came into existence. There just aren’t many safe products on the market, so we took matters into our own hands. Here are several DIY cleaning products that take only a few minutes to make. Try them for yourself, you’ll be amazed at how well they work and how inexpensive they are to create!

Dish Soap (for hand washing dishes, not for the dishwasher!)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup liquid castile soap
  • 3 tsp. vegetable glycerin
  • 5 drops tea-tree essential oil
  • 20 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 1/3 cups water

Instructions:

Pour soap, glycerin, tea-tree oil, lemon oil and water into a bottle using a funnel. Shake bottle until all ingredients are blended well. This soap can also be used on counter tops!

Shower Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. liquid castile soap
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 cups hot water

Instructions:

Using a funnel, pour baking soda, soap, vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Shake well to blend all ingredients.
To clean your shower, we recommend spraying all surfaces and scrubbing while wearing rubber gloves.  Rinse well with water.

Glass Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. rubbing alcohol
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil (optional, for scent)
  • ½ Tbsp. liquid castile soap

Instructions:

In a well-ventilated area, use a funnel to pour water, alcohol, vinegar and oil into a bottle. Shake the mixture, add soap, and shake some more!
Spray the glass cleaner on any glass surface and wipe with newspaper for best results! Newspaper leaves less streaks than cloths or paper towels.

Multi-purpose Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. castile soap (optional)

Instructions:

Mix together ingredients, add to a spray bottle, go crazy! 

Bleach Alternative

Ingredients:

Lemon

Instructions:

Yes, you read that right. Just one ingredient, a lemon! If there is a stain you can’t get out, squeeze lemon juice onto it and place in the sun to dry. The stain will disappear, and you can follow it up with a wash in Molly’s Suds laundry powder.

Wood Furniture Polish

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 lemon (juice)

Instructions:

Blend ingredients in a spray bottle and use on any of your wooden surfaces. Wipe with a dry, clean cloth.

Laundry Powder

Ingredients:

Okay, this one is simple because we’ve already done the labor for you! Molly’s Suds is made from all natural ingredients. No long words you can’t pronounce or worrisome chemicals. Here is the ingredients list just to reassure you

  • Pure sodium carbonate
  • Sodium bicarbonate (food grade)
  • Epsom salt and dead sea salt (triple filtered in US)
  • Organic peppermint essential oil

Instructions:

Use only 1 Tablespoon per load. Safe for High Efficiency Washers and front loaders. Cloth diaper wash cycle may require the use of more than the standard 1 Tablespoon depending on mineral content in the water.

Click HERE to purchase your own bag of Molly’s Suds! Sample sizes are available.

suds

 

By Courtney Perry