Posts Tagged ‘natural’

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate safe?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common ingredient in nearly all shampoos, soaps, and even many toothpastes. You can even find it in Angel Food cake mixes. This is the ingredient responsible for the foaming action of the product. But, is it safe?

Until about a year ago, I thought the answer to this was yes. I had not yet done research on this chemical, but just in reading a few comments online, it seemed some people were OK with it and others were not.

When I finally had time to research SLS, I was surprised to learn it was contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.  This is a cancer causing by-product of the ethoxylation process, a process that makes otherwise harsh ingredient gentle. However, because it is not an original ingredient, this by-product is not listed on the ingredient list.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, he further explains the health risk with using SLS, and its cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS), citing some of the over 16,000 studies showing toxicity. The Environmental Working Group gives SLS a moderate hazard rating for cancer, organ system toxicity and others. So it’s not the worst, but not the best.

Should you avoid SLS?
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and goes directly to your organs. It’s also important to note that 1 incidence of using SLS is likely OK, but the cumulative effect is what is worry-some.  While the amount in your shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, hand soap, etc. may be ‘safe’ amounts when used alone, using them all at one time could cause your exposure to jump into the unsafe level zone. But the cumulative effect has never been studied.

We do our best to avoid it in our house due to the cancer link. If you can’t avoid it entirely, limit your exposure by using less of the product containing it. Most people use twice as much soap product as needed.

How to avoid SLS
Read labels! Know what to avoid, as SLS can have other names, including Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sulfuric acid, Sodium salt sulfuric acid. I use Dr. Bronner’s  bar soap in the shower and make my own foaming hand soap, which also makes a great foaming body wash. For shampoo I am currently using Kiss My Face, Frequent Use which is SLS and paraben free and I love it.

RELATED ARTICLES
Kiss My Face hair care review
Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products
California Baby product review
Badger Sunscreen product review

Natural ways to unclog a drain

Until a few months ago, I never thought twice about pouring Draino down the drain to clear a clog. After several failed attempts at clearing a drain with chemicals, including one incident where the pipe had been eaten through and I had water on the bathroom floor, I knew there had to be a better, chemical-free way.

In this quest I saw the reality of pouring chemicals down the drain – they end up back in our drinking water for one, and I could not believe that I had been so duped into thinking this was safe, especially since I have eliminated all other chemicals for reasons such as this. Not wanting to drink Draino residue any longer, or at least not contribute to the problem, I found 2 very easy and non-toxic solutions for clearing a drain.

Method one – look in the pantry
Remove the stopper from the drain
Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup of vinegar.
Let sit for 30 minutes.
Pour boiling water down the drain (use common sense here to not burn yourself or others)

Method 2 – be your own plumber
Clogs form at the curved part of the pipe sitting at lower point than the rest of the pipe. Because of this, soap scum, hair, dirt, etc. get trapped there and start to collect and form a clog. Since that part can easily come off, there really is no need for chemicals or otherwise.

Remove the curved part of the pipe from under/behind the sink.
Unwind a wire coat hanger and use the end to scoop out the gunk form the pipe
Or take it to the yard and spray out with the garden hose. The pressure from the water will push out the clog.

My husband used the garden hose method and it was easy, less frustrating, free and most importantly worked even better than any chemicals!

Natural, homemade deodorant recipe

Roughly 7 years ago, I learned that aluminum was linked to Alzheimer’s disease, and even more recently learned of it’s potential link to breast cancer. So I set out to rid my life of aluminum. Aluminum is the active ingredient in most antiperspirants, so I tried several natural deodorants. Some worked better than others, but nothing seemed to work for my husband. He either broke out or smelled. Neither of which was acceptable.

Then I found a homemade recipe that got rave reviews, so I figured, “Why not?”

The recipe is easy to make, inexpensive and it WORKS! My husband is amazed and has been singing the praises of this homemade deo. He has not had any odor issues since using this, even after playing basketball.

Coconut oil has antibacterial properties, so it will not spoil and is likely the main reason this is so effective since body odor is caused by bacteria. I’m just beginning to see all the wonderful uses for coconut oil.

The recipe is very simple:
5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil (use in solid form)
¼ cup baking soda
¼ cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Mix together the baking soda and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) until blended. Add in the coconut oil until you get the same consistency as regular deo. You can store in a lidded container and apply with your fingertips or an empty deodorant container (which is the easiest to use). 

To avoid any redness, I reduced the amount of baking soda just slightly and added some Shea butter (probably 1 tsp – 1 tbls).

Also, check out the comments in the post to find other ideas of things to add. Like a drop or so of tea tree oil for added antibacterial properties, or essential oils for a nice scent.

Natural ways to prevent and prepare for the Swine Flu

There are many things you can do to help prevent illnesses, such as N1H1 H1N1 (Swine Flu), in your family. Most of these do not cost anything and are things you can do everyday.

  1. Before all else, if you are sick, please stay home! Yes, times are tough for many, but please think of the greater good and stay home to get well.
  2. Frequently wash hands with plain soap and water (there is no evidence that anti-bacterial products are anymore effective at removing germs than plain soap and water). (See how to make your own non-toxic foaming hand wash.) BabyGanics has a great non-toxic foam hand soap as well and is available at Babies R Us.
  3. Use kid-safe, non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available. I love CleanWell Hand Sanitizer. It’s available at GNC and Whole Foods. (See my CleanWell product review.)
  4. Degerm. When you get home each day, encourage everyone to do the following:     a. Remove your shoes to keep germs from getting on the floors where children play

         b. Change into clean clothes

         c. Take a shower if at all possible, or at minimum, thoroughly wash hands

         d. Wash any toys with soap and water or vinegar and water that your child may have brought with them 

  5. Do not touch your face, bite your nails, put your hands in your mouth, etc. Teach your children to do the same.
  6. Keep babies from sharing and mouthing toys if and when possible. Wash them frequently with soap and water, or vinegar and water to sanitize. 
  7. Take care of yourself: Get enough sleep, exercise, eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water (as opposed to sugary drinks). 
  8. Take a vitamin supplement, especially Vitamin D. Some studies suggest illnesses such as the flu are brought on by lack of Vitamin D. I love Carlson’s Baby Vitamin D drops. They are actually cheaper than the traditionally recommended infant multi-vitamin, minus all the extra “junk” ingredients. They also have kids’ and adult versions. One drop a day is all you need – too easy!
  9. Take a daily probiotic. A recent study showed a significant decrease in the report of illnesses among a group who took a daily probiotic than those who did not. It’s also a good idea to mix up the brand and strains for maximum benefit. Children’s Rhino probiotic comes in a chewable and powder form and is all natural.
  10. Cough and sneeze into a tissue. If one is not available, use your sleeve (your hands will come in contact with more people and surfaces than your sleeve). 
  11. Do not share utensils, drinks, etc. even with your children or spouse.
What should you do to prepare for a N1H1  H1N1 outbreak? 

  1. Wear a face mask. It may offer additional protection during an outbreak.  
  2. Avoid public places as much as possible during an outbreak. 
  3. Stock up. Stock the freezer with veggies and meat, the pantry full of non-perishables, and anything else you would need to survive in your house for days or weeks at a time, so in the event of a major outbreak, you will not need to venture out of the house. Think toilet paper, laundry detergent, toiletries, pet food, etc. 
  4. Have treatment supplies on hand such as fever reducing products, thermometers, tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.
  5. Refill any reoccurring prescriptions ahead of time
  6. Prepare for childcare. Have someone lined up to care for your kids in the event schools or daycares close, or you yourself become sick.
  7. Discuss telecommuting options with your boss.

Visit the CDC’s website and understand the symptoms of N1H1 H1N1. If you or your child becomes sick, contact your doctor or pediatrician immediately to understand any warning signs so you can get prompt attention when it is needed.

More info:

CDC’s H1N1 Flu Center 

WHO – World Health Organization H1N1 Coverage

Prevent and Prepare for Swine Flu 

Swine Flu on Wikipedia 

Mercola on Probiotic benefits

Author’s note: The author is not a medical doctor and is not giving out medical advice. Many parents are looking for natural ways to prevent the swine flu, whether it’s in addition to, or lieu of the N1H1 H1N1 vaccine; and healthy adults currently are not eligible for the vaccine. The fact of the matter is a little less than 50% of the US population will receive a N1H1 H1N1 vaccine, whether by choice, ineligibility or lack of availability. Additionally, the vaccine is not 100% effective (so far it’s proved to be effective about 90% of the time), thus it’s nice to have a little back up. The author is not advocating against the vaccine in anyway and this is not meant to spark any type of debate on vaccines.

 

Kiss My Face Hair Care: Product Review

I was looking for a 1, 4 dioxane-free shampoo for my husband and I to try. He has had some skin cancers removed, so anything I discover is a known or probably carcinogen, it’s out the door. I found out that Kiss My Face’s shampoos were dioxane free, so I picked up the Miss Treated Shampoo and conditioner for myself and the Big Body one for my husband. Of course, the line is free from parabens, phthalates, SLS and other yuckies that I wanted to avoid.

The Miss Treated Shampoo I absolutely LOVE. It’s hydrating, smells nice and rinses clean, so there is no residue weighing down my hair.

The Miss Treated Conditioner is FANTASTIC. The first time I used it, my hair felt like silk as I was rinsing it out and was very soft even after using a blow dryer. My hair is long (I am growing it out for Locks of Love), so the ends do get dry. To help this, I will sometimes put a very small dab of the conditioner on my hands and comb through my hair, rubbing a little more on the ends. It helps immensely.

It also lasted a long time – a couple months for 1 bottle and I have very long hair. So I was please with that as it was more expensive than the Whole Foods 365 stuff I had been using. But the end result, no dioxanes and soft hair, is worth it.

The shampoo sells for about $8 at my Whole Foods or $6.42 at Amazon. The conditioner sells for the same.

I give the product an A for delivering results!

Related Articles
Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products
Dangers of BPA, phthalates and a host of other substances 
Do your cosmetic and beauty products contain toxic ingredients? 
California Baby line product review 
Aubrey Organics Kids line product review

High Fructose Corn Syrup contains mercury

A new study shows half the samples tested contained mercury. This includes 1/3 of 55 popular name brands where HFCS is the first or second ingredient.

Mercury contamination is very harmful and toxic in all forms. It should be avoided. Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish because of high levels of mercury.

High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic sweetner that has replaced sugar in many items. It’s much cheaper than sugar, so is used by many companies in all types of foods and all kinds of brands. 

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda. So the good news is HFCS can be produced without caustic soda, the bad news is us consumers do not know if the HFCS containing products we are consuming are produced using caustic soda or not.

What can you do? Avoid HFCS. Read the labels, if it contains HFCS, put it back on the shelf. This is what I have done, even before knowing about the mercury contaimination.

We try to avoid sythetically produced ingredients in our house, opting for the safe and natural stuff. HFCS has also been linked to behavioral problems, but not sure anything has been proven there. Though I know several kids who were taken off HFCS and their behavior improved drastically with this change alone. Proof enough for me. 

Related Articles
Is Horizon milk really organic?
Grass fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic

Lead and Phthalate free, Non-toxic toys for Christmas, updated

Last updated: November 20, 2008

Because Christmas is right around the corner and the new bill protecting children from lead and phthalates will not go into effect until February 10, 2009, I am taking it upon myself to search for safe toys for Christmas 2008.

Here is the list I have come up with and will continue to add to it as I find new toys that meet the standards of being lead and phthalate free. If a toy has any of these toxins, I will not list them. I also did my best to steer clear of anything that contains BPA. Please note there are millions and millions of toys out there, so this is in no way a comprehensive list. If you are aware of another toy that is free of ALL lead, phthalates and BPA, please comment (along with a website or other evidence you may have if available) and I will add it to the list. Also, I will not list the obvious, like stuffed animals or books, but will do my best to include the obvious categories.

Also, some companies do have toys made with phthalate-free PVC. I have listed these and made a note by those toys. Although it would be great to avoid PVC altogether, as PVC can contain lead. 

Most of the products are linked so you can read reviews, get more information and even purchase online.

Brands who are promising that all their toys are lead and phthalate free:
Edushape
Haba
Kids Give
Lamaze Baby Toys
Lego Systems 
Little Tykes 
Lisa LeLeu 
Melissa & Doug (wood and plush toys) 
Mudpuppy 
Plan Toys 
Publications International 
Sckoon 
Selecta
Step 2
 
Tiny Love 
Under the Nile  

Art supplies/Crafts
(note: many art supplies, including Play Doh, contain trace amounts of arsenic. I did not list these products in the list. Unfortunately, it makes for a shorter list)
EcoTots Art time easel
Melissa and Doug Deluxe Easel
Melissa and Doug Paints
KidKraft Deluxe Easel
Leaf Press by Selecta
Organic Crafts (book), by Kimberly Monaghan
Plant colored pastel crayons

Blocks
Deluxe Jumbo Cardboard Blocks, Melissa & Doug
Mega Blocks
Legos   (all systems including Duplo)
Edushape (They had these at my daughter’s daycare and they are great! They are flexible so perfect for toddlers just learning to play with connecting type blocks.)
Kapla Wood Building Set
Wooden Animal Nesting Blocks, Melissa & Doug

Books
LIttle leaf house book, HABA

Cars/Vehicles
Automoblox mini’s (3 pack)
Automoblox vehicles
Baby Car, Plan Toys
Bulldozer Chunky Wooden Truck, FAO Schwartz
Cement Mixer Chunky wooden truck, FAO Scwartz
Discover Rig, Sprig Toys
Dump truck chunky wooden truck, FAO Schwartz
Firetruck Chuncky wooden truck, FAO Schwartz
Side Kick Vehicle, Rally Racer, Sprig Toys
Road Contruction Set, Plan Toys

Dolls
Babipouce Grenadine – 12″ Cloth Doll by Corolle 
BabiCorolle Sorbet Melodie Doll 
All Dolls by Corolle (made of PVC-free vinyl), including Tidoo, Calin, Chouquette Eva, and Poupette Lili  These dolls are all just BEAUTIFUL
Baby Stella by Manahattan Toy
Flippippi Fortune Butterfly Red by Kathe Kruse 
Kathe Kruse Dolls (some cloth, some PVC vinyl)
Keptin-Jr Dolls (some cloth, some PVC vinyl)
Keptin Jr – Organic Cotton Doll
Paola Soft Doll by Haba
Pottery Barn Kids Dolls and their Baby Dolls (though note, these are spot washable only, however cute they are)
Sweet Dolly by Baby Gund
The Earth Friends Doll Raji
Waldorf Flippippi Fortune Fairy by Kathe Kruse
Zapf Creation Dolls (made of PVC-free vinyl)

Whatever doll you choose, be sure the dolls are not treated with flame retardants, are free of heavy metals, and are painted with safe/non-toxic paints.

Games
Bamboo Art, ages 18 months+
Battelo (memory and strategy game, age 4+, made of Bamboo)
Cagola Balancing Game, Bamboo Collection, ages 4+
Colora Magnetic Design, Bamboo Collection
Dominos, Bamboo Collection
Hasbro Bamboo Matching game (I saw at Wal-Mart, but cannot find online anywhere. It’s cute though.)
Natural Wood Memory Game by Selecta

Interactive Toys
Battino Pounding Bench, Selecta
City Beads (wood), Wonderworld
Click Clack by Plan Toys
Click Clack Ball Track by HABA
Hammer Balls by Plan Toys
Pounding Tower, Plan Toys
Ryan the Zebra Activity Center, by K’s Kids 
Wood Baby Gym, Selecta
Wooden Ball Track Set by Selecta

Kitchen Sets
Guidecraft Deluxe Kitchen 
Guidecraft Wooden Kitchen
Plan Toys Kitchen Center
Plan Toys Kitchen Set
Pink stove top by Plan Toys and Red stove top
Dishwasher by Plan Toys
Refrigerator
by Plan Toys
Melissa and Doug Classic Deluxe Kitchen


Musical Instruments
Banjo, Plan Toys
Deluxe Band Set, Melissa and Doug
Drum Set, Plan Toys
Pine wood train whistle, maple and Marks
Hohner harmonica, Rosie’s Hippo
Mini Red Piano, Schylling
Melissa and Doug Band in a Box
Oval Xylophone, Plan Toys

Push/Pull Toys
Bird Family Pull Toy, Rosie’s Hippo
Circo Pull Toy, HABA
Dancing Alligator, Plan Toys
Frolicking Frog Wooden Pull Toy, Melissa and Doug
Trotto Wooden Push Toy by Selecta
Mini Pull along Giraffe by Sevi
Natural Wood Push Toy, Pedella, by Selecta
Sorting Train, Plan Toys
Walk and Roll, Plan Toys
Wooden Chomp and Clack Alligator Push Toy, Melissa and Doug
Zoo Animals Pull Along, Melissa and Doug

Play Food/Cookware
Alex Toys Deluxe Cooking Set
Bambu Kids Cooking Utensils
Erzi play food: Erzi Assorted Vegetables Box; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box; Erzi Assorted VegetablesErzi Assorted Fruit; Erzi Assorted Fruit Box Tropical FruitsErzi Assorted Tropical Fruits 
Learning Resources – Made of PVC and polyethylene, but is lead and phthalate free
Lunch With Friends” wood tea party set by Djeco
Melissa and Doug: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Play Food – 10 Piece Set; Melissa & Doug Sandwich making set; Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Spice Rack Set; Melissa and Doug Cutting Food Box
Melissa and Doug Food Groups; Melissa and Doug Pizza Party; Melissa and Doug Birthday Cake; Sushi 
Plan Toys: Fruit and Vegetables, Breakfast Menu (with tray), Birthday Cake with candles, Vegetable pairs 
Plan Toys Toaster
Plan Toys Microwave
Shopping cart by Plan Toys
Cookware set by Plan Toys
Tableware set by Plan Toys
Tea set (wood), Plan Toys
Tupperware Childs Kids Mini Baking Set
Tupperware Kids Cake Taker, Plates, & Spatula
Tupperware Kids Mini Party Set with Mini Cake Taker

Playmat (Infant Activity Mat)
Tiny Love Gymini Super Deluxe – Lights & Music  
Wood Play Gym by Selecta

Pretend Play – Barn
Farm Animals, Plan Toys
Folding Barn, Melissa and Doug
Folding Horse Stable, Melissa and Doug
Plan Toys Country Barn
Plan Toys Wood barn

Pretend Play – Castles
Dragonstone Castle With Inhabitants  by Haba
Princess Castle by Melissa and Doug
Folding Midevil Castle by Melissa and Doug 
Dolls for Melissa and Doug Play Castles

Pretend Play – Playhouse
Neat & Tidy Cottage by Step2 (my daughter LOVES this house)
Daisy’s Market, Djeco

Pretend Play – Dollhouse
Plan Toys Chalet Dollhouse with furniture
Plan Toys My First Dollhouse
Plan Terrace Dollhouse
Plan Toys Contemporary Dollhouse
Plan Toys Victorian Dollhouse (I want this one!)
Plan Toys Modern Dollhouse
Colonial Dollhouse by Plan Toys
Deluxe Wooden Furnished Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Dollhouse furniture by Plan Toys
Dollhouse Furniture, Melissa and Doug
Farm House, Plan Toys
Fold and Go Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Victorian Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug
Wooden Doll Family for Dollhouse, Melissa and Doug

Pretend Play – Other
Children’s Broom, Camden Rose
Pet and accessories, Plan Toys
Plan City Parking Garage
Pirate Ship, Plan Toys
Tree House, Plan Toys
Doctor’s kit, HABA

Puzzles
Animal Alphabet, Imagiplay (3D puzzle)
Clutching Puzzle Sunny Land by haba 
Counting Bunnies 3D puzzle
Melissa & Doug wood sound puzzles
Nativity Puzzle, Imagiplay (3D puzzle)
Wood Animal Puzzle by Selecta

Riding Toys
4×4 WD Adventure Car, Plan Toys
Arabian Rocking Horse by Plan Toys 
Lights and sound fire engine, Wonderworld
Pony rocking horse by Plan Toys
Puffy Dragon Ride On, Wonderworld
Rocking Cater, Wonderworld
Sports Car by Plan Toys (this is super cute!)
Trike Rider by Brio

Sports/Interactive
Wooden Bowling Set by Sevi 
Ball Track Roll ‘N Roll ‘N Roll by Haba  

Stacking Toys
Fun Stacker, Plan Toys
German Stacking Tower, HABA
Monkey Ring Stacker, miYim
Rainbow Tower, HABA
Rokkolina Wood Stacking Toy, Selecta (cute flower pot design)
Stacking Rings, Plan Toys
Witty Worm Stacker, Rosie’s Hippo
Wooden Rainbow Stacking Tower, Nunoorganic
Rocky Color Cone, Holgate Toys 

Stuffed Animals
Andrew the Hippo, miYim Organic
Baby Victoria the Bunny, miYim Organic
Chikos the Hen, Deglingos
Cuddlekin Bunny Molly, HABA
Natural Friends Sheep Musical Toy 
Pikos the Hedgehog, Deglingos
Ronronos the Cat, Deglingos
Sandwich Striped Cat Doll by Blabla
Solid Red Goose, Lana Organic
White Goose, Lana Organic

Teethers for Baby
Please see my post here: BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Tools
Handyman Tool Box (wood), Wonderworld
My first tool set, Educo

Trains, Vehicles and other accessories
Alex Activity Mat
Brio
Maple and Marks
Melissa and Doug 
Plan Toys
Super City Wooden Railways from Heros! 

Companies with no phthalates (PVC) – Note: I have not yet determined if they are making the same claim for being lead-free. Also note that not all Evenflo, Gerber or Sassy products are BPA free.
Brio 
Chicco 
Evenflo 
Gerber 
International Playthings
Sassy 

Watch for these companies:
Leap Frog (Phthalate-free; some toys contain PVC; most packaging in boxes) 
Manhattan Toy (Use phthalate-free PVC)
Vtech (Use phthalate-free PVC) 
Sassy (Use phthalate-free PVC (since 2000), working to eliminate BPA and eventually, PVC) 
Fisher Price (Frequently use PVC (including teething rings), only toys for kids under age 3 are phthalate-free)
Mattel (Frequently use PVC) 
Playskool (Frequently use PVC)
Baby Einstein /Disney /Kids II (Frequently use PVC)
KidKraft (Claims all painted toys will have some amount of lead, anything wood is fine)
Especially for Baby @ Babies R Us (Geoffrey Inc.) (Frequently use PVC, including teething rings)

Gaming Consoles
XBox and Playstation 3 contain high levels of phthalates, though they are NOT considered toys so will not be affected by the new law banning phthalates in children’s products. Read more about it here.

Another cool site with eco-friendly toys is http://www.euphoriababy.com/

Please check back as I will be updating this post until Christmas is here! Happy shopping!

For more information or to research specific toys not listed, visit these sites:
http://www.healthytoys.org/product.searchtype.php
http://toyportfolio.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/update-complying-companies/
 
Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
Have we found the cause of SIDS?
Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Lead in Christmas lights

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