June 14, 2011

Make Your Own Nautral Sunscreen

Of course, you need sunlight to keep yourself healthy.  Most people need around ten minutes a day and your body self-regulates it's vitamin D production, so once you have enough, your body stops making it until you need more.  In most conditions, of course, you won't burn in only ten minutes of exposure.  It's the rest of the time that's the issue.

Simple Solutions For Avoiding Sunburn

- Stay out of the sun between 11-3 o'clock.
- Light, breezy shirts or blouses, longer “knee” shorts, or loose coverlets can go a long ways towards keeping the sun off your skin.
- Wide-brimmed hat is best—one that provides as much shade as possible for your face and neck.
- Sunglasses can shade your eyes from harmful sunlight too.
- Suncreen

Sunscreen Options

The normal sunscreens you see on the store shelf might work really well, but most off-the-shelf sunscreens that aren't natural contain parabens, which are estrogen-mimicking and endocrine-disrupting substances.  Others contain nano-particles of zinc and/or titanium as their active ingredient, which are readily absorbed by your skin and are highly reactive (absorbent) of other substances. Neither of those is a good thing, so the natural alternatives are definitely the way to go.

Of the two above problem ingredients, parabens are by far the worst, so at the very least, a paraben-free sunscreen is preferred.  Those aren't too hard to find, even at big box stores.  In the healthy living section of most stores, however, you'll find much better alternatives.

That section (or a health food store itself) will probably have sunscreens that are labeled “biodegradable.”  They'll likely have “natural” or other descriptions on the label (never “organic,” as that's a word controlled by the FDA).  There are a handful of popular brands of natural sunscreens off-the-shelf.

How to Make Your Own Sunscreen at Home

If you'd like to try making your own, it's actually a lot easier than you think. You need two ingredients:

Zinc oxide (primary ingredient, but do not inhale it! The powder is extremely strong).  
Any lotion (aloe vera gel from a plant is preferred).

Your pharmacy, health food store, or even just the vitamin shelf will have zinc oxide in powdered or undiluted pill form.  Powdered is preferred, but if you get the pills, you can use a mortar and pestle or a blender to crush them to powder.

Mix the powder and lotion until a somewhat jellied paste is formed.  Dilute to taste and spread as you would lotion or sunscreen. Or you can make your own lotion with the zinc oxide in it. (see chart below for % of zinc to add to total lotion amount. And try the recipes below.)

Concentration of
Sunscreen; SPF
(SPF 2-5)
(SPF 6-11)
(SPF 12-19)
Ultra High
(SPF >20)
Zinc Oxide 5 %10 % 15 % 25 %
Zinc Oxide, Micronized 3 % 7.5 % 12 % 20 %

EXAMPLE (for super basic lotion)
1/2 c. olive or avocado oil (or jojoba, almond, etc.)
1/4 c beeswax (try getting at a farmer's market or health store)
1/4 c coconut oil
2 T zinc oxid
few drops essential oils  (optional: frankincense for inflammation and bug repellant qualities or lavender for overall properties and nice smell)

1. Slowly heat olive and coconut oils on low heat as you do not want the oil to boil at any point.
2. Grate beeswax and add to the oil (keep on a low heat until it gently melts the wax).
3. Once the wax has completely melted, remove the mixture from the heat and immediately drop in two tablespoonfuls of the zinc oxide (and essential oils if desired).
4. Pour the mixture into an airtight container. Should last the whole year.

Original recipe from wellnessmama.com

Natural Bug Repellents- Make Your Own

Mosquito Attractants
Use this list of items and activities that attract mosquitoes as a list of things to avoid or that can be used as bait to lure mosquitoes away from you.

  • Dark Clothing  Many mosquitoes use vision to locate hosts from a distance. Dark clothes and foliage are initial attractants.

  • Carbon Dioxide You give off more carbon dioxide when you are hot or have been exercising. A burning candle or other fire is another source of carbon dioxide.

  • Lactic Acid You release more lactic acid when you have been exercising or after eating certain foods (e.g., salty foods, high-potassium foods).

  • Floral or Fruity Fragrances In addition to perfumes, hair products, and scented sunscreens, watch for the subtle floral fragrance from fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

  • Skin Temperature The exact temperature depends on the type of mosquito. Many mosquitoes are attracted to the slightly cooler temperatures of the extremities.

  • Moisture Mosquitoes are attracted by perspiration because of the chemicals it contains and also because it increases the humidity around your body. Even small amounts of water (e.g., moist plants or mud puddles) will draw mosquitoes. Standing water also allows mosquitoes to reproduce.

Things that Lower Repellent Effectiveness
  • Many Sunscreens
  • Dilution from Rain, Perspiration, or Swimming
  • Absorption into the Skin
  • Evaporation from Wind or High Temperatures
Keep in mind that 'natural' does not automatically imply 'safe'. Many people are sensitive to plant oils. Some natural insect repellents are actually toxic. Therefore, although natural repellents provide an alternative to synthetic chemicals, please remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions when using these products.

Natural Repellents
It's very easy to make your own natural mosquito repellent. These natural products will effectively repel mosquitoes, but they require more frequent reapplication (at least every 2 hours) and higher concentrations than DEET. Because of the differences between types of mosquitoes, products that contain multiple repellents tend to be more effective than those containing a single ingredient. As you can see, natural repellents tend to be volatile plant oils.
  • Citronella Oil
  • Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Rosemary Oil
  • Lemongrass Oil
  • Cedar Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Geranium Oil
  • Possibly Oils from Verbena, Pennyroyal, Lavender, Pine, Cajeput, Basil, Thyme, Allspice, Soybean, and Garlic
Another plant-derived substance, pyrethrum, is an insecticide. Pyrethrum comes from the flowers of the daisy Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.

*from about.com

Other Bug Repellent Essential Oils

Caution: Pregnant women should consult with their doctors before using.

List By Bugs
Ticks: Rose Geranium (first choice), Other: Palmerosa, bay, eucalyptus, European pennyroyal, lavender, tickweed (American pennyroyal)
Blackflies: Sassafras, lavender, eucalyptus, pennyroyal, cedar, lemon balm (citronella), peppermint
Head Lice: Tea tree, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, rose geranium
Fleas: Orange oil

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/custom-made-insect-repellent.html#ixzz1PCPrBldw

List By Oils
* Lemongrass - Mosquitoes, chiggers, noseeums, gnats, fleas, and ticks
* Tea Tree Oil - Mosquitoes, chiggers, noseeums, gnats, fleas, horseflies, ticks
* Eucalyptus - Mosquitoes, chiggers, noseeums, gnats, ticks
* Lavender - Ticks, Chiggers, ants
* Spearmint and Peppermint - Ants, roaches, chiggers, fleas, gnats, and spiders
* Catnip - Highly touted as being MORE effective than DEET and a good general natural insect repellent.

How to Make Repellent for the Body
Use a clean spray bottle (not used with chemicals) for this repellant solution. If you are making large amounts of mosquito repellent, a good rule of thumb is to mix the repellent so it's 5-10% essential oil, so mix 1 part essential oil with 10-20 parts carrier oil. For a smaller batch use: (should last about 6 months)

+10-25 drops (total) of essential oils
+ 2 tablespoons of a carrier oil (olive oil, sunflower oil, almond, avocado oil, etc.)

* 2 oz. of a carrier oil
* 1/4 teas. Catnip/mint or citronella oil
* 1/8 teas. Eucalyptus oil
* 1/8 teas. Lavender oil

This will make a good broad spectrum natural insect repellent. You can, however, use any of the essential oils listed in step one for your own combination. Spray the oil directly onto your skin, or your hands, and rub in well. It is not recommended that this be applied around the mouth or eye

How to Make Repellent for the Home
You can take strips of cloth or paper or a sponge and soak with the following solution. (You can put a tiny piece of sponge that has been soaked in this solution in an old altoid tin and then open and place on the picnic table for the evening. Will need to replenish it for next use though.)

* 5 drops each of Lavender oil and Citronella oil, or
* 5 drops each of Peppermint and Eucalyptus oil

Hang these strips near windows and doors where the mosquitoes and other insects enter your home. It is not necessary to dilute the oils, if you are not putting them on your skin.
For ants, rub spearmint and cinnamon oil on the counters, and put cedar chips that have been soak in those oils at entry points on the floor in your home.
Read more: How to Make a Natural Insect Repellant with Essential Oils | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_5064418_make-insect-repellant-essential-oils.html#ixzz1PCV5MLAg

As a side note, you can try this recipe if you have these herbs in your garden. Supposedly its what thieves in the forest would wear to protect themselves from the black plague....

Vinegar of the Four Thieves Insect Repellent Ingredients:

+ 1 32 ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
+ 2 TBSP each of dried Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint (or play around with other herbs mentioned above)
+ At least quart size glass jar with airtight lid
Put the vinegar and dried herbs into large glass jar.
Seal tightly and store on counter or place you will see it daily. Shake well each day for 2-3 weeks.
After 2-3 weeks, strain the herbs out and store in spray bottles or tincture bottles, preferably in fridge.
To use on skin, dilute to half with water in a spray bottle and use as needed.
Use whenever you need serious bug control!

[Note: This mixture is very strong and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for any illness. For adults, dose is 1 TBSP in water several times a day,for kids over 2, dose is 1 tsp in water several times a day.]

*from www.wellnessmama.com

June 10, 2011

Support Local Energy Projects

Paul and I attended a "Green" Fair in SLC last month and heard about BlueSky, through Rocky Mountain Power. Here's the jist of it....

How does Blue Sky work?

  • You buy wind energy in 100 kilowatt-hour (kwh) increments, called blocks, for just $1.95 more per block per month.
  • Rocky Mountain Power buys renewable energy certificates on your behalf equal to your Blue SkySM purchase and helps develop small-scale renewable projects in the communities we serve.
  • You can buy as many blocks as you'd like. Ten blocks per month covers about 100 percent of an average home's electricity use. 
  • Participation is voluntary. You can cancel your enrollment anytime.
  • PDF Get additional information about Blue Sky resources 
  • Get more details in our frequently asked questions.

Real benefits now and for the future

Buying one 100-kwh block of Blue Sky each month for a year is as good for the environment as planting nearly 17 trees or not driving a car for 1,486 miles!*

Needless to say I was a little reluctant at first, since it's more money and we don't get the benefits of the renewable energy for our home per say. But, by signing up, you...

  • influence the future of energy production
  • encourage the development of new renewable energy in our region, which benefits local economies
  • preserve the environment and conserve resources for future generations
Not to mention feel that you're adding to a good cause. So if you want to help and feel you can spare some each month, go to their website and sign up. I'm just doing one block a month $1.95 because I want to help, but feel the minimum is all I can do right now.

And no, I'm not affliated with them at all, nor getting anything in return for this. I just thought it'd be cool to help others learn how to support renewable energy sources.

Here's a link to enroll (if you have Rocky Mountain Power). Enroll now »

June 6, 2011

Greenreads: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

By Barbara Kingsolver

This book is about a family that lives off local food for a year. That means no bananas from Mexico, etc. They move to some place in the East with a farm and grow a garden. IT's their experience and recipes included, and informative information on why they're eating local and about certain processes about how we get our food, local or not. (She's written the Poisonwood Bible book, but I didn't care for it...I felt she rambled and was way too openly commentative, and I lost interest.)

I learned about cheesemaking, more about canning my own tomatoes, raw milk, etc. It's very cool to hear about their struggles to get use to just eating what was available and to see that they were successful and it wasn't too hard if they made it their priority and were willing to give up certain foods for certain seasons.

I definitely had to skip some parts where she rattled off about food industry practices, which I can see where she's coming from, but sometimes she had a tendency to be a little harsh and punctuated in her statements. (which is enjoyable at times, but overkill at others) She writes very matter-of-fact, which I tend to appreciate, but sometimes don't need all her extra side thoughts.

So, I'd read it if you're at all interested in learning how to better live more locally and sustainably. I rate it 4 of 5 for greenreads.

GreenReads: Made From Scratch

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life
by Jenna Woginrich

This book is written by a woman who is a typical 8-5 working woman from the city who's trying to live a more homemade life--not a country bumpkin who's grown up knowing how to do all this by-hand stuff. We can relate, no? Her premise is that we can all change the way we live, no matter where we are. "You can make better decisions every day; you can learn the skills for a more independent way of living. When you do, you'll start to feel more appreciation for those everyday tasks, because at the end of the day you're more in control of your life." She basically says that the point of this book is about self-sufficiency and being more RESPONSIBLE to everyday things we take for granted and have "become numb to" and get back to the real basics of where things come from--to gain a greater appreciation for getting dirty, working hard and slowing down. The author said it was starting her own "homestead" (at her rented place with a little garden) that made her life and work more meaningful.

"Living the way you want has nothing to do with how much land you have or how much you can afford to spend on a new house. It has to do with the way you choose to live every day and how content you are with what you have. "

First step: Go Local, buy less packaged goods, etc.
Education in realizing the process of how everything gets to you (stores, farms cargo, gas, plastic....lots of factors)

As I kept reading, I picked up interesting experiences she'd had trying to raise chickens and keep bees and such. She talked about buying second hand and learning to do things by hand, such as knit.

I felt as though it was a brief mention of a few experiences, but nothing super informational. She just gives you a look into her trying to become more self-reliant and homesteader-ish. So if you're new o this whole idea, it's a short read to open your eyes a little. Not more than that. However, she does list lots of resources for particular things she does....like books on raising chickens, etc.

I'd give it a 3 of 5.

June 1, 2011

Ladies' Goodreads - June

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Terry Ryan

An inspirational true story of an enterprising mother of ten who kept poverty at bay with wit, poetry, and perfect prose during the "contest era" of the fifties and sixties. Written by her daughter. And has been made into a delightful little movie.