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The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

Live Basic Less Chemicals

August 16, 2012
Back to Basics, home products
This entire page is dedicated to finding products that our Great Grandparents and Grandparents used.  I will discuss how I went back to basics and back to using products that our generations before us lived. Take your time and read through this and I will help you sort out how to get back to basics. 
Our reason to find better products.
A few years ago my husband started developing several skin disorders. He first started with an unknown rash on his back.  Then he developed psoriasis, then eczema.
Many trips to Doctors, prescribed medications, lotions and soaps.  His conditions continued to worsen and spread. It was becoming painful due to cracked skin and splits. Each year getting worse and then to a point it did not matter if it was winter or summer.  Usually winter made it worse but summer was no better.
Then the Doctor advised a more powerful drug, one that is used for cancer, one that has the potential for serious side effects. He did not want to take this drug and I was desperate to help him. 
I could not sleep and all I did was research. I started noticing all the ingredients on his soaps and lotions and big words describing what was in the products.  I found that very irritating chemicals were in many products. Then I came upon the information I needed. I knew I had to go back to basics.  Read further and I will explain.

Our generations before us were much more in tune with this earth and lived a much more simple life.  Now we live our hurried lives filled with toxic chemicals, loud sounds, and gadgets. We have been enticed to purchase and fill our homes with products, electronics, chemical filled potions only so that big business owners can become wealthy at the expense of our health.

First put good food in your body.  Then make sure whatever you are using on the outside of your body is safe. What goes on your skin goes in your body. This is my homemade chicken noodle soup made with homemade noodles.
My  Great Grandparents and Grandparents lived into their 90’s, most all of my parents, aunts and uncles have all died younger than their parents.  Now my generation appears to be dying even younger than my parents. 
I have concerns that many of us have become ill from too many chemicals in our homes.  Some of the chemicals in our products come with warnings and some ingredients may cause cancer, brain diseases, kidney damage, immune disorder and many other conditions. 
As a wife, mother and grandmother I just have to work through finding more safe products for all of us.
My advice is:  READ YOUR LABELS and remember that cosmetics are not regulated the same as food. Currently there is very little regulation on personal care products.
Big industries are not going to stop making these toxic brews. People will go on buying these products simply because they believe the commercials, the products look good, smell good and have all the bells and whistles.  Most people will never look at the ingredients if all the ingredients are listed and when they do they will never know what they mean.

Is it possible if one rids chemicals from their house could some damage be reversed?  I hope so. I decided to not wait for our government to decide what is really safe or not safe since there is no regulations on many items that we purchase.  I have searched day and night on the internet and could not find the answers to what I was looking for so I decided to go it alone and this is what I did.
I went back to what I could remember as a child and how my Grandmother lived.  My journey is to try to live in today’s world with much less today and more of yesterday.
I had to rid our house of items that are on the fence of being safe or unsafe.  This includes plastics, toiletries, paints, cleaners.  All the "Stuff” we have paid good money for.  It was a bit sickening but I kept looking at my husbands skin condition and that motivated me to carry on.
Now it was time to go back to basic safe products.
I searched all over the place for more simple and safe products.  They are out there and you can order many things online or find them in some stores but all the chemical filled products have the best location in the store.  You can also ask a store manager at a smaller store to order things for you and most times they will.
My husbands doctor had suggested a certain brand of soap, lotion and cleanser for his bad skin condition.  Then one day I looked at the ingredients. 

I researched the ingredients on this soap that was suggested by my husbands dermatologist.  First it is strongly scented. by what?  I am not sure.  I am sensitive to fragrance. At first I was shocked when researching ingredients then I had to do further research to understand that not all information is correct.  So to be fair.  Most of these ingredients are really just lye and animal fat and lye and coconut. Buy why do we have to have all these other ingredients? Even if only one of these has a possible side effect. One ingredient is to make it white.  Why does it have to be white?  That ingredient is questionable for cancer the verdict is still out on that.  This is not a bad soap full of horrible ingredients even though it appears that way.  But we wanted less ingredients. So the search was back on.
After finding the right products for us, we knew that things were getting better, especially when my husbands eczema started disappearing.
I suggest that you research ingredients in the products that you are using. When you try a new product try to understand all that you can about that product.  Try to find products with few ingredients. We were very cautious because we were trying to cure my husbands already sensitive skin.
The products that we are using now just feel right.  The chemical filled stuff we were using got tossed in garbage bags and out the door.  I didn’t look back.
My husbands eczema is almost all gone.  We mean gone!  His skin looks so much better and we are so pleased.  His psoriasis is more complicated.  His elbows and knees are much better but his hands and feet keep bouncing back and forth getting better then flairing up.  All in all though he is better.
I will start with Bragg’s.

We love using Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and even bought their book, Apple Cider Vinegar Miracle Health System.  It comes in a glass bottle so I don’t have to worry about the bad stuff in plastic.  I hope they never change this. It has so many uses, just go to their website and look for yourself.  It is organic and the real deal. I am not affiliated with them nor am I advertising, I am just saying what I use.
Since I am on the no plastic kick, packaging is important. when I found a simple shampoo bar that has more simple ingredients and no plastic bottle I just had to get it. This shampoo is called JR Liggett shampoo bar.

We are very pleased with this shampoo bar!  Actually we Love it!  No plastic container!  Smells so clean!  Lathers so good!  It is a bit pricy with shipping if you order online but worth it. Our health food store sells it but stays out of the plain original old fashion bar that we use so we do both, order online and purchase it from the health store when she has it.  Some people use it and they don’t need a conditioner.  I felt I needed a conditioner so I make a Braggs apple cider hair rinse and it softens my hair so well. 

I JUST HAVE TO TELL YOU THIS.  The first time I made up my apple cider vinegar rinse and poured it over my hair (in the shower) I could not stop saying oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  I really did, I just kept saying that because my hair turned soft as soon as I poured it over my hair. It felt like I had used an expensive conditioner. Then I thought, my whole life I bought conditioners for my hair and all along in my kitchen was the conditioner.  Now let me say when you first pour it you may think you will smell like a salad.  No, the smell goes away very quickly and after you dry your hair it just smells clean.  Also, when you pour it over your hair and let it run over your body it is good for your skin.
Braggs apple cider vinegar hair conditioner.
1 Tablespoon Braggs apple cider vinegar to 1 cup warm water.
Now I keep saying Braggs because that is what is available to me. I personally think it is very good.  They sell it at the health store and they sell it at our Local grocery store.
Now more about soap.

Let us talk about Lye and Castile soap. First, Lye soap is NOT harsh if it is made properly.  Maybe years ago they made it too strong and that gave it a bad reputation.  When Lye, water and oil/fat is mixed together it goes through a process called, Saponification and this is the chemical process of making soap.  I only know how to talk plain talk because I am not a chemist but the way I can explain it Lye is caustic stuff by itself but when the correct amounts of Lye mixed with water and fat or oils they all eat each other up and turn into soap. 
Once the process is finished, including curing, everything is neutralized and what remains is soap with glycerin because glycerin formed during the process. It is my understanding that many of the commercial soaps have most of the natural glycerin removed and chemicals have been added to give it super lather, color, fragrance.
Here are four soaps
The next photos will be more clear
Personally I am going for the one with less ingredients.
Notice the warning keep out of reach of children?  This is a very popular baby soap Personally I would not want to wash my baby with this due to unknown fragrance and the Tetrasodium Etidronate. There are many recommendations out there that if you have sensitive skin or especially eczema that Tetrasodium Etidronate can cause skin irritation.
Once again I am no scientist so I don't understand a lot of these studies so I am going for less ingredients.
The difference in Castile soap and Lye soap is one is made with vegetable oils and one is made with animal fat.
All soap is made from lye. If you look on your soap label and see sodium Tallowate, this is lye.  It can be called caustic soda or many other names. This is just the way it is.  I guess they just don’t want us to know that.
My Great Grandparents that lived to be in their 90’s bathed in Lye soap.  They used it for cleaning, bathing, shampooing and washing their clothes and dishes at least until more modern commercial products came around. 
When we told the dermatologist that we were switching to lye soap she made an awful expression on her face in disapproval. That was before my husbands eczema completely went away. I am so thankful that did not stop us from going with our gut that we needed to give the lye soap a try.
Castile soap is also very good and it is made from oil rather than animal fat. Many people prefer their soap made from oils and not animal fat.  I am still trying to decide on that issue.
 This is worth repeating in case you missed it. My husband and I have been going on our merry way buying all kinds of commercial soaps lotions and anything modern that smells good.  Then we hit a road block and my husband had serious skin problems, Psoriasis and eczema and I became sensitive to fragrance.
This led us back to our generations before us. We have gone back to basics and he is much better. The eczema is all gone, his psoriasis is better but he still has issues with that and we simply stay on top of it when it flairs up. We have found that due to his severe skin problems that the pure lye soap made from lard works best.
Some people don’t like using anything with animal fat/product so if you feel this way you may like the Castile soap.  It is lye soap made with oils.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is a very good castile soap. We bought ours from our local health store.  
Kirk’s original Coco (no not chocolate) Castile soap.  This castile soap smells very clean, it is a wonderful simple soap and has few ingredients. We found it at our local Cracker Barrel and Publix grocery in our area.  
Grandma’s lye soap a wonderful simple clean soap.  We really like this soap and has many uses.  After bathing our skin feels like it has a light lotion feel.  We purchased this at Cracker Barrel and ACE Hardware because that is where it is in our local area.
Stewarts craft lye soap  They make an very good lye soap and they are wonderful people that care about their customers. To order from them go to: We use their grated lye soap to wash our clothes. More about this next.
Lye soap to wash clothes;
I was shocked the first time that I hand washed my husband dirty socks with a bar of lye soap, the same soap we bathe with.  Normally I would have to bleach out his socks and still the dirt stains would remain.  When I stood at the sink and rubbed the socks with the lye soap the dirt literally melted away.  I was so excited! 
I started looking for dirty clothes to hand wash right then.  I ended hand washing all our clothes that morning.  Then, I noticed that my hands still felt great!  They felt like I had lotion on them.  I just could not understand it.  So this is how my Grandparents could do so much with lye soap without harming their skin.
Now I use Stewart's Craft Lye soap that is grated for the washer.
I continue to hand wash some clothing like my husbands socks, gloves and other small items.  Sometimes I handwash them then toss them in the washer to make sure they are nice and white.  This way I don't have to use bleach.
 It is also important when using the washing machine not to use too much soap.  Only about ¼ cup grated soap.  It helps if you dissolve the grated soap in hot water first and I rub any stains or heavy dirty areas with some of the bar soap before putting it in the washer. 
I have actually been excited to just hand wash as much as I can and told my husband that I think we need to get a wash tub.  I know, this is probably not what you wish to do but the less I use of everything the more I want to do things the way they did in the past.
I remember when I was a child washing clothes with my Grandmother. We would wash the clothes out in the back yard in her old round washer then put the clothes through a wringer (watch out for those wringers, the will smash your fingers).  I loved washing clothes with her and the smell of freshly washed laundry on the clothesline.  You can give special attention to clothes that are extra dirty or have stains.
We currently use Lye soap and Castile soap.  Both are very good.  Goodbye chemical filled soap!
I wash dishes with the castile soap and the lye soap because I keep trying to figure out which one works the best. It seems the castile has a little less glycerin so if my dishes are greasy I use the castile. But I also like the softness to my hands so I use the lye soap as well. Just my opinion, I feel that Lye soap made with lard has more glycerin. I am really on the fence between the two for washing dishes. Many times I wash dishes with the castile soap then make sure to wash my hands with the lye for the extra glycerin.
If you put a small amount of baking soda to the rinse water it makes the dishes sparkle.  I know there is a lot of questions out there how to wash dishes with homemade soap.  All I can say is if you can get over the sudsy thing and realize that it is not necessary to suds to clean. Here is where you make a choice, more chemicals or less ingredients? Do you give up the easy squirt highly fragrant sudsy dish soap or the old fashion bar soap?
I want to mention that I am still in the process of working through my own issues with products.  I kept my  liquid dish soap and when I have something very greasy I put on a rubber glove and use a small amount and rinse.  I also use it as a drain cleaner.  I put a small amount in the drain if we have had something very greasy, which is not often because we are eating better.
Dish Soap Tip: You can make a soap pouch for washing dishes either by sewing a pouch or using a clean white sock. Cut a bar of Castile or Lye soap in half and place one half into your sock/pouch, twist the end and bring it over the bar.  Now you can wet and you will have a soapy dish pouch.  Just remember to remove the bar of soap after using or you will have a mushy bar.  Let the bar dry between uses. 
You can make a homemade net scrubbie it will help with the dishwashing and help your soap bar to suds.
You have to remember that we are comparing washing dishes with liquid commercial soap and lye or castile.  Back when our Great Grandparents were washing dishes there was no liquid commercial soap. If I find myself in a situation where I have to use commercial soap I can immediately feel my skin becoming more dry. 
Homemade Scrubby.   You will need netting from your local fabric store, rubber bands and scissors. 
Buy one yard of netting. I placed this netting over something dark so you could see it. Flatten out the netting and cut a strip about 6 inches wide. Notice that there are two layers.  You need two strip which will be 4 layers. 6" wide by 36" long.
This is one strip (2 layers)  now you need to cut one more doubled strip.
Somehow I feel I am making this more confusing than it is.
This scrubbie is only two layers because my netting was longer than 36 inches and I was in a hurry to take pictures.  So just imagine that it has four layers.  Now take the end and start bunching up kind of like you are going to make a paper fan.
Keep a tight hold on it because you will be putting a rubber band around the center.
Place the rubber band around the center and keep looping it around until the rubber band is tight.
Just keep twisting the rubber band and pulling it over the netting in the center.
Almost done
Now start pulling the layers apart to fluff out the netting
Done now you can wash dishes or clean most anything that needs a scrub. Plan on making several because you will really like these scrubbies.
Rub your bar of soap and you will have a nice soapy scrubbie.
As far as cleaning, I use both Castile and Lye soap to washed down our bathrooms. Make a scrubbie for your bathroom and this will really clean up a tub or sink. Both soaps do very well for cleaning. 
White distilled vinegar makes a good  rinse and mild disinfectant. You can use it in your rinse water in the washer, rinse water in your dish water, it makes an excellent window cleaner and many more uses. 
Baking soda has many uses. I use baking soda to scrub my sinks and tub areas that need some grit.  When washing dishes, sprinkle baking soda in the rinse water to make your dishes sparkle. It will scrub marks off the walls, freshen musty sneakers, closets or wherever odors occur.  I use it to clean out our two pet birds water and feed cups.
Recently I found that baking soda rubbed into the inside of my tea pot took the stains out.
Rinse well after use. There are many other uses for Baking soda just check out their website. 

The problem with Bleach is we have become careless with our use of bleach giving no consideration to the environment or our health. Many people never measure bleach and just pour it like it does not matter but it does matter. If there is something stained and nothing else will work then use a minimal amount. Lets say you have some very dirty socks. You have hand washed them but the stains will not come out. Put those socks in a small container or small bucket and soak them in water, bleach and soap instead of pouring a larger amount of bleach in washing machine. Use rubber gloves when handling bleach. For disinfecting read the label and you just might be surprised at how little it takes to disinfect. I personally do not like sprays that contain bleach because it goes up your nose, on your skin and into your body.

I know many of us are all about trying to live more pure and less chemicals but in my opinion there is a need for bleach when it comes to disinfecting. There are a lot of bad bacteria out there these days and a lot of misinformation about the use of vinegar to disinfect.
Personally, I consider vinegar to be a mild disinfectant. There are times and places where I use vinegar and times when I use bleach.  Never mix products. There are many germs/bacteria that vinegar will not destroy.
When you do use vinegar you should spray/apply straight undiluted vinegar and let it sit on the area that you are applying it to for at least 10 to 15 minutes. However, even using vinegar this way it may (or probably will not) destroy all bacteria.
In our household we keep bleach on hand to use for disinfection and to use if there is a water emergency and there is a need to disinfect water. There are probably germs/bacteria that even bleach will not destroy.
You can go on to the Clorox website and they have a lot of information.  Also there is a government website that has more information for the use of bleach. 
I am not a scientist or expert so you should do your own research about killing germs, this is only my opinion about disinfecting.
Note* For those that don’t like to use plastic here is a partially plastic free squirt bottle. You can use an empty glass apple cider vinegar bottle to replace the plastic bottle.  This will make it half plastic. You can recycle the plastic bottom at your local recycle drop off.
Many people have concerns with plastic
We have less plastic in our house but we still have plastic. This is a long journey to free yourself from plastic.  I don't know if it is even possible.  EVERYTHING seems to be plastic! Many people think this is just weird to try and become plastic free.  Ok, my question is why is that weird?   When you start ridding yourself of chemicals you start looking at anything that has even a minimal threat that it may be toxic. Do you know anyone that has or has had cancer?  Oh my GOSH!  I cannot even count them anymore!
It feels good to have less chemicals in our house and that makes me want less other things and more organization. Each day I try to organize and make better choices. 
I hope this page on my website helps answer some of your questions about living more basic and using products with less ingredients.
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