ant

ants on homemade trap

This spring we had our usual invasion of ants. In a hurry to rid our house of the these pests, I purchased those terrible, expensive, poisonous ant traps at the supermarket. I tried a total of 3 different brands/types, but the traps did not work, mainly because the ants were not attracted to the bait. So out of desperation, I looked online for natural ant traps and found a bunch of recipes. Basically you need a bait (honey) and a poison (Borax), and the ratio of each must include enough bait to attract the ants and taste good and just enough poison to eventually kill them. Below is the recipe that worked best at our house. It was magical (and very cheap). I should have started with the natural homemade solution first – silly me.

  • 1 tablespoon of hot water
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of borax

Place the ingredients in a small glass jar, shake to mix. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture, slightly squeeze out the excess liquid, and put the cotton ball on a small lid. Place the ant trap where you see the most ants. After the ants have disappeared, discard the cotton ball and keep the lid for reuse. This method got rid of our ants in 24-36 hours. The recipe will be enough to make about 3 ant traps, and you can keep the extra solution in a jar with a tight lid for at least a month.

Note about Vegan-ness: No, honey is not vegan. Nor does killing ants follow my vegan philosophy of loving kindness. I am open to suggestions on controlling house ants without killing them. Also, I think corn syrup may work as well as honey. We had honey in the house because I received it as a gift from a bee keeper friend. I enjoy honey in my tea, but I don’t purchase it.

Note about Borax: Yes, borax is a poison so as with any ant trap, keep this away from pets and children. Do not let your toddler lick the ant trap like a lollipop or your dog gobble it down as a treat. But rest assure, Borax it is not acutely poisonous to humans and a large dose of borax is needed to cause severe symptoms. According the MSDS for 20 Mule Team® Borax, acute toxicity is 2.66g/kg of body weight in rats (this is the LD50 or the dose needed to kill 50% of rats). Using that info, the lethal dose for a 15 pound child would be about 18 grams. The 1/2 teaspoon of Borax in this entire recipe weighs 2 grams.

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Healthy Vegan Homemade

picture-1I created a new website to better organize and display my recipes. I have added all of my recipes for homemade beauty and cleaning products. I will eventually add food recipes.

Check it out and let me know what you think. thanks

Healthy Vegan Homemade

Have you read the ingredients on your favorite bottle of lotion lately??? There are numerous crazy ingredients in most store bought products (find your lotion on the Cosmetic Safety Database). I have been trying to make the perfect rich moisturizing lotion for a few months now and have finally made a wonderfully simple lotion that I love. Just a tiny bit of this creamy formula will make your skin sooo soft. The recipe came from Wabi Sabi Baby Blog. Her instructions are very clear and helpful. I quartered her recipe as follows:

  • 1.125 ounces of coconut oil
  • .375 ounces emulsifying wax
  • 3 1/2 ounces of boiling water
  • 2 ounces of glycerine
  • 40 drops lavender essential oil

In a double boiler (as used to make my chapstick), melt the coconut oil and emulsifying wax. Boil water. Pour the water into a jar and add glycerin. Put the lid on and shake. Slowly pour in the hot oil/wax mixture and shake again. Add essential oil and shake. Allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes and shake to mix. Now pour into your lotion container, a pump container or small glass jars work well. As it cools, you may want to shake a few more times.

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In my quest to make the luscious lotion, I have learned that you must weigh the ingredients with a precise scale to make the recipe turn out properly. I purchased a pocket scale that is perfect for small batches. To make larger batches, I would need a larger scale.

This dish washing liquid works great and is gentle on your hands. It doesn’t make many suds, but we know that suds don’t clean (the surfactants in a “soap” attach to greasy and dirt and wash away with water). For example, automatic dishwasher detergent doesn’t suds, but it cleans.

We also use this dish washing formula to safely wash our fruits and veggies.dishsoap

So why make your own dish washing soap?

First, by using a few common ingredients to make all of my household and beauty products, I can reduce the amount of waste that we produce because I am not buying separate bottles of everything. I buy large quantities of my ingredients, and they last a very long time. I make my products in reusable containers. I am also saving money, trips to the store, and fuel in transporting products from the factory to the store.

Second, I know exactly what is in my homemade products. I used to buy many Seventh Generation products, and I like that their company fully discloses all of their ingredients and makes an effort to be good to our environment.

However check out the ingredients of their dish washing liquid: Aqua, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamide MEA and coceth-7, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, citric acid, essential oils and botanical extracts* (citrus aurantifolia, lavendula angustifolia, mentha spicata, mentha piperita, cananga odorata), hexahydro-1,3,5-tris (2-hydroxyethyl)-s-triazine (preservative, less than 0.05%). *d-limonene is a naturally occurring component of these ingredients.

Are all of those safe ingredients?? I don’t know, I don’t have the energy to look up all of them.

Here are the ingredients of my dish washing liquid: Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Liquid Soap (Water, Saponfied Organic Coconut Oil*, Saponified Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Glycerin, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Vit. E), vegetable glycerin, lavender essential oil.

Are these ingredients safe? Absolutely, 100% yes. Also, most of Dr. Bronner’s ingredients are organic and many are fair trade (*signifies fair trade). The Environmental Working Group rates Dr. Bronner’s a level 1 out of 10 for hazzard. And I know my products are vegan.

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foampumpI am eliminating more and more “purchased” products to ones that I can make at home with simple, natural ingredients. I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for my hand soap and spray cleaner so it was a natural base for gentle, homemade, vegan face soap. I love this formula; it leaves my skin feeling clean, but not dry, and I apply my face moisturizer after washing for great healthy skin!

  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s baby mild liquid soap
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin
  • 12 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 4 drops of tea tree essential oil

Put all of the ingredients in a foaming hand soap container and shake. For the first week, I shake this before using it, but then it stays mixed.

You can adjust the formula to meet your skin needs. Increase the soap for oily skin. Increase the glycerin for dry skin and/or add a few drops of jojoba oil.

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I could not find vegan chapstick without chemical sunscreen any where locally so I decided to make my own homemade vegan chapstick. It was so incredibly easy that I will never buy chapstick/lip balm again. This recipe provides a perfect consistency; it goes on smoothly, but I can keep the tube in my pocket all day and it stays firm. I think in the summer, I may add another 1/4 teaspoon of wax to help it hold up to the heat.

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons of candelilla wax
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil (kind used in cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon jojoba oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin e oil
  • 1 drop of agave (optional for slight sweetness)
  • 6 drops of spearmint essential oil (optional for flavor)

Put wax and coconut oil in a glass measuring cup and hang the cup over a pan of water. Bring the water to a gentle boil. After the wax is completely melted, add jojoba oil and vitamin e oil and continue heating for about 30 seconds until it looks combined. Stir with a metal spoon. Remove from heat, add agave and essential oil, stir. Cool for a few minutes. Pour into empty chapstick tubes. This recipe makes 3 tubes. Wash the measuring cup and spoon right away while it is still warm.

Note about tubes: I have heard that you can reuse regular store bought chapstick tubes, but I ordered mine from Mountain Rose. I am in the process of looking for “safe” plastic tube, but have not found any yet.

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I have been using my recipe for dishwasher detergent for about 6 months. Sometimes my dishes had a dull film on them (as report on other sites). To fix this, I used Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent once per week. It seemed to keep things under control, but I wanted to create a formula that worked all on its own. I read about using citric acid and finally ordered some from Mountain Rose. The citric acid was THE ANSWER!! After using my new and improved dishwasher formula one time, the inside of my dishwasher was white and clean. And my dishes were sparkling!! I have been using it all week with excellent results – no film, only squeaky clean dishes. I am very excited!!

  • 1  cups borax
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons citric acid
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of ground castile bar soap

Pour borax, baking soda, and citric acid into a glass jar. Shake to mix. Add soap and shake to mix again. Use about 2 TB per load.

I have soft water. I have read other recipes that call for about 1/4 cup salt, which may help for hard water areas.

Notes about soap: I use a food processor shredder attachment to shred Dr. Bronner’s bar soap (any flavor) and then I use the regular food processor blade to mince it into a powder.

**Update 2/16/09: I have been using this recipe now for over 3 months, and it still works extremely well, better than other natrual detergents that I have purchased. It seems to work best when fresh so I reduced the size of the recipe (changes are shown above).

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All summer I used straight aloe vera gel as my face moisturizer. It is fabulous stuff. Aloe is so light and breathable, yet moisturizing at the same time. And the aloe faded a sun/age spot that I had near my eye.

With the arrival of some fall feeling weather in Pennsylvania, I needed a more intense moisturizer. Based on a recipe from Better Basics for the Home, that called for 1/2 cup aloe vera gel and 1/8 cup glycerin, I did a little experimenting. I came up with the perfect formula for my skin and for the current weather. One great thing about making your own products is that you can adjust them as needed. Another thing is this recipe is so cheap. People spend gobs of money on facial moisturizers.

Facial Moisturizer

  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel (drinkable kind)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 3 drops jojoba oil
  • 6 drops lavender oil

Place all ingredients in a small glass jar. Shake before each use. After washing your face while it is still damp, apply with your fingers. It will feel wet at first, but as it dries and absorbs, you will be left with silky soft skin.

You can adjust this formula to meet your skin needs. Use less glycerin if it makes your skin feel sticky. Use more glycerin to increase the moisturizing ability. You can eliminate or increase the jojoba oil or try a different oil (I like jojoba oil because it never goes rancid). You can also eliminate/change the lavender oil (I like lavender because it is antiseptic and antibacterial and it smells great).

Better Basics for the Home describes a similar recipe for homemade baby lotion. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup aloe vera gel and 1/2 tablespoon glycerin. So if you invest in buying aloe and glycerin – they have multiple uses.

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In July I posted a recipe for the deodorant that I use and promised to post the extra strength recipe that I make for my very active husband. This deodorant works super well for him.

  • 4 tablespoons distilled water
  • 4 tablespoons witch hazel
  • 4 tablespoons aloe gel (not jelly, the kind that is drinkable, but not juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerine
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 18 drops patchouli essential oil
  • 12 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 12 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 12 drops lavender essential oil
  • 6 drops of bergamot essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle (preferably glass). Spray generously on your armpits, rub in with your hands, and apply one more squirt for good measure. Allow to dry before dressing.

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In my quest toward more natural, safe, and environmentally friendly products, I have tried countless natural deodorants, but I never found any that worked to my satisfaction. I am embarrassed to admit that up until May of this year, I was using Suave spray antiperspirant (probably one of the worst for my health and the environment). Since your body is supposed to sweat to cool down and release toxins, it seems kinda dumb to try to stop it from sweating so I wanted to make a deodorant (not antiperspirant) that kept me smelling good all day. This is the winning formula, I have been using it since May 26, and I promise it works!

  • 2 tablespoons distilled water
  • 2 tablespoons witch hazel
  • 2 tablespoons aloe gel (not jelly, the kind that is drinkable, but not juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerine
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 3 drops sweet orange essential oil

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle (preferably glass). Spray generously on your armpits, rub in with your hands, and apply one more squirt for good measure. Allow to dry before dressing. I apply this deodorant in the morning and again in the evening after showering. An extra advantage is the aloe conditions my skin. Give it a try, let me know how it works for you. Later I will post my extra strength boy recipe that my husband uses.

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