Saturday, March 9, 2013

Essential Oils in the Home

Essential oils are powerful natural aids for household use.  They can be added to cleaning recipes and are effective in the laundry, as well.  Through the years, I’ve developed some recipes that I use regularly.  They are natural, reasonable in price, and in many cases, more effective than commercial products that are made with harmful chemicals.  Most of the supplies are readily available in your grocery store, online, or in a natural foods store. 

Supply List:
Baking Soda
Washing Soda (found in your grocery store in the laundry aisle)
Borax (also in the laundry aisle)
White Distilled Vinegar, made from grain not petroleum products (learn to read labels)
Pure Liquid Castile Soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Vegetable Glycerin (available in most pharmacies)
Assorted Essential Oils, as desired
Spray bottles
NOTE: Be sure to label your containers clearly, when making your products.

1 cup water
20 drops pure essential oil of Lavender
Pour the water into a spray bottle. Add the lavender essential oil and shake to blend. Spray on the surface and let set for at least 15 minutes, or don’t rinse at all.  Since essential oils do not integrate with the water, shake well each time before using.  May add a few Tablespoons of vodka, to help incorporate the essential oil, if desired.
Makes: 1 cup spray
Shelf Life: Indefinite

NOTE:  New research is proving that the old folk recipes using herbs and essential oils to kill germs, such as those used by 14th century doctors during the Black Plague, were based on good science. Many essential oils, such as the oils of lavender and thyme, are more antiseptic than phenol, the industry standard. Research is also showing that antibacterial plant oils may not cause drug resistance as could be the case with common chemical disinfectants. This essential oil-based spray leaves a lovely, clean scent. It is a good choice to use for misting your cutting board after use.
This recipe makes 2 cups, and it works on most types of dirt.
2 teaspoons borax
½ teaspoon liquid castile soap
2 cups hot water
May add up to 10 drops of Essential Oil, such as Tea Tree, Sweet Orange, Lemon or Lavender, if desired.  Combine all ingredients with the hot water in a pint or larger spray bottle. Shake to blend. Spritz the area every foot or so, and wipe clean with a clean soft rag as you go. For difficult dirt, spray and leave the cleanser on the surface for five minutes or so before wiping.  Works great for cleaning little handprints on walls and painted woodwork!

Pour 3/4 cup baking soda into a bowl.   Add: 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin. 
Add enough liquid castile soap to make a buttercream frosting consistency, about 6 teaspoons. 
Add:  5 drops each Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils to kill bacteria. 
Store in a sealed glass jar, to keep the product moist.   Scoop the mixture onto a wet sponge or cloth, and wipe the surface.   Let dry, then wipe off with a dampened cloth and polish with dry cloth.  This is the perfect recipe for cleaning the bathtub because it rinses easily and doesn’t leave grit.  Works great for shining glass stove tops.

2 oz. Jojoba Oil
½ teaspoon liquid castile soap
1 teaspoon Lemon Essential Oil
2 oz. white natural grain-distilled vinegar
Mix ingredients in spray bottle.  Shake well before using.  Spray on wood surface and wipe clean with soft cloth.  Do not use on glass surfaces, as there is oil in the mixture. Note:  Use an old piece of recycled flannel for an excellent polishing cloth or old, worn out wool socks or pieces of ragged wool sweaters, since wool makes beneficial static that actually attracts the dust.

½ cup Olive oil
½ cup Coconut oil
½ cup Jojoba oil
2 ounces beeswax (about ¼ cup)
1 teaspoon Lemon Essential Oil
Melt the oils and beeswax in a small stainless steel pan over low heat. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add Lemon Oil. Stir well.  Pour into wide-mouth container.  Dab some cream onto a soft cotton rag and rub into the furniture. Buff and polish until the oils are well worked into the wood.  This formula may even remove some visible scratches in the wood.
1 teaspoon liquid castile detergent
1 cup vinegar
2 cups distilled water
Quart spray bottle
Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.   It looks smeary at first, but dries sparkling clear. You may add a couple drops of Lemon Essential oil, if desired.
Vinegar is the magic secret! Pour straight distilled white vinegar into the bowl or glass with scale and it dissolves the minerals and it is crystal clear clean. For the shower stall or around a sink faucet, soak a washcloth in straight vinegar and lay the cloth over the area for as long as needed, repeating if necessary. This works well on the dispenser drip tray on the door of your refrigerator… it dissolves the mineral build-up perfectly. 
Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour some white distilled vinegar straight into a spray bottle, spray on the moldy area, and let set without rinsing.  The smell will dissipate in a few hours.  May alternately make a mixture of 2 cups each vinegar and water, with 2 teaspoons Tea Tree essential oil, which is also a powerful mold killer.

4 oz. pure soap flakes or grated soap
1 cup washing soda
Put soap flakes into sauce pan with water just to cover.  Heat, stirring constantly, until soap is dissolved.  Fill a 1 gallon bucket or container with hot tap water (empty ice cream pail works fine, but don’t store in that… I tried that once, and the detergent ate through the plastic).  Add soap/water mixture to hot water in bucket.  Stir slowly with long spoon to mix.  Add 1 cup of washing soda and stir until dissolved.  Add Eucalyptus Essential Oil, if desired, to kill dust mites and bacteria.  I use about ¼ cup if Eucalyptus oil for this sized batch.  Pour into gallon jug.  As this cools, the mixture will thicken.  Use one cup per full load of laundry. Shake before pouring.  A plastic jug that has held laundry detergent would be a good choice for storing this natural detergent.
*Tip from my friend, Elanne:  Pour white vinegar into the fabric softener container in your washer to soften clothes naturally.

Essential oils are extremely powerful, and should never be used straight on the skin, although recently some suppliers claim it is safe.  I use all essential oils in a carrier oil.  My essential oil reference of choice is Valerie Worwood's, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.  Quoting Valerie Worwood:  "Unlike chemical drugs, essential oils do not remain in the body.  They leave no toxins behind.  And essential oils make much more sense as air fresheners than commercial products, as they cleanse the air by altering the structure of the molecules creating the smells, rather than masking the unwanted smells.  When we are looking for alternatives to toxic products in our homes and in our lives, essential oils are a convenient, practical, and pleasant solution."

I use essential oils in a small plug-in device made by Aura Cacia, that has a pad to absorb a couple of drops of the oil and dispense it gently into the air.  I have one in each of my bathrooms, and there is even one made for use in a vehicle's cigarette lighter spot.  I listed a recipe for Thieves' Blend Essential Oil in a prior blog post, and make sure I freshen the oil every time I am exposed to any viruses, or if I am expecting company.  I haven't caught a cold in years, and I think it is due to the Thieves' Blend.  Sometimes, I even  put a drop or two on a cotton ball and slip it into a chest pocket (or into my bra) so that the warmth of my body continues to release the aromatherapy benefits for a couple of days. 

Now for the teaser... I may be posting another natural laundry tool very soon... when I have tested it myself.  Tonight, we set our clocks ahead an hour.  My oldest daughter was not happy, saying she will now go to work in darkness again.  I will appreciate the extra hour of daylight in the evening, because I am seldom up early enough to be affected by the lack of sun in the morning!  There are, after all, some benefits to being retired! 

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