Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why I DIY, Homemade Baby Powder, and Simple Lives Thursday

I've been busy busy trying to squeeze a little work around the house in while this little girl naps.

Today I want to tell you why I spend the time and effort making my own household products where I can.
I've talked a lot on this blog about some of the things I make for myself instead of buying at the store.  Including:
There are a few reasons that I choose to make these things for myself instead of buying them.
  1. Cost.  In general, these things are significantly cheaper than their store-bought counterparts.  They are made with inexpensive basic ingredients like vinegar and baking soda which are very reasonably priced, especially when purchased in bulk.  Some ingredients like the essentials oils cost more up front but have a very low price-per-use.  And of course, you save the fuel cost of going to the store.
  2. Quality.  Each of the above products functions as well or better than the best store-bought versions.  The vinegar cleaner, for example, will remove wallpaper adhesive.  Wallpaper adhesive!   
  3. Convenience.  This is a major reason we make our own baby wipes, and one of the main reasons we love cloth diapering.  There are no midnight runs to the grocery store so long as we keep the basic materials well stocked.
  4. Waste.  One of the largest sources of household waste is packaging.  By making our own, we've kept hundreds of plastic bottles and paper boxes from being made.  We reuse what we can and recycle anything we have to buy in a package.
  5. Safety.  This has always been a major motivating factor in deciding to make a lot of things myself, and its importance has only increased since having our little one.  I'm comforted knowing that she could get into the cleaning cabinet and its contents wouldn't harm her skin, lungs, or stomach.  (I guess if she drank some castile soap we might be in trouble though ;) )
On the topic of safety, I'd like to talk about the DIY I'm going to share with you today.  Every child needs some sort of powder from time to time to keep their diaper area clean and dry.  We looked into the available baby powders and discovered that the majority of them were based on talc (aka talcum powder.)  which I had heard negative things about but hadn't taken the opportunity to fully research since we weren't using any products containing it.  A simple search taught us the problem with talc and why it isn't suitable for our baby or ourselves.  From the Cancer Prevention Coalition:

"The common household hazard posed by talc is inhalation of baby powder by infants. Since the early 1980s, records show that several thousand infants each year have died or become seriously ill following accidental inhalation of baby powder."

Here is a PDF of an article about talc inhalation, specifically as it relates to infants.

It is frustrating that this product is still widely available on the shelves of any store, and used on children everywhere.  Once we read this, we started looking for alternatives.  Many baby powders are made with corn starch instead of talc, but the pre-made powders are more expensive than plain cornstarch, and often contain fragrance, another potentially harmful ingredient.  (The label 'fragrance' can often mean that the product includes phthalates.)

We decided that we'd make our own baby powder and store it in a small jar with a perforated lid for ease of use.  We wanted a nice smell to go with the corn starch so we used a few drops of our favorite essential oil, lavender.  

My favorite essential oils come from AuraCacia.  I love this company because it's local and it's a cooperative.  These four are our favorite and most used essential oils.  From left to right, we use the rose and lavender oils for body care products and laundry.  The lavender goes into our baths, a body spray I make myself, and onto the wet bag that collects Ellie's smelly diapers.  
We use the peppermint for anything we want to be invigorating like a facial spray for hot days or boiling water we inhale when we're stuffy.
The lemon eucalyptus smells fresh and clean and we always use it in our mop water.  

(LOCALS! If you're a member of New Pioneer Cooperative, you get an extra 10% off all health and beauty products on the first Tuesday of every month.  This includes these oils, so give them a try!)

We thought lavender would be perfect for the baby powder, so we grabbed it and a simple glass cheese shaker like this..  

This cornstarch container made it easy to add the essential oils directly to it and shake to combine them.  We filled the small shaker and had plenty for refills later.  To this 16 oz. container of cornstarch, we added 15-20 drops of essential oil.  

We used a quick paper funnel to get the mix into the shaker.  Be sure to use a spoon.  Don't try to pour it in there directly from the container, ok?
Just don't.  I warned you.
Voila: homemade safe baby powder for pennies.
Obviously corn starch is not good for babies to inhale either since it will dry their lungs out and make them cough, so when you use this try your best not to get it in the air. 

Finally, it's Simple Lives Thursday!  I hope you've had fun browsing the submissions each week.  I have to blush because the other hosts chose my post from last week about homemade baby wipes as a featured post this week.  Thanks ladies!  I'm blushing here :)
Won't you check out the other featured posts and submit something yourself?

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge

We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured.

Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!

1. How To Enjoy Eating Outdoors by Urban Pioneer Story. Jeanette shares her tricks for making eating outdoors work well and more importantly, be enjoyable for all.

2. Hand Sanitizer: Good or Bad? by The Holistic Mama. Before you blindly apply hand sanitizer this winter read this thought –provoking entry by Holistic Mama.

3. Homemade Baby Wipes by Culinary Bliss. In the first month of new motherhood, Alicia manages to tackle eliminating chemical-laden wipes from her household. Hats off Alicia! We hope you are managing to sleep, too!


Stacie said...

What a brilliant idea!! I don't have children, but I am thinking this would make a wonderful powder to use to keep dry on these hot summer days! I wonder if baking soda added into this mix would do anything?

Great blog! I look forward to learning more from you!!


Alicia said...

Thank you, Stacie! It'd be excellent for grownups :) It smells fantastic, and a little body warmth does wonders for essential oils.
I'm going to edit the post to note that it shouldn't be used on any skin that has a rash as corn starch can feed yeast rashes. But as long as the skin is healthy and intact this powder is great for any warm bodies and is easily customizable for your needs.
I'm not sure about adding the baking soda. Let us know if you give it a try!
Thanks for visiting, and stay cool!

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