Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

So Safe You Could Eat It…Except You Can’t

September 12th, 2013 · 9 Comments · Cleaning, Green Living

where do those ingredients come from

Eat  your vegetables.

We all know that’s good advice, but what about organic? Is that part of the “I’m going to be healthy now” package?

Sometimes as people are trying to make the switch from processed foods or junk foods to a real food diet, they think they have to eat organic food to be healthy, and the sticker shock sends them back to Poptarts for comfort.

It’s not all or nothing though. Eating your vegetables, no matter how they’re grown, is better than Poptarts. Sourcing organic vegetables is even better, but that can wait until round two on the journey.

When it comes to cleaning, I’ve touched on using natural products many times here at Kitchen Stewardship, and today it’s time to show you round two: Checking into the sources of your natural and homemade cleaning products.

If you’ve been using homemade products or “natural” products for quite some time, it may be time to learn the sources of the different ingredients.

This post is sponsored by Molly’s Suds.

Skin: a Revolving Door

Your skin is your largest organ, and it isn’t like a shield per se but more like a sieve, allowing elements to pass through both ways (body products, air pollution, sunlight go in, sweat and toxins come out).

If you don’t believe that, cut a clove of fresh garlic and rub the cut side on the sole of your foot. Within about 10-15 minutes, you’ll taste garlic in your mouth.

Garlic (1)

What we put ON our skin might as well be going into our mouths. (Except that clearly we shouldn’t really put cleaning products in our mouths, no matter how they are sourced…)

So if you are at the place in your journey where you’re prioritizing organic food, especially if you go beyond the dirty dozen and also seek out well-raised, organic meats (we had an interesting discussion about whether that’s worth it and how to afford it on Facebook)…maybe it’s time to take the next step with your personal and cleaning products too.

Prioritizing the List

Just like with produce when you might prioritize buying organic raspberries or apples over avocado or broccoli because of the pesticide loads, consider length of time in contact with your skin when you prioritize natural products and contaminant-free sourcing.

Consider that while whatever you use to clean your floors and wash your hands will likely only be on your skin or in the air for a short period of time, products like lotions, makeup, and laundry soaps are in contact with your skin all day long. You might also prioritize products you use in the shower, because all the heat and steam can both open up your pores and increase the likelihood that you’ll be breathing in fumes of whatever you’re using.

(In case you’ve been wondering about the “other detergent” scent in my secondhand clothes since my Molly’s Suds review, I did wash them once more in Molly’s powder, and now…they smell pretty much like “clean” and “fresh out of the dryer” with just a teensy whiff of “other detergent.” It was a really strong fragrance, because some other secondhand clothing that I just scored last week went through one wash and smells perfect already.)

Go Deep to Avoid Contaminants

(photo source)

It’s hard to avoid toxins in our world – air and water pollution, cleaning products in public buildings, offgassing furniture and paint, and even the fragrances other people are wearing assault our senses daily.

Choosing organic foods is one way to reduce the number of foreign, potentially hazardous substances your body will come into contact with. Choosing organically sourced ingredients in your personal products is another.

Many products are scented with essential oils, for example, or even have them as active ingredients. To make an essential oil, it takes pounds and pounds of the plant substance to produce just a little bit of oil, so everything is very concentrated. Many say organically grown botanicals are the only safe source for EOs.

It turns out that even inorganic substances – stuff that doesn’t decompose and was never alive – should be sourced thoughtfully. Molly’s Suds explains the source of all their ingredients here, including:

We use a pure, cruelty-free source which is mined from the Green River Basin in Wyoming; a sustainable natural source for 20,000 years. Other sodium carbonates are synthetically processed from trona, glass and manmade chemicals and sold for laundry and industrial use.

For those folks making popular homemade laundry soaps that use Super Washing Soda, apparently that is made with fillers and has contaminants. Just because something is “from a natural source” doesn’t mean it’s contaminant free.

This idea reminds me of Real Salt, which is from an ancient sea deep below the surface of the earth in Utah, protected from modern pollution for hundreds of years simply by its placement. I guess sometimes you have to dig deep to find the good stuff. Winking smile

But I’m Overwhelmed!

That’s OK. To be honest, I don’t take time to specifically source perfectly crafted everything, either. It’s good to have some knowledge about how to find well-sourced ingredients in personal and cleaning products, though, so that if you’re comparing two brands, you can place more weight on contaminant-free stuff.

Should you toss all your “natural” products if they’re not organic? Goodness, no. You just might pat yourself on the back when you find a company that does care enough about sourcing to explain each ingredient and where it’s from. (And toss your name in the hat to win Molly’s Suds this week through Thursday night, right here, or use the code “kitchen” for 15% off right here.)

Bottom line: For those of us who seek contaminant free food (organic) already, we might also want to consider contaminants in other products.

Do you read ingredients on non-food products too? What are you looking for in a natural cleaner/personal product?

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Thanks to Molly’s Suds for sponsoring this post and giving me a chance to bring up an important and interesting topic. A little more about Molly’s:

  • Enzyme Free Formula
  • Gluten-Free
  • Safe for High Efficiency Washers.
  • Safe for cloth diapers.
  • No sodium laureth/lauryl sulfates, no phosphates, no petrochemicals, no formaldehyde, no parabens, no 1,4 dioxane, no fillers, no Diethanolamines, no synthetic surfactants, no PEG (polyethylene glycols), no NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylates).
  • Safe for high efficiency machines, add directly to the laundry tub. Biodegradable. Certified Vegan and Certified Cruelty Free by Leaping Bunny. Human and Pet Safe.
  • Proprietary blend of: sodium carbonate sourced from the Green River Basin in Wyoming, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium sulfate (heptahydrate), unrefined sea salt, organic peppermint (menthe piperita) oil. No fillers. Contains no anti-caking or any free-flowing additives or conditioners. No optical brighteners. No GMO ingredients.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: This is a paid post. There are affiliate links in this post to Amazon from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Jaclyn

    Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson seems like it would be a perfect fit resource wise for your readers. I have found so many wonderful ideas and tips from book and blog. Thanks for your blog too!!

  • 'Becca

    My main “cleaning products” are vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and Dr. Bronner’s soap, all of which can go into your mouth! (Don’t swallow peroxide or soap, though.) I do wonder a little bit about the possibility of contaminants in baking soda. I’ve heard rumors that some vinegar is actually made of petroleum byproducts rather than plants, but I’ve never seen any reliable confirmation. Peroxide…I’m not sure how it’s made or if different brands are better at all.

    I do use dish detergent and laundry detergent. I’ve been buying plant-based brands for years, but other than that I admit I haven’t done a lot of research on exactly what’s in them.

  • AshleyB

    As a Wyoming girl, I’m even more likely to support Molly’s now! :D

  • caroline

    “What we put ON our skin might as well be going into our mouths. (Except that clearly we shouldn’t really put cleaning products in our mouths, no matter how they are sourced…)”

    Did you see ‘The Guilt Trip’ Premise is guy creates all natural/non toxic cleaner and takes his mom on a cross coutnry road trip to try and sell it to different companies (Target, Costco, HSN, etc.) At one point his mom tells him if it’s non toxic he should drink some as part of his presentation.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Caroline,
    Haven’t seen that, but I did have a door-to-door salesman drink some of his product on my porch a few years back. It was light purple…and I couldn’t help thinking, “You do this all day? That can’t be good…” :) Katie

  • Lisa

    I’ve been thinking of the skin thing a lot lately. For makeup – does anyone know of a good foundation? I haven’t worn any in a long time because of ingredients I don’t trust on the labels.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lisa,
    I reviewed a number of them last fall:
    http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/09/29/how-natural-is-your-face-makeup-reviews/

    Hope that helps! :) Katie

  • Heather :) :) :)

    This is a great article. Thanks for sharing. I prefer to go organic and natural whenever I can afford it…but when it comes to things like liquid laundry soap…I start at “is it gluten free?”…because I eat gluten free for health reasons and I have noticed that I don’t have any visible skin reactions when I use products that are gluten free, like laundry soap ;) :) I’m going to check out Molly’s Suds…sounds like a good product to try :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;) :) :)

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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