Thursday, December 13

Homemade Natural Cleansers

As I’ve begun making my own home cleansing products in the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a trend among all the ‘recipes,’ namely that they use castile soap.  So I got a bottle and decided to try my hand at it.....and it was really much easier than I had feared!!

Maybe you’ve heard of castile soap, but aren’t really sure what you can do with it?  Here are several different options of how to use this one simple bottle (see extra notes below) :
  1. General Cleanser :  Mix 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon castile soap, 1 tsp borax, ½ tsp washing soda (NOT the same as baking soda), and lemon or other citrus essential oil (just a few drops) in a spray bottle.  Shake it up, spray it, and use as an all-purpose cleanser.
  2. Fruit and Veggie Wash :  Mix 1 tablespoon castile soap with 2 cups of water; shake it up, squirt it on, and use it to wash produce so that it will last longer and remove pesticide residue.
  3. Shampoo : Mix 1 tablespoon castile soap with 4 tablespoons of water (or mix up a spray bottle with that ratio).  Throw in essential oil (a few drops) for scent – rosemary is good for the scalp!
  4. Soft Scrub Same ratio as shampoo, but without the essential oils.  Sprinkle the spots you want to scrub with baking soda first and let it sit a minute.  Then, spray with soap solution and use a brush to scrub it all away.
  5. Carpet Cleanser :  Mix ¼ cup castile soap with  1 cup of water.  Scrub into carpet and let it soak, then scrub it out.  Does the same job, but without the harsh chemicals!
  6. Soap (for dish washing, body wash, or hand washing) :  Mix 1 cup castile soap with 2 cups water.  Shake up well and use as normal.
  7. Floor cleanser :  Mix 3 tablespoons castile soap with 1 gallon hot water.  Wash it suds up and work just as well as that harsh stuff you’ve been using.
  8. Laundry Soap :  Grab a gallon-sized ice cream tub for this one.  Mix 1 ¼ cups vinegar (white, not apple cider), 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda (NOT the same as baking soda), 1 cup borax, and ¼ cup castile soap.  You may also use a couple of drops of essential oil, if you want.  Mix them in this order and stir, stir, stir.  At first, it’ll look like a big, goopy mess, but if you keep stirring, you’ll get a powdered detergent.  (And if you don’t keep stirring, you’ll get a rock hard mess when you go to use it.  Think of it as an upper body workout…)  Use ¼ cup for each load of laundry.  (Here is some information about use in HE washers.)
  • Two good brands of castile soap :  Natural Way and Dr. Bronner's
  • A note on spray bottles :  Glass bottles will not react with any of the ingredients, and just look nicer around the house.
  • A note on essential oils : As these are not going to be ingested, you can use a lower-quality one that is a fraction of the cost of the big name brands.  I recommend Plant Therapy, because they smell good, and we've had no skin issues from them.

Monday, December 3

We Were There with Byrd at the South Pole

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In 1928, Richard Byrd began his first of three expeditions to Antarctica.  It took until November 28, 1929 before the first flight passed over the South Pole and back in a flight that took nearly 19 hours.  He was the first American to explore the region since 1840, when Charles Wilkes traveled there.  Byrd's success renewed interest in uncovering the mysteries of the South Pole.

The Byrd expedition ushered in a new age of exploration, as it was the first to use an airplane, aerial camera, snowmobile, and multiple communication devices.  During his flights in three different planes (Ford monoplane, Fokker Universal and a Fairchild monoplane), Byrd completed ground surveys of the area with a hand-held camera. 

Antarctica is the windiest, coldest, driest continent on Earth.  Approximately 98% of it is covered in one-mile thick ice, though it only receives eight inches of precipitation each year (average).  The average temperate at the South Pole is  -50° C, and the coldest recorded temperature on the planet was there, at -89.2° C.

The continent may be icy and desolate, but it is not without life!  Several species of fungi, algae, and bacteria call Antarctica their home, along with a species of plants known as bryophytes.  Mites, lice, and nematodes, as well as krill, penguins, whales, seals, and squids, also call this region their home for at least part of the year.  Today approximately 5,000 people call Antarctica their home.  These are researchers that live in scientific research stations on the continent.  They primarily research geology and climate change.

Watch
Calculate
Make & Do

Think About It...
  • Why would an Antarctic team include a dermatologist, a marine scientist, a radio operator, a helicopter pilot, an astronomer, and a mechanic?
  • What would your daily life be like if you lived in Antarctica?  What activities would you do?  What would you eat?  Would you enjoy living there?
  • Scientists generally say that if anything is going to happen to the world's climate, it will happen to Antarctica first.  What are scientists currently learning from their research in the region?  What lessons can we take and apply from this research?
Identify / Define
  • bryophytes
  • nematodes
  • Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
  • Antarctic Circle
  • Antarctic Ocean
  • geographic South Pole
  • Indian Ocean
  • McMurdo Station
  • Mount Erebus
  • Palmer Station
  • Ross Ice Shelf
  • South Pacific Ocean
  • Weddell Sea
  • Greater Antarctica
  • Ice Shelf
  • Lake Vostok
  • Lesser Antarctica
  • Seas of Antarctica
  • Subglacial Lakes of Antarctica
  • Transantarctic Mountains
  • Which countries have staked claims on Antarctica?  Label any research bases.