Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cleaning with Essential Oils (Part 3 -Recipes)

*This is Part 3 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.  The links for parts 1 & 2 are at the bottom.
More recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

There is no need to buy those bottles of harsh cleaners to clean toilets or counter tops.  I use the following two cleaners routinely for cleaning.  Buying baking soda and vinegar in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco saves money and means I always have a large supply on hand for making homemade cleaners.

Disinfecting Toilet Cleaner

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup vinegar
10 drops total essential oils (3 drops Lemon, 3 drops Mandarin, 
                                                    2 drops Tea Tree & 2 drops Black Spruce)
Pour baking soda and vinegar into toilet bowl.  Add essential oils and scrub.  
Let sit for 10-15 minutes and then flush.

You can make a stock bottle of this essential oil blend to make gathering your supplies easier.  I like reusing empty essential oil bottles for my cleaning blends.  

You will need an empty 15 ml essential oil bottle- just pop the orifice reducer off and set aside.  Be sure to push it back into the bottle once you've refilled it.
To fill your 15 ml bottle, you will need:
5 ml Lemon (Citrus limon)
5 ml Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) 
3 ml Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
2 ml Black Spruce (Picea mariana)

It is helpful to have a graduated cylinder to measure the oils.  If you don't have one, you can carefully count your drops.  There are approximately 20 drops in 1 milliliter.  With that measurement, you will need 100 drops Lemon, 100 drops Mandarin, 60 drops Tea Tree and 40 drops Black Spruce.  This stock bottle amount will be enough for 30 toilet bowl cleanings.

Don't forget to label your bottle. 

Disinfecting Spray

15 oz Water
1 oz Vinegar
20 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
30 drops Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) 
30 drops Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
16 ounce Spray Bottle

Combine water, vinegar and essential oils in a spray bottle.  Shake well before each use.

Spray on kitchen and bathroom counters and wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.
*Test this in an inconspicuous spot first to see if it's safe for your counter type.

Alternative essential oils to use:

20 drops Peppermint  (Mentha x piperita)
30 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
30 drops White Pine (Pinus strobus)

*This is Part 2 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.  More recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

You can find more posts from this series here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cleaning with Essential Oils (Part 2- Recipes)

*This is Part 2 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.  More recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

There is no need to buy bottles of harsh cleaners to clean showers, bath tubs and sinks.  I use the following two cleaners routinely for cleaning.  Buying baking soda and vinegar in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco saves money and means I always have a large supply on hand for making homemade cleaners.

Soft Scrub Cleaner 

(for sinks, bathtubs & showers)
1 cup Baking Soda
3 Tbsp Castile Soap
1 Tbsp White Vinegar
15 drops Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica)
15 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)
10 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Small container with lid (I like to use a plastic Gladware container)

Combine all ingredients in your container and stir well.

To use: I use about a tablespoon on a damp sponge to clean sinks and use a little more for larger areas like tubs and showers.

Another great essential oil combination to use in this recipe is:

15 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
15 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis)
10 drops Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)

Bathroom Tile Spray

1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1/2 cup Liquid Castile Soap
1/2 cup Water
2 Tbsp Vinegar
40 drops (2 ml)  Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica) -Or another Fir or Pine essential oil you have on hand
40 drops (2 ml)  Lemon (Citrus limon)
20 drops (1 ml)  Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
20 drops (1 ml)  Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
12-16 ounce spray bottle

Combine all ingredients into a 12-16 oz spray bottle and shake well.  To use, spray bathroom tiles, let sit for a couple minutes, then scrub with a damp sponge.  Even though this is an all natural cleaner, the amount of essential oils is concentrated enough to cause skin irritation in people who have sensitive skin.  I recommend wearing gloves just as a precaution.

As always you will want to keep all cleaning products out of children's reach.

 *This is Part 2 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.  More recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

You can find more posts from this series here:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

For basic safety guidelines for using essential oils, click (here).

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cleaning with Essential Oils (Part 1- Which Oils to Use?)

     Since you're here reading this blog post, chances are you're wondering how you can reduce your family's exposure to the many toxic chemicals in commercial cleaning products. There are many essential oils that contain chemical components that are antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and/or antiviral. These are all natural, made by nature, not made in a lab.  Essential oils that contain such components are great for adding to your household cleaning and germ fighting arsenal.    

     By no means is this a full comprehensive list of essential oils with antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, or antiviral properties, however it is a good place to start for those wishing to move towards more "green cleaning" practices and rid your homes of chemical laden commercial cleaners.

Surface Antimicrobial & Antibacterial
Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Eucalyptus (E. citriodora, E. dives, E. globulus, E. radiata)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Geranium (Pelargonium roseum x asperum) 
Gingergrass (Cymbopogon martini var. sofia)
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)
Honey Myrtle (Melaleuca teretifolia)
Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora ct linalol)
Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
Juniper (Utah) (Juniperus osteosperma)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lemon (Citrus limon)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
Green Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
May Chang (Litsea cubeba)
Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
Norway Pine (Pinus resinosa)
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini var. motia)
Palo Santo (Holy Wood) (Bursera graveolens)
Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin)
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis)
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. 1,8 cineole)
Sandalwood (Santalum album or Santalum paniculatum)
Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica)
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
Tangerine (Citrus tangerina)
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Thyme ct. linalol (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalol)
Thyme ct. thymol (Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol)
White Fir (Abies concolor)
White Pine (Pinus strobus)
White Spruce (Picea glauca)

Airborne Antimicrobial & Antibacterial
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool)
Cardamom (Ellettaria cardamomum) 
Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus radiata)
Geranium (Pelargonium roseum x asperum)
Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora ct linalol)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Laurel Leaf (Laurus nobilis)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini var. motia)
Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. 1,8 cineole)
Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica)
Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)
Thyme ct. linalol (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalol)
Thyme ct. thymol (Thymus vulgaris ct. thymol)
Ylang Ylang (Cananga ordorata)

     The first list of oils (Surface Antimicrobial & Antibacterial) are perfect for using in scrubs and sprays for sinks, counter tops, bathtubs and showers.  The second list of oils (Airborne Antimicrobial & Antibacterial) would be great for using in a diffuser, whether it be an electric diffuser or as simple as putting a few drops in a bowl of steamy water.
     While some of these essential oils can be on the spendy side, I wouldn't necessarily choose or suggest those particular oils.  After all, we are making cleaning products with these and don't want to send hard earned money down the drain.  I recommend choosing 3-5 oils that are on the less expensive side and to also use up oils that may be nearing the end of their shelf life.

     After making a few recipes (which I'll share in the next few blog posts), you will likely decide on some favorite essential oil scent combinations, but to start with, these are a few oil combinations that work well-

I like to combine a citrus or two with a conifer oil- ex: Lemon, Orange & White Pine
I also like a citrus with Peppermint & Tea Tree- ex: Mandarin, Peppermint & Tea Tree
Another great combination is- Lavender, Geranium & Tea Tree

     Since our focus here is to make cleaning products,and some of these essential oils can be quite irritating to the skin, I do recommend wearing gloves while cleaning.  Especially if you are using oils such as Clove Bud, Gingergrass, Lemongrass, Melissa, Thyme ct thymol, and some of the conifer oils.

     As always you will want to keep all cleaning products out of children's reach.

*This is Part 1 of a Spring Cleaning Series using essential oils.  Recipes will follow in subsequent posts.

Click (here) to read some basic safety guidelines to using essential oils.

Click below to read the other posts in this series:
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Basic Safety for Essential Oil Use

     Since I have some readers who are fairly new to using essential oils, I want to take a few minutes to write about some basic safety measures to take when using essential oils.  First we'll start with how best to store our oils.

Storing Essential Oils

     Essential oils are prone to oxidation.  They don't necessarily expire, but they will begin to breakdown over time with exposure to heat, light and oxygen.  We refer to this as their shelf-life.  The chemical makeup of some oils, like citrus oils, causes them to oxidize more quickly than others like Cedarwood or Patchouli.  Citrus oils generally have a shelf life of 1-2 years if stored cold, dark and the bottles closed tightly.  Cedarwood has a shelf life of about 6-8 years and Patchouli has been known to have a shelf life upwards of 20 years!   Again, it all depends on how the oils are stored.
     Shelf life begins when an oil is distilled -not when you buy a new bottle and open it.  This is why it's important to buy your oils from a reputable company who can tell you exactly when each batch of oils was distilled.  And usually, you'll be able to get the shelf life information for each oil from the company you buy from.  Once you have your oils, store them in the refrigerator (ideally in their own refrigerator, not where you keep your food) or in a cool room or closet somewhere below 65 degrees is good.  If you have a bottle of your favorite oil that you'll use up within a few months, storing in the refrigerator isn't necessary, but keeping it cool, dark and closed tightly is important.  I wouldn't store it on my bathroom window sill, but a dark closet would be fine.

General Safety

     Essential oils are very potent substances.  The amount of plant material needed to yield just a liter of essential oil is mind-boggling to say the least.  Because essential oils are so concentrated, a little really does go a long way.  It is recommended that essential oils are diluted before applying to the skin with the exception of a few instances.  In the case of a bee sting, a drop of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) undiluted will help reduce the pain.  A drop of Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) on a minor cut, followed by a drop of Lavender will help speed the healing process.

    Extra care needs to be taken if using essential oils on babies, small children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system.  Generally, it is not recommended to use essential oils on babies or children under 5 years of age.  Using hydrosols and carrier oils is preferred for this age group.  (More on that in another post)  In the case that using an essential oil on a small child or an elderly person arises (maybe for a minor cut or scrape) using a 1% dilution is typically sufficient. 

Dilution Guidelines

1% -children under 10 years, the elderly, pregnant women, anyone with compromised immune system and/or long term illness

1% = 5-6 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil

2% -general daily use for lotions, creams, body butters, baths, etc for normal healthy people

2% = 10-12 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil

3% -for relieving pains & symptoms due to cold/flu, muscles strains, minor injury, etc

3% = 15-18 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil

A few more safety tips

Do not put essential oils in the eyes, ears, nose or mouth.  Using a nasal inhaler is great, but don't put the oils directly in the nostrils.  There are a few essential oils that can be used in the mouth, but I don't recommend ingesting oils unless under the guidance of a physician trained in essential oil use.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women should use extra caution using essential oils.  It is recommended to use only a 1% dilution and avoid contraindicated and restricted oils.  There are approximately 50 contraindicated oils for use during pregnancy.  I plan to compile a list and post to the website for those interested.

Anyone vulnerable to epileptic seizures should avoid: Birch, Boldo, Buchu, Calamint, Feverfew, Genipi, Ho Leaf (ct camphor), Hyssop (ct. pinocamphone), Lanyana, Mugwort, Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Sage, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Spike Lavender (Lavadula latifolia), Tansy,  (Tanacetum vulgare)Thuja, Western Red Cedar, Wintergreen, Wormwood, Yarrow.

Anyone with asthma, airborne or skin allergies or chemical allergies should use essential oils with extreme caution.

Phototoxic Oils: Some essential oils are phototoxic- meaning they can cause severe burns if applied to skin that is exposed to UV light, whether from the sun or tanning beds.  If you use any phototoxic oils do not expose the skin where the oil was applied for approximately 18 hours.  
Phototoxic oils: Angelica Root, Bergamot, Cumin, Grapefruit, Laurel Leaf absolute, Lemon, cold pressed Lime, Mandarin Leaf, Bitter Orange, Rue, Taget.

*A note about Lime essential oil- Cold pressed Lime essential oil is phototoxic, however Distilled Lime essential oil is available and is not phototoxic.  When purchasing Lime Essential Oil, I recommend looking for Distilled Lime so that you have one less thing to worry about when blending.

Keep all essential oils out of reach of children and pets

These are just basic safety guidelines.  For a more comprehensive look at essential oil precautions and safety, refer to- Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young

As I share recipes and information on essential oils, I will always include any safety considerations pertaining to what is being shared within the article/recipe.