Tag Archives: home tips

Epsom Salt – and why it’s awesome

I first heard about epsom salt way back in 2008 when I used to work at a Health and Wellness clinic. Primarily it was used to pop in a warm bath and increase magnesium absorption (which is good for you obviously). It’s a pretty cheap product to buy so I used to get some from time to time, and even used to make my own magnesium scrubs with epsom salt and essential oils (you know, before kids).

A friend had a truck load she was trying to get rid of and so I bought 6kg. Usually my go to – is to run a nice hot epsom salt bath, but there are MANY other uses for this little whiteish rock type stuff and knowing it was great to use during pregnancy, I thought I’d remind myself of its uses and benefits.

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Thanks to Wellness Mama, here is a super comprehensive list of ways and means to use it. Hold your breath – its coming up…

First off, epsom salt is a really good source of magnesium. Magnesium is necessary for hundreds of functions within the body, but is especially important for:

  • Gives rigidity AND flexibility to your bones (more important than Calcium in many cases)
  • Increases bioavailability of calcium
  • Regulates and normalizes blood pressure
  • Prevents and reverses kidney stone formation
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Helps prevent congestive heart failure
  • Eases muscle cramps and spasms
  • Lowers serum cholesterol levels and triglycerides
  • Decreases insulin resistance
  • Can prevent atherosclerosis and stroke
  • End cluster and migraine headaches
  • Enhances circulation
  • Relieves fibromyalgia and chronic pain
  • Treats asthma and emphysema
  • Helps make proteins
  • Encourages proper elimination
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Proper Vitamin D absorption
  • Protection from radiation
  • To aid weight loss
  • Lessen or remove ADD or ADHD in children
  • in proper digestion of carbohydrates
  • emerging evidence is showing a preventative role in many cancers
  • (source)

… all I can think about now is how I can persuade my hubby to buy me a huge free standing bath, equipped with candles, surround sound of All Sons & Daughters (what the heck, just make it sound proof), with Lindt dark choc balls on request. Surely that’s not too hard.

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Here is the list of ways in which you can easily use epsom salt. I’ve bolded my fave.

  • As a relaxing Magnesium Bath Soak – Add at least 1 cup of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Splinter Removal – soak in concentrated epsom salt water to pull out a splinter.
  • Magnesium Foot Scrub – make a homemade magnesium scrub (recipe here) for a boost of magnesium and super soft skin.
  • Better Vegetables – add a tablespoon of epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth. (Your veggies need magnesium too!)
  • Facial Wash – add a pinch of epsom salt to your usual face cleaner for a skin exfoliating magnesium boost.
  • Tile/Grout Cleaner – mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and epsom salts and use to scrub tile and grout. Rinse well for a streak free shine.
  • Body Aches – add 2 cups of epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes to help relieve muscle sprains and for a transdermal magnesium boost.
  • Homemade Sea Salt Spray – make your own sea salt spray to add texture and volume to hair- recipe here.
  • Water House Plants – help house plants grow by adding a couple tablespoons of epsom salt to the water when you water them.
  • Volumeizing Hair Mask – combine equal parts of conditioner and epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.
  • Foot Soak – for a concentrated magnesium boost, add 1 cup of epsom salt to a hot foot soak and soak for 20 minutes.
  • Get rid of slugs – have slugs in your garden or on your patio? Sprinkle epsom salt to deter them. (I’ve heard you can do this with moles too!)
  • Making Magnesium Lotion – using magnesium flakes is a better option, but in a pinch, you can use epsom salt to make homemade magnesium oil (recipe here).
  • Laxative – for occasional constipation, a teaspoon of epsom salt dissolved in water can help. Check with a doctor first.
  • Beautiful Roses – add a tablespoon a week to the soil around rose bushes before watering for faster growth.
  • Soil Prep – before planting, we add a few bags of epsom salt to the soil in the garden and water in to help replenish soil magnesium levels.
  • Headache relief – there is evidence that soaking in a soothing epsom salt bath may help relieve headache.
  • Smooth skin – mix 1/2 cup epsom salt with 1/4 cup olive oil and scrub skin in the shower for healthy and smooth skin.
  • Itchy Skin or Bug Bites – dissolve a tablespoon of epsom salt in to 1/2 cup of water and cool. Spritz on itchy skin or apply a wet compress to help relieve itching.
  • Minor Sunburn Relief – use the same ratio in the itchy skin relief above and spritz on to minor sunburns to help soothe them.
  • Help Kids Sleep Better – add a cup to kids’ bath water before bed to help them sleep peacefully… (I’ve definitely done this on a number of occasions).

 
That’s enough to keep us going for a while. If you’re interested to read more about magnesium, check out this link.

Now, go and run that bath already.

Image credit: www.doctoroz.com and www.livestrong.com

Battle of the (Dishwashing) Brands

Even if you have a dishwasher, you no doubt wash a good few dishes in your sink with sunlight liquid each day. But, sunlight liquid – while it has seemingly outplayed many other brands in the dishwashing liquid world – how happy/honest/good is it on your hands, dishes, environment and ultimately your health (with its sneaky little hidden residue sitting on everything you put your food on…)?

Not being a scientist, (and never claiming to be) I don’t have the exact answer, but considering more and more of you wonderful humans are looking into alternatives to use in your homes, I thought I’d take the liberty of doing a little ‘Battle of the (HONEST) Brands’ in my own home, with my own pots and pans, to test out our happy competitors.

Disclaimer: Please note that this was not an audited experiment and I did not have 6 equally bacon-greased pans ready to be washed in 6 different basins of water with the respective dishwashing soaps. I popped the 6 brands on my windowsill and used them each at differing intervals while washing up the seemingly endless amount of dishes that comes with having kids.

Our categories will include: price point, bubble factor, smell, effective clean and overall awesomeness.

(As always, when changing brands, you’d be ignorant to think that by using a different, green brand will give you the exact same experience as your usual brand would. It’s easy to forget, so bear that in mind when you consider changing over. If we are to expect a different outcome (i.e toxic-free/biodegradable) then we need to expect a different user experience). 

Meet our Contestants: 

Dish washing Liquid HR - 2015

1. Better Earth Dishwashing Liquid 
Price Point: R52 for 750ml
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Xanthan Gum, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil.
Bubble Factor: 7/10
Smell: 9/10
Effective Clean: 8.5/10
Overall Awesomeness: I LOVE the smell, and love the brand. A number of their products are finalists (and winners) in the Fairlady Best Buy Consumer Awards 2010. Locally made in Muizenberg, I trust this brand. I just get a good vibe. A bit on the pricier side when compared – that’s my only negative.

Better Earth claims: Their products are bio-degradable and do not affect anything else apart from what they are designed to do which is to clean and freshen. They want to give you a cleaning product that works well but is safe for you, your family and the earth, and the beauty of their products is that they are kept simple while still being effective. Better Earth products are free of sulphated surfactants, parabens, animal products, colourants and synthetic fragrance. They are also bio-degradable and are certainly better for the earth than some of your more conventional cleaners.

Dishwashing Liquid

2. Nu Eco Dishwashing Liquid
Price Point: R33 for 750ml
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Sinensis (Orange) Peel Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citral, Limonene.
Bubble Factor: 8/10
Smell: 9/10
Effective Clean: 8.5/10
Overall Awesomeness: Made in Durbs, this new brand gets me amped and I’m stoked to see it hitting the shelves of many retailers. I love the story behind how they began and am continually pleasantly surprised by the price and quality of each new Nu Eco product I try.

Nu Eco claims: Cuts through grease and grime, non-polluting to water systems, fresh natural fragrance, kills germs with botanical extracts, contains natural citrus-based, anti-microbial oil.

3. Earthsap Dishwashing Liquid
Price Point: R37 for 750ml
Ingredients: Saponified Vegetable Extract, Citrus Essential Oils, Natural Gum, Water.
Bubble Factor: 8/10
Smell: 7/10
Effective Clean: 8.5/10
Overall Awesomeness: Proudly showing off a ‘2 x normal strength’ sticker, my only disappointment is that I found this liquid rather runny, and so if you’re not careful, you could go through it quite quickly. I love that it says it’s non toxic, biodegradable, safe for kids and gentle on hands. I was impressed.

Earthsap claims: Earthsap products use no dyes, synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives, phosphates, petrochemicals, chlorine or bleaches, animal or GM ingredients and are never tested on animals. They are non-toxic and 100% biodegradable.

Pure-Simple-Dishwash-Liquid

4. Pure Simple Dishwashing Liquid
Price Point: R46 for 1L
Ingredients: Natural Spring Water, Coconut Oil, Caustic Potash, Citrus Essential Oils.
Bubble Factor: 4/10
Smell: 6/10
Effective Clean: 6/10
Overall Awesomeness: Dubbed by Pure Simple themselves as their ‘problem child’ this soap, was, well… errmmmm not the beeeest. BUT, having said that, it is an excellent heavy duty grease cutter – the pure coconut oil soap emulsifies the oil and/or grease and washes away leaving dishes grease free.

Sandra from Pure Simple suggests you dilute it 50 / 50 with water in a spray bottle and spray directly into greasy roasting pans. Rub with a scrubby sponge and rinse in hot water. This I found very effective. If you are a hardcore ingredient watcher – this is your best bet.

5. Triple Orange Dishwashing Liquid
Price Point: R72 for 500ml
Ingredients: Orange Oil, Coconut Oil, Coconut Extract, Anionic Surfactant & Non-Ionic Surfactant
Bubble Factor: 8/10
Smell: 7.5/10
Effective Clean: 7.5/10 (dishwasher), 8/10 (sink)
Overall Awesomeness: Triple Orange seems to have all of a sudden hit the market with a small yet super effective range of cleaning products boasting everything ORANGE. And as a small family business based in Jozie, well done to them! Their dishwashing soap can be used for both the dishwasher and sink, but I found it more effective in the sink. This was the most expensive competitor in the bunch. Hmph.

TRIPLE ORANGE™ claims: their products are made from the oil extracted from the peel of the orange. The soaps are emulsifiers which contains no synthetic chemicals, petroleum distillates, or alcohol. They are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and non-toxic. They are capable of handling the toughest industrial cleaning problems, but are safe enough to use in the home, around children and animals.

EnviroBlend

6. Greenman’s Enviroblend Dishwashing Liquid
Price Point: R175 for 5L (only sold in 5L and 25L tubs)
Ingredients: Water, Sulphonic Acid (COA), SOD Lauryl Sulphate, Coconut Diethanolamine, SOD Hydroxide (C/Lye), Cocoamidoproyl Betaine, Acticide LA1220, Perfume Lemon Fresh SW0007, Dye T Green.
Bubble Factor: 9/10
Smell: 5/10
Effective Clean: 8.5/10
Overall Awesomeness: I do like Greenman products and use quite a few in my home, and while I’m not a scientist, from my semi-uneducated opinion, this contestant seems to be the one with a number of ingredients which I’d usually find in store bought products. This soap looks and feels like good old Sunlight (it has a green dye unlike any others). I queried the SOD Lauryl Sulphate with my friend at Greenman and he sent the following link for those who might be concerned about it too. Regardless of my hesitancy, I do like it, it is the most affordable and it certainly works.

Greenman claims: their products are Non Toxic, Non Corrosive, Non Caustic, Non Flammable and Non Explosive, As well as being Readily Biodegradable, Carcinogen Free, Plant Based, Dioxane Free, Ethylene Oxide Free and Bleach Free.

Conclusion: I expected to be comparing apples with apples but that didn’t seem to be the case.

For instance, your Pure Simple, while not offering the easiest wash, has the fewest ingredients – which to some, means the most. Your Greenman on the other hand, I initially felt uneasy about the SOD Lauryl Sulphate (and think the DYE is needless), it does provide you with a more natural option for the committed Sunlight Soap lover.

Surprisingly, my top choices are Earthsap and Nu-Eco, with Better Earth trailing ever so slightly just behind them. Better Earth also comes in a 5L which is handy to have on hand and uses less packaging (using it to refill the original 750ml bottle).

One more simple change you can make to your home. Now it’s your turn to try one…

Image credit: www.brayandscarff.com.