Use natural cleaning products and potato peelings in the fireplace
Maynard van der Galien
It always amazes me the floor space in grocery stores and big box stores that are devoted to household cleaning products. One aisle with shelves on both sides is where you can find cleaning products that are not good for your health or the environment. Many contain poisonous chemicals that studies have shown to be capable of causing damage to the nervous system, kidneys, liver, lungs, and even blood production, particular in people with weakened immune systems.
It seems to me that people aren’t too concerned about the chemicals in the cleaners because they’re so handy and they do the job. But what about people who buy chicken that’s raised without antibiotics and folks who go out of their way to buy organic foods and day-old farm fresh eggs? Have they little or no concern about buying these toxic cleaning products? They buy the stuff.
I’m a big believer in using natural cleaning products. Free your body from the burden of fighting off toxic cleaners by turning to good old-fashioned options that will leave your home looking and, especially, smelling better. Your body and the planet will love it.
How? With what? Vinegar, borax, essential oils, baking soda, lemon, castile soap, to name a few. I use a lot of vinegar for cleaning and rinsing. One of the grocery stores had vinegar on special a few weeks ago. A 4-litre container of vinegar can be bought for under $2 and it was on sale for $1.39. I asked the cashier if people were stocking up on vinegar as I was buying two containers. They weren’t.
Vinegar is an excellent product for cleaning windows and mirrors. For an all-purpose disinfectant, mix 2 teaspoons of borax, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 cups of hot water.
If you want to rid your house or vehicle of odours, don’t use commercial air fresheners. Most of them contain very toxic chemicals. They don’t freshen the air. They mask one smell with another more toxic one.
Put boxes of baking soda in closets or kitchen cabinets. You can also use essential oils of lemon.
In the mid-1960s, I worked for a plumbing and steam fitting company as a plumber’s helper. We’d get called out often to unplug sinks. There was a product on the market that was advertised on television that would unclog drains and it was supposed to save people money by not having to call a plumber. It was terrible toxic stuff and the plumbers would fume when they were called out to unplug a drain where Liquid Plumber or Drano had been poured down the sink. It took longer to unplug the line because the toxic stuff had hardened inside the pipes. Sometimes lines had to be replaced as they were damaged from too much Drano.
It was back then as a 17-year-old that I saw how terrible some chemical products can be. Throw a handful of baking soda into a clogged drain and add a cup of vinegar. Plug the drain to allow the carbon dioxide bubbles to work. Leave for about 15 minutes then pour boiling water down the drain. If you regularly pour boiling water down the drain it keeps it open better. Another method that works is pouring hot water in the sink and using a plunger. That’s my method.
While we’re on the subject of good old-fashioned cleaners here’s one that costs nothing but works wonders: Potato peelings. If you want your stove pipes and chimney free from soot, don’t burn wood that sizzles. Most people know that. But did you know if you dry your potato peelings so they are crisp like Kellogg’s corn flakes and you throw them onto hot wood coals in your stove, you’ll just have a little dust in the pipes and chimney, but no soot.
There’s something in potato peelings that keeps the chimney clean. I dry containers of potato peelings in the window sill by the stove and toss them on hot coals when they’re crisp. It’s an old remedy I’ve done for years and it works.
Thirty years ago or so I wrote a column on that subject and I asked fire chiefs and firefighters in my area if they would recommend burning potato peelings to keep chimneys clean. Did they know about the practice? Some were reluctant to discuss the issue for a number of reasons. Some of the rural chiefs were aware of the practice.
But since potato peelings are considered to be garbage, wood stove and furnace manufacturers don’t recommend burning garbage. The fire chiefs don’t recommend it.
One rural fire chief interviewed back then said it only works in a clean chimney. “Some people could burn bags of potato peelings and it wouldn’t do them any good. It all depends on the way you fire up your stove or chimney and what kind of wood you’re burning,” he said.
There you have it. Good advice for the winter. Have a Blessed Christmas!
Maynard van der Galien is a Renfrew-area farmer and a long-time columnist with Farmers Forum. He has a wood stove in his house and loves the wonderful heat.