Important Info On Chemicals and Toxins in Household Products

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Chemicals and toxins can be lurking in many household items, check the label before you buy.
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“The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living” is filled with helpful tips and tricks to use around the homestead.

The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading is not a storybook or a cookbook. It is a practical guide with nitty-gritty details on everything a homesteader can do, step-by-step with hundreds of color illustrations and pen and ink sketches. All of the information included in The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading meets these criteria: It is something that anyone can do, without special training. It can be done with relatively few supplies or with stuff you can make yourself. It has been tried and tested—either by the author, the military, doctors, or other homesteaders. You can do it! This book can help.

The longer I live the less confidence I have in drugs and the greater is my confidence in the regulation and administration of diet and regimen.~John Redman Coxe, 1800

What are product ingredients really made of?

Some products list ingredients that sound awful but really aren’t, while other products contain all kinds of carcinogens. The following is a list of ingredients; useful not only to know what’s in there but, if you really wanted, you could replicate some store-bought things yourself.

Gum arabic: acacia vera

Acetic acid: 3–5 percent solution of vinegar

Alum: in recipes a spice not frequently used anymore except in pickling, as a chemical it is aluminum powder, sulfate, carbonate, etc.

Ammonium carbonate: baker’s ammonia or smelling salts

Amylacetate: banana oil.

Arabic gum powder: acacia vera.

Arrowroot: herb, powder substitute for cornstarch, tapioca starch, and rice starch or flour.

Ascorbic acid: vitamin C.

Bicarbonate of soda: baking soda.

Calcium carbonate: chalk or agricultural lime

Calcium hydroxide: slaked or slacked lime

Calcium oxide: unslaked quicklime

Calcium sulfate: plaster of Paris

Citric acid: derived acidic fruits

Furfuraldehyde: bran oil

Glucose: corn syrup

Glycerin: by-product of the saponification of vegetable oil or animal fats

Graphite: pencil lead

Hydrogen peroxide: peroxide

Iodine: tincture of iodine (4%)

Isopropyl alcohol: rubbing alcohol 70–90 percent

Lye: made from ashes

Magnesium hydroxide: milk of magnesia

Magnesium silicate: talc

Magnesium sulfate: Epsom salt

Methyl salicylate: wintergreen oil, sweet birch oil, or teaberry oil

Potassium bitartrate: cream of tartar, pearl ash, salt of wormwood

Potassium carbonate: potash

Potassium chloride: potash muriate

Silica/Silicon dioxide: sand

Sodium chloride: table salt

Sodium hypochlorite: bleach

Sucrose: cane sugar

Talc: talcum powder, alternative is arrowroot powder

Tincture of iodine: 47 percent alcohol, 4percent iodine

Whiting: chalk mixed with linseed oil to form putty, add water and other things to make whitewash. 

There have been 85,000 new chemicals invented in the world since World War II. Of these, about 3,000 are produced in quantities over 1 million pounds per year. Of those largely produced chemicals that are used in foods, cleaning supplies, pesticides, water, and air, only 43 percent have been tested for toxicity. Only 10 percent have ever been tested with fetuses and children in mind. The second leading cause of death (after injury) in children is cancer. Only fifty years ago the leading causes were diseases like malaria, measles, and TB that are still prevalent in third world countries. The leading cause of hospitalization is asthma. Learning and developmental disabilities affect one in six children, and are increasing. (“Children’s Health at Risk” by Elizabeth Hauge, totalHealth Vol. 26 No. 3)

Sandra Steingraber wrote, in Having Faith: An Ecologists Journey to Motherhood: “If the world’s environment is contaminated, so too is the ecosystem of a mother’s body. If a mother’s body is contaminated, so too is the child who inhabits it. These truths should inspire us all—mothers, fathers, grandparents, doctors, midwives and everyone concerned about future generations—to action.” It seems clear that our society’s dependence and use of chemicals can be directly linked to the health problems of our children. Theoretically, if the chemicals were no longer used, would they have any health problems at all, since we no longer have trouble with malaria and TB?

While technology is a great time saver, and medical advancement saves lives, why are we shooting ourselves in the foot with our contaminants? The first belief that I have as a homesteader is in purity. I want my air clean, my water clear, my home free from toxic chemicals, and my clothes and vegetables pesticide free, not only for myself but also for my children. While we possibly can live longer through modern medicine, we probably will die young and suffer because of modern chemical “miracles.” Production, use and disposal of these materials poisons us three times— people are harmed, the environment is harmed, and generations from now our great-grandchildren are harmed because our waste won’t decompose. Meanwhile, psychologically and genetically they will be dealing with irreversible problems. Once genes are altered, they never go back. I believe the future of humanity rests on our choice to forgo the convenience of chemicals and disposable products, and choose responsibility.

Excerpted with permission from The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living by Nicole Faires. Copyright 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.