AU NATUREL BY WAY OF ESSENTIAL OILS

I guess this is the nearest to an advertising blog that I will ever come. In my previous post, I talked of how getting out into nature, or bringing nature into our homes and work places helped with our health and general well-being both physically and mentally. For this piece, I am focusing specifically on how essential oils can help us with this.

WHY AU NATUREL?

Basically, I want to get even further away from being surrounded by chemicals. To use things and be surrounded by natural, rather than artificial things, especially when it comes to the atmosphere in my home, the surfaces (both soft and hard) within my home, and the food that I eat.

The realisation that the air in our homes is actually more polluted than the air outside comes as a shock to many. What – worse that air polluted by all of those cars and lorries, not to mention the aircraft and pollution from factories? Sadly, yes. We like to believe that the air that we breathe in our homes is clean, and fill it with squirty sprays, clean it with biological cleaners, not realising that by doing so, we are polluting our safe space.

How I love it when my home is filled with the aroma of cooking food, fresh coffee brewing and especially cake or bread baking. Home cooking. To me, this is part of what makes a home a home and takes me back to my childhood and my Mum’s cooking and baking. It is natural, it is nurturing as it shows that someone cares enough to carry out what is an essential part of caring for themselves, family and friends. Having said that, I also love to fling my windows wide open on sunny days, no matter what the time of year or temperature.

However, add in those air fresheners and candles for scenting the air on other occasions. Add in the cleaning sprays, the powders for clearing smells from carpets etc and replacing with a supposedly pleasant smell. Add in the detergents and my all-time worst offender, the fabric softener and a whole different ball game comes into play. The sanctuary of your home is being filled with lots of chemicals. Chemicals, that if you dare to read the labels and follow up with a modicum of research, are often bad for us at best and carcinogens at worst. Do we take notice of a label telling us to wash our hands after doing the washing up as the liquid we have just washed our dishes in is really not good for our hands. This from someone who never wears gloves to garden, wash dishes or anything! Having said that, do we always thoroughly rinse those plates, cups etc – those things that we will shortly use for putting our food and drinks on to and in to? Do we check out that small print – especially on something that includes the word natural, or is on offer at a price that we feel we cannot turn down.  Do we realise that the simple word ‘fragrance’ on a label is in fact a cover-all for up to forty-six chemicals. Nothing natural, or healthy, about these fragrances.

Consideration of the personal hygiene potions, sprays, wipes, rollers that we use adds a further area that warrants a closer inspection. The various pots and containers of creams, butters, moisturisers that lurk in bathrooms.  As these are things that we don’t actually eat, the chemicals in them do not have to meet such stringent requirements, even though we will wash with them or lather them over our skin, hence giving them access to our skin – and beyond. They leave a lot to be desired. I will mention just one – aluminium, which is in many deodorants. Used to be, and presumably still is in some cookware too – but did you know that this element is linked with breast cancer? How many of these products boast titles including natural, and specify the perfume of specific plants. However, said perfumes can, as with the cleaning products, take the form of a host of chemicals none of which I would suggest have ever come within sniffing distance of the flower they seemingly claim to represent.

The marketing and advertising industry is a huge one. The home and personal cleanliness market is a huge one. The chemical industry is a huge and powerful one. A door that I am not going to open at present!

I had a friend who had a motion controlled spray in her downstairs loo. How I hated it – to be squirted with goodness knows what chemicals and to inhale them to boot. I used to try to throw the towel over it, knowing that I would need said towel to dry my hands –  could I dry my hands on my clothes? Could I hold my breath long enough to avoid the main thrust of the initial spray, before the towel came to my aid, though I would still inhale it when I had to breathe! Best still – could I cross my legs long enough to last a visit without the need to use said facility? Like that would ever happen! Goodness only knows what they thought was going on, but I knew they wouldn’t go with my suggestion that the spray that kept a beady eye open for someone in need of the loo was actually doing a lot more harm than good!

MOVING AWAY FROM THOSE CHEMICALS

I already make use of steam for cleaning hard floors, windows and nooks and crannies. After my above ramblings, you will probably see that I very much want to find alternatives to add to this. By using essential oils, this is what I am doing. Having said that, ae all oils equal?

I give a categorical no to that question. I have used essential oils, in a somewhat limited way, for many years. I guess that I used to trust that what I bought was at least ok, as they were ‘natural’. Sadly, this is not the case. Of course, the old maxim of ‘you get what you pay for’ rules in this field as in any other.

I guess I would have continued merrily on my way with eyes only partially open to what I was using and the quality, had I not had one of those serendipitous moments when I heard about a workshop about essential oils at my wonderful local health food shop, Demeter’s. My friend and myself love learning new stuff and expanding our knowledge about some of the things important to us. This workshop fell into that category, so off we went and boy, am I glad that we did. That partially open door was flung wide for us both, and we marched on through – eyes, ears and minds open.

Learning about using the oils now has to be squashed in to my busy life and become an integral and essential (no pun intended) part of who I am.  And squashed in it certainly is being and will continue to be.

SO WHICH OILS DID I LEARN ABOUT?

They are made by a company called doTERRA. I buy them through their web site and once I got used to the ordering system, it has been fine, backed up with people on the other end of the phone who are very friendly and helpful. Delivery is quick and efficient.

So why these oils? Long story cut very short – they are totally pure. No fillers, nothing but the ethically sourced and produced oils, from countries recognised as being growers of the best raw materials – be they seeds, bark, flowers, leaves peel, whatever. I have included the link to their web site so that I needn’t expand about the company or products at any greater length on here. It is well worth a mooch though.

Instead, I intend to focus on how and why I am using them in my day to day life, in the hope that maybe one more person will kick out those chemicals.

SO, WHAT HAS CHANGED?

OK, I have looked at plenty of books, done online research, but for me, my best way of learning has proved to be the workshops provided by Julie Evans, who first introduced me to the oils. 

So what of the house – so far, I am loving a house spray which includes natural peppermint and grapefruit oils and smells fresh and clean, but is chemical free. I use these oils in my diffuser too, ringing the changes depending on the atmosphere I want to create. My bed is sprayed with a simple lavender and chamomile spray – so lovely to snuggle into the arms of Morpheus with this as a natural background scent. I am not spending the night inhaling and being wrapped around with those dreaded chemicals.

My surfaces are cleaned using a chemical-free spray. Chemicals which could well get through onto food and therefore into me! I use white vinegar in with this, though I am not particularly keen on its smell, but this disappears very quickly to leave the current scent of lemon, tea tree and oregano. A combination of three cleansing oils. No need for different sprays for bathroom and kitchen – could this simply be a marketing ploy to get people to buy more. Me cynical? Yes.

I have now accumulated a collection of ingredients for making other cleaning products which will last me a good while. These will include loo cleaner and fizzy loo balls to clean under the water level; washing up liquid, dish washer tablets. The current new brews are in glass spray bottles which will be re-filled, so a further incentive as getting rid of more plastic in my home, and my re-cycling. Then, onwards with the basics for shampoo, body butters and on and on. Who said that being retired is boring?

I have made candles using soy wax which burn cleanly, and at present, give off the aroma of completely natural lemongrass oil as I love this scent and find it very relaxing. Sally and myself now have a collection of containers ready for further experimentation. It was good fun mooching around junk shops/’antique’ barns in search of suitable pieces. Our first brew was a great, shared, learning activity, carefully monitored by Myschka the cat who believes that we are incapable of doing anything without his assistance. Little does he realise that he is benefitting from a chemical-free home.

Then on to body butter, solid shampoo etc etc.  One step at a time, at a time of year when the garden requires plenty of TLC. Sally has already had a couple of experiments with soap making which proved very successful and my 6 year-old granddaughter joined me in making a few bars with (edible) petals from the garden added in too.

So all in all, a lot of chemicals being eliminated to be replaced by pure essential oils. Oils that are used for scenting, flavouring; used as antibacterial and antiviral elements for my household products as well as directly for me. They take minutes to prepare and give such a sense of a job well done. My only regret is that they weren’t available to me when my sons were little as I would have loved to have set a positive example to them and to have brought them up in a chemical free home. I know that I endeavoured to do this, but how much easier it would have been with the products and knowledge that I am acquiring.

 

PS - I have to say that the first workshop was on chocolate making. We use raw cacao, cacao butter, a bit of sweetener and choice of essential oils for flavouring. Just a couple of drops. Made in minutes - and if not strict with myself, it doesn’t hang around for long. Ginger, wild orange and geranium are my current favourites, though toasted coconut and dried fruit clusters are up there too. As with baking, scraping out the bowl afterwards is a must. An added bonus to using these wonderful oils.

I already have two more workshops booked with Julie, so onwards and upwards along my learning curve. If you would like to sniff my essential oils to check out how wonderful they smell, compared with ones you may have come across, you are more than welcome. Having said that, on reflection it does sound rather like an invitation to ‘come up and see my etchings’!!

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