Update On My Quest To Live Cleaner & Greener

In the time since I last shared this new quest of mine, I have been researching essential oil companies, reading up on soap making and natural cleaning supplies for the home, and adding much of what I find on Pinterest. 

In the department of essential oils, there are many companies to choose from. I did not want to go the MLM route, which is Multi Level Marketing. I did not want to become a distributor and be pressed to order a certain amount for a quota. I wanted my gleaned information to be free of any incentives. 

After viewing many companies, and reading up on what composes an essential oil, I contacted a company in Oregon called Mountain Rose Herbs. I asked for info and where to get it. And here is what was emailed back to me: 

Hello Brenda,
Thank you for contacting us. There is so much, as you well know, it is hard to say where to start. First off, since you were speaking about essential oils, here are some very good essential oil resources that our Certified Aroma therapist, Christine had passed on to me, NAHA.org and AHPA.org.  

Our book Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier would be helpful for your natural home revamp.  You asked about books for your herbal library.

I have always been a fan of the older books for many things, so ones like Grieve, Culpepper, Moore , and the likes.  A modern Herbal is very good.  The newer scientific give a different,  but much needed view as well.  

David Hoffman and Dr. John R. Christopher are two references I like.  Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech a is great instruction book, Richo presents things very well and fun.  As for essential oils, those get hard, 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols by Jeanne Rose and Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (Second Edition) by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green are good general overview books.  

I do recommend doing your research on who you purchase from and how you use your essential oils.  Essential oils are very strong, pure, organic, steam-distilled essential oil is the best, but citrus must be pressed, steam distillation does not work.   

Due to regulatory concerns, we are unable to recommend them for internal use; encouraging internal use is actually considered irresponsible in the international essential oil industry due to the fact that they are extremely concentrated and potentially dangerous substances.  

As a member of the American Herbal Products Association we abide by the Code of Ethics and Business conduct labeling restrictions they have set forth here: http://www.ahpa.org/Default.aspx?tabid=224#section_undiluted_oils.  

The practice of ingesting certain essential oils is not entirely unheard of, but extensive research is required in order to make it as safe as possible.  Before ingesting any essential oils, we strongly recommend seeking the guidance of an herbalist, naturopathic physician, or other licensed professional.  

Please let us know there is anything else we may be able to help you with.  Some more recommended websites:
Shirley’s Wellness Café: Holistic Health Care for People & Animals
Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Forum
Healthworld Online
Herb Research Foundation
The Medicine Woman's Roots
(Website and blog of traditional herbalist and medicine woman Kiva Rose)

I hope this helps, and I wish you the very best of health!

(Source: Mountain Rose Herbs)

The photo below came from their blog, Mountain Rose Blog. On the blog, you will find many other resources you might find interesting. I know I'm going back over there to look around.

Keep in mind that this is not what your physician would likely recommend. Alternative medicine has been being used for ages. But you alone must decide whether you want to try this approach to various maladies and pathways to health. 

Since I have had so much trouble even being seen by a traditional medical professional, and due to the whole problem of acquiring health insurance, I have decided I am rather tired of solely depending upon them for my health, I am willing to at least do my research and try some of the recommendations I find. But cautiously.

Just before I received this email, I had already ordered two books from Amazon.com. One on soap making and the other on essential oils. I also ordered two bags of Hydroton. 

Let me give you some background on this. I had to go to Lowes to purchase air conditioning/heat filters. I looked in the house plant department. I lost many of my plants over the summer that were in the corner of my back porch. 

I put them out there because of persistent gnats laying eggs in the soil. And Charlie is absolutely terrified of gnats. I tried vinegar and water spray, and still had gnats. I did not want to spray a chemical on the dirt.

I still have five or so house plants I'm going to be bringing back in. The Hydroton is what I will be planting them in. 

{See how easy this plant will be to water. You water to the line shown.}

This is what led me to this decision. While in the house plant department at Lowes, I saw a few clear square vessels housing some plants. I could see through the clear plastic that the plants were not in dirt, but were surrounded with reddish round pellets. 

I asked someone working there what they were. And they said go home and google Hydroton. Which I did. 

I will be taking my current house plants out of their pots, shaking off the dirt, and cleaning them thoroughly. Then I will be planting them in pots with the Hydroton "pellets." (I don't know what else to call them.)

Since this was just the other day, I haven't had a lot of time to research this. But back in the late seventies, I remember growing hydroponic plants. It was essentially the same thing. Growing house plants without dirt. 

When researching this process currently, most sites seemed to involve a big system, and I want a small system with my plants in individual containers.  If anyone knows where I can find the clear plastic container like the one I have my plant in above, please let me know.

Aloe (Aloe vera)

This easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent helps clear formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. Aloe is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window. Beyond its air-clearing abilities, the gel inside an aloe plant can help heal cuts and burns.


The aloe vera plant, shown above, is what I should have had in the house while I was painting kitchen cabinets. Maybe it would have lessened the asthma problems that came right after. I need to get another aloe vera, as I haven't had once since moving here. They are great for burns.

The reason for all this is that the house plants are natural cleaners of toxins in the indoor environment in which we live. 

I happened to read Michael's blog post at Inspired By Charm the other day. And he was blogging about air plants. I didn't know much about those either, so I started researching that. His post is here

Here are some photos I found online of air plants...

Source: Etsy
Source: Apartment Therapy
Source: Apartment Therapy
Well, that's enough info to digest right now. Just wanted you to know that I am knee-deep in all kinds of research to help us find ways to live a healthier lifestyle. And I will be sharing as I learn.

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  1. Hi Brenda, what a great idea to use the pellets instead of soil. While Diatamateous earth does a good job of killing the fungus gnats in houseplants, it does take time, and keeping the soil drier helps too. Let us know how the pellets work for you, I've heard of them, but they are harder to find here.

    I have long avoided any chemical based household cleaners, instead making my own solutions up, and am slowly but surely gravitating towards less is more in my personal beauty routine. Unscented, and natural everything is my goal for living my life. I hope that you will find some relief when you start to weed out those things that make your allergies, and asthma a lot better.


    1. I am anxious to see how this works for the gnat problem. I want to bring beeswax candles in, or make them myself, which I've heard actually helps asthmatics. All kinds of uses for essential oils. Guess I'll be going back to the old frontier, making my own soap and candles and before you know it, I'll be making quilts out of my clothing and wearing a bonnet when I garden!

  2. At Disneyland, they have a whole hydroponic compound where they grow all of their veggies for their restaurants without dirt. You get on a little cart and it takes you thru the whole place and it's amazing. Most of the plants are hanging without being in any kind of dirt, rocks, etc. It is kinda like a fairyland!


    1. Wow, I'd love to see pictures of that!

  3. This is all very interesting...but to tell you the truth...I couldn't get past thinking about Charlie being afraid of gnats! What does he do? How do you know he's afraid of gnats. That is too funny! But I'd be like you, trying to find a solution. I didn't know house plants would lead to gnats. But then I only have one house plant...my big jade that a reader sent me from his backyard in Hollywood. It's the celebrity in my house. Haven't had any gnats around it. I would love to bring my ferns in from outside each year but every time I've done that..it's led to a big mess. So I refuse to try it any more. This year...I'm going to try to over winter them in the garage. At least that is the plan.

  4. If there is a gnat or fly or flying insect in the house and Charlie sees it, he starts trembling horribly and hides under something, like a blanket or quilt. You can see him shuddering underneath it. This time last year I had to chase a cricket around the kitchen in my wheelchair (ankle surgery) because I didn't want him to see it. I finally caught it, he didn't see it, and all was okay. He isn't afraid of storms or anything, but terrified of flying insects.

  5. I have had problems with gnats also but i read somewhere it you put a mall amount of apple cider vingear in a empty baby food jar or something about the same size put some clear wrap over this a put a hole in the film and set in a corner of your room it helps atract the gnats

    1. I've read that as well. But I put out some vinegar and it didn't seem to make much difference. Maybe my gnats like vinegar...

  6. Gnats also come into your home from fresh fruits..I have had a lot of them believe me! Bananas especially when they get ripe...pesty little things! I so hate them! Nice Post today Brenda with a lot of really good ideas! Take care! Carol

  7. I wouldn't let the pesky things upset me so much if it weren't for Charlie's very dramatic reaction. I feel so sorry for him. Maybe a fly or something got too close to his eyes or something once. Whatever started this, he clearly remembers!

  8. The gnats that are in the plant dirt aren't the same as the fruit gnats (like what Carol P. was saying above). I had a horrible time with the plant gnats last year and it seemed to be from the plants that I had outside and moved indoors. What helped the most (vinegar didn't work for me either) was simply letting the dirt get very dry. The gnats love moisture. I didn't water my plants as much and they thrived. The essential oil company you wrote about has a good reputation. Another wonderful company to get essential oils from is NOW Foods. That brand is sold in health stores. I use all-natural cleaning products or make my own (cheap and easy to do). And, as you know, I strongly believe in eating very healthy, too. I'm not perfect by any means (I still eat "junk" once in awhile) but for the most part, I don't eat any processed food or anything with chemicals, preservatives, food colorings, corn syrup, or soybean oil in it.

    1. I wish I had involved myself in all this years ago. But I guess better late than never. I'm glad you think that company is okay. Because it's really hard to tell with all the hype from the really big ones.

  9. Brenda, What a lot of information in one post. Good for you. I am trying to live cleaner and greener, too. I think that we are surrounded by so many pollutants and poisons that it is just plain scary. Thanks for all the information! xo Diana

  10. You're amazing Brenda! Once you put your mind to something, there's no stopping you. I can't believe how much info you've gathered. Good for you for taking control of your health and life.

  11. I love reading about topics you research. You are always so thorough!

  12. I had never heard of Hydroton! :) This is all so interesting! :)

  13. Thank you for all this information it is fascinating. I hope to have some plants for the winter.

  14. Hi Brenda, I have been meaning to tell you something I know about candles. If you use bee's wax candles scented with natural oils, and store them in the freezer before burning you should have less of a problem with your breathing. Freezing them makes for a cleaner burning, and with less smoke and soot.

  15. Hi Brenda, This is all wonderful information and how great for that company to take the time to send you so much. I am gradually returning to all natural cleaners. It was hard living with my mom as she like the old standbys. I juice every morning, and will be happy to share what I use if you contact me. My blood pressure was high and it brought it back down to "perfect". I need to find a new aloe vera plant. Think I will look today. Have a wonderful day my friend. xo Laura

  16. Brenda,
    I've been shopping with Mountain Rose Herbs for many, many years. They sell high quality, ORGANIC products and are extremely helpful. They are one of the few companies I've found that carry a huge variety of organics. I have the book she mentioned and love it.
    No matter what I do, gnats are prolific at this time of year. The apple cider vinegar in a jar does trap some but not all. Hydroton sounds like a promising solution with houseplants. Keep us posted!

  17. Brenda, thank you~ for all the research and care and love you put into your posts.
    You always get me thinking!

  18. Brenda,
    This is all very interesting and scientific-I thought we were eating healthy but after reading this, I know we aren't. I also have many houseplants and I too have problems with gnats. I suppose, I will start out with baby steps and move along in a healthier and greener fashion. My real goal is for us to move away from the city to some acreage and grow my own garden and get back to the basics. I was raised that way and I miss it all just terribly. As you say better late than never.
    Thanks for this information.


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