Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Okay, I have to get this off my chest. Again. It bears repeating, so I'm repeating it: Corn is evil. Some people believe that gluten is evil, but they are mistaken. Nope. Corn is evil. Don't believe me? Read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I'm not talking about the juicy cob, bursting with yellow goodness that gets roasted or boiled and served up on a platter. I'm talking about the agricultural monster commodity. And since there are countless tons of corn annually that need to be used for something, it is getting dumped into the food supply and beyond in distorted and frankencorned ways, but never completely forgetting its "corn-ness." Like the corn-based packing peanuts. I'm sure that the person who invented these probably was heralded as an ecologically brilliant thinker, since they dissolve in water and are biodegradeable. But it does make the experience of opening up that package in the mail very much like opening up a pipe bomb. You never know what is might be shredded magazines or it might be corn. Tag. You're it. It's almost worth investing in a hazmat suit.

What really fashes me is how hard some manufacturers work to avoid frankly telling the consumer that there's corn in their product. So it's rather refreshing to see some actually advertising this information on their package. Again, from an earth-friendly standpoint, biodegradeable bags make sense. Still, I can't help but think that it would be more ecological and earth-friendly to break the addiction to mono-cropping that we have trapped ourselves into and not grow more corn than is physically impossible for us to consume, thereby forcing us to resort to finding ways to unload the obscene surplus of one vegetable that isn't even a vegetable anymore. Like carpeting. Carpeting...I ask you!

I know that George Washington Carver pioneered industrial applications for agricultural crops and there are a host of reasons for admiring the man. He's a fantastic role model. But some days, I feel like I've got this love/hate thing for him. Indirectly, I have him to thank for all of the corn "gotcha's" from envelope adhesive to water bottles. Corn even lurks in such seemingly benign and "natural" places as honey, since many beekeepers are addicted to high fructose corn syrup as supplemental food for their bees. And do we really need to have corn in our laundry detergent?

Okay, there are some bio-friendly detergents out there. Alas, I am not one of those altruists who impale their budgets on the spike of alternative green products for their own sakes. Nuh-unh. Gotta be cheap for me. As a side note, I am working on re-indoctrinating myself with the principle that it isn't that alternative products are so expensive, though they do seem so. It is that they do not carry the government subsidy that corn-based products enjoy and so have a harder time competing against that financial offset.

Still, cheap is good. Dirt cheap is even better. Which is why I was doing the Snoopy Dance when I came across a recipe for home made laundry soap. Crystal is my kind of woman. Those pictures of her farm capture what I want my acreage to look like someday.

Laundry Soap by Crystal Miller

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or Zote
½ cup washing soda (not baking soda)
½ cup borax powder

You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.

I've been following Crystal's recipe for six months now and I'm still on the original boxes of powder. That puts my investment so far at less than $10 for laundry for at least six months. This is washing clothes for five people--well, six if you factor in Tool Guy changing clothes between going from his day job to his tool job, plus a Princess still in night time cloth diapers.

I recently had a chuckle over a conversation I had with a telemarketer about laundry detergent. Despite the fact that we're on the No Call List, Boyfriend called me up to sell me some whizz-bang laundry detergent that would rock my world. Did you know that there are telemarketers out there who still ask to speak to "the lady of the house?" At any rate, I informed him that I make my own. Silent pause. I guess that answer wasn't on his "if/then" flow chart of Q&A's, since he then launched into a non-sequitur riposte of what a great savings it would be for me. Huh. I informed him that a penny a load was the price to beat and if he couldn't sell it to me that cheap, we had nothing more to say to each other. Haven't heard from him since.

I'm bummed. Can you tell?


~M said...

Awesome post! Fels-naptha was recommended to me as safe for washing my softshell.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, "blow them away" kind of post!!
I'm posting this one on the forum.

Loztnausten said...

Thanks! I'm finding it's a great soap for different applications. I'm meditating on a dishwasher application...

Anonymous said...

This is EXCELLENT! I can't wait to try it. Does it dry in the bucket, or do you pour it into containers that you once bought with liquid laundry soap in them?

Loztnausten said...

Nope. It doesn't dry out in the bucket. I use an old super size Era container from which I've cut the top--how's that for a decorating statement? ;) It's too lumpy to run out of the spigot in these liquid soap containers, unfortunately, but it survives very well in the bucket, just scouping out as needed.

Anonymous said...

This was a totally cool science project! I figure the price is $0.38 per 2 gallons of detergent!

A small box of A&H was less than $3 with 46-1/2 "servings" (or $.0645 per 2 gal of detergent); same for borax; and the Zote bar was $0.77.

The most expensive thing in the mix is the bar!

And a new bucket was only $4!

I'm LOVIN' IT!!!

We've been buying expensive "pure" stuff. DH has a weird skin sensitivity (skin is clear, nerves are on edge in his thighs and arms), and we thought it might be the stuff in soap. I looked high and low when it started for "washing soda." Thought about using baking soda, but never thought to look to A&H for washing soda!


The box I bought today is not pure "washing soda." It has anions and enzymes added for cleaning power. What do you think?

Who can count the value of a new friend?

Loztnausten said...

Glad you're grooving on it. I'm currently contemplating using castille soap instead of Fels Naptha...

Anonymous said...

'ya know, darlin, you actually are talking about the juicy cobb, bursting forth with flavor.

How else does Archer Demon and Monsatan grow it? GMO corn is a cob...a very sweet cob, sweeter than we grew up with, because it is a GMO.

And, because of how severely the "the wind comes sweepin' down the plain; And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet; When the wind comes right behind the rain!*" there has to tons of cross-contamination. You thought the bees in your garden did a number on your heirloom tomatoes? How about 40-50 mph winds that blow for days?

When it comes to the cobb, I'm going to stick with organic. Not a perfect solution, but better than wondering if I'm eating a GMOs.

*Rogers & Hammerstein's _Oklahoma!_

Anonymous said...

Laundry liquid too thick? I've found it get thicker the longer it is exposed to air. I put my in bottles with spigots and lids. I shake the bottle before I pour, and it pours great!

You can always add a touch more water to compensate for dehydration!