Saturday, June 11, 2011

Kieran's Eczema Ointment

this stuff is amazing. diaper rashes gone overnight (or a few nights if it's severe...also, probably not good for cloth dipes -- use a liner...well, i don't but i apply it very sparingly to only the affected areas...if thick slathering is necessary, i'll either put a paper towel in there or use a 'sposie). sore nipples, eczema (it's original intended purpose around here), zits, sunburn, chapped lips, bug bites, cuticles, cuts, scrapes. anything. you can use it very sparingly or slather it on.

this is sooooo simple (a little time-consuming, though, but you can make a big batch - fill several small containers - that will last for a year or two or three...i think i've only made it 2-3 times in 6 years).

you need:
- calendula (marigold) petals (in bulk herb section of HFS).
- olive oil (i use organic extra virgin)
- beeswax (craft store - candle section. i get the unrefined yellow stuff)'ll need to grate it - the finer the better.
- lavender and/or tea tree essential oils (i only use lavender b/c we're sensitive to tto, but both have antimicrobial properties)

put calendula petals in a pot, pour just enough olive oil to cover them. set on medium-low heat. as soon as the oil is hot, turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner. let cool to room temperature.

strain out petals, discard them. pour oil through coffee filter/funnel (into a mason jar).

okay, you have just made calendula-infused olive oil. (calendula has awesome skin-healing properties.)

next, take about the same amount of grated beeswax (packed lightly) as olive oil (cup for cup). i think i usually do about 1-1.5C of each, depending on how much oil i have.

melt the beeswax (also has awesome skin-healing properties). you can either do this in the microwave or a double-boiler-type situation on the stove.

mix melted wax with oil. stir (i use a tiny wire whisk). add essential oil(s). i add a lot, probably a teaspoon (~25 drops). it will start to turn whiteish as it cools, but don't let it get too cooled before you...

pour into containers; i have used old (cleaned out) ointment/cream jars, and baby food jars, etc.

when it sets (cools), it might have a kind of hard layer on top that you might have to pop your finger through. if you are OCD about consistency, you will painstakingly break up all lumps and make it all nice and smooth with a cheese spreader or something. if it's really too hard, you can re-melt it all and add more oil. way too soft, re-melt and add more wax. yes, it's a PITA if you don't get it perfect the first time, but it's worth it, since like i said, it will last you a looong time and i swear it heals anything on the skin.

have fun, and happy healing!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conclusions from the Flats and Handwash Challenge

My answers to the exit survey (a lot of the questions did not offer an exact answer for me, so I had to choose the closest answer):


- I took this challenge because I wanted to prove handwashing is possible for low income families.

- I had never used flats before this challenge.

- One "newborn" participated (well, she's 6 months old, but not crawling yet, so...)

- The poop situation was "newborn/breastfed" (technically, she's an early eater, but just barely, so not enough to be considered "peanut butter poop" ;))

- Rashes: we did not have rashes before or during the challenge.


- How many? I said "20-24"

- What kind? 20 flour sack towels and a few Gerber Birdseye flats used as doublers for night time.

- I estimated that I spent "1-3 hours" (total) researching folds.
I perused different tutorials for a while a few times, experimented with folding, then tried out several folds on the baby in the weeks before the challenge began.

- The fold I used the most was ("other")the angel fold
...basically the pad fold with the top corners pulled out to make a poo pocket. :) However, I did have to make an adjustment to the rise of the dipe, which meant that there were only 6 layers in the very front, 12 right at her pee exit area :) and then about 4 layers at the back.

- The hardest part about using flats was "learning how to use them."

- Covers: I used "sized PUL covers" (Thirsties velcro, size medium)

- Accessory I feel is a must: "drying rack"
It was great to have a portable drying rack that I could hang the dipes on straight from where I was washing them (if desired) and then follow the sunlight around the yard if I needed to. (I would have said washboard if that had been an option, because I thought it was really great for scrubbing poo stains out.)

- Estimated value of my flats challenge stash: "$75-100"

$20 ..... 20 dipes (flour sack towels)
$44 ..... 4 Thirsties covers ($11/ea at Nicki's Diapers)
$20 ..... wooden drying rack (like this one)
$10 ..... washboard (new, from our local flea market...unable to find web link, sorry)
$94 ..... TOTAL

Ideally, I would suggest 25 dipes, 5 covers, and 2 drying racks, which would put start-up costs at $120...and this also does not account for wipes (mine are double-layer flannel, mostly handmade by me out of old receiving blankets, so essentially this could be "free"), and soap (both for wipe solutions and washing the dipes), but I guess people would already have some baby shampoo and laundry detergent on hand...


- My washing method: "sink with hands"
I washed in the kitchen sink the most times (as described here), but I did try the "bathtub with hands" method once, for the very last washing (described here).

- I disposed of solid waste by: "dunk and swish"
(Actually, there wasn't much solid waste, as baby is EBF'ed and having tiny tastes of solids now, but I pre-rinsed the poopy dipes in the bathroom sink to make it easier to scrub the stains off, and "dunk and swish" was the closest answer to that.)

- How hard was handwashing (scale of 1-5)? I said "3" because the actual handwashing wasn't difficult, in theory, but it was quite hard on my back.

- How time-consuming was handwashing (scale of 1-5)? I said "3" here too.
I found the washing/wringing/hanging to be quite time-consuming, but I tried to compare it to the involvement of resetting the washing machine, adding soaps and such, transferring to dryer, waiting and waiting and I figured it's not that much worse than machine-washing, just that it occurs in a more concentrated time frame.

- How clean were my diapers (scale of 1-5)? I said "5 - very clean."
Whatever minor staining I did not scrub off with soap and the washboard got sunned out while they were drying.

- I washed "whenever it was convenient and dried outside."
I did end up having to bring the racks in to finish drying after sunset a few times, and once, I had to dry inside the whole time because it was monsooning outside, heheh.

- The most difficult part of handwashing: "the physical effort" (with "the time commitment" being a close second).
As I have said before, I have a bad back. 'Nuff said.

- The least difficult part of handwashing: "getting the diapers clean." That was surprisingly easy.


- Do I think others could do this if they had to if they were given the proper education and tools? Absolutely!!!

- If I was in a washerless situation, would I do this full time? As much as possible.
(This is one of those things that I feel I can't answer in absolutes due to differing possible circumstances, like whether there is any money for back-up 'sposies, etc., because if there wasn't, I would definitely do this full time, but if there was...well, I might need to give my back a break every now and then.)

- The most surprising aspect of this challenge? That my diapers were clean!
I don't know why this was so surprising; I mean, everyone used to handwash everything and things got clean, duh. I guess I just figured it would take a lot more effort than it did to get them really puts into perspective how dependent we have become on modern technology, because really, a human can do a better job than a machine at many things (think: attention to detail ;)), getting stuff clean included.

- I washed "10+" flats at one time (once as many as 20! That was cutting it close!).
I think if I were to do this all the time (use flats, I mean, not the handwashing part), I would definitely not want to wait that long...I'd aim to wash every 1.5-2 days (tops), so that I would not be so anxious about things getting dry by the time I needed them (I was totally imagining having baby wear a regular kitchen towel if it got to that!). Luckily, flats dry fast. ;)

- It took my flats "2-3 hours" to dry.
In all honesty, I might have been able to answer "less than 2 hours," but I didn't pay that much attention to them and wasn't checking on them at regular intervals. I just waited several hours (probably 2-3), checked them, and they were dry. The times I had to bring them in because it got dark, or the time I had to dry them indoors completely, it may have taken slightly longer, but again, I don't really know...(apparently I'm lazy! LOL)

- I washed "2-3" covers at a time, which could be rather nerve-wracking since I only had 4 (my 5th cover was just a big wool soaker for use over the night diaper, was not terribly useful for anything else, since I couldn't find a fold that worked with pins/snappis that was useful, absorbancy-wise). I would have to carefully examine the covers before a washing to see which ones needed it most (e.g. ones that had gotten poo on them, which I carefully wiped off so they could be used again before washing time rolled around). Only once did I have to was 3 at once, and it was nerve-wracking.

- I approximated that it took my covers "3-5 hours" to dry.
The parts that took the longest to dry were the edge bindings and (especially) the front panel where the velcro is, as it is double-layered there. I imagine the Thirsties covers are among the fastest-drying PUL covers, though, as the inner layer is slick and not absorbent (unlike the Bummis covers, for example, which are very difficult to wipe out and reuse in the case of a major poo-splosion, and would, IMO, not be suitable for using in this type of [flats/handwash] situation).

- My favorite thing about the challenge: "storing flats" (i.e. seeing them neatly folded in a stack on the changing table shelves?).
I didn't really like this question's answer options (washing, folding, hanging); I wish it had an "other" fill-in-the-blank option, in which I would have said "The sense of good that I was doing, treading lightly on the Earth as well as our pocketbook." ;)

- My least favorite thing about the challenge: the handwashing (ahem, BAD BACK).

- Will I continue to use flats in my every day diaper rotation? Maybe.
There were many pros about using flats, including the ease of getting them clean due to being one layer, the natural material of the dipes (which to me would imply that stripping would rarely be needed), the low cost of flats, the versatility of items that can be used as flats (e.g. flour sack towels that I used, or flannel receiving blankets which can be acquired very easily, cheaply, or sometimes free if you have the right hook-up! I discussed this in this post).
On the other hand, I do enjoy the convenience and cuteness of my pockets (Fuzzibunz) and all-in-ones (Bumgenius), but don't particularly like the fact they are made entirely of synthetic materials, which make them hot and sweaty in the summertime (and not too Earth-friendly), and they need to be stripped a lot, due to residue build-ups and the resulting stinky smells (which I admittedly use bleach for, occasionally, depending on the severity of the stink). [Haha, in that last sentence I was talking about Earth-friendliness, then mentioned using bleach. Ha. I'm so paradoxical.] The stink, in fact, has in the past caused me to switch entirely to natural materials (cotton fitteds and wool soakers), but our house has been re-piped since then, and a filter installed, so our "bad water" issues are no more, making synthetic dipes possible to use again. At this point, I don't know what my diaper stash will look like when baby outgrows her current ones...0

And, last question (other than my personal comments, which I think I have addressed well enough in this post!):
Would you like more information about donating to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, a foundation helping provide cloth diapers to those in need? I said YES!

Thank you so much to Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry for organizing this wonderful learning experience!