When I figured out that my own families health problems were caused by fiberglass and then pin pointed the chemicals involved, discovering how widely used they are, I knew I had to go as chemical-free as much as possible to keep us healthy. It was challenging to find things that didn't contain the chemical benzene, which emits a low laying volatile organic compound vapor. The VOC is heavier than air, falling down into the cracks and crevises of my hardwood floors and lingering in my clothing, blankets and towels.
I found it very difficult at first. I could not get away from it, no matter what I did or where I went. Even when I would buy a 100% organic, chemical-free article of clothing for example, the tag attached to it was not organic. Tags are often made of things like rayon, acetate or other synthetic materials. Even when the tag was made of the same material as the fabric, the silk screen ink on the tag contained the chemicals. Since the VOC vapor tends to linger, it seeps into the fabric. I needed to remove all of the tags and resew where they were attached. I even had to remove the tags from my all natural mattress because the tags contained chemicals which emitted VOCs.
Reading the description written by the seller, fabrics, for example like bamboo always appeared to be all natural. But when I really looked into how they take a bamboo stalk and end up with a soft silky fabric, I discovered a long list of chemicals used in the process. In fabrics, bamboo is actually more like the synthetic fabric rayon, but is repeatedly fausly described as natural. This is especially disturbing to see in baby products.
People often gear away from plastic kitchenware to avoid chemicals such as triclosan along with the other petroleum based toxins. They see a nice pretty bamboo wood and feel safe. When things are made out of bamboo wood such as a salad bowl or cutting board, they must glue the pieces together. Have you ever wondered what's in the glue as you eat food off of your bamboo kitchenware? More times than not the glue is made from toxic chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. Then they finish off the wood with a mineral oil mixture of petroleum based hydrocarbons or an undisclosed oil blend.
Over and over when looking for clothing, for example, the description will read 100% organic cotton. When I read more I discover that the manufacture blended orgainc cotton with a chemical-based fabric such as rayon, lyocell, polyester, spandex or elastane. The end result is no longer organic. I always have to read the fine print to get this information as the main title describes the clothing as an all natural, organic fabric. Tricky.
Another thing that caught me off-guard were the 100% cotton towels in the color white. Surely with the lack of dye they would be chemical-free, right? I learned the hard way that they often add a silicone softener to fabric during manufacturing. Silicone gives me a fast, bad reaction. That was when I learned to look for the wording "chemical-free".
When I first bought thread for my new sewing projects, I bought a 100% cotton thread, but I had not paid attention to the dyes in the thread. They contained the chemicals I was trying to avoid.
I bought a 100% wool blanket that I was really excited about. Turns out it was colored with a harsh chemical-based dye that felt just as bad as the synthetic fabrics themselves.
I bought a gray colored 100% cotton quilted down comforter with grey goose duck down feathers. The gray dye was a chemical- based synthetic.
I had to cut off any elastic around my fitted sheets. Turns out they work just fine without the elastic. I won't miss struggling to get the sheet just right.
I had to cut off the plastic ends on my all natural shoe laces.
I am still learning and discovering new things. I get an immediate reaction, which helps me figure out what is good and what is not. I have eliminated a great deal and I have gotten even better at detecting it. It seems to all be relative. For example, when I was wearing the chemicals on my body, a cotton shirt with synthetic-based dyes burned my nostrils harsher than my polyester shirt. The dyes used in both are chemical-based, but the chemicals used in the cotton seemed harsher to me. I think it is partly because the cotton would dust out just a bit, putting the dyes into the air right under my nose. Where as the polyester clothing seemed to not dust out, but it was causing my nerve damage just the same. I have had fibromyalgia type symtoms all of my life. It was my normal. I didn't know it was possible for it all to just go away and to feel good. Thinking back, I didn't even know what "good" felt like.
Here are some examples of products I found that, when the tags are removed, I do not get a chemical reaction from.
- Eco Linen Soft Organic Bath Towels—(In white, needs tags removed)
- Soft Plush Cotton Terry Towels
- HILLFAIR 100% Certified Organic Cotton Winter Blankets—(Color "Natural", needs tag removed)
- Whisper Organics Organic Cotton Throw Blanket—(Color "Natural", needs tag removed)
- Whisper Organics Organic Cotton Blanket—(Color "Natural", needs tag removed)
- I found a lot of good things on Rawganique.com. Not everything they sell is chemical-free, but they do a very good job at explaining their products. Often times it will say in the description "Chemical-free". They also sell products that use low-impact dye, which often does contain chemicals, but the process of putting the dyes into the fabric was in such a way that it had less impact on the environment. My goal is to not wear chemicals on my body no matter the impact they had, therefore I read carefuly before buying. They also sell some things that contain elastic, which I avoid. This website does better than most at explaining exactly what is in their products. I do have to removed the tags. They do contain chemiclals and I do get reactions from them. I do wish that some of the tags were removable without effecting the item itself, but often times I find myself with a needle and thread fixing something brand new that needed it's tag removed to be truely chemical-free.
- Be careful of items with padding. The padding is often a chemical-based foam.
- They also sell some Rawganique products on Amazon.
- Cottonique is another brand that I love and have had success with. Their line of cotton products are mostly chemical-free. They do sell some things that contain elastic, which I do not buy. Even if the elastic does not actually touch the skin, it's the VOCs that are harmful and they seep into the fabric. I do have to remove the tags, but they are not as harsh as most other tags. They seem to be made out of the same cotton as the clothing, but the silk screen on the tag contain the chemicals that I am trying to avoid. So I remove these tags as well. I do not just cut the tag off, but fully remove it by undoing the stitching, getting all of the silk screen out and then stitching it back up. I do wish their tags were easier to remove.
- Benson Wood Clothes Drying Rack—I like to hang dry my clothing as often as possible. A lot of drying racks contain plastic, synthetic rubber or glues. It was hard to find one that didn't. There are a lot of racks made from bamboo on the market, however bamboo products more times than not contain chemicals from the glue used to put the wood into a solid piece.
- Unfinished/Natural Wood Clothes Hangers—I found these after discovering that my current wooden hangers had a shrink wrap plastic coating on the bottom bar, which we were able to remove. When I found myself needing more hangers I found these.
- TQVAI 6 Compartment Mesh Cutlery Trays Kitchen Drawer Silverware Utensils Flatware Organizer—It was hard to find a decent silverware organizer as most are made from glued bamboo pieces and glue contains benzene. I prefer solid wood, but ended up buying this one.
- Sandgrens Swedish Handmade Wooden Shoes—These shoes are a bit pricy, but they are for the most part chemical-free with natural dyes and glues and are made to last if taken care of. I do have to remove the stickers however.
- Organic Body Pillow Pillowcase—Only in the color "Pearl White". I was not able to varify the dyes used in the other colors as chemical-free.
- Duralex - Lys Clear Dishes—My dishes had a silicone seal on them which was making my nerves hurt and my hands swell up when I touched them. I found this line of dishes and get no adverse reactions from them.
- Urthware solid wood cutting boards are the most natural cutting boards I have come across. Solid wood, natural rubber feet and chemical-free.
- TeqHome Stainless Steel Dish Drying Rack—I had a metal drying rack, but it had a plastic base. I found this one.
- Even my mason jar lids had chemicals seal coated on them. When I touched them they made my fingertips hurt. I also noticed my stomach ache would come back when I ate something that came from the jar if it had been stored in it. The longer it was stored with the lid the worse it would be. The chemicals were getting into the food itself. I could not find jars that came with chemical-free lids, But I did find replacement Stainless Steel Mason-Jar Canning Lids with removable silicone seals. I remove the seals before I use them.
- Glass Pitcher with Stainless Steel Lid—I love this glass pitcher.
- The Holy Lamb Orgaincs website has a lot of chemical-free bedding. Tags do need to be fully removed however.
- For those Do It Yourselfers, the Thunder Acres website sells organic cotton stuffing along with other natural products.
- Another great website for those Do It Yourselfers is DIY Natual Bedding.
- Here is an example of chemical-free thread and how tricky it gets. If you choose the color "Natural" it's chemical-free, however if you choose the other colors, it looks to me from the description that they are syntheticly dyed.
- The Foam Source website sells natural mattresses and bedding.
- For dog owners who wish to use chemical-free collars and leashes, the Eco K9 site sells natural hemp leashes and collars.
- Wigglywoos also sells natural dog leashes and collars if you pick the tea-stained colors (dyed with tea) and remove any tags.
- You can find a lot of all natural, chemical-free items on Etsy. For example the BohemiHandcrafted store, which sells dog products. Be sure to choose the tea stained dyes, remove any tags and avoid anything that is not all natural like velcro.
- For my dogs, I replaced their synthetic rubber toys with all Kong natural rubber toys. When I touched the dog's chemical-based rubber toys my nerve pain kicked in. Natural rubber is from a tree and I do not get a reaction from it. Just thinking about my dogs chewing on the fake rubber makes me cringe. It also makes me wonder what human baby toys are made from.
- You can find a lot of organic items on Fuzzy Logic. Be sure to read descriptions carefully, pick all natural dyes and remove tags.
- Lehman's also sells a lot of all natural products. Again, read descriptions carefully.
- Massaging out my muscles helped a great deal in getting my nerves to heal. Most massagers are full of chemical based materials. I found this Tuuli Accessories Back Massage Muscle Roller which works well.
- I also found this TheraFlow Large Dual Foot Massager Roller, however there are foam anti slip & flooring protector strips on the bottom which I had to remove.
- These are Natural Handmade Green Sandalwood combs, which I love. I cannot varify the dyes in the leather case should you choose that particular one as I only have the solid combs.
- For cooking the Simax Clear Glass products work well for me.
- I replaced my small plastic trash cans with the iDesign Patton Round Metal Trash Can.
- I switched from using tea bags to loose leaf tea. These Fine Mesh Tea Infusers work great.
- I use a Klean Kanteen for my drinking water. I replaced the plastic lid with this All Stainless Steel Loop Cap.
- I replaced my plastic toilet scrub brush with this Natural Coconut Fiber Brush
- And my closepins with these Honey-Can-Do Round Wooden Clothespins.
- My nail files that contained adhesive with these Stainless Steel Diamond Nail Files.
- And my plastic shower curtain with this Hemp Shower Curtain.