Back to Basic


This post is a nod to Julie at Towards Sustainability.

I experimented a bit with baking soda today. Besides being a basic ingredient for baking, baking soda is basically a basic mineral. The reason it reacts in such a jolly free-for-all with vinegar is because its baseness, or alkalinity, is competing with the acidity of vinegar, and they end up cancelling each other out.

I think. Chemistry was never my strong suit.

Anyway, I tried two cleaning experiments today.

The first was on silverware, which you can read about tomorrow. The second was on my hair.

Julie has recently mentioned in her blog that she washes her hair with baking soda. I’ve known for some time now that the ingredients in shampoos are not good for humans, but I haven’t actively searched for alternatives. But baking soda, hey, it’s right here in my kitchen cupboard! I commented to Julie that I was eager to try it out. She replied:

Hi Lavenderbay,
I highly recommend ditching the shampoo and conditioner! Be prepared for your hair to spend some time adjusting to its natural oil level though; commercial shampoos strip the oil out so your scalp compensates by producing much more oil than it needs. It might get greasy for a couple of weeks but should settle down after a while if you persist with it.

How’s that for an interesting piece of information? Shampoo makes your hair dirtier. It’s scary, it really is.

So, speaking of scary, here’s the Before picture of Turtle’s tresses:


Kinda gross and gloppy, the result of  a store-boughten bubble bath two nights previously.

I used a tablespoon of baking soda in a cup of warm water to wash, and then the juice of half a lemon squeezed into another cup of warm water to rinse.

Unsure of how much lemony freshness I wanted in my hair, I added a few drops of White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) — well, six. One or two would have been plenty; the six that slipped from the bottle made me wonder if E.g. would arrive home and ask whether I had washed the floors.

So I rinsed out the rinse, just to make sure.

Here’s the after picture:


Note the Celtic reddish sheen. (Ignore the grey highlights. ) My hair feels silky clean, and E.g. sez it doesn’t smell like anything in particular, so I guess the dogs won’t mistake me for parquet after all.


9 Responses to Back to Basic

  1. Grey? What grey? I don’t see any grey. As long as you don’t see any grey in mine …

  2. lavenderbay says:

    I’ll promise not to squint, James. 🙂

  3. Alyson says:

    Every now and again I have a detox of sorts and eschew al commercial products…apple cider vinegar is a fabulous hair rinse, diluted in water and used instead of shampoo and conditioner. SH hates the smell of vinegar but I like it, and I don’t notice my hair smelling discernibly vinegary. Or is that why you’re all standing over there?

  4. lavenderbay says:

    I learned, again from Julie’s blog, that really cheap vinegar is made from petrochemicals. Eeeew. We don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand just now, though, so my choice would have been vinegar made from either red wine, rice, or umeboshi plums, unless I wanted to chart unknown territory by using a heady balsamic. So I wimped out, and used lemon juice instead.

  5. almostgotit says:

    Okay, not that I can find it again, but I read a while back in another sustainable-living blog that it’s possible to train hair to need nothing but WATER for washing most of the time.

    Vinegar is an amazing thing to wash things with: the smell NEVER lingers. If anything, it FRESHENS things washed with it. It’s a good laundry additive, too.

    My big concession to sustainable hair-washing is to eschew hair dryers, totally. Means I have wet hair most mornings, but I’ve noticed that it dries much faster now on its own than it did when it was chronically heat-damaged. And it’s shinier and prettier I think, too! INCLUDING the gray parts!!

  6. Gina says:

    I adore baking soda. I read somewhere that baking soda and water will strip the hairspray from your hair so before I …ummmm…. color my hair 😉 I use this mixture, it works beautifully. Baking soda and water also cleans the film from plastic (like Tupperware) so very well. I often wash chiken in water with a little baking soda and rinse it completely before I cook it. Yes I love baking soda. 😀

  7. lavenderbay says:

    Okay, Almostgotit, as soon as I’m sure our white vinegar isn’t just disguised gasoline, I’ll give it a whirl.
    We own a hair dryer, but the only time either of us use it is when we need to leave home immediately in sub-zero weather; we’re too old to go around with haircicles!

    Before you do what, Gina? Dang, didn’t hear what she said.
    That’s really interesting about rinsing the chicken with baking soda! Raw chicken makes me a bit nervous anymore; just as well to “shampoo” it before cooking it.

  8. livingisdetail says:

    Hi lavenderbay,

    I love bicarb too and coincidently I was considering trying it instead of shampoo, once my last bottle of shampoo runs out. Are there any conclusions to be drawn by the word sham being included in the name shampoo? Hmm, and it is always so expensive too. More importantly, thank you very much for the award you gave me way back a million moons ago last year. I hope you will forgive me for being so late in replying. I just took off for a while and when I came back I found your kind messages.

  9. lavenderbay says:

    Forgiven? You, Livingisdetail, specifically, came to mind as I was warming up the laptop this morning, and then there were your two comments in the inbox — yippee!
    I like your parsing. Wonder if it can be turned into a limerick. I’ve kept up on my daily postings, but am currently two weeks behind on the rhymes.

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