Green Clean Your Coffee Maker!

greek-coffee-1328798-639x511Coffee scum. We’ve all seen it. It’s the brown stuff left behind in your coffee mug and the filter basket and carafe in your coffee maker. Coffee scum comes from the fatty acids in your coffee and is exacerbated by the quality of your water and your coffee beans. Here are my tips for how to green clean your coffee maker and prevent coffee scum from forming.

What causes coffee scum?

Coffee’s fatty acids are to blame, but scum can get worse if you have hard water or purchase low-quality beans. The minerals in hard water bond with the acids in the coffee and adhere as scum on your mugs and coffee maker. Poor-quality coffee beans are more acidic than other beans and may leave behind more scum.

How can I get rid of coffee scum naturally?

You need to be careful about the cleaning products you use in and on your coffee maker, since you eventually consume the coffee you brew. Cream and sugar? Yes. Hazardous chemicals? Not so much.

A diluted degreaser with natural ingredients can cut through scum without causing you harm. Look for one with limonene, derived from citrus fruits. After degreasing the surfaces of your coffee maker’s filter basket and carafe, rinse them thoroughly with water.

To clean the interior of your coffee maker, mix equal parts water and vinegar. Pour the mixture into the reservoir of your coffee maker, add a filter to the filter basket, and brew. The vinegar will help clear out the reservoir and lines. Repeat with just water to rinse the maker.

Can I reduce or prevent coffee scum?

Absolutely! If you have hard water, use filtered water to brew your coffee (or take the plunge and install a water softener). Buy high-quality coffee with low acidity and avoid flame-roasted beans, which can increase acidity.

You don’t have to start your morning with coffee scum. Use all-natural cleaners to remove scum and keep your coffee maker in good running order. I can help you find a product that works well and won’t harm you or your environment. Contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

Where Do Your Favorite Products Place on the Green Gene Quality Scale?

How do your products rate on the Green Gene scale?Cleaning product labels are notorious for telling you everything and nothing. They’re primarily marketing copy that throws around words like “biodegradable,” “organic,” and “natural” without backing up the claims. How do you know you’re buying a product that won’t harm your family’s health or the environment?

To help you sort through the hype, I’ve come up with my very own cleaning product quality scale. Generally, the more transparent a product is about its ingredients and the more legitimate certifications it has, the better it scores.

Product Quality Score Definition
5

Organic

Manufacturer claims the label “organic” and is supported by proper certifications; product often quoted as a percentage organic, often states what’s not in product
4

Plant-Based

All ingredients are derived from plants; sometimes quoted as a percentage plant-based
3

Biodegradable Green

Manufacturer claims the label “biodegradable” and ingredients have been reviewed and verified as biodegradable

 

2

Biodegradable Untested

Manufacturer claims the label “biodegradable” but ingredients have not been reviewed and verified as biodegradable
1

Synthetic

Lengthy list of synthetic chemicals; review of ingredients typically not needed as content is evident

 

Here are how some popular products rate on my Green Gene Product Quality Scale:

5 (Organic): Shadow Lake Castile Soap

4 (Plant-Based): Earth’s Natural All-Purpose Spray

3 (Biodegradable Green): Better Life Dishwashing Soap

2 (Biodegradable Untested): Clorox Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner

1 (Synthetic): Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner Spray

Look for the Green Gene Product Quality Scale at Get Green with Gene and Life’s Pure Balance. For help finding all-natural cleaning products that are safe for your family and the environment, contact me today.

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

When It Comes Time to Clean Your Lakeside Retreat, Don’t Pollute the Water

Lakeside CabinThe kids go back to school in a little over a month, which means many summer camps, family campgrounds, and lakeside restaurants and resorts are approaching the off-season. And with the off-season comes your annual clean-out and clean-up.

But before you reach for the bleach and detergents, take a minute to consider where those chemicals go once they’re flushed down the drain. Most camps and lakeside destinations are in environmentally sensitive areas where the chemicals in conventional cleaners can wreak havoc.

Pesky Phosphorous

Phosphorous is a common ingredient in many conventional cleaners. It’s listed as phosphate on ingredient labels (if your products list ingredients). Phosphates are especially common in dish detergent, all-purpose cleaners, and laundry soap.

Phosphorous is also a common lake pollutant. Wastewater treatment plants cannot remove phosphorous. That means treated water that reenters the lake, river, or stream by your facility will contain it. Reducing the phosphorous you use will reduce the amount of the pollutant in the water.

Go Natural to Avoid Phosphorous

Choosing to clean your camp or resort with natural products can help keep your lake clean. Natural products are good for your health and the health your guests, and your employees, too.

For cabins and other outbuildings, spray down shelves, tables, countertops, and even mattresses with a cleaning spray that’s phosphate-free and biodegradable. Similarly, spray down countertops, kitchen equipment, and tables and chairs in your dining room or mess hall. Deep-clean dishes with a phosphate-free detergent and clean the drains with a biodegradable sewer degreaser.

The bathroom sewer drains and lines could also use some degreasing. Your natural cleaning spray can be used on toilets, sink basins, and showers. Once your buildings are clean, consider spraying down your sporting and other equipment with a natural cleaning spray, too.

Cleaning up after your summer guests and campers doesn’t need to involve harsh, harmful chemicals. You can get a deep clean and prep your facility for the off-season with natural products that won’t pollute your lakefront. To learn more about cleaning with natural commercial cleaning products, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

The Straight Dope on Flea and Tick Treatments

Paco Approves of Natural Flea and Tick Treatments

All Life’s Pure Balance products are Paco Approved.

When it comes to flea and tick prevention for your pet, your options seem endless. You can find treatments at the vet, pet supply store, Target, the grocery store, and virtually any other store selling pet supplies.

But just because flea and tick treatments are readily available does not mean they’re safe for your pet—or for you. Flea and tick treatments are evaluated by the EPA, not the FDA, and have only been tested for safety since 1996. Treatments do not need to undergo field tests to be sold in the United States.

What’s in Flea and Tick Prevention Treatments?

Flea and tick treatments are insecticides that kill fleas and ticks. Each name-brand treatment has a different active ingredient. Some spot-on treatments, which are applied along the spine of your pet, contain pyrethroids. They are responsible for more than half of all major reactions to pesticides in pets and cannot be used on cats. These reactions may result in seizures, heart attacks, and brain damage.

Other spot-on treatments contain fipronil, a synthetic chemical that causes paralysis in fleas and ticks, or selamectin, which blocks the nerve signals of fleas and ticks. Imidacloprid is not effective against ticks, but is found in some treatments for fleas.

Tips for Applying Flea and Tick Treatments

Though generally thought to be safe when used as directed, these powerful chemicals can be harmful to you and your pets if misapplied. Read all of the instructions in the treatments and strictly follow them. Never use a dog treatment on a cat, or a cat treatment on a dog. Certain chemicals that are safe for dogs may be harmful to cats, and vice versa.

Know your pet’s weight and choose a product that is suitable for him or her. Don’t split the dose for a large dog in half for two small dogs. Never use the treatments on pregnant or elderly animals.

After applying the treatment, watch your pet for signs of poisoning, including dilated pupils, vomiting, tremors, salivating, shivering, hiding, and skin irritation.

Consider Natural Flea and Tick Treatments

Of course, the easiest way to avoid harm from these products is to purchase all-natural treatments instead. Linalool and d-limonene are derived from citrus fruits and can disrupt the nervous systems of insects. Shampoos containing d-limonene, oatmeal, and essential oils like peppermint, cedar, and cloves gently and effectively wash away fleas and ticks. They also leave your pet smelling and feeling clean and fresh.

Read up on flea and tick treatments before you apply one to your pet. For more information on safe and effective flea and tick treatments, contact me today!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance

To Avoid Food-borne Illness, Wash Your Vegetables and Fruits

Blog_07162014_5767011_sIt’s midsummer in Minnesota, and despite the weather roller-coaster we’ve been riding, seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripe for the picking. Those of us with gardens are seeing tomatoes plump up and cucumbers and zucchini ripen overnight. Grocery store shoppers are enjoying fresher, more local produce, too. Before you sink your teeth into your favorite summertime fruit or veggie, take a moment to consider your safety. Whether you’re pulling your snack out of the ground or plucking it from a store shelf, all produce has been exposed to soil and water that may carry contaminants. If you’re buying from a store, your produce has been handled by many people and transported by truck or rail to your shopping cart. Hundreds of food products have been recalled by the FDA since the beginning of the year, including many fresh produce foods. The harmful bacteria salmonella and listeria monocytogenes are the primary offenders. How Do You Avoid Illness? Wash, Wash, Wash! To avoid getting sick from your favorite fruits and veggies, you need to get out the soap and water. Here are some tips for washing your produce.

  • Only wash produce when you’re ready to eat or cook it. Washing it before you store it may actually increase bacterial growth.
  • Wash your hands with warm soap and water before you wash your produce. You do not want to transfer germs on your hands to your food.
  • Clean your tools, including knives, cutting boards, and countertops, to avoid germ transfer.
  • Wash away bacteria. But bleach and dish detergents are no-no’s because produce can absorb the chemicals. I recommend washing your fruits and veggies with an organic, plant-based rinse.
  • Rub or soak vegetables to wash away bacteria. Firm fruits such as melons can be scrubbed with a brush.
  • Dry produce with a paper towel or clean cloth. This can also remove bacteria.
  • Trim outermost leaves of cabbage or head lettuce.

Produce-Specific Tips Some fruits and vegetables require extra care. Use these tips to make sure you’re washing your produce properly.

  • Soft fruits such as peaches and plums: Wash under running water and dry.
  • Firm produce such as apples and cucumbers: Wash well to remove any waxy preservative. Peeling is also an option.
  • Leafy greens:Discard outer leaves and soak the individual remaining leaves in water before rinsing them under the tap. Some people use vinegar on greens, but that will change the veggie’s taste and texture.
  • Grapes, cherries, and berries:Don’t wash these fruits until you eat or use them. Before you store them, get rid of any moldy or spoiled fruit. Wash under running water when ready to eat.

Summer is the time when many of us relish the tasty juiciness of fresh produce. Washing your fruits and vegetables will ensure that you’re safe while doing so. To learn more about keeping produce safe and healthy, contact me!

Here’s to breathing easy and living life to the fullest!

Gene Wood, Life’s Pure Balance