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  • the non-toxic home

    this is from an American website, however, it's relevant to the Australian home as many of the products we use contain the same ingredients as those in America. This is the website:

    Fact Sheet: Safe Substitutes at Home: Non-toxic Household Products
    Reprinted with permission by
    Tennessee Valley Authority
    Regional Waste Management Department

    This material was excerpted from:

    Safe Substitutes at Home: Non-toxic Household Products
    Gary A. Davis and Em Turner
    University of Tennessee - Knoxville Waste Management Institute
    Working Paper

    The Household Toxics Tour
    Toxic chemicals in the home can be eliminated simply by making thoughtful choices in the supermarket after educating oneself about where the hazards are in common consumer products. How can you determine what toxics you have in your home? Take this "toxics tour."

    In the Kitchen
    All-purpose cleaner, ammonia-based cleaners, bleach, brass or other metal polishes, dishwater detergent, disinfectant, drain cleaner, floor wax or polish, glass cleaner, dishwashing detergent, oven cleaner, and scouring powder contain dangerous chemicals. Some examples are:

    sodium hypochlorite (in chlorine bleach): if mixed with ammonia, releases toxic chloramine gas. Short-term exposure may cause mild asthmatic symptoms or more serious respiratory problems;

    petroleum distillates (in metal polishes): short-term exposure can cause temporary eye clouding; longer exposure can damage the nervous system, skin, kidneys, and eyes;

    ammonia (in glass cleaner): eye irritant, can cause headaches and lung irritation;

    phenol and cresol (in disinfectants): corrosive; can cause diarrhea, fainting, dizziness, and kidney and liver damage;

    nitrobenzene (in furniture and floor polishes): can cause skin discoloration, shallow breathing, vomiting, and death; associated with cancer and birth defects;

    formaldehyde (a preservative in many products): suspected human carcinogen; strong irritant to eyes, throat, skin, and lungs.

    In the Utility Closet
    A number of products are likely to contain toxic ingredients: carpet cleaner, room deodorizer, laundry softener, laundry detergent, anti-cling sheets, mold and mildew cleaner, mothballs, and spot remover all usually contain irritant or toxic substances. Examples:

    perchloroethylene or 1-1-1 trichloroethane solvents (in spot removers and carpet cleaners): can cause liver and kidney damage if ingested; perchloroethylene is an animal carcinogen and suspected human carcinogen;

    naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene (in mothballs): naphthalene is a suspected human carcinogen that may damage eyes, blood, liver, kidneys, skin, and the central nervous system; paradichlorobenzene can harm the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys;

    hydrochloric acid or sodium acid sulfate in toilet bowl cleaner; either can burn the skin or cause vomiting diarrhea and stomach burns if swallowed; also can cause blindness if inadvertently splashed in the eyes;

    residues from fabric softeners, as well as the fragrances commonly used in them, can be irritating to susceptible people;

    possible ingredients of spray starch (aside from the starch) include formaldehyde, phenol, and pentachlorophenol; in addition, any aerosolized particle, including cornstarch, may irritate the lungs.

    In the Living Room and Bedroom
    Even the furnishings of the typical American home can be harmful. Fabrics that are labeled "wrinkle-resistant" are usually treated with a formaldehyde resin. These include no-iron sheets and bedding, curtains, sleep wear -- any woven fabric, but especially polyester/cotton blends, marketed as "permanent press" or "easy care." More modern furniture is made of pressed wood products emits formaldehyde and other chemicals. Carpeting is usually made of synthetic fibers that have been treated with pesticides and fungicide. Many office carpets emit a chemical called 4-phenylcyclohexene, an inadvertent additive to the latex backing used in more commercial and home carpets, which is thought to be one of the chemicals responsible for "sick" office buildings.

    In the Bath
    Numerous cosmetics and personal hygiene products contain hazardous substances. Examples:

    cresol, formaldehyde, glycols, nitrates/nitrosamines and sulfur compounds in shampoos;

    butane propellants in hair spray (replacing carcinogenic methylene chloride), as well as formaldehyde resins;

    aerosol propellants, ammonia, formaldehyde, triclosan, aluminum chlorhydrate in antiperspirants and deodorants'

    glycols, phenol, fragrance, and colors in lotions, creams, and moisturizers.

    In the Studio or Hobby Room
    Although legislation controlling many of the dangerous ingredients in hobby materials has recently been passed, exposure to certain art materials remains a health risk. Dangerous chemicals and metals include:

    lead in ceramic glazes, stained-glass materials, and many pigments;

    cadmium in silver solders, pigments, ceramic glazes and fluxes;

    chromium in paint pigments and ceramic colores;

    manganese dioxide in ceramic colors and some brown oil and acrylic paint pigments;

    cobalt in some blue oil and acrylic paint pigments;

    formaldehyde as a preservation in many acrylic paints and photographic products;

    aromatic hydrocarbons in paint and varnish removers, aerosol sprays, permanent markers, etc.;

    chlorinated hydrocarbons (solvents) in ink, varnish, and paint removers, rubber cement, aerosol sprays;

    petroleum distillates (solvents) in paint and rubber cement thinners, spray adhesives, silk-screen inks;

    glycol ethers and acetates in photography products, lacquer thinners, paints, and aerosol sprays.

    In the Garage
    A number of dangerous substances are frequently present, including paint, paint thinner, benzene, kerosene, mineral spirits, turpentine, lubricating/motor oils, and gasoline. Hazards among them include these chemicals:

    chlorinated aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons in paint thinner can cause liver and kidney damage;

    petroleum hydrocarbons, an ingredient of gasoline, motor oils, and benzene, are associated with skin and lung cancer;

    mineral spirits in oil-based paint are a skin, eye, nose throat, and lung irritant. High air concentrations can cause nervous system damage, unconsciousness and death;

    ketones in paint thinner may cause respiratory ailments; vary according to specific form of the chemical;

    ketones and toluene in wood putty; toluene in highly toxic, may cause skin, kidney, liver, central nervous system damage; may damage reproductive system.

    In the Garden Shed
    Pesticides, one of the most important single hazards in the home. Around 1,400 pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides are ingredients in consumer products. Combined with other toxic substances such as solvents, pesticides are present in more than 34,000 different product formulations.

    On the Patio
    Charcoal lighter fluid contains petroleum distillates. Besides being flammable and imparting a chemical taste to food, some petroleum distillates contain benzene, a known human carcinogen.

    Safe Substitues for Household Toxics
    Until World War II and the zenith of the Chemical Age that followed war-related research, householders used a limited number of simple substances to keep most objects in the house clean, order-free, and pest-free. Soap, vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, ammonia, borax, alcohol, cornstarch, and certain food ingredients were used to lift out spots and stains, deodorize, polish wood or metal, disinfect, scrub, repel pests, clean pets, wash and starch clothes, and to perform countless other household tasks. Simple cosmetic preparations kept hair lustrous and skin supplied with the aid of ingredients such as eggs, oil, clay, vinegar, and herbs.

    The garden was fertilized and pests were kept down with naturally occurring substances. Weeds were weeded by hand. Even though some natural pesticides, like nicotine and rotenone, were indeed toxic to humans, they were not persistent in the environment. They degrade soon after application. Pyrethrum, a pesticide derived from a variety of chrysanthemum which is nontoxic to mammals, controlled a wide spectrum of pests. Although it is till widely used, it is usually mixed with other chemicals to increase its potency.

    Buildings of the past were made with wood, brick, stone, glass, plaster, and cement. Furniture was made of solid wood, oiled to keep it polished. Rugs or carpets were made of wool or cotton. Insulation was built in by making walls thick, and roofing was constructed from wood shingles or tiles of clay or stone. Walls were plastered. Windows were made to be opened, so at least in good weather there was plenty of natural ventilation.

    But toxic materials also were present in homes of the past. Not knowing enough about their hazards, housewives used such chemicals as arsenic, lead, and mercury to perform certain household chores. Interior and exterior paints were often made with lead; many American children are still living with the legacy of lead poisoning caused by eating chips of leaded paint. Asbestos, called a miracle mineral when its fire-resistant properties were discovered, is now known to be a cancer causer that contaminates hundreds of thousands of residences, schools, and other buildings in this country.

    We do not need to return to the ways of the past to avoid exposure to house toxics, but we can take some lessons from the past for a better future. How can we do this?

    But Safe Substitutes. For example, search for a soap-based garden insecticide (at least one national brand is available) instead of chemically--based ones. Appendix 1 for sources of safe substitutes.

    When in Doubt, Leave it Out. In cases where there is no effective safe substitute for a toxic product, reevaluate how important the goal really is. Must you absolutely get rid of all insects in your garden, or can you live with some chewed-up leaves? If the goal is absolutely imperative, such as ensuring that termites do not invade your house, it is important to educate yourself thoroughly. You may have more healthful alternatives than your local pest company tells you.

    Safe Substitutes in the Kitchen and Bath
    One shelf of simple and relatively safe ingredients can be used to perform most home cleaning chores. All that's needed is a knowledge of how they work and how different ingredients should be combined to get the cleaning power needed for a specific job.

    Baking Soda is sodium bicarbonate. It has a number of useful properties. It can neutralize acid, scrub shiny materials without scratching, deodorize, and extinguish grease fires. It can be used as a deodorizer in the refrigerator, on smelly carpets, on upholstery and on vinyl. It can help deodorize drains. It can clean and polish aluminum, chrome, jewelry, plastic, porcelain, silver, stainless steel, and tin. It also softens fabrics and removes certain stains. Baking soda can soften hard water and makes a relaxing bath time soak; it can be used as an underarm deodorant and as a toothpaste, too.

    Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, soluble in water. It can deodorize, inhibit the growth of mildew and mold, boost the cleaning power of soap or detergent, remove stains, and can be used with attractants such as sugar to kill cockroaches.

    Cornstarch, derived from corn, can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs, and starch clothes.

    Isopropyl Alcohol is an excellent disinfectant.

    Lemon Juice, which contains citric acid, is a deodorant and can be used to clean glass and remove stains from aluminum, clothes, and porcelain. It is a mild lightener or bleach if used with sunlight.

    Mineral Oil, derived from seeds, is an ingredient in several furniture polish and floor wax recipes.

    Soap (NOT detergent) is made in several ways. Castle soap can beuse d as a shampoo or as a body soap. Olive-oil based soap is gentlest to the skin. An all-purpose liquid soap can be made by simple dissolving the old ends of bar soap (or grated slivers of bar soap) in warm water.

    Steel Wool is an abrasive strong enough to remove rust and stubborn food residues and to scour barbeque grills.

    TSP is trisodium phosphate, a mixture of soda ash and phosphoric acid. TSP is toxic if swallowed, but it can be used on many jobs, such as cleaning drains or removing old paint, that would normally require much more caustic and poisonous chemicals, and it does not create any fumes.

    Vinegar is made from soured applied juice, grain, or wine. It contains about 5 percent acetic acid, which makes it a mild acid. Vinegar can dissolve mineral deposits, grease, remove traces of soap, remove mildew or wax buildup, polish some metals, and deodorize. Vinegar can clean brick or stone, and is an ingredient in some natural carpet cleaning recipes. Use vinegar to clean out the metallic taste in coffeepots and to shine windows without streaking. Vinegar is normally used in a solution with water, but it can be used straight.

    Washing Soda or SAL Soda is a sodium carbonate decahydrate, a mineral. It can cut stubborn grease on grills, broiler pans, and ovens. It can be used with soda instead of laundry detergent, and it softens hard water. These items are available from drug and chemical-supply stores.

    For common household tasks, try these nontoxic strategies using the above ingredients:
    Freshen air by opening windows and doors for a short period; distribute partially filled dishes of vinegar around the kitchen to combat unpleasant cooking odors; boil cinnamon and cloves in a pan of water to scent the air; sprinkle 1/2 cup borax in the bottom of garbage pails or diaper pails to inhibit mold and bacteria growth that can cause odors; rub vinegar on hands before and after slicing onions to remove the smell; use bowls of potpourri to give inside air a pleasant scent.

    All-purpose cleaner can be made from a vinegar-and-salt mixture or from 4 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in 1 quart warm water.

    Disinfectant means anything that will reduce the number of harmful bacteria on a surface. Practically no surface treatment will completely eliminate bacteria. Try regular cleaning with soap and hot water. Or mix 1/2 cup borax into 1 gallon of hot water to disinfect and deodorize. Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent disinfectant, but use gloves and keep it away from children.

    Drain cleaner. Try a plunger first, though not after using any commercial drain opener. To open clogs, pour 1/2 cup baking soda down drain, add 1/2 cup white vinegar, and cover the drain. The resulting chemical reaction can break fatty acids down into the soap and glycerine, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. Again, do not use this method after trying a commercial drain opener--the vinegar can react with the drain opener to create dangerous fumes.

    Floor cleaner and polish can be as simple as a few drops of vinegar in the cleaning water to remove soap traces. For vinyl or linoleum, add a capful of baby oil to the water to preserve and polish. For wood floors, apply a thin coat of 1:1 oil and vinegar and rub in well. For painted wooden floors, mix 1 teaspoon washing soda into 1 gallon hot water. For brick and stone tiles, use 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon water and rinse with clear water.

    Metal cleaners and polishes are different for each metal -- just as in commercial cleaners. Clean aluminum with a solution of cream of tartar and water. Brass may be polished with a soft cloth dipped in lemon-and baking-soda solution, or vinegar- and-salt solution. Polish chrome with baby oil, vinegar, or aluminum foil shiny slide out. Clean tarnished copper by boiling the article in a pot of water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 cup white vinegar, or try differing mixtures of salt, vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, andcre am of tartar. Clean gold with toothpaste, pewter with a paste of salt, vinegar, and flour. Silver can be polished by boiling it in a pan lined with aluminum foil and filled with water to which a teaspoon each of baking soda and salt have been added. Stainless steel can be cleaned with undiluted white vinegar.

    Oven cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda on moist surface and scrub with steel wool. Or use Arm & Hammer Oven Cleaner, declared nontoxic by Consumers Union.

    Scouring powder can be made from baking soda or dry table salt. Or try Bon-Ami Cleaning Powder or Bon-Ami Polishing Cleaner.

    Toilet bowl cleaner can be made from straight bleach (do NOT mix with any other substance except water), baking soda and vinegar, or borax and lemon juice.

    Tub and tile cleaner can be as easy as rubbing in baking soda with a damp sponge and rinsing, or wiping with vinegar first and following with baking soda as a scouring powder.

    Window and glass cleaner is easy with these tips: to avoid streaks, don't wash windows when the sun is shining. Use a vinegar-and-water solution, cornstarch-vinegar-and-water solution, or lemon-juice-and-water. Wipe with newspaper unless you are sensitive to the inks in newsprint.

    Safe Substitutes for Laundry Products
    Detergent is specially adapted to clean synthetic fabrics, and it has the added advantage of not leaving soil residues even in hard water. However, detergents are generally derived from petrochemicals, and people sensitive to these compounds may find it hard to tolerate detergents or the fragrances they are scented with. In addition, most detergents contain phosphates, which build up in streams and lakes and upset the natural balance in waterways, causing blooms of algae which deplete the dissolved oxygen fish need to live. Some detergent may even contain naphthalene or phenol, both hazardous substances.

    An effective alternative to using detergents is to return to soap. Soap is an effective cleaner for natural fabrics, leaving such items as diapers softer than detergent can. For cotton and linen, use soap to soften water. A cup of vinegar added to the wash can help keep colors bright (but DO NOT use vinegar if you are using bleach -- the resulting fumes are hazardous). One-half to three-quarters of a cup of baking soda will leave clothes soft and fresh smelling. Silks and wools may be hand washed with mild soap or a protein shampoo, down or feathers with mild soap or baking soda.

    For synthetic fabrics or blends (including most no-iron fabrics), there are biodegradable detergents on the market that do not contain phosphates, fragrances, or harsh chemicals. They are often imported from Europe and are available at health food stores or by mail order.

    Safe Substitutes for Personal Hygiene and Cosmetic Products
    We use cosmetics and hygiene products for a fairly narrow range of reasons: to keep skin moist and supple; to clean hair without stripping it of natural oils; to eliminate unpleasant body or mouth orders; to prevent skin oiliness and clogged skin pores; and simply for the pleasure of relaxing and pampering ourselves with body-care or facial-care treatments. The following ingredients can help achieve these purposes without the use of toxic additives, synthetic fragrances, or artificial colorings:

    Moisturizers and conditioners: egg yolk, milk, yogurt, safflower oil (for light moisturizing), olive oil (for dry skin or hair), water, oatmeal, jojoba oil.

    Astringents/after shaves: witch hazel, diluted isopropyl alcohol.

    Deodorants: baking soda, white clay, deodorant crystals.

    Toothpastes: baking soda, salt.

    Soaps cleansing agents: castle soap, olive-oil based soap.

    Perfumes: essential oils provide nontoxic fragrances that can be used to scent shampoo, bath soaks, or even, in the case of peppermint, to flavor toothpaste.

    Although it's easy to make healthful alternatives to many cosmetic and hygiene products, any natural-foods store has a fairly wide selection of shampoos, moisturizers, toothpastes, after shaves, soaps, and bath products that do not contain the harmful ingredients in many commercial preparations.

    Safe Substitutes for Art and Hobby Materials
    There are some nontoxic choices that can be made when buying art or craft supplies, but because some techniques require certain materials, minimizing exposure may be the best you can do.

    In painting and print making, ready-mixed water-based paints or inks can be used. If you must be exposed to paint dust, use toxic dust respirator approved by the National Institute for OccupationalSaf ety and Health (NIOSH). Ventilate the space thoroughly whenever using any kind of solvents, whether in painting or in lithography, intaglio, or photoetching. Solvents also should be avoided while pregnant.

    Enamels are usually lead-based, and can contain other toxic metals such as cadmium and nickel. Use lead-free-enamels whenever possible, and make sure kilns are vented outside.

    In pottery as well, outside vented kilns are important, as is a careful choice of materials -- most potters know to avoid lead glazes and lead frits, but many don't know that flint, feldspars, fluorspar, and some compounds containing barium, lithium, manganese, or nickel can also be toxic. Children should avoid the pottery studio, as they are more highly susceptible to the toxics used in pottery than are adults.

    Photography presents a number of toxic hazards which are difficult to avoid. Minimize exposure to photo chemical by using gloves, mixing chemicals in a mixing box with holes in the sides for gloved hands, and providing adequate ventilation. The Health and Welfare Office of Canada suggests at least 10 room air changes per hour. Children under 12 should avoid the darkroom.

    Safe Substitutes for Pesticides in Home and Garden
    Against pests in the home, the best offense is a good defense. The first step is to make the house -- especially the kitchen -- unattractive to insects by cleaning up food spills immediately, keeping hard-to-reach areas reasonably clean, and removing clutter that can hide pests. Store foods attractive to pests, such as flour, in the refrigerator. Water attracts pests, so leaky faucets and pipes should be promptly repaired. Doors and windows should be well screened. Cloths should be regularly cleaned and aired, and properly stored in paper or cardboard boxes sealed against moths.

    A number of nontoxic substances can be used to repel insects. Generally, they are highly fragrant or volatile herbs or spices. Powdered red chill pepper, peppermint, bay leaves, cloves, citrus oil, lavender, rosemary, tobacco, peppercorns, and cedar oil can repel various types of insects.

    Insects can be trapped and killed without resorting to dangerous chemicals: generally a poison nontoxic to humans is mixed with a food that insects find attractive, and spread in the infested area. Examples are oatmeal (attractive) and plaster-of-Paris (poisonous), and cocoa powder and flour (attractive) and borax (poisonous). Old-fashioned flypaper -- not a hanging strip of insecticide -- is an effective trap. For specific house pests, try these solutions:

    For ants: sprinkle powdered red chill pepper, paprika, dried peppermint, or borax where the ants are entering.

    For beetles: Kill manually when you see them.

    For cockroaches: Mix by stirring and sifting 1 ounce TSP, 6 ounces borax, 4 ounces sugar, and 8 ounces flour. Spread on floor of infested area. Repeat after 4 days and again after 2 weeks.

    For fleas: Feed pet brewer's yeast in powder mixed with food or by tablets.

    For moths: Air clothes well in the sun; store in airtight containers, and scatter sachets of lavender, cedar chips, or dried tobacco in with clothing.

    For rats and mice: Again, prevention may be the best cure. Holes in exterior or interior walls should be closed off and storage spaces kept orderly. Garbage should be kept tightly covered. To catch rodents, the most efficient system is the oldest: a cat. Next best are mouse and rat traps.

    For termites: Any wooden parts of the house should be at least 18 inches off the ground, as subterranean termites cannot tolerate being exposed to air and light. They have to build easily visible mud tunnels to get at available wood. However, most existing houses have only about an 8-inch clearance between wooden parts and the ground, which makes the wood vulnerable. Metal shields may help discourage termites, but they cannot prevent infestations.

    To treat existing termite infestations, there are a few nontoxic alternatives: the "Extermax" system, available in California; and the use of a particular species of nematodes to eat them, a system available from N-Viro Products, Ltc.

    For gardens: In hardware stores, look for new brands of safer insecticides that use soap-and water solution to get rid of aphids, or pyrethrum for a number of applications. As more and more people understand the hazards of organic chemicals in the home, market pressure will encourage the introduction of safer products.

    Several naturally derived pesticides exist which, in some cases, are less toxic to humans than the organophosphates, carbamates, or organochlorines now widely used. Nicotine is the most toxic, poisonous both to humans and to other mammals, as well as to birds and fish. It is not available commercially for home gardeners because of its hazards. Rotenone, moderately toxic to humans, kills a wide range of insects; however, it should never be used near a waterway, as it is very toxic to fish. Ryania kills only a few species, including the European corn borer, codling moth, and cranberry fruit worm. Pyrethrum is relatively nontoxic to humans and only slightly toxic to aquatic life, so it may be the best choice for home gardens. Sabadilla controls lice, leafhoppers, squash bugs, striped cucumber beetles, and chinch bugs. It has low toxicity to wildlife, but it may be toxic to bees.

    For lawns: Herbicides are most often used to kill "unsightly" weeds in gardens and yards, and by lawn care companies to maintain the perfect appearance of turf around homes and on lawns and golf courses. Basically, the safe alternative to herbicides is simple: pull weeds by hand. There are no really safe herbicides.

    Safe Substitutes for the Patio
    A simple and much more effective alternative exists for the charcoal lighter fluid used to start the backyard barbeque. A metal, chimney-pipe cylinder, which holds the charcoal above a burning piece of newspaper and relies on the air flow under the charcoal to quickly bring it to glowing hot, is available at most discount stores. It readies the charcoal for cooking much more quickly without the chemical taste and fire hazard of lighter fluid.

    The Safe Home of the 21st Century
    Because Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, it is crucial to make the home environment as safe as possible. Indoor pollutants have proliferated in recent years, often either because modern construction techniques and furnishings manufacturers utilize hazardous materials or because consumers do not know enough about the products they buy to make informed choices.

    But safe, nontoxic alternatives exist for nearly every real need around the home, and the search for them may help consumers distinguish between what they really do need, and what may be "luxuries" that could compromise their families' health.

    Any mention of a brand name or company is for the reader's convenience and does not constitute endorsement by TVA.

  • #2
    good to see the word getting out

    we have an as near as possible toxin free home

    we never buy toxic cleaning products or personal care products

    our house is specially constructed with no toxic materials and no glues - special paint - no carpet or vinyl - no rubber backed curtains

    and all our furniture is solid wood or metal no particle board ( not even the kitchen cupboards) minimal foam rubber - minimal plastics

    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle


    • #3

      Frosty, did you use "Biopaint" for inside your house? I heard it has to be repainted every 2-3 years. I have had troubles finding a natural flooring material for a concrete slab. I had been looking at natural cork flooring, which is sustainably harvested, but unfortunately all the adhesives and topcoat finishes available contain toxic nasties. Could have used a tiled floor, but too cold in winter here in Melbourne.
      "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit beneath."


      • #4
        Hi peter

        not sure about how long they last :oops: we painted the old house then sold it and this time they have only been on so far about 2 years :lol: seems alright so far .........

        we have tiled floors but had to be careful even then to find a safe tile cement and there is only one grout available here that does not have fungicide

        would tiles still be too cold if you had woolen rugs in strategic places ? woven rugs are not toxic like wall to wall carpet

        we have a warm climate but even when it is cold I have never found tiles seem cold but I guess its what you are used to .......

        I would not consider cork for me because of the sealers and adhesives

        have you thought of natural timber ( not this laminated stuff )on battens bolted to the floor then nailed to the battens

        also Marmoleum is a safe proper linoleum type floor ........ it is available in Australia but hard to get in WA

        Only after the last tree has been cut down,
        only after the last river has been poisoned,
        only after the last fish has been caught.
        only then will you find
        that money cannot be eaten"
        Chief Seattle


        • #5
          Re: Biopaint

          Originally posted by Peter Clements
          I have had troubles finding a natural flooring material for a concrete slab. .............................Could have used a tiled floor, but too cold in winter here in Melbourne.
          Peter, what part of Melbourne are you in that would be too cold for a tiled floor? We are in the Yarra Valley, usually about 2 deg C colder that metropolitan Melbourne, and all we've got is hardwood floors, with no subfloor insulation.

          My uncle lives in Scoresby and has slate throughout his entire solid brick home. No other heating other than an open fire, no carpet, and until recently, no curtains! :lol: Slate on a concrete slab would have to have the same insulating properties as a tiled floor. He grew up in the tropics and has never complained about his home being cold, plus, he's raised 6 children in that home!!!

          I'd be going with Frosty's suggestion of a timber floor attached to battons. This would actually be my preference if I was to build a new house too. A good timber floor can be treated with beeswax and polished in the old fashioned way. I don't know for sure, but I'd reckon this'd be pretty safe for chemically sensative people too. (Frosty, can you confirm this please?)

          And then if you're after a really nice natural floor rug to dress up your beautiful new timber floor, or polished concrete as some people are doing nowadays, :? I've got a stunning Belted Galloway Steer for sale! :lol: :lol: :lol: All organically grown (although not certified organic) and he'll fill the freezer for you too!




          • #6
            Hi Tam and Peter

            basically timber is quite safe although some people do have problems with strong smelling timber like pine

            we would have loved to have a jarrah floor here but the cost stopped it

            the old place at Waroona was an old house with a timber floor and we loved it .......... the only small probalem with timber is that you have to be a bit careful not to scratch it with chairs etc we had a large rug under the table and chairs and another under the the rocking chairs

            Only after the last tree has been cut down,
            only after the last river has been poisoned,
            only after the last fish has been caught.
            only then will you find
            that money cannot be eaten"
            Chief Seattle


            • #7

              Did your old house at Waroona have baltic pine floors or some sort of hardwood? My friend's beautiful old Californian Bungalow in Caulfield has baltic pine in the old section an tassie oak in the new. The baltic floors are quite a bit softer than the tassie oak, which is a hardwood. It's incredibly beautiful but also very expensive and to have continued it throughout the house would've blown their renovation budget all out of proportion. With their little kids too, it's also a lot more prone to damage than the tassie oak.

              We had tassie oak in our old place, and local hardwood (eucalypt) here. I prefer the tassie oak on appearance, and it was incredibly durable. My kids ride their pedal cars, bikes, and push their tonka trucks all over the house. The great thing about the polished boards is that everything goes a lot faster! :lol:

              A friend of mine recently built a house in Tewantin and had hardwood floors sealed with polyurathane. She regretted it afterwards and suggested that in future, she would use beeswax (hence my suggestion/query re it's risks) cos any scratches can simply be touched up with a little more beeswax, unlike a polyurathane finish (which I woudn't use personally) which would require an entire resurfacing.

              Another great thing about timber is that IT IS possible to sand back and re do, several times if necessary. There is a limit though because of the depth of the tongue and groove, but even after 15 years in our old place (we weren't there for the 15 years, but that's how old the house was and we knew the entire history of it) The original finish of the floors was still immaculate. Four families had lived there, and all four had small children. That's also the reason they left, including us, but that's another story.

              I just love timber floors!



              • #8
                Hi Tam

                the floor at Waroona was jarrah ...... if you arent familiar with jarrah it is a uniquely WA hardwood redish in colour

                when we bought the house it had carpets which we ripped up and sanded and sealed the floors ....... we used a product called Ardvos made by Livos - a totally plant based product ......... it is basically safe but I got sensitised to it because I did a lot of the sealing myself and of course breathed in mega amounts ........ very silly thing to do :oops: .......thus once we moved in touching up was out of the question

                I would never have any type of polyurethane in my home

                I thought your query about beeswax meant timber floors :oops: beeswax itself would be ok but most beeswax sold in shops is not pure ........ had a tin of beeswax for putting on furniture but couldnt tolerate it andit smelled really scenty plus solventy ..........also dont you have to mix it with a solvent or something ?

                we have a jarrah benchtop int the kitchen and just coated in with olive oil ....... its not shiny but it seems reasonable .......... have to be careful of anything liquid because if it spills it runs through into the cupboard below :lol:

                fortunately we have a big chopping block bench in the middle of the kitchen that we mainly use ......... we found it by chance in a shop in Fremantle ........ it is made from recycled timber and is big and heavy ....... it takes 4 blokes to lift it :shock: it is the only piece of furniture we have that could remotely be considered stylish :lol: :lol: :lol:

                Only after the last tree has been cut down,
                only after the last river has been poisoned,
                only after the last fish has been caught.
                only then will you find
                that money cannot be eaten"
                Chief Seattle


                • #9
                  Jarrah floors - Ahhhhhhh beautiful.

                  I'm not sure about the beeswax, whether it's in a solid form and polished in or what. I remember when I was little we had polished boards in our family home and mum had this big noisy machine with 2 round brushes on it. She had to apply something to the brushes and polish the floors with it. (???)

                  What about linseed oil? Cos my hubby uses that on his guitar neck.

                  Frosty, I thought about you today when my inlaws came visiting. (I hope they never read this! :oops: ) :lol: My MIL is very fussy about her appearance and comes to our place all dressed up, full face of makeup, jewellery, matching earings and perfume. It caught down my throat! <cough, cough> And I thought, how offensive this stuff is. One wears it for their own selfishness and inflicts it's fumes on anyone who comes near them whether against their will.

                  You know, that's why my hubby stopped going to the garden club. There's a lot of elderly ladies there (bless them) (I think I might have mentioned this before) and they love their perfume. By the end of the evenings, my hubbys eyes would be all puffy and he couldn't breath through his nose. Needless to say I wouldn't sleep a wink that night with the snoring! :lol:



                  • #10
                    Hi Tam

                    linseed oil is supposed to be diluted with kero or some other solvent

                    we tried it neat on a door frame at Waroona and it never dried :lol: :lol: I would bet it is still tacky to this day !

                    I can certainly understand the perfumed older ladies thing :lol: I am getting rather good at picking the type even from a distance :lol: :lol:

                    although now days a lot of young men seem to go for an excess of aftershave too :shock:

                    seems to be trendy type thing with the young ........ most of the activsits types both male and female dont use much smelly stuff where as the capitalist types do :lol:

                    a good excuse to post " Why capitalists want to sell you deodorant " :lol: :lol:

                    Body smells are erotic and sensual. Capitalists don't like that because they are impotent and opposed to all manifestations of sensuality and sexuality. Sexually-awakened people are potentially dangerous to capitalists and their rigid, asexual system.

                    Body smells remind us that we are animals. Capitalists don't want to be reminded of that. Animals are dirty. They eat things off the ground. They are openly sexual. They don't wear tuxedos or corsets or have their hair done.

                    Body smells are unique. Everyone has her own body smell. Capitalists don't like individuality. There are millions of body smells but only a few deodorant smells. Capitalists like that.

                    Deodorants are harmful. Many capitalists like that because they are always looking for new illnesses to cure. Capitalists love to invent new medicines. Medicines make money for them and win them prizes. They also cause new illnesses so that they can invent even more medicines.

                    Deodorants cost you money. Capitalists are especially pleased about that.

                    Deodorants hide the damage that capitalists' products cause to your body. Eating meat and other body pollutants sold by capitalists makes you smell. Wearing pantyhose makes you smell. Capitalists don't want you to stop wearing pantyhose or eating body pollutants.

                    Deodorant-users are insecure. Capitalists like insecure people. Insecure people don't start trouble. Insecure people also buy room freshners, hair conditioners, and makeup.

                    Deodorants are unnecessary. Capitalists are very proud of that and they win marketing awards for it.
                    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
                    only after the last river has been poisoned,
                    only after the last fish has been caught.
                    only then will you find
                    that money cannot be eaten"
                    Chief Seattle


                    • #11
                      hi there, i read this board most every day but don't come out of the woodwork often - but "Why capitalists want to sell you deodorant" has gotta get a barrel full of smileys!
                      :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
                      thanks Frosty!



                      • #12
                        just to prove im not a "Ignorist"frosty i totally agre with your post ...

                        I reckon its a classic and sums it up well....Its that good i think it mustta been thought up by a Pollitition by mistake

                        "Permaculture. Just Do It"
                        Available to teach various Permie Subjects
                        Allmost 24 years experience
                        Living in over 1 acre town suburban block
                        Proud Member Posting in the "Worldwide Permaculture Network"
                        under "Bandicoothights"


                        • #13
                          Concrete Floors vs Timber

                          Hi Frosty and Tam,
                          I agree that timber floors are beautiful to walk on, look great and are made from a sustainably harvested resource. Unfortunately they require good ventilation beneath them to stop them rotting, which equates to heat loss/ poor insulation. Due to the high cost of labour these days, virtually all new houses are built on a concrete slab if possible (even though the energy used in making concrete is horrendous). So you are left with dealing with how to finish a concrete slab. If you have big bucks you can lay timber battens on the concrete floor and lay real timber flooring on top of that, to allow ventilation beneath the timber to prevent warping. The problem here is that the flooring sits 50mm off the top of the slab, and butting up to other materials is a problem. The cheap'n'nasty way is to glue 15mm thick timber directly onto the slab with adhesive. I personally find tiles to be too hard under foot and they "suck" heat out of your feet in cool climates (although they are delightfully cool in tropical climates). So in my opinion I'm left with choice between carpet, cork or marmoleum. I reckon large sheets of marmoleum look too clinical, like in a hospital. Going Solar used to distribute an eco cork adhesive from Germany, but it isnt made any longer. Dilemmas abound!
                          "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit beneath."


                          • #14
                            "Why capitalists want to sell you deodorant"

                            Frosty, that is brilliant! How I wish I had the balls to sent it to my inlaws. I can't believe I still allow them to intimidate me!

                            (Although I must say, I do like wearing my mascara and as everyone knows, I do enjoy eating meat, but it does all make an awful lot of sense!!!)