Homemade Baking Soda Clay Ornaments Review – Does it Work?

Originally posted on 12/05/2012

2 out of 5 leaves

2 out of 5 leaves

Baking Soda Clay.  Have you seen this one pop up on Pinterest?  (Examples here, here, and here.)  With a simple combination of baking soda, corn starch and water, you can mix up a beautifully white, smooth, and soft batch of modeling clay.  You mold it or roll it, and then bake in the oven to completely dry it out.  It makes gorgeous clay bowls or Christmas decorations, or fun little critters in the hands of your kiddos.  Or does it?  Does homemade baking soda clay really work?

The Good:

  • Better for you – no weird chemicals here – just three ingredients you already have in your kitchen
  • Better for the earth – homemade means no packaging waste, no shipping trucks, etc
  • Saves money – the ingredients are super cheap – you can whip up a batch of this for less than a dollar
  • Easy – super duper easy to mix up and easy to work with too
  • Pretty – there’s something just gorgeous about snow white dough

The Bad:

  • Tends to crack and warp while drying
  • Very fragile, breaks, chips and crumbles easily
  • Dissolves when it contacts water

My Experience

Baking Soda + Corn Starch + Water = homemade modeling clay?

When I saw this recipe for homemade baking soda clay on Pinterest, I knew immediately that I wanted to try it.  The ingredient list was short and easy, and the mixing directions straightforward.  It was something I could do with the kiddos too, which is always a bonus for me.  I thought it would make great Christmas ornaments (and gifts) if we rolled it out and used cookie cutters to make Christmas-y shapes.

The recipe went together easily, just like the other bloggers promised it would (kind of like instant mashed potatoes).  We waited until it cooled and then rolled it out and cut it just like sugar cookie dough.  I dried the ornaments out in the oven, as instructed, and left them on a plate for about a week before we got around to painting them.  (Because as pretty as snow white ornaments are, when you’re a kid, painting them up is even better).

Pretty right? Just wait until the kids touch them…

When I pulled the unpainted ornaments out of their hiding place, I noticed immediately that a number of them had cracked or broken into pieces.  It seems that many had warped or curled as they dried, and just the weight of another ornament on top was enough to break the bottom layer.  So we lost about a quarter of the ornaments right off the bat.

As the kids were painting them, I realized how fragile these things really were.  We lost another quarter just by the kids handling them.  My little guys are 4 and 2, so they’re still working on perfecting gentle, but by no means were they crazy rough with them either.  I also noticed that any paintbrush water that got onto the ornaments started dissolving the clay after a few minutes.  I guess that oven drying time was only to dry, and not to cure, as I had hoped.

We got about half of them painted intact, optimistically set a few aside for gifts and hung the rest on the fresh Christmas tree.  A week later there are only two left on the tree (out of probably 25 that were originally rolled out).  It turns out that any drop onto the hardwood floor = broken ornament.  Even from a height of just a foot or two.  Also, a certain big brother jealous of his little sister’s gingerbread man ornament that inadvertently ended up looking like Spider Man may have found it a bit too easy to snap off said man’s arms and legs.  (Nothing like this ever happens at your house, right? 😉 )

Overall, this homemade baking soda clay was a Green Idea Fail.  It was easy to make and fun to work with, but did not dry well, or handle well when dry.  I would recommend it as a cheap easy recipe for children’s play clay, but not for any serious arts and crafts work.  I’m not sure if I mixed it up incorrectly, or rolled it too thick, or dried it too much, but this did not work for me.

Have you ever tried out homemade baking soda clay?  Did it work for you?  Or do you have a better recommendation for Christmas ornament clay?

Posted in Baking Soda to the Rescue, Green Holiday Ideas | Tagged | 6 Comments

Removing Pine Tree Sap from Clothing with Rubbing Alcohol Review – Does it Work?

Originally posted 11/11/2012.

All Natural Pine Sap Remover

5 out of 5 leaves

5 out of 5 leaves

Tree sap or resin is a sticky substance that oozes from trees, particularly coniferous (or evergreen) trees. Once it gets on your clothing it can be very difficult to remove, as water seems to have no effect on it’s removal.  There are chemical based bottles of goop on the market that can help you remove it, but they can be expensive, and the safety is questionable.  Can rubbing alcohol, something cheap that you already have at home do the job?

The Good

  • Better for you – rubbing alcohol is safe on your skin in small quantities – just don’t drink it or inhale too deeply (but you knew that, right?)
  • Saves money – rubbing alcohol is super cheap!
  • Saves time – there’s a pretty big chance that you already have this in your bathroom cabinet, saving you a special trip to the store
  • Easy – rub the sap away, and it’s gone!
  • Dries quickly – you can spot treat your clothing and put it right back on without sending it through the wash and dry cycle

The Bad

  • Doesn’t work on all fabrics
  • May cause discoloration on some fabrics, so do a spot test first

My Experience

Icky, Sticky tree sap, just waiting to gum you up for the holidays.  Photo Credit.

Honesty time:  I can’t take credit for this review.  Today as we were getting ready to go out my husband says to me, “I’m doing a Green Idea Review!”  It turns out that he had gotten some pine tree sap on the seat of his favorite jeans, which did not come out in the wash.  He decided to try a different  to remove it.  What a perfect thing to test out during the winter (tree cutting and wood chopping season)!  I was so proud!

He poured a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol on the sappy spots, and rubbed it in with his fingers.  The sap immediately started to dissolve and disappear.  Immediately!  There was a bigger spot that needed a second dose of alcohol, but when wet again, the remainder of the sport came right out.  Then he draped the pants over a fan, and the spot was dry within a couple minutes.

So there you have it.  Quick, and simple, easy sap removal.  I’m sure this tip will come in handy during the holidays as many of us will find ourselves inviting whole trees full of sticky sap into our homes!

Have you ever tried this nifty trick?  Do you have any other strategies for getting sticky pine tar out of your clothing?

P.S. – please remember to do a test spot in an inconspicuous place to ensure that you aren’t about to discolor or otherwise ruin your fabric!

Posted in Green Holiday Ideas | 1 Comment

Natural Silver Polish with Baking Soda and Aluminum Foil Review – Does it Work?

Originally published on 11/14/2013

All Natural Non-Toxic Silver Polish

4 out of 5 leaves

4 out of 5 leaves

The holiday season often bring lots of company, and folks get out their best china and silver to serve the guests.  If you are blessed to have real silver cutlery or serving items, you are likely facing the unpleasant task of removing the tarnish.  Silver tarnish is caused by a chemical reaction between the elemental silver and hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere.  Many silver polishes on the market can remove this sulfer build-up, but are full of toxic chemicals and come with many dire warnings about the bad things that could happen due to contact with the polish.  A more natural way to clean silver is to reverse the chemical reaction with baking soda, aluminum, and hot water.  But does it actually work?

The Good

  • Better for You – three harmless ingredients are all you need to remove the ugly tarnish
  • Better for the Earth – no toxic chemicals are being put into the wastestream
  • Saves Time – the tarnish is removed by soaking, instead of you polishing every square inch by hand – a big bonus when unexpected company arrives!
  • Saves Money – you can remove the tarnish with simple things you already have in your kitchen (aluminum foil and baking soda)
  • Easy – boil water, and dunk – can’t get much simpler than that!

The Bad

  • Not appropriate for silver jewelry with other gemstones in it
  • May take a couple tries for badly tarnished silver
  • Stinks like sulfur (but that means it’s working)

My Experience

Un-tarnishing the silver.

I don’t have a lot of fancy things.  Some “nice” dishes with a pretty pattern (but still from Target).  Some “nice” silverware, that is only slightly more dainty than our everyday cutlery.  A carnival glass bowl inherited from my late grandmother.  And the fancy winner: a silver cake serving set that was given to us as a wedding gift from my Granny.  Of course, I’m so not fancy that I didn’t even realize it was silver until I opened it a few years later and saw it had tarnished.

I’ll be honest: that tarnish scared me a little.  Not in an “I’m so scared!” kind of way, but more of an intimidated, “what occasion could be so nice that I would polish the silver?” kind of way.  Then I turned green and crunchy and didn’t want that toxic polish anywhere near anything that touches food.

The I ran into an all natural way to remove the tarnish from silver.  It’s a pretty basic chemical reaction: you place the silver in hot, salty water, with aluminum foil, and the sulfur tarnish transfers from the silver to the aluminum.  I did it via the following steps:

  1. Line a glass dish with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the silver in the dish, contacting as much of the foil as possible (you can see in the photo above that I made a little aluminum handle rest so the handle was touching aluminum and the server portion was flat against the foil as well).
  3. Sprinkle baking soda around the silver pieces
  4. Pour boiling hot water into the dish, enough to fully submerge the silver
  5. Wait ten minutes until the tarnish has turned into a dull grey color (see photo above for example)
  6. Wipe tarnish away with a damp cloth, and then wash as normal
  7. Be awed and amazed that IT ACTUALLY WORKS!!

Before and After!  (After the first soak – the second soak brought perfection!)

As you can see above, the method didn’t give perfect results the first time.  However, this was a very badly tarnished piece (I haven’t used it once in the ten years since my wedding).  When I tried it again with fresh aluminum, and fresh water, it shined up perfectly!  Now I have NO excuses for not using it anytime I feel like making the day a party!

Overall, this all natural, non-toxic, silver polishing method worked wonderfully to take the tarnish off the silver.  It was a little stinky as the sulfur was released, and I had to do it twice for it to get all the tarnish off.  However, my silver was really bad, and I’m sure with a longer first soak it would have probably been fine the first time.  Also, in the future, I plan to use this serving set much more often, so a quick soak and polish are all it takes to keep them looking great!

Have you ever tried this trick for polishing your silver?  What do you usually do to shine up those special pieces? 

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