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Sunday, November 29, 2009

How does Poo Clean Hair?

I used to have a book called "Why, What, Where", which provided explanations to everyday questions, like "How Does Soap Work?"  It was a book for children, and the answers were simplified.  I remember that it stated soap pulls dirt out while water pushed dirt out, and that soap is made of things that we might consider dirty, like fats and ash.  

Bubbles (or suds) in soap do not actually help clean.  Their purpose is to increase the surface area that the cleaning agent comes in contact with.  Bleach cleans well, but has no suds.  There is also an industry standard of dirt, appropriately dubbed "industrial dirt", with which detergents are tested for validity.  Here is where my knowledge of how soap/detergent/shampoo cleans.  I decided to do more research into the the chemistry behind soap:
Soap cleans by acting as an emulsifier. Basically, soap allows oil and water to mix so that oily grime can be removed during rinsing.
Swishing the soapy water around allows the soap or detergent to pull the grime away from clothes or dishes and into the larger pool of rinse water. Rinsing washes the detergent and soil away. Warm or hot water melts fats and oils so that it is easier for the soap or detergent to dissolve the soil and pull it away into the rinse water.
Shampoo works in a manner similar to that of soap and detergent, except that shampoo will not leave soap scum.  But what if I only want to remove the grime, and keep the oils?  Well, that's why I am washing my hair with baking soda rather than with shampoo.

I've read that, to keep hair shiny, I should wash my hair in cold water.  This makes sense as warm or hot water melts the natural oils in my hair.  These oils give my hair a gleam.  I would like to keep most of these oils and only be rid of the dirt.  Possibly, by regulating the temperature of the water I am using to wash my hair, I could change the greasiness of my hair.  During the initial days of my no-poo treatment, I could use hotter water to rinse my hair, and, as my scalp gets used to getting no poo, I could decrease the temperature of the water.


Friday, November 27, 2009

A no-poo experiment

I read about washing my hair with a baking soda solution and rinsing with vinegar solution, and doing away with shampoo entirely.  I decided to give it a try.  I have been experimenting with this now for about 8 weeks.  Here is a summary of my before-and-after experiences.

In the months before starting the experiment, my hair would start feeling greasy about 20 hours after being shampooed and conditioned.  It's not just my hair that started feeling greasy around then, but also the areas of my face near my hairline, namely my forehead, cheeks, and chin.  My hair would be tangled after shampooing/conditioning, and would be difficult to comb.  I lost a lot of hair while combing.  The purpose of the hair conditioner is to put artificial oils into my hair, that's why it's easier to comb conditioned hair; however, either my hair conditioner didn't work well, or I was using too little.

After reading a few blogs and articles regarding shampoo, I have come to the conclusion that shampoo strips the natural oils from my scalp, and my scalp is trying to replenish those oils.  Perhaps the shampoo also touched my face, and so my face, too, is trying to replenish those stripped oils.

The articles I read suggest using a baking soda solution for washing hair instead of shampoo, and an apple cider vinegar solution as a rinse.  I did not have any apple cider vinegar so I used rice vinegar instead.  Apple cider vinegar has 3-5% acidity.  The rice vinegar I used had 4.1% acidity.

1 tablespoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 cups of warm water

1) Mix baking soda with 1 cup of warm water.
2) Mix vinegar with 1 cup of warm water.
3) Wet hair thoroughly.
4) Slowly pour baking soda solution onto hair, rubbing it into the scalp.  Keep eyes  closed.  This took about 1 minute.
5) Let stand for 3 minutes, during which time I cleaned the rest of myself.
6) Slowly pour vinegar solution onto hair, rubbing it into the scalp.  Keep eyes closed.  This took about 1 minute.
7) Rinse.

My hair was easy to comb after washing with baking soda, even though I did not use any hair conditioner.  This was to be expected since I did not use any shampoo to strip the natural oils out of my hair.  Hence, I lost less hair.  Washing with baking soda solution and rinsing with vinegar solution is more inconvenient than using shampoo and conditioner, primarily since I mix the baking soda and vinegar before each treatment, whereas the shampoo and conditioner are already in bottles ready for my use.  It would not be convenient for me to  premix the baking soda solution and store it in a bottle for later use unless I were willing to use the baking soda solution cold.

The first 3 weeks of the no-poo experiment were the hardest.  My hair felt greasy and even waxy.  My scalp itched.  The baking soda did not remove the oils that my scalp was producing.  Once a week, the waxiness became too much to bear and I would use shampoo.

By the 4th week of the no-poo experiment, my scalp seemed to be adjusting much better to the absence of shampoo.  The waxiness waned and I felt less discomfort.  I continued to shampoo my hair once a week, using less shampoo each time.  Slowly, my scalp is adjusting.  A few hours after my weekly shampoo is when my hair feels its best--it feels like baby's hair, soft and fluffy.  As the week wears on, my hair feels greasier.

Ultimately, by weaning myself of shampoo and conditioner, I hope to have baby soft hair more permanently.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tutorial 1--Junk Mail Basket

I get far too much junk mail.  I used to think that if I put a piece of junk mail into the recycling bin, it would get recycled into a brand new piece of junk mail.  Since then, I've learned that this is not true.  Only about 60% of, say, newsprint, can actually be turned into new newsprint.  The other 40% really does become junk.  I don't have the numbers for glossy paper from catalogs.

I was looking for something in which to store my little odds and ends like my staple, paper clips, etc, and decided to make an eco-friendly basket out of junk mail.  I used a catalog that I didn't want.

Making a Basket out of Junk Mail

Unwanted catalog or magazine
Optional--stapler, tape, or glue

Time to Make
2 hours

Step 1)  Dig a catalog or magazine out of your wastebasket.  The one I dug up was 8 inches by 10.5 inches.  It doesn't really matter how big the catalog is if you are not picky about the size of the basket.

Step 2)  Tear 9 pages of similar thickness and size from the catalog.

Step 3)  Tear each of the 9 pages into half lengthwise.  It's not necessary to use scissors.  Just crease and tear.

Step 4)  Fold up half an inch along the length of one strip.

Step 5)  Continue folding up half an inch lengthwise until you have a strip that is about half an inch by 10.5 inches (or whatever the length of your catalog was).

Step 6)  Unfold two of the last folds you made.  Refold along the creases you've already made in Step 4, starting from the opposite edge.  The purpose is to hide the raw edges of the catalog  within the strip.

Step 7)  Repeat Steps 4 to 6 for each of the remaining strips.

Step 8)  Place 6 of the strips vertically.  This will be the beginning of the base of the basket.

Step 9)  Weave 6 strips horizontally, going up and down the vertical strips.  Leave small gaps (about 1/8th of an inch) between the vertical strips.  Likewise, leave the small gaps between the horizontal strips.  The gaps will make weaving easier.  After you have woven about 3 of the horizontal strips, the strips will no longer come apart as easily.  See, no hands in the following picture.  The bottom of the basket is done.

Step 10) Now we will start forming the sides of the basket.  Fold each of the 12 strips upright where the square base ends.  This results in each strip having 2 folds.  By using your hands to hold the strips upright, you can see roughly what the basket will look like when complete.

Tip:  Place a ruler along one edge of the square base and fold the 6 strips that are along the base, using the ruler as a guide.

Step 11)  Now pick 2 of the unused strips.  Each row of the sides will be formed with 2 strips.  Fold 2 strips as shown.  The placement of the folds coincide with the length of each side of the square base.  Note that the 2 strips have been folded in such a way that they share 2 corners.  This will lock the square in place so it doesn't come apart.

Step 12)  Place the overlapping part of one strip inside the other so that you get a square.  If your catalog was too short to allow 2 corners to overlap, then you can either use more strips to form the sides or use staples, tape or glue.

Tip:  If your catalog was too short to allow 2 corners to overlap, then you can either use more strips to form the sides, or use staples, tape or glue to prevent the square from coming apart.

Step 13)  Weave the strips sticking out of the base (from Step 9) over and under this square.

Step 14)  Repeat Steps 11 to 13.

Step 15)  Repeat Steps 11 and 12.  This strip will form the top edge of the basket (I'll call this strip the top square).

Step 16)  The strips from the base will be sticking up above the top edge.  Fold each strip over the top square.  Tuck each of those strips under the top square.  If the strip is too long to tuck neatly, trim the strip first.

Tip:  Do Step 16 for the overlapping corners (from step 12) last.