Monday, April 15, 2013

Essential Oils for the Cruiser

Being "greener" is something I am constantly working on.  While I strive to be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly, I have a long way to go before I can say my ecological footprint is as small as it could or should be.  Like many folks, I am "green" where it's easy and convenient:  I recycle glass, cans and plastic where there are facilities, but sometimes recyclables end up in the trash.  I strive to consume and waste less, but still end up throwing out food and have been known to make unnecessary purchases.  I try to buy "local" and "green", but regularly purchase blueberries from Chile and have a cupboard full of toxic cleaning agents...I might be a nice shade of teal, but I am certainly not green.

When we were on our first boat, my inner hippy got happy and I placed an order for a small kit of essential oils.  I had big plans to use them during pregnancy to create an aromatic and healthy environment for me and baby and start my path toward being a "green" mama.  Alas, they collected dust in the back of a locker for six months.  When I discovered them again, I vowed not to let them go to waste.  Now, I use these oils daily for cleaning, deodorizing, moisturizing and fragrance.  Turns out, they are pefect for a boat and have an endless number of uses.  They pack small,  a little goes a long way and - the best part - they are totally "green".  I bought a few aluminum spray bottles and started mixing.  Now, our boat smells naturally fresh and clean, and being someone who is very scent-oriented, I think they help create a nice aromatic environment.

Here are some ways I use my oils, and some recipes from friends, that I think make a lot of sense aboard:
  • For a natural bug repellant:  Mix 1 ounce of water with 1 ounce of witch hazel and add 1 teaspoon of citronella oil and 1/2 teaspoon of lavender oil, mix in a 4 oz spray bottle. Spray on skin as necessary.
  • To eliminate odors:  A few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball placed in garbage bins really eliminates the odor (especially for boaters who do not flush toilet paper).  Similarly, Peppermint oil mixed in a spray bottle with water eliminates bathroom odor (from my friend  Cindy).
  • To prevent and remove mildew:  20 drops of tea tree oil mixed with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle, spray liberally and wipe down.
  • For cleaning and disinfecting:  Equal parts water and vinegar mixed with a few drops of essential oil (lemon, orange, tea tree).
  • To remove sticker residue:  A few drops of lemon oil (or other citrus based essential oil; lime or orange) will act as a natural "goo gone".
  • For a natural relief of sunburn:  Fill a 4 oz spray bottle with distilled water and add 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
  • For insect bites:  Mix 2-3 drops of lavender oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and apply to surface.
  • For cuts and scrapes:  Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil and apply.
  • For a cooling body spray Mix 6-8 drops of eucalyptus oil with 4 ounces of water and spray liberally.
  • To de-stink a nasty dishcloth:  Soak it overnight in a bowl of water mixed with 4-6 drops of lemon oil to disinfect and remove the odor.
  • To dispel boat odors (from cooking fish or varnish):  Add a 4-6 drops of cinnamon oil or any citrus-based essential oil to 1 cup of water, simmer over stove.
  • Cinnamon is a natural ant repellant:  6-8 drops of cinnamon essential oil mixed with equal parts water and vinegar will help keep your boat ant-free.  Or, even simpler, a few drops of cinnamon oil where you have a problem can keep them at bay (from my friend Behan).
  • To clean and increase the shelf life of fruit:  Fill a bowl with water and add 2-3 drops of lemon oil.  Dip fruit into water and make sure every surface makes contact with lemon oil.
  • For kitchen sink scrub:  Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/8 cup vinegar, 5 drops bergamot oil, 5 drops of lemon oil and scrub.  Rinse.
  • To keep flies away:  Mix 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to a 4 ounce spray bottle.  Shake well before each use and spray liberally to windows and counters.
I could go on and on...There are endless ways to use essential oils for home, health and body, but these are simple enough to give you a healthy (and green!) start.  While essential oils are GREAT on a boat, they work just as well for the home sailors and landlubbers alike can reap the benefits.

Do you use essential oils?  Please share your favorite recipes in the comments so we can all learn.

Many of my recipes came directly from Eden's Garden, there are a ton of great resources here if you are interested.


Melody said...

Great ideas!! I love essential oils. You can also make a great hand scrub with a little sea salt, olive oil (or any other carrier oil), then add several drops of your favorite essential oil (play around, mix and match). Just mix to your desired level of consistency and scrub on hands or body. (I like vanilla/cinnamon mix or a lemon/grapefruit for a citrus scent).

Another use for lemon essential oil is for cold sores. If you get them (like I do, especially after a lot of stress or a nasty sunburn), dab lavender oil on it with a q-tip several times a day and it helps reduce healing time. Lavender is a natural anti-viral agent.

I've also heard that eucalyptus keeps spiders away. Can't say I've tested it but worth a try if you get spiders on your boat!

Jay Gee said...

So Sorry to hear your friend Cindy left a foul odor behind........

Windtraveler said...

@Jay - haha. But it wasn't my friend Cindy who left the odor, but the boys on her boat. Boat bathrooms have a tendency to get smellier than normal bathrooms (because many people do not flush toilet paper) so you must keep them clean.

san blas sailing said...

See, during my visit to san blas (a beautiful island for vacation tour) some people used to have fish's oil pill..i heard it is full of nutrient ...though i always feel natural food, fish, sea food are better than pills or other form... what you guys say!

boatbaby said...

Cindy here... haha! You have no idea what it's like raising a little boy in a small airless head. Ugh. Between the missed pees and the lack of flushing and the general laisez faire approach to hygiene... I am just happy that #2 child is a girl and a tidy one at that. In the mean time, hooray for peppermint spray!

PalmtreePrincess said...

I love essential oils! I make my own deodorant spray because I hate the thought of all those chemicals on my skin. In a spray bottle, combine water, mineral salt, a little tea tree oil and some lavendar for scent. I make it up as I recipe necessary, and my armpits and feet never smell! Best of all, you can keep refilling the bottle so you don't have to find stores or throw away old tubes :)

Unknown said...

I love saving orange zest and making citrus oil, then add it to vinegar or castile soaps. Also, when working with peppers a little zest takes away the capsaicin! (the hot stuff)

Trisha said...

We just bought a "new to us" sailboat and I'm busy cleaning the cushions with an upolstery cleaner. Do you have any natural tips on eliminating years of deisel odour and mildew in the zippers? Thanks

Heather Yates said...

I clean with water, vinegar, lemon, peppermint, and tea tree. Lemon helps get rid of the nasty dirt, peppermint kills bacteria and smells fresh, and tea tree kills mold. I also sometimes add cinnamon to help kill some types of viruses.

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