Super Search

Submitted questions will be posted with my response by the following Tuesday or before.
Submitted comments will be moderated and approved within 24 hours.

Removing Hard Water Deposits

Question from PJ

Dear Debra,

I’d like to know what the current version of Calgon water softener is made from and if it is a safe and effective cleaner for hard water deposits. Can you help me? I can’t find information about the current version, just the older version, which I believe contained sodium hexametaphosphate. Thank you.

Debra’s Answer

I went to the Calgon website and called their 800 number. They told me the ingredients are salt, polymer, thickener and fragrance. Hmmmmm…it used to be sodium hexametaphosphate and fragrance. Since the active water softening ingredient here is salt, I would just use the cheapest salt you can find.

I’m not sure salt alone would be effective to remove hard water deposits. It does soften water. Readers, any ideas for removing hard water deposits?

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Sewing Machine Oil

Question from Dana

Dear Debra,

Thank you so much for providing this great website & blog!

I would like to know the toxicity of sewing machine oil. I’ve heard that jojoba oil can be used as a substitute and would like to try that on my sewing and knitting machines. However, I am a bit nervous about doing this as I don’t want to ruin my equipment.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Debra’s Answer

Regular sewing machine oil is just standard petrochemical oil. I think jojoba would be fine and won’t ruin your machine.

Readers, what do you use?

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Hip Surgery

Question from Lucy H

I have been told by an orthopedic surgeon that I need a hip replacement. Currently I am maintaining my fucntion quite well but I can imagine the time will come when I may need this surgery. How do I find a doctor and hospital that understand and can acccomodate MCS? How do I find out if I can tolerate metal or plastic in my body? Is it possible to have this surgery without general aneaethesia? What precautions do I need to take?

thank you,

Lucy H

Debra’s Answer

Readers with MCS, any advice for this woman regarding surgery?

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Smelly Freezer

Question from fairydust

I bought a mid-size, top loading freezer at a garage sale and it has a smell I need to get rid of. I have cleaned it with soap and let it air out for days. I turned it on and put baking soda in it and the smell is still there.

Any suggestions on how to get the smell out using natural products or methods?

Debra’s Answer

Readers?

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Sweeteners for Diabetics

Question from Betty Cameron

I just read your email about agave nectar, I’ve been using it as my only natural sweetener because I’m prediabetic and because of it’s low glycemic index. What kind of natural sweeteners can I use now? Thank you.

Debra’s Answer

The very best sweetener for diabetics is stevia, as it has no effect on blood sugar. But, it’s not very versatile and many people don’t like the aftertaste.

My favorite sweetener at the moment is evaporated cane juice. I seem to be able to eat small amount of this without having my blood sugar rise.

My best advice to diabetics is to not eat concentrated sweeteners, but instead satisfy your desire for a sweet with fresh low-sugar fruits such as cherries, and eat them with protein or fat (such as cream) to further reduce the elevation of blood sugar. And then eat only very small amount and s-a-v-o-r every bite.

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Maple Syrup

Question from ib

Hello Debra,

Thank you for all your valualbe information on living a healthy life.

Is organic maple syrup safe to use as a sweetner? ib

Debra’s Answer

Maple syrup is a fine natural sweetener. I would not recommend it for diabetics as it will elevate blood sugar.

Though maple syrup is not refined, it is the boiled down sap from maple trees, so it is concentrated.

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Green cleaner for a ceramic cooktop

Question from Marissa

We just moved into a house with new kitchen appliances. The stove has a ceramic cooktop and came with a small bottle of cleaner made by Whirlpool (also the maker or the stove). Judging from the smell alone I doubt its non-toxic. It list only one ingredient, citric acid. It has a caution warning for eye irritant. I read on here that cream of tartar might work and would like some more suggestions. Where do you get cream of tartar? I’m new to the non-toxic, green stuff so any help would be appreciated!

Debra’s Answer

Citric acid is fine. It’s just vitamin C. So go ahead and use it if there are no other harmful ingredients. And when you’ve used up that bottle, replace it with vitamin C.

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Infant/Toddler Bedding & Pajamas without flame retardant materials

Question from TB

Hello again,

I have 2 children diagnosed on the autism spectrum with high levels of metals in their systems…some of which may have come from the flame retardant chemicals used on bedding and pajamas.

We are expecting our third child and I would like to know the name of a website where I can purchase non-toxic, non-offgassing furniture as well as mattresses, bedding, pajamas, and clothing that would be the healthiest (ie: without chemicals and flame retardants) for my children to wear, especially the newborn.

Please help as soon as possible…

Debra’s Answer

There are many websites listed at Debra’s List: Babies & Kids which sell these items.

Readers, what are your favorite websites for natural baby bedding and clothing?

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Raw Agave Nectar

Question from Cindy Walker

Hi Debra,

I read the article put out about the Agave. I must say I am very disappointed. It is getting very difficult in knowing what to trust. I just perfected my pumpkin pie using Raw, unprocessed Agave Nector Blue and a lighter Agave which also, is Raw and unprocessed. I purchase these from Amazon.

My question to you: Is this the Raw unprocessed Agave contaminated as well.

Thanks for your help.

Debra’s Answer

I’m disappointed too as agave was one of my favorites.

I really don’t know about the raw agave. Part of the problem here is just lack of information. So I really can’t make any recommendation.

If you find out, please let us know.

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Sugar in Lotions

Question from Kathy

I have hypoglycemia and use a lotion called Radiance Body Lotion by Burt’s Bees. I watch my sugar intake but sometimes I feel tired like I’ve eaten sugar. I wonder if the sugar in the lotion could be affecting me. It contains glucose (sugar), sucrose distearate (sugar emulsifier), and glucose oxidase.

Debra’s Answer

I would say the answer is YES, sugar from the lotion can be absorbed through your skin. If I needed to watch my sugar intake, I would avoid any skin products that contain sugar or any other sweetener.

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ARE TOXIC PRODUCTS HIDDEN IN YOUR HOME?

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