How to Save and Purify Water

Due to an experience I had a few years, with my now grown son, I’ve been meaning to do an article on WATER, good old H2O.  Then a recent local news report, and later discussion with some friends, prompted me to work on and finish this article.  Water is, of course, our most precious resource that humans can’t live without.

My son was 23 years old at the time and living at home while saving money for his own apartment.  His job was to deliver new and reconditioned transmission and motor parts to various mechanic repair shops around the city we live in.  Thank goodness my son only worked at this job one summer season but it was one of the hottest summers in years, with about 70 days of near, or above, 100-degree days.  All summer my son drove a car without air conditioning and little or no relief from the heat all day.  My son would stop at a local McDonald’s and get a large pop that he would refill throughout the day.  As the summer progressed and I saw my son’s health being negatively affected by the heat, so I tried to talk him into looking for another job QUICKLY and in the meantime drink clear ice water instead of pop.  He was having no part of that and basically told me to mind my own business, but that didn’t stop me.  I few times I became upset and predicted that if he kept up his present habits he’d end up in the hospital before the year was out. 

Then came the day, toward the end of August, when I got the call all parents dread.  My son was in the hospital with “heart attack like symptoms” and could I come quickly.  As any parent who has gotten that dreaded call could attest to, the trip from my house to the hospital was the longest of my entire life.  I walked in to my son’s hospital room to find him hooked up to a heart monitor, and a bag of something dripping and making its way into my son’s arm.  Someone apparently told the doctor I was there because it seemed like only seconds before the doctor walked into my son’s room and introduced himself as a cardiac doctor.  My son was lucid enough to ask the doctor not to tell me about the underlying cause of what the doctor termed as “severe dehydration”.  When I asked about the heart attack symptoms the nurse spoke of on the phone the doctor explain that my son had become so severely dehydrated that it was affecting his heart.  The doctor explained that my son had become so severely dehydrated, over time, that it was finally affecting his major organs.  In other words, as the doctor explained, “Your son was beginning to die.   Then he went on to say, “If your son hadn’t been brought in, with or without his approval, he would have been dead in a matter of days.”   

At that point I blew a major gasket and proceeded to read my son the riot act. The doctor soon invited me out into the hallway so we can talk while your son rests”.  The doctor explained to me that he thought I was getting too upset and didn’t want me to end up in the bed next to my son.  I told the doctor the many times I tied to convince my son to drink plain water instead of so much pop.  Every so often I would say, “How dare he scare the living crap out of me like this.  Like it or not, he is going to change his ways and he’d better never even think of doing this to me again.”  After a few minutes we returned to my son’s room and the doctor told my son, “Seems doctor Mom told you the same thing I’ve told you and I would suggest you listen to Mom because I don’t think she will survive another experience like this.” 

Believe me when I say my son had a long recovery ahead of him after he left the hospital.  It was months before he felt good enough to return to work on a regular basis.  Believe me when I also say pop was NOT allowed inside my home because I told my son, “If I ever see you with a pop I will take it from you, by force if need be, and it will be thrown out.  So save your money.  If you don’t believe me, just call my bluff.”  He never did.  Slowly, but surely my son recovered, and to this day he gets the evil eye if I see him with a pop.  Of his own choosing he drinks much more water than he does pop though.  PLEASE don’t allow this kind of thing to happen to your family, make them drink at least 8 glasses of water each and every day.  Add a little flavoring if need be but just make sure they drink plenty of water.  

By all means, KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF DEHYDRATION.  “Children have smaller bodies than adults and have less fluid to lose if they get sick” so become familiar with the warning signs of childhood dehydration.   Minor dehydration in adults causes thirst, sweating, concentrated yellowish or amber colored urine and a feeling of being tired.  Moderate dehydration can of course cause less urine than normal, dry mouth, lowered ability to sweat, and rapid heartbeat.  Severe dehydration causes little or no urine at all, palpitations or feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding, no ability to sweat, lethargy or even fainting, irritability, vomiting and diarrhea.  If you suspect that you or a loved one is dehydrated get them water QUICKLY and then get them to medical help.   

The issue for us humans is that of all the water on earth, including oceans, seas, lakes, glaciers, and ice caps, 70% of earth’s water is too salty for human consumption.  At the most, only 2.5% is fresh enough for humans to drink.  Some lower that available fresh water estimate to only 1% being because 2% of earth fresh water is locked up in ice caps and glaciers.   

Today almost every city has a water treatment facility and some large cities have more than one.  This water treatment was the basis of a recent discussion some friends and I had.  In the course of our discussion it was mentioned that modern water treatment facilities filter and treat MUCH MORE than previously used drinking water.  (Use your imagination here.)  I was well aware that large metro area water treatment facilities tested and treated previously used drinking water but what I was not aware of was what all ended up in that metro area treatment center that was then filtered, treated, tested, and then released for human consumption.  My friends, being the dear souls they are, made sure I did not leave our discussion with even one issue unrevealed and unexplained.  My friends also made sure I understood that bottled water is not significantly more pure than tap water, since bottled water is usually only filtered one or two more times before the bottling process.  It was hours after my complete education ended that I was finally able to eat again.  They tried to assure me that when my city water treatment facility finished and released the water that comes out of my tap, it was indeed as safe as any bottled water that can be bought in stores. 

Since my education that day I researched the best method of purifying tap water, so I am not upset to my stomach every time I turn on the tap.  Short of having a house purifying system installed, the easiest and cheapest way to purify water is to boil it.  If you also decide to boil water for purity purposes I would recommend that one large pan be reserved for no other purpose than boiling water.  It would be advisable to sterilize all pans used for boiling water and all water storage containers such as gallon and half-gallon size pitchers.  Sterilizing all this can be easily and fairly quick as I point out in my article “How to Clean On The Cheap”.

It is also a good idea to know how far above sea level your particular area is.  If you live BELOW 3,000 feet water needs to reach a full rolling boil and then continue boiling it for one full minute.  If you live at or ABOVE 3,000 feet then water needs to reach a full rolling boil and continue that rolling boil for 3 minutes.  Since I definitely live in an area even above 3,000 feet I bring my water to a full rolling boil and continue that rolling boil for 5 minutes, at which point I think it is purified enough for my purposes. 

The first day I think I boiled three or four pans of water so I could have a gallon container of water in the refrigerator, purified ice cubes and purified water for coffee.  Since that day I now usually boil one pan of water, about ¾ of a gallon at a time, each day to replenish what I’ve used that day.  If you decide to boil all your family’s drinking water, I would recommend boiling at least ½ gallon for each person.  In the summer, when hot temperatures cause more sweating, each person in the family WILL HOPEFULLY need one full gallon or more of water a day.

Save Money by Composting

The Garden And House Plants

I’m going to write this section for those who have never composted and never even considered it.  This will be for those who wouldn’t know where to start even if they realized the benefits of composting. 

First Rule of Thumb is NEVER use orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime peelings, onion peeling, or garlic peelings in composting.  Those items could ruin any benefits you might gain from composting.  So just don’t even bother saving those items.   

Items You Do Want To Save includes potato peeling, eggshells, used coffee grounds, and all fruit peelings, carrot peelings, lettuce, leftover tomatoes, and most leftover food.

What To Do With This Stuff is a question that will depend on what kind of plants this composting will be used for.  Composting for houseplants can be done in small to medium amounts and will include basic potting soil.  Whereas composting for an outside garden is done in much larger amounts and can be done by directly burying some of these kitchen items right into the garden soil before and during the growing periods.  Making a pile of soil and these composting items along with grass clippings and leaves can be added to the garden instead of fertilizer.                      

It doesn’t matter whether you compost for a huge outside garden or just a few houseplants, or something in between, you still need to compost.   

Believe me when I say that the worst soil can be turned into rich growing soil in a matter of a year, or two at the very most, simply using the items mentioned above.  When you see worms working their way through the soil you will know you’ve changed the soil quality.  I don’t particularly like worms, BUT worms are a visible sign of good quality growing soil, so encourage worms to move in and set up housekeeping. 

USED COFFEE    If you have a vegetable or flower garden the coffee grounds and coffee filters can be used as compost and will certainly fertilize the garden.  Used coffee and used coffee filters will also fertilize individual flowers/plants in the house.  

In the end what you want is to change basic planting soil from a dark brown to absolute black, and the left over food items mentioned above will do exactly that.  So have fun planting and watching things grow inside the house as well as outside in the garden, and save the environment at the same time.

A Woman Needs A Toolbox

There are so many items around the house that get pitched in the trash every day that could be fixed and of course that would save us a few pennies along the way.  To fix things though we need a personal toolbox.  This toolbox could be nothing more than a shoebox, or some other small box that would otherwise get thrown out in the trash.  Oh, and by the way, this personal toolbox doesn’t have to be left looking ugly either but we will get into that later.

Our personal toolbox should include a few necessities but can also be expanded to meet our own personal needs.  Of course we can go buy a woman’s toolbox at our local hardware in a pretty pink case, filled with things we may not need but is ridiculously priced.  Why spend that kind of money though when we can make our own toolbox and save a bunch of money doing it?  Most importantly though, is the fact that we can specialize our toolbox to our individual needs or spread out the cost as finances allow.  The items every woman needs to quickly repair things or do small jobs around the house are, a hammer, nail starter, pliers, hot glue gun, duct tape, small nails, a 25’ tape measure, a cloth tape measure, a small step stool, three or four screw drivers in various sizes, scissors in a couple of different sizes, wood glue or Gorilla glue, KRAZY glue or Super Glue , disposable latex household gloves (the ones that come in a package of 50 or 100), and a pair of work gloves. 

Every woman should have her own hammer.  Not one of those caveman type things that weigh a ton, but rather something lightweight that we can comfortably pick up and use.  The best place to start for this is your local Ace Hardware store.  I don’t normally suggest a specific store or company but in this case I will.  Ace Hardware not only has hammers in every size imaginable, including the huge ones a lumberjack might use as well as light weight ones, but they also have very helpful employees that can answer any questions you may have.  There are dozens of different hammers made for a dozen different uses.  So ask questions and know what you are buying.  

The screwdrivers every woman should have is a Philips screwdriver in small and medium sixes, slotted screwdriver in small and medium sizes, and of course a small and medium nail starter.  These screwdrivers and nail starters can be bought in a set where there is a handle and the various heads are stores inside the handle.  These are extremely convenient but just be careful not to buy the cheapest one on the market.  If you do buy a really cheap quality one you may pay the price later when it breaks on you and you have to replace it.  This is probably the one and only time I will suggest a specific brand of anything.  In this case though, the Craftsman or Stanley screwdriver set is your best bet.  Yes, it initially costs BUT if it ever breaks you get a new one FREE OF CHARGE, so at least consider this.  (Just keep your receipt in your important papers and be sure to make a couple of copies of the receipt.)  If you can’t afford a Craftsman or Stanley then get the best quality screwdrivers and nail starters your finances will allow.  While at the store you can also ask about a pair of pliers that are sturdy enough but also light weight enough to work with around the house. 

The nails might deserve a special mention here because nails and screws come in every size imaginable.  The larger ones will probably not be of much use in the house so what you’ll be looking for are household nails.  They each have their official name that every hardware employee will instantly recognize but you don’t really need to know all that.  What you’ll need to remember is these smaller nails are also known as picture hanging nails and come in lengths starting at just less than 1” and going up to 2”.  It’s a good idea to have a nice supply of at least two or three lengths on hand for those little jobs that can crop up at the drop of a hat. 

Two pieces of information that I received some years ago and found to be particularly useful were to first know the basic weight each size nail can hold.  Next, and to initially buy one of those prepackaged nail packs that hold five or six different sizes of nails.  Then over a period of a few weeks or months I could see which size nails I used the most of.  It might turn out to be one nail size or it might be up to three sizes I used for a variety of repair jobs.  Either way, I could take those particular size nails to my handy dandy neighborhood hardware and buy a larger quantity of that size/s.  

As I think I’ve shown there is really no need to buy a prepackaged toolbox unless that’s what you think you want.  Simply find a box you think will accommodate your individualized supply of tools and then decorate the box.  A small amount of wallpaper, along with some glue will do a nice job of decorating any toolbox.  If a box isn’t available then maybe a cloth shopping bag with a small piece of plastic or other sturdy material in the bottom of the bag for extra stability.  In some cases, even an old fishing tackle box or other such container can be reused as a toolbox.  A few stickers and ribbons here and there and no one will know but what your new found toolbox wasn’t always supposed to be that way.  Plus, including a few pink ribbons here and there might just keep that macho fix-it man in the house out of your toolbox.

The other supplies mentioned above are all pretty much self-explanatory.  Just be careful with the glue, especially the KRAZY glue and Super Glue but that is why you need latex household gloves on hand.  Let any extra glue stick to the disposable gloves and not your skin.

I briefly mentioned keeping the capable, or possibly not so capable, fix-it man of the house out of your toolbox once you have it all set up for your needs.  I experienced ongoing issues of finding tools gone when I needed something.  My requests to at least return an item to my toolbox fell on deaf ears, as did the later request to simply stay out of my toolbox.  So out of necessity I bought two or three bottles of cheap nail polish in the brightest pink I could find.  I also got a couple bottles of glitter nail polish and proceeded to mark all the handles of my tools with pink glitter.  I went so far as to super glue a pink ribbon on my hammer and a couple of my screwdrivers.  Use super glue for this, not hot glue, because hot glue could eventually come loose.  The first time a neighbor caught Mr. Fix-It Man with a pink glitter hammer sporting a pink bow, the razing began and it took a long time for him to live that one down.  It worked though because I never had to worry about missing tools again.

How to clean house on the cheap

HOW TO KILL GERMS AND SAVE MONEY

 The only cleaning solutions I’ve ever bought premixed are window cleaner and dish soap. 

 There is a cheap and very good cleaning solution that can be used throughout the house.  Simply use an empty spray bottle – first wash it out thoroughly and rinse it – now mix 1/8 drops of dish soap and ½ cup of liquid bleach – the generic stuff works just fine – and now add one quart of water.  Add this mixture to the spray bottle and now you are ready to clean – especially in the kitchen and bathroom.  Simply spray a small amount – as you would with any cleaning mixture – and wipe the item down with a rag or sponge that has been wet and wrung out in warm water.  Now rinse the item or area just as any other cleaning product calls for.  This mixture will even kill the flu virus while you are cleaning. 

This cleaning solution can be used on any washable surface such as white walls, light colored or white tile, sinks, wash basins, tubs, toilets, trash cans, the outside of the refrigerator, the inside and outside of the microwave, stove top, and much more.

 I use this cleaning solution on the inside of the refrigerator every so often as well.  I consider this just another important step when cleaning the kitchen, especially when I’m emptying out all those small amounts of leftover food I had forgotten about.  Just remember to rinse well and let dry.  I usually wash the meat drawer, egg holders, etc., just to make sure the important areas are truly clean.    

 BLEACH IN THE KITCHEN

It is extremely important to not only wash but also to sterilize dishes especially during the flu season and if anyone in the house is sick.  There is a much easier way of accomplishing this than you may have imagined.

 Some years ago a study was done to see which of three method of washing a cutting board actually killed the most germs.  One cutting board was washed in hot dishwater and rinsed in hot water.  The second cutting board was washed in a dishwasher using the sterilize rinse cycle.  The third cutting board wash washed in warm (not hot) dish soap with ¼ cup of bleach added and also rinsed in warm water.   

 All three cutting boards were then tested to see how many germs remained on each cutting board after being washed in their respective manner.  As it turned out, the first cutting board, washed in hot dish soap by hand had the most germs left on it.  The second cutting board, wash in the dishwasher using the sterilize cycle, as you can imagine, had many less germs.  The third cutting board washed in only warm dishwater with some bleach added had the fewest germs of all, with germs being almost non-existent.     

WASHING AND STERALIZING DISHES

Since hearing about this study that was done I have rarely done a load of dishes in a dishwasher or a load of dishes by hand without adding bleach.  Much to the dismay of my kids they were healthy and in school almost twice as often as other kids in our neighborhood.  Other kids had runny noses, colds, flu, and the list of ailments went on and on.  My poor kids had no such excuses for staying home from school or other activities.

 So if you’re doing dishes by hand, simply start the dishwater, add a slightly less amount of dish soap than you normally would and now add about ¼ cup of bleach to the dishwater.  Wash and rinse the dishes as you normally would and let them AIR DRY.  You will now have clean sterilized dishes that will not spread germs and viruses.

 DID YOU KNOW

Adding bleach to the dishwater actually super activates the dish soap so it cuts grease and grime even better than without the bleach??

USING A DISHWASHER

Isn’t much different from doing dishes by hand when it comes to sterilizing them.  When the dishwasher is full and ready to be turned on, add whatever automatic dish soap you regularly use and also add a rinse additive if you prefer.  Now add 1 cup of bleach to the bottom of the dishwasher and turn the dishwasher on as you normally would. 

 DID YOU KNOW

 With the bleach in the bottom of the dishwasher you can now turn OFF the “sterilize cycle” on the dishwasher, which will save plenty of money (possibly $100 or more over the period of a year) in water heating costs, just by using the bleach. 

DON’T WASTE MONEY 

Don’t waste money-drying dishes using the automatic drying cycle.  Just before closing the door on the dishwasher simply make sure the dry cycle is turned off.  When the dishes have finished washing and rinsing simply open the door and let the air start drying the dishes naturally.

More advice from the kitchen

As discussed in my last article there are uses for items most people may not think are multi-useful.   

PAPER LINER FROM CEREAL BOXES can be used for crafts and art projects.  Simply save the wax paper type lining from cereal boxes.  Carefully take the side and bottom seams apart so the paper lays flat.  Quite a few of these flat paper liners can be stored inside an empty cereal box and saved for messy projects.  Child finger painting, watercolor painting, hot gluing, and any other project that you don’t want to stick to the work surface.  I’ve even used a couple of these cereal box liner papers to set snow boots on before I installed plastic runners by the door.      

COFFEE POT    Save money on that coffee pot with all the bells and whistles like clock and auto off feature, unless you specifically need one of those extra features.  It’s understandable that some people may find the auto-off feature helpful when they have to leave for work at an early hour.  In most cases those extra features are just another example of outdoing your neighbor and dollars can be saved doing without them. 

If a person likes having coffee first thing in the morning, like I do, simply buy a basic drip coffee pot, without the clock or other features.  Every night, after dinner, and before bed set the coffee pot up, by rinsing out the coffee pot and filling it with clean water that is then poured into the water reservoir.  Now get rid of the coffee grounds (DON”T throw them in the trash) and rinse the coffee basket out.  Rinse it out and fill it with a new coffee filter and coffee grounds as you normally would. 

Now leave the coffee pot alone, do NOT turn it on or do anything else until morning.  Your first activity in the morning will be to go flip the switch to turn the coffee pot on and then simply go about your normal early morning routine.  By the time you are ready for that first cup of caffeine it will be ready for you.

DID YOU KNOW that coffee filters are great to use in the bottom of houseplanters?  Coffee filters are obviously made to allow water to flow through them.  So, if you don’t have rocks or broken pieces of old flowers pots to use in the bottom of houseplants simply grab a coffee filter.  Lay this out in the bottom of the flower pot and then fill the flower pot with soil as you normally would and plant the flower or plant.

Saving a few pennies in the kitchen

If you are going to start cutting costs around the house your going to need a plan and a new attitude.  Let me say up front that I am not a financial advisor so there won’t be much financial advice from me.  What I will provide is advice on how to save a few pennies here and there throughout the house.  Those few pennies may not seem like much at the time but added up and over the months they indeed add up to a few dollars.  Those dollars can be used for other things.

 First thing everyone needs is a new attitude.  Items that seem destined for the trash are NOT trash until you have explored all the things that item can be recycled into.  Here are just a few of the items I regularly recycle

 NETTING:    From onions, oranges, apples, etc.  This netting can be washed and sterilized in some Lysol or bleach and then bunched together in a ball, tied with yarn, string, or whatever you have on hand.  Now you have a scrubbie to do the dishes with, scrub spots off counters, or used to clean the bathroom.  To clean floors this netting can be sewn at one or both ends and then used for the mops that require the disposable cleaning pads.  The netting can help clean stubborn spots from the floor and then thrown away or washed and used again.  I save all the different colors of netting and then use one color for different cleaning, and that way germs are not spread around the house.  Believe it or not, over a period of time these ideas actually save a few dollars.   

This netting can also be tied together in a ball and used to exfoliate the skin while showering.  You won’t have to use any elbow grease to truly exfoliate the skin either.  This netting can also be cut to size and turned into a small bag to slip a bar of soap into that will also exfoliate the skin very nicely. 

 The next use I’ve turned this netting into is a small shopping bag for a doll as a play item for a small girl.  Using the same color of netting, it can also be sewn together and used as a slip to fluff out a dress for a doll, as a gift for a girl. 

 This is just one item that we normally throw out that can be turned into very useful items around the house and save some money doing it.   

 COFFEE POT    Save money on that coffee pot with all the bells and whistles like clock and auto off feature, unless you specifically need one of those extra features.  It’s understandable that some people may find the auto-off feature helpful when they have to leave for work at an early hour.  In most cases those extra features are just another example of outdoing your neighbor and dollars can be saved doing without them. 

 If a person likes having coffee first thing in the morning, like I do, simply buy a basic drip coffee pot, without the clock or other features.  Every night, after dinner, and before bed set the coffee pot up, by rinsing out the coffee pot and filling it with clean water that is then poured into the water reservoir.  Now get rid of the coffee grounds (DON”T throw them in the trash) and rinse the coffee basket out.  Rinse it out and fill it with a new coffee filter and coffee grounds as you normally would. 

 Now leave the coffee pot alone, do NOT turn it on or do anything else until morning.  Your first activity in the morning will be to go turn the coffee pot on and then simply go about your normal early morning routine.  By the time you are ready for that first cup of caffeine it will be ready for you.

 USED COFFEE    If you have a vegetable or flower garden the coffee grounds and coffee filters can be used as compost and will certainly fertilize the garden.  Used coffee and used coffee filters will also fertilize individual flowers/plants in the house.

Things to come

While raising a family and unable to work due to a few health issues, I’ve had to learn to stretch a dollar as far as it could be stretched.  It is my hope to pass on a few of those ideas to those in need of some financial help. 

My ideas won’t be earth shattering by any means, rather they will all be based on common sense and a few things I discovered the hard way.  

It is my hope that you will all check back for a few of my time saving and money saving ideas as well as just a few funny stories about how I learned these things.