Author Archives: Paul Larkin

About Paul Larkin

I'm a husband and father of six, yes six kids and three pets, and am always on the go. I am constantly trying to find ways to save money and live a healthier and cleaner lifestyle. Having a large family, I have found ways to save thousands of dollars a year by making my own soaps and products rather than buying commercial ones. If something is broke or needs to replaced, the first two things I ask myself is, can I do this on my own and how much money can I save? I have a large collection of tools that can help me fix just about anything that gets broken since often it is cheaper to buy the tools and supplies than it is to hire someone to do it for me, and the tools are still there for the next problem I come across!

How To: Homemade Protein Bars

Need a tasty, healthy snack that will fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth too?  Here is a recipe that does just that.  Made with just a few simple ingredients this will save you a ton of money compared to the $3 protein bars you can buy at the grocery store.  Here’s what you need:

  • 3 Cups Oats – Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 15 oz Jar All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Honey
  • 5 Scoops of Whey Protein Powder (I use Chocolate)
  • 1.5 Cups (12 oz) Skim Milk
  • 1 Tsp of Salt

To make, melt the peanut butter in a large bowl in the microwave on high for 1 minute.  Add all other ingredients and mix until well incorporated.  The mix should resemble a slightly wet cookie dough texture.  If it’s too dry, add a few tablespoons of milk at a time.  If it’s too wet add a 1/4 cup of rolled oats at a time until you reach the right feel.  When the mix is ready line a 9×13 pan with parchment (wax) paper and spread mixture evenly.  Refrigerate for 8 hours.

Cut into bars and use parchment paper or aluminum foil to wrap.  You can cut the bars to any size you would like, but I typically cut them into 20 pieces and they come in at about 14 grams of protein each.  If you like a bigger bar cut into 12 pieces and they will be at 22 grams of protein each.  The recipe is right at 280 grams of protein and 2500 calories in total.  They keep for as long as the milk does not spoil, so 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.  I have taken them with me on the go, out of the fridge, for up to 6 hours and they still tasted as fresh as when I made them.

You can also add to this recipe if you enjoy things like nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, or anything else that adds to the protein and nutritional content, but I like simple and cheap so I just gave you basic foundation for a great homemade protein bar.

These taste exactly like chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies so they are delicious, in my opinion, and it’s a great healthy alternative to a sugary, processed cookie to help those cravings.  Not to mention the entire recipe costs right at $6 to make.  Whey Protein at Sam’s Club costs $32 per 5 lbs bag and you use $2.76 worth.  Peanut Butter is $2-$3 depending on brand the milk, honey, salt is less than $1.  So why pay $3+ per protein bar when you can make a healthy, non-processed, homemade bar quick and easy at home?

How To: Homemade Shampoo/Body Wash – Great For Dandruff Too

I know the “No-Poo” fad has come and gone for the most part, but people recently have been trying to go more all natural when it comes to put soaps and shampoos on their bodies.  I wouldn’t call this No Poo but it certainly is a healthy all natural alternative to this commercial brands that contain chemicals and dry out your hair when they specifically advertise against that.  Here is a great hydrating recipe that costs a lot less than most shampoos and works amazing.  It doesn’t lather like commercial brands, but if you can get over that then you will never want to go back and will love how this makes your hair feel.

This recipe makes about 30 fluid ounces so it can be halved if you do not have a container that can hold that much.


  • 2 Cups Distilled/Boiled Water
  • 1/2 Cup Castile Soap – Choose Your Favorite Scent
  • 1/2 Cup Aloe Vera Gel – Can Be Bought Online Easily If You Cannot Find It In Stores In Your Area
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Glycerin – Easy To Buy Online
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Almond Oil – I Also Bought This Online
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Baking Soda – I Use Until When The Recipe Is Mixed Together It Makes A Good Shampoo Like Consistency

I put all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  It will not look like a typical shampoo, but the consistency will be similar.  When playing around with this recipe I have found the more aloe vera gel you use, the better the lather.  Also, some people like to use jojoba, avocado or grapeseed oil in place of the olive or almond oils, but I use what I like best or have on hand at the time.  I also find the almond oil and olive oil to be cheaper.   I use this as body wash as well.  Cleans great!

This recipe is extremely hydrating for the scalp.  I suffered from dandruff and it works great for that too along with my all natural conditioner, recipe follows.

All Natural Conditioner

This may sound crazy to some but this is a extremely simple, extremely cheap homemade conditioner that leaves your hair feeling great, hydrated, and keeps the scalp dry.  Just mix 1 part Distilled or Boiled water with 1 part Apple Cider Vinegar.  That’s it.  Work it into your hair and scalp and let sit for a few minutes and rinse.

All natural and cheap, just the way I like it.  I provided some links to the products to show you where I have found these to be the cheapest.   Let me know what you think about this or what variations you have tried that work as well.

How To: Homemade Window/Mirror Cleaner (Windex)

Four Simple ingredients to make the best Mirror and Glass cleaner you have ever used, no streaks, non-toxic, all natural.  You probably have all of these on hand, but get a spray bottle and mix in:

  • 2 oz White Distilled Vinegar
  • 2 oz Rubbing Alcohol
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch (Or Arrowroot Powder)
  • 2 Cups Distilled or Boiled Water

That’s it.  It makes 20 ounces of cleaner for less than $0.50.  Can’t get better than that.  It is also antibacterial too.  You can add some blue food coloring to make it look more like the commercial brand if you like that sort of thing.

Use with newspaper or paper towels.  Costs 1/5 of commercial brands.  Awesome.  Do it Homemade!

How To: Homemade Dish Detergent

Here is a quick way to save 50% or more on your dishwasher detergent.  It’s made with easy to come by ingredients you can find at Wal-Mart and you can increase your savings if you purchase some of these online in bulk.

Here are the ingredients.

  • 2 parts borax
  • 2 parts washing soda
  • 1 part citric acid
  • 1 part kosher salt
  • 1 part baking soda

I mix all of these ingredients in a gallon zip lock bag, shake well, and leave for a few days before use.  The ingredients tend to cake together and it is easier if you shake the bag once a day and break apart anything that is starting to stick.  It’s easier to do in the bag instead of another air tight container where it can become hard as a rock in a corner of the container (trust me on this, I learned from experience).

I use 1 tablespoon of dish detergent with each load of dishes.  I live in an area where we do not use water softeners and I found that when I used this detergent alone it can leave a slight residue on your dishes.  So if you try this soap, I recommend that you add 4-5 drops of your favorite dish soap, like Dawn, to the detergent when putting it in the machine along with a rinsing agent.  To keep my dish cycle as all natural as possible, I use distilled white vinegar as my rinsing agent, I think it works as good if not better than the commercial kinds, not to mention there is a huge cost savings there.

Try it out and save some money.  When I purchased these items in bulk I ended being able to make this for about 1/3 of the cost of commercial dish detergent when I bought it in bulk from Sam’s Club.  Check out how to make your own washing soda from this linked video and blog.  Also, there are links provided where I bought some of these ingredients in bulk off of

Let me know how this worked out for you in comments below.

How To: Homemade Bug Repellent

Homemade bug repellent is a safe alternative to the commercial brands containing DEET.  DEET is an insect repellent that can cause large irritations and rashes on the skin and has caused serious complications and death in a select few reported cases.  You probably have a better chance winning the lottery than you do dying from DEET, however, I would rather put something on my body that is cheap and healthy as opposed to a commercial brand that is expensive and may cause severe irritation or death.

To make the bug repellent you will need just a few ingredients.  This recipe for repellent is very effective and inexpensive, and probably the easiest to make. You will need:

  • Witch Hazel (Can be bought at Wal-Mart by the peroxide) 16 oz costs $3.19

o   This is a beauty product that is used for moisturizing and ailing skin irritationswitch hazel

  • Spray Bottle 16+ ounces
  • Boiled or Distilled Water
  • Essential Oils (100-125 drops) or about 1 teaspoon – I use a combination of 30 drops peppermint, 40 drops tea tree, and 40 drops eucalyptus. More drops the stronger it is.

That’s it! The recipe is 8oz of witch hazel and 8 oz of boiled water then add the essential oils in.  Shake before each use.

This makes 16.167 ounces of repellent.  Here is the cost breakdown.

  • Witch Hazel cost $1.60
  • I reuse spray bottles from cleaners and other things but you can buy one for $2.24 at Wal-Mart and maybe cheaper in bulk on Amazon
  • Boiled water costs a fraction of a penny
  • Essential Oils can be bought for a 60 ml variety pack for $18.99 and you use 5ml in the recipe for $1.58Ess Oils

Final Cost is 1.60+2.24+1.58=$5.42 for 16 ounces and you can reuse the bottle or; 1.60+1.58=$3.18 if you can find another bottle to reuse. Commercial brands cost $4 for 6 ounces that’s on the cheap end.   So you can save minimally $5.26 per 16 ounces of repellent (6oz*2 1/3*$4=$10.68-$5.42=$5.26) or $7.50 if you reuse a bottle.  Most brands cost much more.

There you have it.  Cheap, effective and super simple bug repellent recipe in minutes that is safer and much less expensive than the commercial brands.  Go out and Make it Homemade.

Fabric Softener – Quick, Cheap, & Easy

Sounds like the perfect date huh?   This homemade fabric softener works great for all types of washing machines and is free of chemicals you have never heard of that is included in commercial brands.  It’s extremely gentle on clothing, easy to make and can save you a ton of money compared to commercial brands. Here’s what you will need.

  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 6 Cups White Distilled Vinegar
  • 7 Cups Of Water
  • Essential Oils (Optional)

That’s it!

Now how to make;

  • Get a gallon sized container (I use old laundry detergent containers or a gallon sized vinegar containers)
  • Add the baking soda
  • SLOWLY add the vinegar.  This will cause a chemical reaction and fizz, so slower the better with the vinegar
  • Once all vinegar is added, swirl to make sure all baking soda is done reacting
  • Now add all the water.  Close lid and swirl again
  • Open the lid to allow the gases to vent out
  • Once all gases have been released add your desired essential oils if you desire, 20-40 drops is more than enough for a good strength of fragrance
  •  If you used Essential Oils shake the container before using to make sure it is incorporated before use
  • Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load of laundry (I vary the size depending on the size of the load)

This batch will make around 20 loads of laundry depending on your use and Costs around $1.38 to make.

Batch Quantities Package Cost
Ingredients Quantity Weight / Volume Cost Total Quantity Where Bought?   Cost per Recipe
Baking Soda 1 Cup 16 oz  $    7.57  192 oz  Wal-Mart  $    0.63
Vinegar 6 cups 48 oz  $    1.98  128 oz  Wal-Mart  $    0.74
Essential Oils 25+ 1.25 ml  $  17.19  118 ml  Amazon  $    0.01

Compare that to your commercial brands and you can easily save good money every load and not have to worry about what’s in your fabric softener.

Whitening Toothpaste – Homemade and All Natural (Kind Of)

Homemade whitening toothpaste – how to make… A Cheap, quick, simple way to whiten once a week.


  • Hydrogen peroxide – 3% solution


  • Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • Peppermint Essential Oils

Mix 2 tsp. of hydrogen peroxide into 1 Tbls of baking soda along with , mix together to form a paste similar to toothpaste and can adjust baking soda to find a good consistency.  Add 2-3 drops Essential Oils. You can add more or less depending on your taste.

Apply the mixture gently to your teeth with your toothbrush using circular motions.  Cover all of your teeth with the paste and allow to sit for two minutes.  Rinse your teeth thoroughly.  Brush with your normal homemade toothpaste to get rid of any hydrogen peroxide left.

To help whitening, you can use the Hydrogen Peroxide as an oral rinse every morning.  Use 1-2 Tbls and swish around in your mouth for one minute.  It will foam when it comes in contact with the bacteria in your mouth.  After one-minute, spit out the peroxide and brush your teeth as normal.

Side Note: Swallowing hydrogen peroxide can be dangerous, when it decomposes in your stomach it releases large quantities of gas 10 times the volume of the amount you swallowed, which can lead to internal bleeding.  So please be careful.

I found this kid friendly demonstration, you can use for a classroom volcano erupting or it can be a demonstration of this in your belly… Put Dry Yeast and Peroxide in container and stand back.  Fun!  But remember, do not swallow this!

Xylitol – What Is It and Why Do I Use It??

Xylitol is an alternative sweetener used to replace sugar.  It has roughly 40% less calories and is almost as sweet as regular sugar.  It is all natural and safe for diabetics and measures 7 on the glycemic index while glucose measures at 100.

Health Garden Birch Xylitol 5

Xylitol is used in homemade and natural toothpastes along with Bentonite Clay to help re-mineralize your tooth enamel.  It also actively fights plaque by neutralizing plaque acids.  Also, it lowers the occurrence of cavities because it does not have any 6-carbon sugars which is needed to help bacterial growth and reproduction of cavity causing bacteria.


Also studies have shown that it has been used to help reduce incidence of acute middle ear infections in normally healthy children.  Not really sure how that was found to be but thought it was an interesting point.

Two things to be aware of are it also has a laxative effect if too much is consumed because Xylitol’s sugar alcohols are not fully broken down during digestion which can cause diarrhea, bloating, and flatulence.  This typically takes several weeks to months to materialize and occur with normal digestion.   And also xylitol can be very toxic to dogs, so keep out of reach of your animals.

Also keep in mind that while it is a good alternative for sugar, when baking, do not combine it with any recipes that call for yeast.  The xylitol and yeast do not like each other chemically and will cause your yeast to die.  So good for cookies and cakes, not good for breads and rolls.

So, now what’s the big debate on where xylitol comes from??

Xylitol is extracted from hardwoods, mainly birch but can come from some beach trees.  But it is also commonly made from corncobs.  Xylitol does have a stigma for being expensive, which it is, but the corncob xylitol is made cheaply from corncobs typically by companies overseas, namely China.

I’m not knocking on anything Chinese made, they made lots of good products, but they also make lots of cheap knockoffs.  So when you look at corncob xylitol there is a good chance it’s not organic and is probably genetically modified.  I for one am not a big fan of GMOs so I try to stay away from them, but that’s another debate in itself and I’m not going there today.  Also cheap knockoffs can be cut with sorbitol which is a sugar alternative as well, but it contains all the same sugar related characteristics, which is the main reason I use xylitol in the first place.

So in conclusion, I use only birch xylitol.  I want my package to say All-Natural or GMO free.  It needs to say “Made from Birch” or something of that nature on the package.   And it needs to be 100% sugar free, so you know there are no additives .  When you receive the package, your xylitol should be in granules larger than normal sugar and it should not have any traces of powder.   That would indicate an additive.

I buy the brand Health Garden brand off of Amazon Prime in the five pound bag for the best price.  There will be a link below as well as a link on my blog page that bring you to the brand I buy and recommend.  It costs $36.49 for five pounds with Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping.  This is the best price I have found by far for Bitch Xylitol.  Make sure you carefully check out the package and ad page for the product if you buy something else.

If you found it cheaper than I did from somewhere, please let me know in the comments below.

I hope you learned  something and check out my link for Homemade toothpaste that contains xylitol.


Bentonite Clay – What Is It and How Is It Helpful?

What is it??

  • Bentonite usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. For industrial purposes, two main classes of bentonite exist: sodium and calcium bentonite.
  • Sodium bentonite expands when wet, absorbing as much as several times its dry mass in water. It is often used in drilling mud for oil and gas wells the property of swelling, used in most cat litter, and also makes it useful as a sealant and groundwater barrier.  It is used in landfills and retention ponds for this purpose as well.
  • Calcium bentonite is a useful adsorbent of fats and oils as well as ions.  Calcium Bentonite can also be converted into Sodium bentonite if desired
  • The clay has a strong negative electromagnetic charge and when activated by water it acts like a magnet around our bodies and pulls metals and toxins to it
  • So when used as a detoxer, it will draw out and exchange the toxins in your body and replace them with sodium or calcium depending on the type of clay, however sodium is the best since it has a stronger negative charge.



  • Removes proteins from wines and clarifies them
  • Mix 1/4 cup with water and soak fruits and vegetables to get real good and clean
  • Helps reverse the degrading of soil
  • Used in Homemade toothpastes
  • Use to make homemade Calamine Lotion
  • Apply with water for burns, scratches and bites
  • Can be used to help bleach tattoos
  • Used for detox your body of heavy metals that have been built up
  • Used to help soothe eczema
  • Can be used in soaps and shaving creams
  • Can be used to relieve constipation bloating and gas, can help ease IBS, and helps cleanse colon

Where to buy:

Personally I buy Redmond Clay, They are a very reputable company and have a great website with tons of information on their product.  Redmond Clay is also a mix of Sodium and Calcium Clays, so you get the best of both worlds in this one.  I purchased it on Amazon Prime for $11.68 for 10oz by weight, also its available as an add-on item for $9.01 if your total purchase is $25 with Amazon Prime.  A little goes a long way with this stuff, but you can buy it in a 6-lbs bucket for $63 as well.  I will list all the links below.


Also I have heard Mountain Rose Herbs is reputable site and their prices are reasonable, but be aware that they only sell Sodium Bentonite Clay.   And it does note that this should only be used externally. While Redmond Clay can be used internally.  It may just be a disclaimer to protect them, but wanted to bring it to your attention.

For Calcium Bentonite Clay I would recommend the brand, Living Clay, it is more expensive, but it is pure Calcium Bentonite Clay and not a mix like Redmond Clay, the link is also provided below.

How To: Turn Baking Soda Into Washing Soda

Having a hard time finding washing soda?  Do not buy it online unless you can find it for under $4 a box for 56 oz.

baking soda washing soda

Or you can use this simple trick to turn your baking soda into washing soda.  Baking Soda is “sodium bicarbonate” and washing soda is “sodium carbonate.”  Slowly cooking the baking soda causes the chemical reaction to turn it from bicarbonate to carbonate.  Here’s how its done:

  1. Preheat your oven to approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pour a box of baking soda onto a baking sheet, spread evenly over the pan and put it in the oven.
  3. Bake the baking soda for 60 minutes. It usually takes anywhere from 45-75 minutes just to assure that the chemical reaction is complete.  You will be able to see the difference in the two sodas.
  4. After pulling the baking sheet out of the oven and letting it cool, store the washing soda in an airtight container. The washing soda can turn back into baking soda if it’s exposed to air for too long of a time.

That’s it!  Pretty cool and cheap way to get washing soda if you cannot find it at your local store!