Over the years of our lives, my wife, Lisa, and I (now 72, in 2011) have treasured some little secrets that we have learned, especially those that save money, against buying a commercial product. Here are some that we value.

INSECT KILLER:   Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a very fine powder of finely crushed seashells (diatoms) that is totally harmless to humans, but when insects like roaches, earwigs, silverfish, ants, and many others walk through it, they die because it scratches their skin, through which they breathe, and both injures and suffocates them. It is easy to sprinkle it around the edges of rooms or buildings or storage areas. It is long lasting, and if it gets wet, no problem as it dries out and keeps on working. You can get it from many sources on internet, from Lowes, or from swimming pool supply stores where it is used in pool filters. Itís cheaper than the boric acid which is used for most roach problems and works just as well. You can sometimes find it in the garden supply department of your local home-building supply.

        For ANTS, the artificial sweetner ASPARTAME will kill them. Just open a small packet and place it where they can get it. Research indicates it may be just as harmful to humans, but takes longer.

        For MOSQUITOES, use the artificial sweetner SPLENDA with a mixture of a pyrethroid, like Cynoff. They are attracted to sweets.

           Perhaps the best insecticide you can purchase is CYNOFF, which is Cypermethrin. It's expensive, but you can find it easily on internet. You can get the wettable powder, which is longer lasting on a surface, or you can buy it as a liquid which is good for two or three months. Either works well to spray on sides of buildings, or most anywhere. It kills ants, too.

           I'm adding this note in June 2007, to report that Cynoff is the greatest insecticide I have ever used. While diatomaceous earth is non-toxic and safer, Cynoff is quickly fatal to most insects. Since I have cows (right now just two: Pretty Girl is my Jersey milk-cow, and her calf Bambi is two months old) the barnyard and buildings are plagued with flies of several types. I mixed Cynoff with water in my fruit-tree-sprayer and sprayed all the manure piles and also around the base of the buildings. Then I took Diatomaceous Earth and mixed a small amount of dry Cynoff powder into the DE powder, and sprinkled it over the barn floor areas which are dirt base with straw/hay bedding. Within a day, there are nearly no flies on the cows or in the barns. DE will do a pretty good job by itself, but it doesn't seem fatal to the larger flies. Mixing it with Cynoff is miraculous. I get my Cynoff from Pest Control Outlet, 6127 State Road 54, New Port Richey, FL 34653.  One pound is $48.95, plus shipping. You can order online at   or their website: or email them at: Cynoff WP means Wettable Powder. Cynoff is the same as Demon WP. Cynoff is 40% Cypermethrin and 60% inert ingredients. It is good for Ants, Biting Flies, Boxelder Bugs, Centipedes, Cockroaches (DE might be as good), Crickets, Earwigs, Elm Leaf Beetles, Firebrats, Fleas, Flies, Millipedes, Mosquitoes, Pillbugs, Silverfish, Sowbugs, Bees, Spiders, Ticks, and Wasps.

        I've tried many insecticides, but never found anything nearly as effective as the above DE and Cynoff. Last fall (2005) our region of the nation had an uprising of Chinese type Ladybugs; they flocked inside houses, attics, any buildings to spend the winter. I sprayed the exterior walls of my house and buildings with Cynoff WP and let it dry. Then I set off aerosol bug bombs (from Lowes) inside the rooms, attic, and basement. The ladybugs fled outside and landed on the buildings walls. They died! It was amazing. I learned about Cynoff from Skip Malley at    Now, I will be proactive and will sprinkle the mix of DE with Cynoff inside areas of my basement and attic and other buildings. Bugs won't be a big problem in my future!

ANIMAL DEBUGGING: Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth into your housepet's fur, or any livestock fur, or farm animalís sleeping area. It Kills ticks, fleas, lice, mites, and most all tiny parasites. It is totally harmless and non-toxic, to the animal (or human), even if eaten. I sprinkle it around the chicken-house and in their nesting boxes to get rid of mites, and around the sleeping area for my cow to keep the ground bug-free. Works also for bed-bugs, with no harm to the person; sprinkle it between the mattress-pad and the sheet.. Also used in animal feeds to kill internal parasites. Google it for lots of information. Try for amounts to feed animals. It would probably work great for head lice or any other body parasites, or in your furniture or carpet for critters that your pet brings home. Some people eat it to kill internal worms and parasites; it's kind of gritty but easy to swallow if in water or juice. Can also sprinkle it around trees to keep any crawling parasites from infesting them. Get it from many sources on internet, or from your swimming pool supply store, or local building supply or garden store.

GARDEN INSECTS: Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around plants to protect from slugs, caterpillars, cutworms, or most any other insect type critter. Dust it onto any vegetable plants to keep bugs off; works great on potatoes, cabbages, tomatoes, squash, etc. If you work it into the ground around your plants, it will kill slugs and other harmful under-earth critters, but it does also kill the valuable earthworms, so keep that in consideration. I wouldn't dust strawberries or raspberries when they are bearing fruit because the fruit might taste a little gritty, even though it wouldn't hurt you. [We won't buy those kinds of fruits at the market, either, because the pesticides can't be effectively washed off.]

FINING AGENT: For clarifying beer, wine, or perhaps other cloudy liquids, Diatomaceous Earth works well. I usually use Bentonite Clay powder, but another popular fining agent is Sparkalloid, which is D.E. and Gelatin powder which must be boiled first. I have sprinkled simple D.E. onto the surface of the wine, after Bentonite failed to clear it completely; resulting in a crystal clear wine. But, the D.E. takes longer, perhaps weeks; a positive value is that D.E. sets up the sediment more firmly than Bentonite, even if done without removing the Bentonite first. Another use for D.E. might be as an abrasive grit, like fine sandpaper, for miscellaneous purposes; avoid breathing the fine powder, though; it would definitely irritate your lungs.

INSECT BITE AND STING RELIEF: Ammonia, household type (pure, not with cleaner additives). Just a drop does the job to relieve itching. A Que-Tip works good for applying it. It is the effective agent in a product called "After Bite." You can check out the After Bite online by Googling it. But, ammonia is cheap and does the same. For bee stings or hornet stings, tape a penny over the sting for at least fifteen minutes; problem solved.

INSECT/FLY REPELLENT: motor oil. Just pour a little on a cloth so that it is merely damp with oil; then rub the cloth on your clothing, sleeve cuffs, collar, hat, ankle cuffs, socks, wherever you are willing to put it. In the summer I rub some on my milk-cow and it keeps flies off her quite well. Better to not use it on a cat or dog because they would lick it off, and they wouldnít like you for doing it.

DEER HUNTING: I have walked past deer which merely stepped aside for me because I was making the same kind of sounds they make when contentedly grazing in a group. I learned it when awakened one morning by their "talking" all around my tent in an open field. At first I wondered what could be making the sound, looked out the tent flap, and saw deer all around. I listened and then tried to copy it. I broke camp that morning, loaded the backpack, and headed down the trail, all the while talking with them as they milled around unafraid. My attempts to imitate them were to raise the tone of my voice a note or two above normal, but not enough to be squeeky, and saying short little sounds like, "bip boopedi bop di de, boo bip du pop me ba doo...." The sounds are made not too loud, and gently, calmly, soothingly. I have never heard anyone indicate that deer make such sounds. It sure amazed me.

NEUTRALIZING CHLORINATED TAP WATER. Add a splash of hydrogen peroxide to your bath, perhaps a quarter cup of the drugstore 3% stuff. Then you arenít breathing chlorine gas or absorbing chlorine through your skin. Peroxide is already known to be healthy for the skin and the body by its cleansing and oxygen-providing capability. It also disinfects water. I used to use it in my Jacuzzi spa, instead of chlorine. Itís wonderful. You can confirm that peroxide is used to cancel chlorine by checking out this industrial website: Then scroll down to the paragraph headed: Does hydrogen peroxide remove chlorine? Pretty neat, hunh?

YARD MOLES. Instead of buying pellets or repellents to insert into mole tunnels year after year, you must first get rid of the grubs on which the moles feed. Buy a garden product to kill the grubs and the moles will leave your yard. Otherwise, youíll be trying to put things in their tunnels forever.

SLUGS. Ammonia kills slugs, along with adding huge amounts of nitrogen to the soil. But, we were unable to stop the proliferation of slugs with just ammonia. Then we found a product, Sluggo, at the hardware store. That did the job. Great stuff!

WOUND TREATMENT: in emergency situations where you need to treat a cut or wound, use fresh sawdust. Wood is naturally antiseptic (contains DMSO), which explains why it doesnít spoil like other vegetative matter, or rot for a long time. For a wound, if you can make some quick sawdust, pack it into the wound and it will help stop bleeding and will kill germs. Another emergency wound treatment is motor oil or grease. Petroleum oil is antiseptic and is used in many ointments. Even dirty axle grease from under your car will protect a wound and keep it from getting infected. Mechanics in garages are frequently getting skinned knuckles or cuts and they donít get infections because of petroleum. If you have a chainsaw handy, those wood chips have a little chain oil on them -- good stuff! Another emergency treatment for wounds is to apply honey or sugar.

GERM FREE CUTTING BOARD. This is easy! Throw away those new nylon or plastic things and get a WOOD cutting board that is not coated with anything. Raw wood is antiseptic. Bacteria die in ten seconds or so after contact with raw wood. Our ancestors lived with natural benefits that we moderns have often abandoned. Maybe we ainít so smart after all.

BAKED-ON FOOD RESIDUE. The inside walls of my wifeís crock-pot had residue that wouldnít wash off. She tried soaking it in vinegar, and then in baking soda. She scrubbed with coarse pads. No luck. She took an old Coca Cola that had lost its fizz and soaked it overnight in that. Walla! The next morning the crud washed right off. Today, 10/26/06 she used Coke to clean a terribly stained coffee mug. It only took an hour or so. Like new. Amazing stuff, that Coke! Perhaps its only real danger is when consumed by humans.

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