Researching Products and Ingredients

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Product and ingredient research

Even though I like to think I know everything, I admittedly do not. Being stubborn about your knowledge of DIY projects can make them blow up in your face, so when we’re unfamiliar Matt and I perform research on the recipe’s ingredients… and you should too.

We have such a variety of readers visiting our site (environmentalists, homeschooling moms, Christians, naturalists, minimalists, etc.) it’s impossible to come up with recipes that make everyone happy all of the time, so we don’t try. We focus instead on finding recipes we love and have personal success with, then pass them along to anyone interested.

Because of this I wanted to stress the importance of doing your own research to decide what’s best for you.

What’s best for YOU?

We attempt to write for a broad audience on this website, but we won’t always get it right for everyone. On sites that boasts DIY recipes it is always in your best interest to study out individual ingredients. After all, we believe part of the do-it-yourself fun lies within the task of educating yourself about what you are making.

When buying commercial products, don’t assume someone else knows what’s best for you either. Whether it’s a corporation, writers for a website or magazine, or even a friend, they (most likely) did not have you specifically in mind when creating a recipe or a product. Only you know everything about your body, your beliefs, and your needs. Be the ultimate authority on what’s best for you…don’t hand this job over to someone else.

Study it out

A good example of the necessity for studying ingredients can be found in our homemade laundry soap recipe. Borax, one of the main ingredients, is a confusing ingredient to many people. Some have said they believe it is toxic, and others have assumed it was the same thing as boric acid. In our own research on the ingredient, we have found that not only is borax a salt derived from boric acid, but it is also equal in toxicity to regular table salt. Eat a cup of table salt, and you will undoubtedly feel ill. Eat a cup of borax, and yup, same thing. However, just because we choose to use borax, this doesn’t mean that YOU have to feel comfortable using borax in the laundry soap you wash your family’s clothes in.

We urge you to do the research on anything you allow into your house, onto your skin/hair/nails, and into the mouths of your family. Don’t take one source of information to be the absolute truth on anything, but consider several.

As I researched xylitol recently, I read some content on a website for xylitol products. Knowing that this company was actually trying to SELL something, I kept in mind that the content would most likely make the product sound very good fabulous. I had to find several other sources on xylitol to determine what was truth and what was savvy marketing.

Research sources to consider

  • Internet: Look for sites that are non-biased. Doing a simple Google search or checking Wikipedia for information is a good start.
  • A trusted health care provider: Ask a million questions in the most non-annoying way possible (and don’t feel like you have to agree with everything he/she believes).
  • Health publications: Articles on products can be very informative, but be sure to look at sources listed for articles in any health publication.
  • Documentaries: Again, consider the sources and motivation behind the making of the film. Some can be very well made, and others may have an agenda you do not agree with.
  • Knowledgeable friends & family: Talk to lots of people you think might have enlightening information. Don’t be afraid to challenge their ideas and ask where they are getting their information. (Let’s hope they don’t say Grey’s Anatomy.)

Taking matters into your own hands

Once you have found several good sources, arming yourself with ample information about a product or ingredient will allow you to feel comfortable in your decisions. Be prepared to find things you don’t like, or things that utterly surprise you during this research phase. Here are some important questions to ask yourself when researching a product:

  • Why do I want to use this product?
  • What are its ingredients? (What do I know about the individual ingredients?)
  • Is it really natural?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Is it worth the cost?
  • Do I (or family members) have any allergies or medical conditions that could be affected by this?
  • Do I trust this company?
  • Are there any alternatives to this product that I feel more comfortable with?
  • Is this product right for me (and my family)?

The payoff

Researching products and ingredients takes time, focus, and effort. There are many benefits: peace of mind in the products you are using, knowledge you can share with others, possible savings, resulting health benefits, and a one-up on your family members who are getting their information from Grey’s Anatomy. 🙂

What benefits have you reaped from spending time researching products? Let us know why this is important to you!


About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on DIY Natural™ is not reviewed or endorsed by the FDA and is NOT intended to be substituted for the advice of your health care professional. If you rely solely upon this advice you do so at your own risk. Read full Disclaimer & Disclosure statements here.


  1. Schell says

    Thanks so much for this reminder. I made your laundry soap and LOVE IT! But the first thing my husband said was “Borax? Isn’t that a poison?” Information is power. As I’m trying more and more natural or DIY products, I have been doing a lot of research. I particularly like the ones that give warnings like “check with your doctor” or “allergic reactions may occur so test before using”. Thank you for reminding your readers about the importance of checking things out for themselves. This goes not only with products you make but with anything you put on or in your body. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. erin @ from city to farm says

    Now, wait just a second here…are you saying Grey’s Anatomy is not a good source of information?! 🙂

    Excellent post, and so true. Can’t please everyone, you can only please yourself…and honestly, as long as you aren’t harming anyone with your choices, why should anyone care?

    Research, think, create…thank you for all of your hard DIY work!! Next up to try are the homemade dog treats, now that we have a puppy to try them on. 🙂

  3. Dave Coker says

    Great article. I had a situation recently where a restaurant was using meat glue because he was told it was good, on TV! After we talked he did some research and is no longer using it. Another win for doing things better and healthier.

  4. Doris says

    Wonderful article! Thank you! As we all know, one man’s food can be another man’s poison! We make the choice to accept or deny the information available to us. No one is forced to embrace everything put before then. We are responsible for researching and making an educated choice. Keep up the great work!

  5. Diana says

    Thank you for an EXCELLENT post! You nailed it. It can be frustrating sometimes, trying to find the information I feel I need in order to make a good decision. But I have found it to also be a fascinating and empowering journey. I have asked myself for years, ‘What did everyone do before everything under the sun was obtained from ‘the store!?!’ I began teaching myself many years ago how to make ‘real meals’ when I got out on my own. My poor mom, bless her heart, just could not cook! Most everything was a matter of opening a can and heating up some awful tasteless ‘imitation of real food’, or a box of something equally unpleasant. Many people still think store bought canned and packaged ‘food’ is quick and easy, or perfectly acceptable. I disagree. I was shocked to find that my first ‘cookbook’ did not have ‘real food’ recipes either. I remember how angry I was when I could not find a potato soup recipe that used real potatoes! So I made up my own recipe. Imagine not knowing how to make something so simple! Eventually I met someone who made EVERYTHING from scratch! (I got writer’s cramp getting as many recipes as I could, thought I was in heaven!) I’m on the next step of the journey now. I still continue to ask myself, ‘What did people do before the big ole grocery stores took over?’ Why should I spend my money on something I can make myself, and mine is better! Imagine how surprised I was to learn that we can make our own LAUNDRY SOAP. Now I’m on a mission! I can’t stop looking around and wondering what else I can do MYSELF! Yours happens to be my favorite site for dependable recipes of all kinds to try and ideas that keep me thinking! Simple, down to earth, inexpensive, and enlightening. Love reading all the comments for the same reason. What a wonderful little ‘community’. Thank you for sharing so generously with us all! I think it’s been said before: YOU ROCK!

    • Honey says

      I have been looking for a new hobby and this particular post has given me the title for it. “Making Sh*t Up”. 🙂 Not to sound vulgar, but it’s my way of dragging my under-30 friends along for the ride. To make my own of a lot of things I can easily adjust my budget for the better, give myself a constructive hobby, be healthier, and pass along my ideas to friends with similar budget constraints in my free time! I love helping others, and this is a way to help others while helping myself. I lost my passion (and budget!) for my hobby and went looking for a new, cheaper, indoors one. WA state has some horrible weather when you want to be outdoorsy. I know my boyfriend will think I’m a fruitcake for looking into these things, but with his budget conscious mindset I don’t see how I can lose. 😀 Thank you so much for the inspiration, and hopefully you don’t mind me sharing some of your words with my facebook friends in hopes of sparking interest in my new ventures. Thank you again, Diana! 🙂

  6. Rebekah says

    There have been the obvious practical benefits: the things I research usually work better, are often cheaper, and make me feel better physically! Using organic almond oil as a facial moisturizer, for example. If I hadn’t done my research I would either be paying through the nose for a fancy “natural” face cream or getting frustrated with the chemical-filled lotions that irritated my face.

    Besides those practical things, I like the confidence in knowing what I’m talking about (instead of relying on what the marketers tell me). 🙂