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Friday, January 25, 2013

Using Reason When Following Blog Posts

I have several bloggers and websites that that I follow, and I enjoy their posts and insights.  I am particularly fond of do-it-yourself or make-it-from-scratch posts.  I like the thrill of making something that is just as good as or comparable to something that is store bought.  It's even more thrilling if that item is significantly less expensive than store bought.  However, I've noticed a few things about some of these blogs.  The bloggers and writers find an idea on the internet, and they repeat it.  On and on and on.  If you were to do an internet search about making an item and use your favorite search engine, you will find post after post all repeating the same "recipe" or idea. 

Very few posts show much research to go along with the post.  No links to what an ingredient does, what purpose the whatchamacallit serves, how it mimics another product, etc.  In some posts, the recipe or item du jour seems like it would be a good idea but hasn't been truly tested.  Yet it gets passed on.  One blogger posted it, people raved about it, and then the next blogger posted it to rave reviews, and so on.  These posts talk about how brilliant the idea is, but there are very few commentators who actually post AFTER they tried whatever is mentioned in the post.  If they do, most are met with criticism and backlash from other commentators or even the writer of the post.  How dare they not follow the crowd?!!  Also, oftentimes a blog post may not be complete but simply links back to an original post on another blog.  I understand doing that.  We all want to give credit where credit is due and avoid presenting an idea as our very own.  That's honorable. However, many times the reposter hasn't tried the idea/item.  They just think it sounds neat so posted the idea themselves with a link back to the original.  It's as if back linking absolves them of any responsibility if the item/technique/recipe/whatchamacallit doesn't work.  

It's easy to jump on a bandwagon, though.  A reader looks at all those positive comments, rave reviews, and kudos for a popular post and thinks that it MUST be true.  It MUST work.  Sometimes a post is believed even when a reader has this little niggling doubt in the back of his/her mind.  That little voice might be saying, "This doesn't sound right," but we see all these positive comments and praise.  Then we shove that little voice aside and jump right in. 

My advice?  Listen to that voice!!  Do NOT take what is on a blog as gospel truth.  Be skeptical.  Seek truth. Research!  Even for MY POSTS here, please, be skeptical.  I am not an expert nor is anyone else out there unless they have a Ph.D. in whatchamacallits along with 40 years experience.  While I try to research and show my own personal outcomes via photos and such, some bloggers don't.  They repeat prior posts, and oftentimes don't show failures.  It takes other blogs showing failures to get an idea of how well some of these things don't work.  I can also personally attest to the fact that just because it appeared on a blog doesn't mean it really works!

I can think of two recent examples.  The first is a post by a local blogger/website owner that explained how to make your own fabric softener.  This recipe called for vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.  The directions said to mix the vinegar and baking soda, wait until the bubbling stops, then add the essential oils for scent.  Store this concoction in a glass jar, then add to your laundry for a clean, fresh, softening scent in the place of liquid fabric softener. 

Sounds great and easy, right?  But wait!  Have you ever mixed baking soda and white or cider vinegar?  Besides creating a great volcano of froth and foam, do you know what you have left when the chemical process stops?  Water.  That's right.  Water with a very small amount of sodium acetate.  Here is a great article from Everyday Einstein that explains this process and how, really, you're not accomplishing much other than making some really neato, very mildly buffered water that has some smelly-good stuff in it.  You could have saved yourself some time and just put the essential oils in the laundry, but that wouldn't be as fun! 

Now, sometimes this bubbling/volcanic action is what you're looking for.  It's great for unclogging a drain, and it's also great for getting stains out of clothing or carpeting.  The bubbling action can work debris loose as a prewash.  I have no problem with that. It's the implication that the processed solution does anything snazzy.  Because, after all, you just created water, albeit fizzy water, and water is the best cleaner of all! It was just created in a rather spectacular way. 

Then I saw another post from another popular online blogger talking about how Epsom salts combined with essential oils makes a great substitute for Purex scent crystals.  NO!!!  Dear sweet crying baby Jesus... no!   Purex crystals contain scent, sodium chloride (table salt), bentonite (clay), and color.  List of ingredients HERE (click on the +fragrances, sizes, and ingredients link). Epsom salts are made up of hydrated magnesium sulfate.  As you can see, Purex crystals and Epsom Salts are definitely not the same!  

If you add Epsom salts to water, you are, in essence, creating hard water.  Hard water contains calcium and magnesium and other dissolved minerals and metals.  Your detergents, soaps, and other things you add to your laundry to get items clean will not work very well in hard water. Why would you want to create hard water?  Especially if you already have hard water?   Adding Epsoms salts to the laundry will do just that! It will worsen an issue, not make it better.  With a little research, the blogger would have known that.  However, there was the post, bigger than daylight, with all these comments praising the brilliance of this new use for an old product. 

These are just two examples of blog posts that look like they are fantastic but when researched reveal that they either won't do much, if anything, and might even make things worse. Why these bloggers, both of whom are very popular, failed to actually research is beyond me.  Now, maybe they just like what they made and like using it.  That is perfectly fine.  I'm all for it because everyone has a right to do as they please.  However, I think it's also a great example of reader beware.  Just because you read it on the internet doesn't make it true! 


  1. Are you sure? just kidding.

    There is a very well known cooking blogger who makes me roll my eyes just about every time I read her site. I'm a lousy cook and even I know some of those things are suspect. When you read that someone has tried a recipe (on other sites, never on the original) you get a lot of information about how the recipe failed. It's weird.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I dunno...

    Some of these bloggers actually have a team of people who work in the background, and then the head blogger publishes it. You have to wonder if they even tested this lovely recipe at all. I've seen some and thought, "That's not going to work. You have to do XYZ first."

    I deleted the other reply because of a typo.