Hoe werk mikrobes vir skoonmaak?

So onlangs as 150 jaar gelede het Joseph Lister eendag voorgestel dat dokters hulle hande moet was en instrumente moet steriliseer voor operasies. Die skoner teatertoestande het daartoe gelei dat prosedures oneindig suksesvoller was as voorheen. Skielik het mense verstaan hoe belangrik higiëne is. Vandag nog word gereelde was van hande ’n baie belangrike aspek van gesondbly gereken.

Alle bakterieë skadelik?

Maar êrens het ons alle bakterieë as ‘skadelik’ begin aanskou. Oormatige gebruik van anti-bakteriële middels uitwendig, en antibiotika inwendig, het wel aansteeklike siektes laat minder word, maar nou sit ons met allergieë en outo-immuunsiektes en wonder hoekom. Nuwe navorsing dui al hoe meer op hoe voordelig meeste bakterieë regtig is, en hoe kompleks jou verhouding met jou eie mikrobioom is.

Wat is bakterieë eintlik?

Bakterieë is eintlik mos eensellige fabrieke. Hulle gebruik die boustowwe wat hulle in hulle omgewing vind, om allerhande nuttige samestellings te vervaardig. Ons gebruik reeds bakterieë om goed soos antibiotika, vitamines, proteïene, inentings en ensieme vir ons te vervaardig.

Afval word ook baie doeltreffend deur bakterieë afgebreek. Wanneer ’n besoedelde area deur mikrobes herstel word, word dit bioremediëring genoem. Miskien het jy al gelees van groot olie-stortings soos die Exxon Valdez (wat 380 miljoen liter olie in die see gestort het), of die Deepwater Horizon boor (wat 800 miljoen liter olie gelek het). Omdat ru-olie ín die natuur voorkom en soms in die see inlek deur die seebodem, is daar reeds bakterieë in die see wat die koolwaterstowwe in ru-olie, kan verteer. Wat opruimwerkers moes doen, was om hierdie bakterieë se getalle groter te maak deur nog daarvan in die see te spuit. Dit word biologiese aanvulling genoem.

Inheemse bacillusbakterieë

Hier in Suid-Afrika is daar al meer as ’n dekade gelede besef dat bakterieë wat behoort tot die bacillus genus, baie nuttig aangewend kan word. Bacillus bakterieë is staafvormige, aerobiese bakterieë wat spore vorm. Die spore is bestand teen hitte, koue, bestraling en uitdroging asook ontsmettingsmiddels. Dit beteken hulle is nuttig as aktiewe agente in skoonmaakmiddels.

Beide die beginsels van bioremediëring en biologiese aanvulling word ingespan. Kom ons dink aan ’n stortvloer. Die goeie bacillusbakterieë is klaar teenwoordig op jou stortvloer. Jy kan dit nie help nie en dit beteken nie jy is vuil nie. Hulle is daar omdat bakterieë oral is en omdat daar vir hulle kos is. In plaas daarvan om daarteen te stry en jou stort steriel te probeer kry (onmoontlik, want die lug is ook vol bakterieë; onnodig, want dis nie skadelik vir jou nie!), kan jy die beginsel van biologiese aanvulling toepas. Gebruik ’n skoonmaakmiddel wat die populasie aanvul!

As jy jou stortvloer met SURFACE skoonmaak, is jy besig om die goeie bakteriee aan te vul.

Laat die bakterieë skoonmaak

Só werk dit: ’n Hele paar miljoen bacillusspore is in die skoonmaakmiddel wat jy op die stortvloer spuit. Binne minute kan die spoor begin ontkiem. As die toestande gunstig is, leef die bakterieë en begin vermeerder. Die eerste ding wat die bakterieë doen, is om reuke te bestry. Omdat hulle dadelik begin vermeerder, kompeteer hulle vir spasie en woel en wemel letterlik die skadelike bakterieë uit die pad. Die bakterieë begin ook dadelik ensieme produseer wat die afval wat op die stortvloer is, afbreek sodat hulle dit kan eet. Wanneer die stort weer gebruik word, spoel die bakterieë in die septiese tenk in, waar dit vaste stowwe begin verteer. Dit beteken die tenk word stadiger vol en daar is minder blokkasies.

Die bakteriee hou jou lappie en spons reukvry.

Gestel jy gebruik nie ’n septiese tenk nie, maar spoel die water weg. Die bakterieë gaan al die pad tot by die watersuiweringswerke voort om nitriete en nitrate uit die water te haal. So vind bioremediëring van die stortvloer en die water plaas. Alles word algaande al hoe skoner, en sodra die bakterieë se kos op is, sterf hulle.

Hou in gedagte

’n Paar dinge moet ingedagte gehou word as jy oorskakel na hierdie manier van skoonmaak. Natuurlik moet daar sekergemaak word die bakterieë in die seep is inderdaad vriendelik en nie patogenies nie. Dit kan nie in ’n komposgat gekweek word nie – dit moet in ’n laboratorium gekweek word en noukeurig nagegaan word vir siekte. Dit maak ook sin om inheemse bakterieë te gebruik eerder as ingevoerde bakterieë. Verder kan niks wat homself anti-septies noem, saam met sulke skoonmaakmiddels gebruik word nie. Dink aan JIK. As jy biologies wil skoonmaak, is JIK nie meer deel van jou arsenaal nie, want dit maak al die bakterieë in jou seep dood en die doeltreffendheid is daarmee heen. Bleikmiddels is bowendien sleg vir die omgewing so dis nie regtig skade om dit opsy te sit nie. En soos met alle natuurlike oplossings, vat dit langer om te werk. Die bakterieë het tyd nodig. Hoe meer jy die populasie aanvul, hoe vinniger raak die proses, maar aanvanklik gebeur dinge nie oornag nie.

Dis natuurlik en intelligent

Die voordele van hierdie manier van skoonmaak is maklik om raak te sien. Dit boots die natuur na; span die lewe wat daar reeds is, in om vir ons te werk. Minder chemikalieë is nodig. ’n Bietjie surfaktant om die water natter te maak is amper al wat nodig is – die bakterieë doen die res. Dis ’n intelligente manier van skoonmaak – die bakterieë ontleed die omgewing en produseer die regte hoeveelheid van die regte ensieme om alles te verteer.

Verantwoordelik. Intelligent. Veilig.

Ons  reeks skoonmaakmiddels word in top laboratoriums hier in Pretoria vervaardig. Alle bakterieë is inheems, spesifiek uitgekies vir die toepassing, en silwerskoon. Dis hoekom ons onsself graag verantwoordelik, intelligent en veilig noem.

Het jy al ooit biologies skoongemaak? Wat was jou ondervinding?

A Super Simple Greywater in the Suburbs Plan

A Super Simple Greywater In The Suburbs Plan

Pretty watering cans?

After researching greywater do’s and don’ts (as summarised in this post) I discovered I could possibly heat our house a teeny bit, and save water, at the same time. The thought thrilled me. You know that I love to be efficient. You know that I love to save the earth and my money all at once. A super simple plan was beginning to form in my mind. But I needed watering cans. Four of them.

The creator of our beautiful caddies were contacted.

After a lengthy search on the internet I realised watering cans that were pretty and large and affordable at the same time were not to be found in South Africa. So I contacted Pascal, the creator of our clever caddies (unfortunately we do not sell them anymore…). Pascal and his co-workers make just about anything from tin and he once again did not disappoint. Four beautiful 10l watering cans arrived on my doorstep and we were ready to go.

Pascal did not disappoint!

And manpower of course

The super simple plan is this: You remember that hubby has us all bath in the same tub of water? We still do that. But here’s the change: instead of the last bather pulling the plug and having all that lovely warm greywater run down the drain, we leave it in the tub. Viola! The heat of the water gets transferred to the air, as well as much needed moisture. Granted, it is not much heat or moisture, but because we have all our bedrooms together with doors that can be closed between us and the rest of the house, the area that needs heat and higher humidity is small. We have not put a heater on once this winter! And our youngest did not once suffer from croup as he used to every winter. Perhaps it was a warm winter and perhaps our son is outgrowing his croupiness, but perhaps our primitive plan DID have something to do with it. At no cost. Yeeehaaa! Besides, greywater has to cool down before you can use it in the garden.

Labour intensive.... yes

Next morning, my three darling children and I all take our watering cans, fill it from the bath and water the garden! As easy as that! No pumps! No electricity! And a shared chore is fun.

A shared chore is fun!

Greywater that is fresher and does not harm our plants

We also use our very own BODY to wash bodies and hair. All our ingredients fully biodegrade in less than 28 days. This way we know nothing in the water will hurt our plants or the soil in our garden. Also, the microbes needed to keep the organic material in the greywater from rotting fast, are the same microbes in all our soap. So we know the greywater will not stink quite so soon.

To be honest I don’t think we would go to the trouble in a wet summer. But during a very dry winter such as this, it works like a dream. Our roses really needed the extra water. And it would otherwise just have gone down the drain! Teaming with life makes sense.

Cheerio!

So How Does One Do Greywater In The Suburbs?

So How Does One Do Greywater In The Suburbs?

No easy answers

Do you remember how we first got interested in grey water? Fear of the municipal account. Do you remember what made me realise it wasn’t going to be as easy as ‘pour it into a 25l drum and relax’? Fear of the hospital account! That drum smelled dangerously foul. The water went down the drain and I got started on an information hunt.

Sifting through all the information and misinformation on the internet took hours but I am grateful I did it. I happened upon this site and found excerpts from the book Create an Oasis with Grey Water by Art Ludwig. Art is an ecological systems designer with 35 years full-time experience in water, among other things. He seems honest and his information is free and complicated. No easy answers here! Which makes me trust what he says.

Art does not know I exist and I am definitely not earning anything from this post. I just want to share what I learned.

Screenshot from Art's website

Don't store greywater more than a day

Firstly, I learned that it is best not to store grey water for more than a day. The bad microbes in the water multiply making the water smelly and oxygen poor. A system that drains completely as soon as the water is cold, gives maximum benefit.

'24 hours is generally considered the prudent maximum time for storage. Since this is not enough time to, for example, store grey water from a time when irrigation is not needed to one in which it is, I find myself tuning designs to eliminate pooled grey water anywhere it occurs; just send it all straight to the soil. The fewer little anaerobic corners and pockets the better. My latest designs drain COMPLETELY…all the collection plumbing, distribution plumbing, and surge tanks (if any) slope at least 2% across their bottom surfaces.'

He carries on saying that in the case of treated grey water it could be stored longer. That means that if you use Mrs Martin’s HAND and BODY (or any of the other Mrs Martin’s products, for that matter) and collect the water from your basin, you could store it for longer before using it in your garden. The beneficial microbes in the soap will retard the process in which pathogenic or ‘bad’ microbes multiply and make the water black. I invite you to try : we have several clients who say their systems stopped stinking after switching to our detergents!

Don't expect to save money

Secondly, we will probably not be saving a lot of money. Good clean water is still cheap in South Africa.

A typical residential greywater system will save $5-$20 worth of freshwater a month, at best. (Update: That seemed like a small amount three years ago when this post was first written, but now at the end of 2020 $20 is R300 – who would not mind to save that per month?)

It could, however, make all the difference to your garden in a time of drought like we are experiencing now. If you are not allowed to irrigate your garden, using your greywater safely may save your plants! Just don’t use it on your azaleas or hydrangeas as acid-loving plants don’t appreciate greywater.

The simpler, the better

Thirdly, the simpler the system the better. Art goes as far as to say that the moment a pump is involved you might have a net negative influence on the environment due to the cost of materials, manufacturing and electricity needed. He sees something as simple as a bucket as a grey water system.

Toilets can be flushed with grey water by simply bucketing it from the bathtub/shower directly into the toilet bowl (not the tank, where it will fester). An added plus of reusing bathtub water in this way is that due to flush volume always being under direct intelligent control it is always less. Also, in cold climates you get a primitive but highly effective sort of greywater heat recovery as the bath water sits there and heats the house as it cools.

It was after reading this last sentence that my efficiency instinct kicked in. I started to smile inwardly. Could it be that I could be heating my house this winter and gaining water for the garden AT THE SAME TIME?

Well, how I applied all my new-found knowledge, is for another post. Can’t wait to tell you!

Until then

And Here We Thought Greywater Was Easy!

The move we never want to repeat

In December 2016 we moved. We left the rolling green hills of Kwazulu Natal behind for a sectional title house in Pretoria. ‘There are pros and cons about everything,’ we told ourselves and braced for impact. We moved in on what must have been the hottest day in human history. Fortunately we had very few things to move really. We had no fridge and no kettle (that translates to neither Coke nor coffee…misery!) and no a whole list of other things as well. 

Sad fact 1

So when I got up from our krismisbed on that first morning and saw the sunrise through an electric fence instead of through the lacy leaves of an avocado orchard, I knew I had come face to face with Con Nr 1.

This used to be the view from our front door
Here's our current view from just about anywhere in the house

Sad fact 2

For a middle-aged couple with three darling children it is daunting to leave the loveliness of a community on a farm in the sticks. The life we lived there can hardly be called homesteading, but it certainly was idyllic. Hubby grew his own strawberries, and we had just about every kind of fruit tree in the tiny piece of the communal farm I could call our yard: two apple trees, an orange, a lemon, a grapefruit, a white guava, even a clementine! We kept one bee hive. I made my own cottage cheese from maas and brewed a fresh batch of yoghurt every evening. Hubby even had a go at making gouda and it worked! We had our worm farm in a box behind the house, we fed our azaleas rooibos tealeaves, I baked bread with real yeast and oh! …we never had to pay for water or electricity.

Enters Con Nr 2. In our new life, we feared these two accounts. We tackled the problem with gusto. On day four in our new home, every bulb in the house was replaced by LED bulbs. No matter that it cost more than R2000! We were doing our bit for the environment and counting how many cents we would be saving each night. It was incidentally also on day four that we discovered our greywater had turned foul…

Greywater really stinks

Hubby had us all bath in the same tub of water every evening and then scoop the (by then) really grey water into a 25l plastic drum. This was then lovingly dragged to the courtyard by the back door with the intention of later using the water to irrigate what was left of the drought stricken garden. When one of those drums were opened on day four, we realised it was not going to be as easy as that. It smelled rotten. In fact, it smelled dangerous. Mentally the cost of the municipal account was weighed up against the cost of a hospital stay and without further ado the water went down the drain.

So how do you do greywater in the suburbs?

This small episode kickstarted some research about greywater: why does it smell? Can the smell be avoided? How can it best be used in a suburban home inhabited by ‘normal’ people? If you have these questions, continue reading my blog because I will be answering them in later posts.

Although the drought has eased ever so slightly in Pretoria, vast parts of the country are still suffering. Have you been more successful in implementing a greywater system?

Cheerio