I can still see, in my mind’s eye, the can of Colgate Tooth Powder sitting on a shelf in the “cook room,” above the soapstone sink. The sink was mounted under a double window that looked out over the back orchard with the apple trees, the wild rose bushes where the rabbits lived and the hand-dug well with its rounded stone walls.

Mounted on the right side of the sink was the red water pump that brought the chemical-free water into the house, spilling it cool and fresh into the pail under its spout. Hanging from the side of the pail was the “drinking dipper.”

Life was simple then, up on Tucker Ridge those few seconds ago, in the span of history. Our homes, our bodies, were not chemical-storage facilities. Our foods, our household cleaning and personal hygiene products were natural and safe to use. You hardly ever heard of anyone with cancer.

The things we used back then are still available today. They still work with the same efficiency and safety. Added to that, they’re a lot cheaper and safer around little ones.

Read the labels. They are made from natural ingredients. Look at the list of ingredients. No list of 20-plus ingredients, mostly manmade chemicals, many of which you can’t even pronounce and certainly don’t know the ramifications of, that go into your system.

Most of the natural things we used back then were and are multipurpose. This saves cupboard space and money, as well as being non-toxic.

Take vinegar, for example. (I buy organic cider vinegar in quart bottles and white vinegar in gallon jugs.) I use cider vinegar and oil, usually avocado oil or liquid coconut oil with spices, for my salad dressings. I won’t go into why I no longer use olive oil, but you might want to do some research on what is bottled and sold as olive oil these days. Just do a YouTube search for “is it real olive oil.” Besides, olive oil goes rancid relatively quickly and it has a lower burn-point.

Cider vinegar is also a mighty germ killer. Got a sore throat? Gargle with a tablespoon or two with warm water in a juice glass. Do this every hour for four hours, then every four hours until there’s no hint of a sore throat.

The white vinegar jug should be in your bath and laundry room. Want an excellent PH-balance for your hair that also leaves it super soft and tangle-free? After shampooing, rinse with a small pan of water with a half-cup of white vinegar. You can also splash it on your skin to keep mosquitoes away. No, you won’t smell like a salad. As soon as it dries, only the bugs can smell it and they don’t like it.

Vinegar is also an excellent deodorizer. When cooking fish or to get rid of other odorous smells, boil some vinegar in water. This is also a good way to combat germs when someone in the house is sick. (Things that deodorize, like vinegar and baking soda, kill germs.) This is also a good reason to put a cup of white vinegar in your wash.

And who doesn’t know what a wonderful job it is does washing windows?

Baking soda, the other deodorizer, is also great in the wash ― and who hasn’t used an open box in the fridge? Put a cup in your bath for super soft, silky water. (It will also make your hair soft used in a water rinse after shampooing.)

Baking soda, put on underarms like talcum powder, is the hands-down best deodorizer. And it outlasts chemical deodorants.

It is also a great substitute for brushing and whitening your teeth.

There's always a box or two of 20 Mule Team Borax, along with a box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, in my laundry and a container of Borax by my sink. These are naturally occurring chemicals. Throw a cup of either in with your regular laundry soap for a super boost, deodorizer and germ killer.

I make my laundry soap for pennies on the dollar. I used to make the liquid form but it takes up a lot of storage space. Now I make the powder form and store in a large cooking pot I picked up at Goodwill for a couple dollars. (You can find the how-to’s on YouTube.)

Borax makes a great scrubbing powder but doesn't scratch. I use it on my sinks, mostly. Many years ago, using a spoon, I put some down the tiny crack between the counter backsplash and wall. It was not long after I bought my house, going on 30 years ago. I had ant hills in my driveway and lawn, and one day a scout ant marched across my counter and down to the floor. A few more followed. So I put the Borax down between the walls in my kitchen on the side he came in from. I guess it stays dry and active, for I have never seen an ant in my house since. I also poured some over the anthills outside. Gone.

Hydrogen peroxide is another powerful germ killer. Doesn’t taste too great, but does the job quickly. DO NOT use it straight! It can “burn” your throat. Mix it about a tablespoon or two with a juice glass of warm water to gargle if you feel a sore throat or toothache coming on. It’s also good for wiping down countertops, sinks, faucets and woodwork ― especially if someone in the house is sick. In fact, new on the market, hydrogen peroxide wipes! I have that on my shopping list.

All of these things, with the exception of fluoride-free toothpaste, are still on the shelves and easy to find. Every fluoride toothpaste product sold in the United States has a poison warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration. And just try to find a fluoride-free toothpaste in the supermarket. The warning from the FDA on the tubes reads "WARNING: Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.” (And they make candy- and bubblegum-flavored toothpaste.)

But you can find fluoride-free toothpaste as well as tooth POWDER in health food stores and online.

So I still use the natural stuff mentioned here along with things like honey and lemon juice for sore throats as well as honey and cider vinegar (organic with the “mother”). The latter is also a good “sleeping potion,” as practiced and written about by the famous Vermont doctor of the ’50s, D. C. Jarvis in his book “Folk Medicine.”

Another benefit of using these old tried and true products: No arms-long list of dangerous side effects.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a graduate of Belfast schools now living in Morrill.