Homemade Herbicides: Alternatives to Health-Damaging Poisons in the Market

Proper garden maintenance involves the frequent extraction of alien plant life, weeds like thistle and dandelions that can spring up in the middle of your gardens, take up space, and choke out the plants you want to keep alive. Easy solutions to this problem line the shelves of supermarkets, and popular herbicide brands like Roundup have become household names, used in schools, workplaces, and suburbs since the ‘70s. It’s even possible that you have a can of Roundup sitting in your garage, or that you’ve used herbicides to target and poison weeds growing in your backyard recently. 

However, few people know that these popular herbicides contain chemicals that can pose a significant danger to human health. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, has been identified as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization and has been credibly linked to the development of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and other cancers. Another popular ingredient, 2, 4-D, has been identified as an endocrine disruptor and may affect the fertility of people exposed, as well as also being linked to several types of cancer. While research is still being conducted on the effects of these chemicals and their connections with severe health problems, it’s best to avoid exposing yourself to them as much as possible.

Yet, the weeds still need to be extracted, and few relish the idea of picking them out by hand. If you’re a Roundup household, here are a few alternative methods of killing weeds that you may find save you some money and keep you healthier in the long run.

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Purchase an Organic Weed Killer

This is perhaps not going to be a favorite on the list, as it still requires spending funds and likely quite a bit of research on your part. Yet, for people who lead busier lives and want a quick, easy alternative to Roundup, to just spend a bit of their hard-earned money on a preselected option and not think about anything else, there is a growing market surrounding organic weed killers. However, this is less favorable than using household ingredients to mix a herbicide, as there are still active debates about how many of the other chemicals commonly used in herbicides like Roundup might be dangerous. With these gaps in scientific research, it’s hard to guarantee that this is a better option.

Mix Your Own Vinegar Solution

Keeping your garden weed-free could be as simple as mixing extra-strength vinegar with salt and applying it to targeted areas. Vinegar sucks the life directly out of leaves when sprayed on them, and can suck the moisture out of the roots of immature weeds. This dehydrating effect can be amplified by mixing salt in with the vinegar or spraying the mixture on plants already in the sun. The downside of this method is that vinegar is less likely to work on plants with waxy leaves (as it can roll right off of them) or plants with stronger roots, though adding a bit of soap to your mixture can help the vinegar stick to waxy plants. Vodka mixtures have also been known to have a similar effect if you don’t happen to have extra strength vinegar on you.

Boiling Water and Corn Gluten

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Pouring a kettle of boiling water on growing weeds can be a surprisingly effective and simple method of herbicide. The boiling water goes directly to the roots of growing weeds and scorches them beyond repair, limiting their ability to take in resources and ensuring their eventual death. Once the weeds have been wounded, spreading some corn gluten over the affected area can stop new weeds from growing in their place. The advantage of using these methods in combination with each other is that both are environmentally-friendly, simple herbicide methods: one serves to kill the weeds, the other keeps them from growing back.

Less Effective? Don’t Give Up

If you find that some of these methods are less effective than Roundup might be, don’t despair; weeds can be tricky to exterminate, and it’s all about finding the way that works best for you. If boiling water doesn’t do the trick, consider mixing a vinegar solution and giving that a shot. If that fails, you can always try an organic, professionally-made weed killer. This isn’t an exhaustive list of all the natural ways to kill weeds either; don’t be afraid to do some more research, try new things, and see what gets the pests out of your garden.

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