"All Natural" Doesn't Necessarily Mean Sustainable - How We Choose Our – Thumbprint Soap

"All Natural" Doesn't Necessarily Mean Sustainable - How We Choose Our Ingredients

Posted by Katie Adams on

We do our best to choose ingredients that are both safe and sustainable. "All natural" doesn't necessarily mean sustainable, and synthetic doesn't always mean toxic. We have done our research and found a balance that we are comfortable with.

Carrier Oils

All of the liquid oils and butters we use in our products are purchased from Columbus Vegetable Oils. This Midwest-based company is:

  • Verified non-GMO
  • Rainforest Certified - meaning the company meets standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability.
  • Women Owned (okay, so this doesn't really affect the final product, but we like it anyway).

Palm Oil Free

We never purchase palm oil to use in our products. It is an unsustainable product that leads to deforestation, despite claims of sustainability from some companies. We do our best to avoid it altogether, but occasionally a palm-free ingredient from one supplier is a palm derivative when purchased from a different supplier (emulsifiers like cetyl and cetearyl alcohols can be made from a variety of plants). This information is not always easy to track down.

Fragrances

We order our fragrance oils from a few different suppliers, but we always ensure they are free from:

  • Phthalates - sometimes fragrances are produced with a specific solvent (Diethyl Phthalate) to extend the aromatic strength. You know when you regret trying on a perfume at the cosmetics counter, but no matter how many times you wash, you can't get rid of the smell? That's because of phthalates.
  • Nitro Musks - Before the 1980's, the musk scent in fragrances came from animal sources (mmm, deer urine). Fortunately, synthetic musks are now the norm, but some types of musks (like musk xylene and nitro musk) are found to accumulate in the body and in the environment.
  • Animal Testing - No way would we ever buy a fragrance that was tested on animals.

Why Not Essential Oils Only?

There are several reasons that I choose to use essential oils sparingly in my products.

  • Fewer Scent Options - There are only so many scent combinations that can be achieved with essential oils and they are mostly herbal, woodsy or floral in nature. I like to offer more than that. You can't make an essential oil out of cucumbers or Fruit Loops, after all.
  • Sustainability - It takes large quantities of plant matter to make essential oils (I'm talking 3,000 lemons to make 2 lbs of oil). Because they are so popular, I have a feeling that over time, the purity of essential oils is going to come into question as ingredient scarcity begins. doTerra is harvesting Hawaiian Frankincense to extinction. Sandalwood is nearing extinction as well. It takes over a half pound of essential oil to fragrance a 4 loaf batch of soap and I just don't feel comfortable contributing to the extinction of sacred plants. (Read more).
  • Health Concerns - Some of my products are quite warm when I add the fragrance to them and some essential oils become toxic when heated. Filling my home with large quantities of essential oil vapor is unsafe for the people and animals inside.
  • Rising and Unpredictable Costs - As ingredients become endangered, the cost of essential oil goes through the roof. This also happens when supply is temporarily limited. For instance, poor crop yield in 2017 and 2018, combined with crop hoarding by multi-level marketing companies led to a lavender shortage around this time last year. Lavender used to be one of the less expensive oils. This is no longer the case.

For these reasons, I prefer to save the essential oils for the more upscale leave-on products and use fragrance oils in soaps (since the oils are just rinsed away down the drain).

Preservatives

Some products just require a preservative. Anything that is water-based or will come into contact with water during use, like lotions or sugar scrubs, must have a preservative or they will develop bacteria that can make you sick. That being said, we only use preservatives that are free from parabens and formaldehyde.


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