soaps.jpg Homemade soaps curing on the urban homestead

Popular ‘green’ products test positive for toxicant (LA TIMES)

A cancer-causing chemical is found in almost half of 100 such goods studied.

New tests of 100 “natural” and “organic” soaps, shampoos and other consumer products show that nearly half of them contained a cancer-causing chemical that is a byproduct of petrochemicals used in manufacturing.

Many items that tested positive for the carcinogen are well-known brands, including Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature’s Gate products, sold in retail stores across the nation.

The findings of the Organic Consumers Assn., a consumer advocacy group, are sending a jolt through the natural products industry. Gathering today in Anaheim for a national trade show, many leaders worry that the test results will taint the industry in the eyes of the public.

Of the 100 products tested, 47 had detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals.Read article

Oh dear! Lucky for us urban homesteaders we only have one of the named companies — Seventh Generation toilet paper. As for beauty products, in our bathroom at the moment: Apple cider vinegar, sea salt, Dr Bronners Castile Soap, handmade soaps, baking soda, Beeceutical & Secrets of Eden.

Although we were already suspicious of products with ingredients that we couldn’t pronounce and have steered away from such toxic products for many, many years to make matters even more complicated now one has to even be leery of so called “natural products.” The article validates why we conscious folks should take our healthy and beauty into our own hands — DIY and make your own. Making your own is fun, easy and may even save your life.

I know this article will make me think twice about picking up a natural product (when I don’t have time to make my own)

Know any “natural” companies /products that didn’t make the list so that our readers can look for alternatives to the named companies/products mentioned in the article?

:: Resources ::

Make Your Own Cosmetics
How to Make Your Own Beauty Products
All Natural Soap Making Kit
All Natural, Fair Trade Organic Beauty Supplies

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I too have had a go making homemade soaps! The glycerine ones came out OK but then I realised it may not have been vegetable glycerine, but rather, animal fat glycerine and that made me feel uneasy.

    So then I’ve made castile cold pressed soap. It’s curing now and will be ready in a few days but it was using the ‘caustic soda’ that frankly made me feel quite uneasy too. It is such a serious chemical.

    I’m in a quandry here as you can see! Any thoughts?

  2. Seventh Gen says:

    We applaud the Organic Consumer Association’s (OCA) recent research efforts to educate consumers about the safety of personal care and home cleaning products. It is important for consumers to know that Seventh Generation’s dish liquid, which does contain a minute amount of the ethoxylate 1,4-dioxane, is deemed safe according to the FDA’s and our own strict guidelines.

    We are committed to eliminating all harmful chemicals from household cleaning products. Consistent with our core mission, we have worked with surfactant manufacturers for many years to reduce levels of 1,4-dixoane in ethoxylated surfactants and it is our intent to completely eliminate 1,4-dioxane from all of our products.

    The OCA research reviewed personal care products such as hand soaps and shampoos alongside household cleaning products with different usage and efficacy requirements. As noted in the Los Angeles Times on March 14, 2008, “Dishwashing liquids are particularly hard to keep free of 1,4-dioxane because they require surfactants that are powerful grease cutters.” Liquid laundry detergents also require surfactants for stain removal.

    We share the OCA’s concerns about the misuse of terms such as “organic” and “natural” and the lack of disclosure requirements. We have championed this cause and have led the market for twenty years. We also believe that the decision to stop using conventional synthetic chemical cleaners is one of the most important ones you’ll ever make for the health of your family and the safety of your home. While our products are not perfect today, we will continue to improve them and are confident that they are a much better and safer choice than traditional cleaning products.

    Is There An Alternative to Ethoxylates?

    We don’t believe that today there is a better or safer choice. Ethoxylation is used to modify plant oils to make them function as surfactants. It is possible to create surfactants without ethoxylation, but there are trade-offs. One alternative, for example, is to use exclusively petroleum-derived materials. However, this is less sustainable than using renewable plant oils. Petroleum-derived surfactants may also have less desirable biodegradability and toxicity profiles. For anionic (negatively charged) surfactants, another alternative is to not ethoxylate the plant oils. The resulting surfactants (SLS, for example) are more irritating than the equivalent ethoxylated surfactant.

    It is also worth noting that all of the dish liquids tested by the OCA contained ethoxylates. Furthermore, according to the OCA, no viable alternative currently exists and will need to be developed and thoroughly tested.

    For our dish liquids and liquid laundry detergents, ethoxylates help deliver products that work. While that is true for now, we are working to eliminate ethoxylates from all products in the future.

    Our Commitment To You

    Consumers want to know what ingredients are in the products they use in their homes and they want to be informed about the potential effects of these chemicals on their health and the health of their families. At Seventh Generation, we believe the best way to produce this information to consumers, at the point of purchase, is through full disclosure of ingredients on product labels.

    That’s why we’re proud to have led the industry as one of the few manufacturers of household cleaning products to voluntarily disclose ingredients. Seventh Generation has instituted a two tier system of disclosure, using consumer-friendly descriptions on our packaging (for example, “coconut oil derived cleaning agent”), and specific chemical or INCI names on our Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are available on our website. In addition to ingredient disclosure on our labels and MSDS, as described above, consumers are able to call our toll-free number for ingredient lists, or for additional information about each ingredient.

    Seventh Generation has submitted testimony to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking that they include definitions for “organic” and “natural” in the revised edition of the Green Marketing Guidelines. This will assure that all manufacturers use the terms “organic” and “natural” in a consistent way.

    At present, the term “natural” does not have a regulated definition. In the absence of regulation Seventh Generation has defined “natural” to mean “derived from natural materials.” Surfactants that are made from plant oils and minerals are “natural” by this definition. This includes the surfactants used in our products.

    Learn More

    There are a number of organizations working to educate consumers about safer household and personal care products. We encourage consumers to learn more about Women’s Voices for the Earth, their Safe Cleaning Products Initiative, and to get the facts about safe cleaning products in their report, Household Hazards.

  3. Sandy says:

    I have a question. I am also interested in making my own soap. Most of the soap recipes or resources online says that a very precise scale to weigh out amounts is needed as well as a hand held blender. Being a grad student, I can’t really buy these things to support my hobby on the side.

    I was wondering: what do you use to get your soap to get to trace?

    Can I use one of those cheap food scales to measure out my ingredients?

    Thanks for being committed to passing on tips and tricks


  4. Aleigha says:

    I’m LOVING your site! Thank you for all the wonderful tid bits! I stick with Dr Bronner’s for the most part. I don’t have other any companies in particular that I always use, but I came across this site over a year ago:
    http://cosmeticdatabase.com/ I’m not sure if you have this posted elsewhere on your site, but it’s a great resource for people who want to buy healthy beauty products. You can view the overall toxicity of products, as well as individual products.

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