Monday, April 22, 2013

Weekend Wonderings: Why do we need preservatives in products containing water?

Is it Saturday already? Let's take a look at some Weekend Wonderings!

In the Weekend Wonderings posts, Chris asks: What exactly is the reason why products containing water need to be preserved? Or more specifically: What is it about water that makes it attractive for bacteria and all the other nasties?

Just like us, microbes need water and oxygen to live. Give them the right conditions and they will procreate like silly, showing up as blooms of pink or green or brown. Preservatives tend to live in the water phase of our products to fight them, but we include preservatives in oil only products like scrubs into which water might be introduced, too.

I really encourage you to read this post on water activity and sugar/salt scrubs. I apparently did quite a bit of research on beasties in the comments! 

If you doubt the importance of preservatives, I encourage you to watch this video! Ick!

Related posts:
Preservatives: What can get into our creations?
Preservatives: How the heck do they work?
Preservatives: Water activity and sugar/salt scrubs
If you're new to lotion making (heating & holding)
Why do we heat & hold?
Why do we heat and hold separately?

Sorry for the short and not at all weekend-y Weekend Wondering but my back is really bad. Look for more later this week and this weekend! Keep your comments coming!


la tía maruja said...

Hello! I'm not used to write comments in your blog, but I would like to thank you for your great job, also making this kind of posts. I learn a lot with your blog! That was a good tip, including preservatives in scrubs despite they don't have water... Common sense! Kisses from Madrid!

Organa said...

Hello Susan, I have great doubts about preservatives.
Many raw materials already contains preservatives and large manufacturers do not list their preservatives included in raw materials, this can cause problems with excessive preservatives?
For example if a raw material containing a preservative X, and I add different preservative can damage the product? Well with having some problems with stability?
Always following, thanks!

Chaeya said...

I have always used preservatives in my products, thanks to the first woman who taught me how to make lotions back in 2004. I've followed the paraben argument for years now and have read all the scientific studies, and my gut feeling is that they're safe at the minute levels I'm using them. I started out using LiquaPar Optima around 10 years ago, and now I use mostly Phenonip. I often tell people to do themselves a favor and take one class in Microbiology to see what germs can do to water-based liquids, and they'd be happy to take a chance on a few parabens or some propelyne glycol. I had thought about jumping on the bandwagon and trying other more natural-based preservatives, but after talking to one of my suppliers, I asked if she'd use them based on the oftentimes hot weather I deal with, and she flat out told me she wouldn't trust them. I asked why were they pushing them so heavily, and she told me that they were what their customers were demanding. No thanks, I'll stick with what I know works.

Sheila said...

I Would not dream of making anything w/o a preservative period. Perhaps a post can be written about the actual infections caused by improperly preserved products and how harmful they are to people with lowered immune systems like cancer patients, diabetics, the elderly and not to mention our precious babies. You never really know exactly who your products will wind up with. Just a thought.

Chaeya said...

Today I was reading a trade magazine and one of the products (Herbal Essences "Honey, I'm Strong Strengthening Shampoo") used "sodium benzoate and a blend of methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone." It also states "Chelating agent tetrasodium EDTA helps to boost the preservative system and performance in hard water." I'm looking around on the Internet to see what these are. If you know anything, I'm interested.

Chaeya said...

I did find that it is listed with a number of websites as causing irritation and sensitization. I was interested for a minute there.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Chaeya. Have you looked on this blog for those ingredients? EDTA and sodium benzoate are definitely on here somewhere! (Sorry, sore back, short note!)

Sam said...

I just don't get it - how do companies get away with it?
Tell me if the following ingredients list would pass a challenge test (I can guess what your answer will be!):

Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice (aloe barbadenis), cetyl alcohol (coconut product), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), black currant seed oil (ribes nigrum), evening primrose seed oil (oenothera biennis), pommegranate seed oil (punica granatum), rose hip seed oil (rosa rubiginosa), vegetable glycerin, sodium chloride (mixed plant), vitamin e oil (mixed tocopherols), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

Chaeya said...

Hi Susan, yes, I've seen EDTA and I do use it in some of my recipes and don't have a problem with it. Sodium benzoate, I've seen, but it was one of the preservatives that I was told wouldn't be very stable in my situation. However, I am intrigued to find that many products use it solely as a preservative, whereas in the preservative Geogard Ultra it is used in conjunction with D-Glucono-1,5,-lactone. Another preservative I've seen used a lot is potassium sorbate - which is a food grade preservative and has warnings against causing skin irritations and having to be used in conjunction with other preservatives because alone it isn't stable as a broad spectrum preservative.

I did a research last night of the methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone and found a number of health concerns and warnings about them causing skin irritations and sensitization issues. However, these ingredients seem to be fine for "rinse off" products such as shampoo and conditioners. So basically they wouldn't be very suitable for using in a lotion, cream or any other leave on product.

I'm looking forward to attending a supply convention in September to see if there will be some preservative suppliers there so that I can have a face to face chat with a few of them because I am always looking for new preservatives to try.

I have a very good article I printed out in 2008 about the use of parabens, among the others I keep, but this one I keep in case I needed to show people. Article re Parabens, Carcinogens and Certified Organic Ingredients.

Randi Carr said...

Hi Susan,

Speaking of preservatives, I've been on a search forever for an awesome broad spectrum preservative with great label appeal, and well no such luck yet. We've played with samples of Kathon CG (INCI:Methyl chloro isothiazolinone and Methyl isothiazolinone) which is used at maximum .1% (difficult for the homecrafter) but the biggest drawback was that I received a 250 mL sample and it arrived as a dangerous good. Not exactly home-crafter friendly. Although it apparently preserves the heck out of anything!

We also went with the Geoguard ECT, which proves effective as well in anhydrous formulas, howeverit's drawbacks being it's shelf life (one year from date of manufacture according to the supplier... I am still trying to find out more about this) and due to the salicylic acid it cannot be used in formulas for kids under 3 years old. So we have some potential problems with it for this reason, although otherwise it seems promising.

Another we tried was Neolone PE (INCI: Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone) and to be honest, I don't remember it lol. Thus it must not have fit the criteria we are looking for.

So it's back to the drawing board looking for the almighty broad spectrum, non-formaldehyde releasing, non-stinky, non-paraben, large ph range preservative with label appeal. Seems simple enough, don't you think? I've been on this mission for two years now lol.

One day, perhaps, this elusive ingredient will fall in my hands and I can share it with the world :) For now, we'll stick with our Germalls and Optiphens :)