Monday, May 27, 2013

Infusions, teas, and using vinegar to preserve things

I've had occasion to lie in bed reading a lot of blogs, web sites, and forums lately, and I have to admit I'm shocked by how many recipes I'm seeing that aren't using preservatives and how many people are saying you can keep things in the fridge. I'm also shocked at the number of people encouraging you to make your own infusions with oils or water! I'd like to address these issues for a moment...

Please do not write to me telling me that blogger X was able to infuse oils as you don't know if that person did this successfully or not. They might have never tested their product, ignored it after they made it and took pictures, didn't know that colour was a sign of contamination, and a million other things. If you want to make infused oils, find an experienced mentor and offer them money to learn their techniques and safety methods. Pay to get the infusions tested by a proper lab and use them only as directed by your mentor. 

I will be writing more on this topic in the near future (it's summer 2017). I've only put this page up again as I was being asked about it a lot and thought it should be here for those who might consider making infusions as a way to implore you not to do it unless you find that mentor. 

Keeping something in the fridge only gives it a slightly longer shelf life than something out of the fridge. If you really want to test this idea, make three cups of tea, doesn't matter what kind. Put one in your car, leave one on the counter top, and one in the fridge. How do they look after seven days? Do you want to drink either of them? Would you be willing to serve them to your friends, your family, your children? How is one of your products any different? If you won't put it in your body, why do you think it's okay to put it on your body? I'm honestly completely confused by this idea.

We know what can contaminate things that aren't refrigerated properly - the same things will get into your products. Using botanical ingredients will only increase the possibility of contamination.

Vinegar isn't a preservative you can use in bath & body products. In something like pickling, it needs to penetrate the food to replace the water and the liquid needs to be quite acidic. When you use vinegar in something like pickling, you're making it very acidic, you're adding a ton of salt, you're processing it in boiling water after creation, and you're sealing it very tightly in a suitable container. When the jar is opened, it needs to be put in the fridge and doesn't last forever. None of these things are close to what we do in making bath and body products, and you can't look at how we use vinegar in food products and extrapolate that to making a toner with 20% apple cider vinegar.

References: Seasoned Advice, Health Canada, Science of Pickles (Exploratorium), and North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services (to name a few)

I'm sorry, but I can't believe this is even an issue I have to bring up! Vinegar might have a small place in our products, but there are no similarities between the way we use it in cooking or preserving and the way we use it in our products. Please mention this wherever you see it that vinegar isn't an adequate preservative because it's spreading! 

Related post:
Weekend Wonderings: Why do we need to preservatives in products containing water?
(Many links on that post, as well as the preservatives section of the blog.)

I've addressed the issue of making teas many times, so click here for that post. Here are a few links to for your reading pleasure...
  • Tetley Tea - Don't keep tea overnight or at room temperature overnight
  • Safe Iced Tea brewing - "Tea leaves can become contaminated with bacteria during the growing, harvesting and drying process"
  • On making "sun tea" - don't. Very relevant to this issue for bath and body products. 
  • Food safety news - lots of information here, but mainly don't make sun tea and dispose of tea after 8 hours. 
And did you know the reason you see that cloudiness in black tea when the water isn't hot enough is thanks to the precipitation of the tannins. (Reference) I hate it when people think that hot water - 185˚F - is enough for tea. It's 212˚F or 100˚C - boiling - or nothing!

Please don't make your own infusions in oil unless you've been mentored by someone who really knows what they are doing. It isn't as simple as making sure the herbs or flowers are dry! It's a complicated process that can introduce some nasties into your oil that you won't know about until you add them to your product and they start to grow!

Take a look at making our own garlic infused oil. Health Canada has an entire web page and tons of resources dedicated to encouraging you not to do this because botulism is a real possibility.

The trouble starts if you store homemade garlic-in-oil at room temperature, or if you keep it in the fridge for too long. These actions could allow growth of the spores that cause botulism, resulting in the production of toxin in the food. The bacteria spores that cause botulism – Clostridium botulinum – are widespread in nature, but they seldom cause problems, because they are not able to grow if they are exposed to oxygen. If the spores do not grow, then they cannot produce the toxins that cause illness. However, when garlic containing the bacteria is covered with oil, there is no oxygen present. This means that conditions are ripe for the spores to grow and produce toxins. You can slow down the growth of bacteria (and the production of toxins) by refrigerating the product, but this may not be enough to stop it from spoiling. What is worse is that there will not be any obvious signs that the garlic-in-oil is spoiled. You will not be able to tell if it is dangerous, because it will still look, smell, and taste the same.

How is this different from something you might infuse? It isn't. You could have the same problems, but you won't know about them until you apply that whipped butter or body oil to your skin! I've seen this infusion method recommended all over the 'net, and I was terrified to see that it was being encouraged for baby products. Please don't make your own infusions - there are so many lovely extracts, hydrosols, oil soluble things, oils, and butters we can buy from our suppliers that we know are safe. Buy those instead. Please.

I know I must seem like such a downer, telling you what you can't do all the time, but I do this because I worry. Read the comments from anonymous in this post. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do everything in my power to stop anyone else from suffering in such a way. 

Please note, this discussion is closed. If you really want to make an infusion, make one. I'm offering this advice as it seems to be the best manufacturing practices not to make your own, but if you feel you can do it safely, have at it. 


Janelle said...

I'm so glad you posted this. This is not a downer at all. Reading some of the blogs that recommend infusions, I'm almost tempted to try some myself. Now I know I have to tread really carefully. Thanks

Little Bird said...

While I've made my fair share of infusions (calendula), I only ever use them in soap and I make them fresh and I'm obsessed with sterility. Still, I don't trust them for lotion.

Lise M Andersen said...

It really is depressing to see so many places on the net with potentially health hazardous home-grow how-to's. Pinterest is littered with these kinds of recipes..

I keep getting communications from people with skin reactions to the DIY baking soda deodorant that they made 'from a recipe on the net' and asking me what they can do about it. It's downright frightening to learn how many people are willing to gamble with their health in an attempt to 'avoid chemicals'. Sigh...

Carol Holmes said...

Thank you for continuing to remind us all of the importance of using proper preservatives and for your sincere interest in our well being.
Carol Holmes

Michele Clarke said...

This is why I use Phenonip. I have been tempted to make infusions but I have a degree in biology/Microbiology and what I saw scares me enough to NOT do it.

Robert Williams said...

I'm skeptical that oil infusions are a common problem. Enough that I just ordered some petri dishes and agar to plate a bunch of oil infusions I have going.

I've never used an oil infusion in anything other than soap, but I really find your reasoning flawed. Just what do you expected a seasoned mentor to tell you except make sure the matter is dry dry dry? You know what botulism and other bacteria need to grow - water.

Disappointed in this scare tactic post.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Sorry to disappoint you, Robert. My goal is always to inform, not to scare, and I'm sorry you interpreted this post in that way.

Anonymous said...

Regarding cloudiness in tea, you said: "I hate it when people think that hot water - 185˚F - is enough for tea. It's 212˚F or 100˚C - boiling - or nothing!" Your reference said: "One way to avoid cloudiness is to steep tea with very hot water (greater than 175 degrees F) but not boiling and add cool water..." Why the contradiction?

TikiBarSoap said...

So what about kombucha? I mean, it is fermented tea :) I often make tea and let it steep overnight in the fridge. I was told (by an herbalist) that for herbal infusions to get the vitamin and mineral benefit I needed to do this, that a few hour steep wasn't enough. So I shouldn't do this? Or is it OK if I do so in the fridge? I also make oil and tea infusions for soap, but would never use them for leave on products. I prefer purchasing hydrosols or extracts for this purpose. As an aside, some of the Chinese guys I know actually drink tea that has been sitting out for days (not kombucha, just old tea) because they think the bacteria is healthy. *shudder*

Katherine Chiu said...

Anybody who has left a half-drunk cup of coffee or tea on their desk over vacation (even a long weekend) knows that what you say is true. Ick!

Thank you for the reminders about preservatives--I'm so glad for my increasing knowledge in this area thanks to you.

Whenever I read bath and body product labels, I go right to the ingredients list, looking for those preservatives!

Jodi said...

Hi Susan,

Thank you very much for your passion & knowledge of cosmetic chemistry & formulation. And thank you for putting together this incredible blog!

Regarding preservatives, wow, what a sensitive subject! It's right up there with religion and politics, I think. Actually, the use and type of preservatives has become political - it's ridiculous how the word "paraben" is a four letter word now. I find it frustrating that I cannot get consistent and accurate information regarding many subjects on the internet (yet, most of the information is free so I should not be surprised at the inconsistency.) What you write about preservatives makes the most sense to me.

After reading your blog yesterday, I am anxious to know more about the science of preservation. Is it correct to think that home-made cosmetic creations are similar to edible food items made with butters, oils and dairy products? If my edible food item wouldn't last over 1 week on the counter then why would my lotion last longer? Milk lasts only 3 weeks or so in the refrigerator --- and that is with preservatives! Home-made cheese-cake certainly won't last long sitting on the counter and most of us will freeze our baked goods leftovers. So, can I conclude that if a lotion is made without a preservative then it may only last 1 week on the counter before becoming contaminated?

If an anhydrous salt or sugar scrub is stored in small containers where it is consumed in 2 or 3 uses then how long will it last on my shower counter where I can be sure that no beasties are growing? Just a few days, or maybe 2 weeks because of the lowered AW (water activity) situation where the salt or sugar will dissolve in the water?

I am all for preservatives but I don't have any because I've only made small batches of anhydrous butters, scrubs and facial serums which are consumed quickly. I will buy preservatives next time I place an order for butters & oils. By the way, do preservatives have an indefinite shelf life? Are they self-preserving? ;-)

Finally, will freezing or heating oils or butters kill the beasties that have not grown yet?

Thank You!


Carol said...

As to all infused oils being not good to use at all, I have to say that I don't agree with you. Yes, I under stand that garlic with Clostridium botulinum can get you sick but I am not understanding the logic that this applies to all infusions. Maybe I am not seeing it, I will keep searching, where all oil infusions are bad. If you infuse an oil properly, there shouldn't be a problem. By all means, I understand the plant material most certainly contains contaminants. Watching how shea butter is harvested and produced is certainly eye opening, but surely, with some precautions some oil infusions cannot be all bad. Not every contaminant is going to be able to live in an oxygen free environment. I guess it was just such a blanket statement that I don't agree with. I know there are many many people out there infusing oil for various applications. If I were to sell to the public, I would definitely be sure to get my creations challenge tested. Because you are right, I wouldn't like anyone to be harmed by something I made.

Anonymous said...

Garlic oil infusion cannot be considered anhydrous. Fresh garlic contains water. That is why bacteria are still able to grow there.
When you infuse oil with dry plant material, water activity will be too low for anything to start growing.
I would put it this way: please, do not attempt to infuse oils using fresh plants!


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anonymous. I think the instructions are for iced tea. I'm talking about a proper cup of Earl grey, all hot and milky!

Hi Carol. I didn't say infusions weren't good to use at all; my point is more than you don't know if they are good or not.

If (the collective) you want to make infusions or teas, make them. I wouldn't trust infusions I made at home as I'm not an expert on making them, but if you're comfortable sharing what you've made with your friends and family, then share.

I've had a really long and emotionally draining day. I'll be back to write more tomorrow. Probably.

Carol said...

Aw, Susan I hope you feel better. I do admire the dedication you put into this blog. You post a lot of very good information and you are very generous with your help. I don't expect we will see eye to eye on everything, but then, who does. I want to say Thank You, for all you have given to everyone with your knowledge and insights. I love reading your blog. I hope that you have a better day.

MsClogs said...

Hi Susan,
Interesting post! Following on from what some of the others have said, what would you say a professional cosmetic scientist would do to make a "safe" botanical oil infusion that the home crafter would potentially not do or be able to do? If botanical material is completely dry and from a reputable source would that be sufficient? Would you consider that a botanical oil infusion would require preservation too? Just interested in your thoughts.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi MsClogs. Great question! I've answered in today's Weekend Wonderings, but the basic gist is that I think professionals can use testing and cleaning techniques we can't!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Just a thought...people have been mentioning that botulism needs water to flourish. Will our products like soap, lotions, lotion bars, and so on be around water at some point?

Deirdre Garza said...

I make CP soap at home for about a year and have been experimenting with lotions/conditioners for the past few weeks. My soap seems to stand up very well over time, getting better with age. I recently pulled a soap out that I made last October to see how it had matured. The first thing I noticed in the shower was that something was off - it smelled rancid and I immediately threw it out. I wasn't sure why this particular soap had gone off when older soaps hadn't. However, reading this post jogged my memory - I had included some olive oil that I had infused with dried garden herbs... Don't think that I will be doing that again!

Anonymous said...

Susan- thank you for bringing this oil infusion subject to our attention! I'm particularly distressed because I have been infusing Calendula in olive oil and using it in both soaps and lotions. YIKES!
But I have to wonder, in lotion making- don't we employ the Heat and Hold phase to kill off the 'bad stuff'?
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Susan, botulism - is a diagnosis, a disease. It cannot flourish in bathrooms.
And Clostridium botulinum bacterium growth would be my least concern in such environment. Not only does it need water, it also needs complete absence of oxygen, even minute amounts of it. In aerobic conditions it dies immediately. You cannot reach such conditions in your bathroom.
Second, I did refresh my memory on C.Bot with some literature search and yes, the main route how the toxin gets into human body is ingestion. Rare cases of wound botulism still need skin puncture. There are no reports of botulinic toxin going through skin barrier. This toxin is a quite big protein (technically, there are several varieties of it), the molecule is too big for such penetration.
I'm sorry, but all this reminds me those people with fear of "chemicals". Yes, botulotoxin is THE most potent toxin, known to men (and - huh - 100% natural ;)) but no, you can't get it from your bathroom.
In a bathroom I would rather be concerned about Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I didn't say your oils would have botulism - I used that as an example of what badness could happen without any outward signs if contamination.

I am starting to take offence with the idea that Im trying to scare people or that I remind you of chemophobes. I'm not liking the sarcastic tone creeping in and would remind you to play nice. We don't need to be angry with each other to have a lively debate. And I ask you to read what I've written instead if making assumptions.

Far more experienced formulators than me won't make infusions, so I will take their advice and stay away. If you want to make them, make them.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

And if I'm sounding defensive, it might be because I feel I have to defend myself lately. (Defensiveness and defending one's position are two different things, but the terms are being used interchangeably, much to my chagrin.) My goal on this blog is to share information. I love a good debate and I dislike personal shots. We can disagree very strongly and still play nice. (This is about more than this post, but I can see some tone sneaking in and I'd like that to stop now.)

Anonymous said...

Susan, there is absolutely no reason to take this so personally. Having your methods and statements questioned by others – is normal for any research scientist, otherwise this is not science.
You obviously have best intentions, but you will definitely benefit from more knowledge in microbiology. Nobody can know everything, that’s why we do research in teams of various specialists. There is no sarcasm. I’m on the same crusade as you – educating people (in my case it’s microbiology).
If you really want to warn people about botulotoxin, let’s yell together: “People! NO homecanning without sufficient amount of vinegar (it prevents spores from germination and subsequent growth)! NO canning mushrooms or fermenting meats at home at all! NO vacuum packaged fish unless it’s frozen! NO honey in baby food! And, yes, NO old garlic oil in your food!”
I DO agree with you, that there is no need to infuse oils at home. Why to do it when we have all those botanical extracts available? Plus it’s messy. Also, not all good components of plants are oil soluble. But, most important, do not pick plants for infusions yourself, if you are not 200% sure what exactly they are. You can confuse it with poisonous species. To me these arguments are much more relevant than


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I'm always open to learning more and I have no issue with being told I'm wrong. I've written this more times than I can count on the blog, and science is all about revising what we know when new information comes along. My issue is the tone in which the information is shared. You can't read all the blog, so you aren't aware of other comments being made. What I am doing is establishing when I think a line might be crossed before we reach the point where people are attacking me personally again.

You wouldn't think I would have to justify a request to be nice to each other and me, but, surprisingly, I have to issue these reminders on a very frequent basis.

Please note, I am not saying anything about botulism in our products. It was an example of what can go wrong in something that seems okay. I'm really not sure how many times I can say this: I am not saying you can get botulism from using an infused oil in a product. I thought the comment from Health Canada was interesting because of the warning. (Please re-read the post to see what I actually wrote versus what it seems like I wrote.)

I appreciate the links and the effort you put into sharing them with me. Again, I am eager to learn more and shall read them after my chemistry midterm next week when I have more time.

sarah said...

you are entirely too sensitive- anytime anyone disagrees with you or challenges your opinion you jump into that "don't be mean!" stuff and it's kinda silly. you are a chemical based formulator and some of the things you are afraid of are just ridiculous. but my main point is this- you run a blog. people are going to disagree and people might even be rude but from the many posts and comments on here I've read no one you claim is "approaching a line" is actually being rude, they were just stating facts... I don't think we have to kiss your ass do we? in fact you are way ruder to beginners than I've seen anyone be to you. main point- you run a blog, grow up and stop acting like a baby. not everyone is going to agree with you and not everyone is going to like your holier-than-thou tone and your supiority complex. if someone is rude delete the comment and move on, stop crying like a little girl. THIS IS THE INTERNET and anyone can say whatever they like to you, if you don't like it don't run a blog. duh. for you to "expect people to be nice" on the internet is a total joke. have you ever even read comments on other blogs? oh yeah and you CAN use oil on oily skin as oil dissolves oil have you not heard of the oil cleansing method? products without water DONT need preservatives just use clean dry hands it's soooo simple. and making stuff for yourself at home- YOU DONT HAVE TO USE A PRESERVATIVE. that's just ridiculous. we aren't chemists. we just want to make natural stuff for ourselves and our families. your rude attitude about it is really getting on my nerves. ALSO what do you even mean when you say "I have to buy the ingrdients with my own money" well OBVIOUSLY where the hell do you think we get ours? the lotion fae? everyone has to buy their ingredients with "their own money. " it's so annoying the way you treat people who aren't chemists. telling people their recipes are terrible bc they don't include your chemical bullshit. beeswax and lecithin liquid or lanolin work very well for emulsifiers.


sarah said...

and how is it anyone else's fault that OTHER people have been rude to you? that's not my problem! don't be a bitch! if you don't like rude comments then block comments! or delete the ones you don't like! or get off the internet! Elena wasn't being rude- you were and it isn't her problem that you've had an "emotional" day or that other people have been rude. she wasn't rude. if you can't handle things like this without taking it out in the people you VOLUNTEERED to help, maybe you shouldn't interact with them. your people skills are severely lacking.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

You know, Sarah, I thought about deleting your comments but I think I'll leave them as an example of why I ask people to play nice. There's a way to say what you want to say, and swearing and calling me names isn't the way to do it. I'm not really sure why I deserved this vitriol and name calling, but whatever it was, it must have been something pretty serious.

So I'm asking for a bit of your time. Can you please link to examples of where I've been rude to beginners? Can you show me where I've sworn or called someone names? Can you show me the places where you think I was mean to someone? I would really like to improve my people skills, as they are apparently sorely lacking. I look forward to the opportunity to learn more for you.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I should also clarify that the reason I mention that I buy supplies from my wages is so you, the readers, know that I am not being bought off by some company to write about an ingredient they are trying to promote this month. It's called disclosing possible conflict of interest.

I'm really not sure why that would annoy you, but there seem to be a good many things about me and this blog that annoy you. I've been trying to figure out why you would come to a post that has had no activity for over a year and vomit hate all over me. Can you share your thought process? And I'm looking forward to seeing the examples of where I've been horrible and rude to people! I'm sure you have quite a few to show me.

Kneeley said...

Wow... Sarah, that was totally uncalled for. There is absolutely no need to be so rude to her, all she is doing is trying her best to help people practice safely to the best of her knowledge. If you don't like her blog, don't read it, no one forces you to be here.

You are the perfect example of why she is encouraging people to play nice in the first place.

Also FYI, I am a beginner and she has been nothing but nice, polite and helpful towards me. I never found her patronizing or having a "superior complex"

Just chill out.

workingirl said...

Good grief, Sara! That was awful. I would never write something like that. It think it's you that lacks people skills. I just found this blog and enjoy it immensely! Thanks Susan for all your info.

I'm a newbie and paid for a class on the internet. This class has left me with more questions than answers. I'm so grateful to have found this site.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Cynthia Scott said...

I am most appreciative of your work here.

But while I was not offended exactly rather I was taken aback by some of your comments regarding the way to write you and the way not to write you. I had read that particular rant (even you called it a rant lol) after i had written and felt rather idiotic cuz I didn't follow your rules exactly as I was new to your blog. I really should have familiarized myself with it more fully before writing but I was excited to make my first lotion, but no excuses - it is generally a good idea to become familiar with the full format at a blog before commenting! My bad. I wasn't angry or offended but rather more hurt as I felt I had made an a** out of myself in your eyes. ... it was slightly shocking. What you said was not exactly bad or wrong or rude (I wish I had written down which blog post it was) just rather curt to the point of being disheartening. So I understand what people are reacting to here.

I hate to/love to add to the argument in equal parts but here goes:

I also had a negative gut reaction to what someone here called the blanket statement you made regarding never making an herbal infusion of any kind. So I did look it up. The University of Maine gives instructions on how to do it safely and gives the reasons and whatnot. I don't have the exact link as I'm using an iPad but it is U of Maine bulletin #4385, safe homemade flavored and infused oils. I went further and looked up the number of cases of botulism in the U.S. per year - it is 120-150 people/yr. Just to put that into greater context, 92 people per day die in car accidents - and those were not deaths due to botulism but all cases of botulism. So I also think you are being a bit more than a tad alarmist as well. I'd go so far as to say it borders on altogether incorrect.

From the standpoint of logic 101 - statements of broad generalization are by definition erroneous. To make them is purely illogical. And I think it's obvious from the uproar here why. It is not unsafe to make herbal oil infusions really but rather to do them incorrectly is unsafe. Garlic happens to be the number one offenfer and usually it's fresh garlic. To put say dried rosemary in olive oil, using sanitized equipment, bringing the oil to 180f before pouring it over the herb and then capping it tightly and keeping it only up to 3 months In a cool, dark place is generally, not guaranteed, safe (as in it's rare to the point of being statistically insignificant - scientifically - to become ill or get a case of botulism under those conditions).

ran out of room - to be continued...

Cynthia Scott said...

Despite that inconsistency, I think in large part you are probably correct in most of the stuff you do write but I'm taking it with a rather much larger grain of salt now. Still I appreciate very, very much the hard work you put into this blog. I don't think it would be wrong for you to take some help from sponsors either so long as you made very clear that you were only going to give good reviews of things that you truly felt were good and were militant about it. But being militant about accepting zero help in your endeavor is a bit much. Just my opinion since I'm handing them out here - unasked for opinions at that lol.

People say all kinds of crazy dangerous stuff on the Internet and I agree that you need to research heavily before acting and I think the people here do. My personal pet peeve is the advise people give about essential oils which are extremely potent and can be just as dangerous in the wrong hands as any prescription drug misused!! I think it would have been much better to have framed some of what you write here as opinion not fact.

Overall I think you do a good job here. This particular comment as you can see was over the top and I feel a bit bad for giving you a little hell over it. But I just couldn't resist the call of a good debate. Just love those!!

With kind regards and all due respect,


I hope I didn't hurt your feelings. Not my intention. I hope that's obvious.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Cynthia! Can I ask you a question? Why did you feel the need to respond to someone else's mean comments? Even though you say you didn't mean to hurt my feelings, you have to know that what you wrote would hurt anyone's feelings. This wasn't a debate - this was a person being amazingly rude to me and you piled on top of that. Your intentions aside, I'm feeling very hurt by your comments.

If you want to make infusions and teas, make them. You want to make your own sunscreen, make it. You don't want to use preservatives, have at it! I'm done trying to help people stay safe.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Anoher thought...When I responded to your comments in this post on cetyl alcohol, was I rude to you? (The reasons I haven't answered your question about sesaflash is because I'm researching it.) I've searched through the comments you've made, and I can't see anything that would give you the impression that I thought you were an ass. Why this response, then?

Cynthia Scott said...

Oh Susan. You have no idea how truly sorry I am that I said a word about the way you ask posters to frame their questions. It is of absolute importance that you set boundaries. I respect and deeply appreciate your work here. I thought that was obvious but perhaps not. So I'd like to make it obvious. I think you are a very good writer and I enjoy your blog very much. I have learned alot and I really feel bad that you feel that I have a bad opinion of you since that just plain couldn't be further from the truth!!

I am truly horrified that you find my comment rude as well. I think there is no justification for being rude ever really. And if I was rude then it was accidental!! I was trying to be respectful while also telling you how I felt.

To me it would seem rather obvious that that person is far below your standards altogether but perhaps that's not obvious to you. You have never been rude - I thought I made that clear too. I'm flummoxed really!!

Why did I feel the need to comment? For a couple reasons. The first being that it is the truth. I did feel ridiculous after what I read. The second because I thought it would help to be made aware of why you got such a strong reaction. It doesn't feel good to be what seemed like scolded for the way we write to you. But just as it is not your job to make sure people don't do stupid things it is not my job to try to help you understand why somebody would be what I consider not just rude but downright mean to you. It isn't my business. Also I should have had the post ready for you to look at to see what it was that I was talking about. So not only was it wrong for me to butt in where I don't belong but I also didn't give you enough info so that you can see what I mean. I was wrong. (I haven't found the post but I think it was about your move.)

I deeply apologize. I appreciate your help more than you could possibly know!!

And while I agree that you shouldn't try to keep people from hurting themselves, I think it is absolutely necessary to give the safety information!! To not do so would be irresponsible. I appreciate that about your work as well!! But yeah don't try to help people from doing stupid things!! You would sooo be wasting your time. People are really, really good at doing stupid things!!! But here you are fairly and justly giving people what you think is the best safety guidelines and that just is an absolute must so please do not stop!!!!!

This subject happens to be close to my heart. I use herbal infusions for spiritual practice, health reasons (vinegars and tinctures) and cold process soaping (I've never actually made one for food but I wouldn't feel uncomfortable doing so after reading the article from the U of Maine. If you think that is stupid then so be it.) Your opinion is actually important to me and as a result of what you've written here I'm going to look into it more - so you are helping people!! Perhaps you'll have saved my sorry a** by what you've written here!!

I feel like a royal one anyway!!

I'm sooo sorry!! I feel very, very bad that I made you feel bad and that was sooo not what I was about!!


Cynthia Scott said...

mmmm ---- sorry - can't find the blog with the sesaflash question. Is there a way to have things go from the blog to my email automatically and I'm missing it? Or should I just take note of where I leave comments?

I think perhaps it would be helpful if you had this info:

Registered INCI Name : Glycerin
& Acrylates copolymer
& VP/polycarbamyl Polyglycol Ester
& Hydrolyzed Sesame Protein PG-Propyl Methylsilanediol

Thanks and I'll keep searching for the comment - I don't even remember what the topic was of the blog post. I read that night/day for about mmm 10? hours straight. Maybe more. So I was kinda worked up/excited when I wrote you. Could barely see straight afterwards lol. I truly am very, very interested and enjoying your blog very, very much!!

Anonymous said...

Goodness! This was quite a read. Some of y'all really missed the forest for the trees. This post isn't aimed at professional scientists or advanced cosmetic crafters who are already acutely aware of the potential contamination issues that may occur from using unsterilized herbal matter. The audience for this post is the DIY crafter who Googled "how to make a DIY herbal infusion," and they're probably planning on using some herbs they picked from their garden (*wince*), because they think everything they grow in their backyard and make in their kitchen is automatically harmless. Susan's point is that DIY herbal infusions may result in serious contamination that may not be visible to the naked eye, thus one should do copious research and proceed with caution. Before I found this post, I read a blog on how to make a willow bark anti-acne toner... by steeping willow bark leaves like tea. It made my brain hurt. So, keep this in mind when reading Susan's lessons on preservatives. There are people, a lot of people in fact, who truly don't know that harmful microbial nasties exist in their kitchen. Even though these people undoubtedly know that food spoils, for reasons unknown, these people haven't made the connection that all organic matter spoils, regardless of whether we eat it or apply it to our skin.

All of that being said, I've once again talked myself out of experimenting with herbal infusions. Not because of the microbial nasties, but because I have no way of determining whether the desirable compounds transferred into the oil, and if so, at what concentration. I like knowing what's in my formula. I would rather pay a steep premium for a professionally manufactured infusion/extract with a COA.


Cynthia Scott said...

I noticed that Susan added to the post:

"Please note: this discussion is closed..."

I think it's appropriate for her to have boundaries! It's smart that she has taken the time to make them clear.

As an aside, I think it is unfortunate for MANY reasons. But I shall respect her request! I will take this up in another place as I need more info!! But her blog is NOT on herbalism!! So it is indeed appropriate. And I support and agree with this decision.


Cynthia Scott said...

Just as another aside - and I promised I am not a stalker so I will not leave any more comments for a while, was just excited, starting lotion today.

Anyway this is not to add to the discussion but rather a personal response.

Beating a dead horse here!! Confusing to me because I thought that not only was i respectful but in addition complimentary!

"It's funny to me how we get something in our heads and we go with it as gospel. To me, this is more the reason I need to check and double check something before posting it - once it's on the 'net, it takes on a life of its own! And this is the reason that you, gentle reader, need to call me on something if you think I'm wrong. I encourage all feedback and criticism - it's the only way I learn! - but please do it in a nice way. There's no need for nasty names and swears! "

You got no nasty names or swears from me AT ALL!!

And I truly meant no harm whatever - and I'm just so very, very sad. I'd like to know at the least if you forgive me?! :( !!! wanna cry - truly

Please forgive me!


Krista said...

I'm not sure if this counts as an infusion or tea, but would you be able to add colloidal oatmeal (voyagersoapandcandle) in a tea bag to the heated water phase of a basic facial moisturizer recipe? From what I've gathered I would feel that it is safe but it's always nice to check in case so,done had done it before and had negative results.

Deborah Kallevig said...

Thank you so much for this! I learned how to properly make, store and handle infusions and extracts from mentors and experts, and have no issues doing so for personal use. However, selling them outright or using them in my skin care business, like so many do, would never happen unless I also planned to send each new batch to be lab tested and were to develop a Certificate of Analysis and any other appropriate associated documentation - the same types of documents that I expect from a supplier or that the FDA might ask me for if they were to receive a complaint about my product.

It's not just about what you can do, but what you should do, with safety first and foremost in your mind. We are all here to learn, and Susan, you make learning easy, organized and fun! If questions or confusion arise from your blog posts, it's easy enough to ask nicely or present differing view with respect.

Thank you for all you do for the DIY community!