Friday, November 11, 2011

Question: Are you getting what you think you're getting when you buy ingredients?

In this post, Always Looking 4 1 More writes:
In regards to your comment, "If you see something like aloe vera, odds are really good that it's aloe vera liquid or extract, not the gel, because the gel doesn't get used all that often."

I've come to the conclusion that not much of what we find in the way of aloe vera is what is says it is in ANY form. Have you ever smelled the gel (often referred to as "meat, or "inner fillet") of an aloe vera plant. It retains its natural smell no matter what form it's in, when it is allowed to remain in its natural state, without anything else added to it or taken away from it. I've smelled it, felt it, and even licked it right off the leaf (yick!). I smashed it, blended it, and strained it so all that was left was just "juice" (hardly any slime at all). No matter what I've done to it, the natural smell remains.

So I wonder what the aloe vera products I see in the stores by various suppliers really are when they have no smell whatsoever-- yet they claim on the labels to be "natural", or some say "no preservatives and nothing added", etc. Maybe they're not adding anything to the original gel, but I guess what they're not saying is how they "take away" the smell. It's the "take away" part that they leave out :-/

This is one of the things that drives me crazy, and why I encourage everyone to ask questions of our suppliers and our manufacturers because the information they provide isn't always completely accurate. It could be that they don't know about an ingredient - I'm perpetually surprised when I ask a question about something like an emulsifier and the supplier can't offer me a suggested usage rate! - or the manufacturer hasn't provided them with completely accurate information. For every ingredient I use, I insist on having a data sheet, data bulletin, and - at the very least - the INCI name. (Click here and here for two posts on INCI names!)

I use aloe extract from Voyageur, which is listed as being "A 100% (1:1) concentrated Aloe Vera Liquid Extract in a glycerin and water base" and has an INCI of Aloe Barbensis Leaf Extract (and) Glycerin (and) Aqua. It doesn't claim to be aloe vera juice at 100% and it's easy for anyone wanting to buy the product to see what it is - it's an extract with glycerin and water. (I am a little worried about it not having a preservative listed, but I am sure there's one there lurking in the glycerin because I can have a bottle of this in my workshop for a few months after opening and not see any grosssness there!)

Compare this to what Lotioncrafter advertises as aloe vera juice 1x - it has an INCI of Aloe Barbadensis Juice and it's noted that it has a preservative (Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Sulfite, and Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid as a pH adjuster). I have no idea how this smells, but it claims to be 100% aloe vera (well, 99.something and preservatives, which, to me, is better than 100% aloe vera juice) and I imagine it has a smell to it?

Or compare this to what you might find at Brambleberry. They have two products - aloe vera extract, which contains water, glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and aloe vera juice, which contains Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice with nothing else listed.

I bought some aloe vera - listed as natural and pure - from Wal-mart. That stuff smelled really strong in the bottle, but not in my products, and it went bad in about two weeks. I guess they were telling the truth about the not having preservatives part, but they failed to tell me about the putting it in the fridge part. It had a layer of black/brown mould on the bottom of the bottle with bits floating in it! Ewwww!

We're seeing a lot of aloe vera based drinks reaching our stores, and I imagine they must only use a titch of it or they've found a way to deodorize it!

Having said all of this, we have an aloe vera plant in my house and I don't find the smell of the gel distasteful. It's a bit musty smelling, but it's not really that offensive. Are there different types of the plant that are smellier than others? Does it depend upon the size, because our plant is very small?

If you want to read more about ingredients that aren't quite what they seem, click here for a post on floral waters vs. hydrosols


Lindy said...

Actually the Voyageur Aloe Vera Extract doesn't have a preservative in it. I found out because I was finding Optiphen Plus wasn't holding and after much research and discussions with various companies about preservatives I asked Voyageur if there was one in there. They told me there wasn't and weren't aware they needed to have one.

I love Voyageur to death and they are my main supplier but I no longer purchase they Aloe Extract..

Always.Looking.4.1.More said...

Susan, thank you for responding to my post.

To Lindy:
What do you mean by "...Optiphen Plus wasn't holding..."? Do you mean your formulation was still showing signs of bacteria, mold, fungi, etc.? If so, what were the signs, what did it look like? What type of product were you making?

It sounds as though you're saying the Optiphen Plus that you bought wasn't potent enough to preserve the aloe vera. If that's the case, is the aloe vera at fault, or is it Voyageur's brand of Optiphen Plus couldn't handle the job? Did you try your formulation again and add more preservative than you added the first time? Did you try mixing multiple preservatives? Did you tell Voyageur what happened? Maybe you got a bad batch of aloe vera. Was you Optiphen Plus possibly on the verge of expiring?

I know I'm asking a lot of questions and throwing a lot of possibilities out there; I'm just probing. Voyageur should make it known that they're aloe vera is preservative-free (if they didn't already do that at the time you purchased it). But even if your aloe vera was preservative-free when you got it, I wonder what kind of aloe vera is so resistant to preservative? I'm not saying I'm right, I'm just curious.

Always.Looking.4.1.More... possibility in this case :-)