Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is it necessary to use an emulsifier or preservative in a natural product?

Many of our customers have asked why we use an emulsifier and preservative in our mists. The short answer is that both of those ingredients insure the integrity of our product and improve shelf life.

Polysorbate 20 as emulsifier:

Emulsifiers are used to mix water with oil-soluble ingredients. Because essential oils are not water-soluble, they float on top of the water if not emulsified. Using an emulsifier also guarantees a uniform mixture so that each spray contains the same amount of essential oils. In non-emulsified water-based products, the essential oils float on top of the water and can dissolve the plastic spray tube over several months.

To find the best emulsifier for our mists, we consulted a formulations chemist working for an organic body care products manufacturer. Polysorbate 20 was recommended because it’s been used extensively in the cosmetics and food industries, and considered nontoxic and nonirritating for use with both animals and humans. Polysorbate 20 is made by combining the oleic acid in olive oil with sorbital.

Potassium sorbate as preservative:

Although many pure essential oils have antimicrobial properties, when water is present, there is a possibility of mold. The same formulations chemist helped us find a naturally-derived preservative that has been time-tested in the food and body care industries, that is also nontoxic and nonirritating when used with animals and humans.

Potassium sorbate, which is derived from the mountain ash berry, extends shelf life as much as 18-24 months (as opposed to 6 months).

Earth Heart wants to provide the highest quality, safest products possible. We welcome your comments and questions at vicki@earthheartinc.com or 847-551-1806.