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Cold Pressed Oil?

We frequently get the question: “is your oil “cold pressed” ?”.

Well – yes and no.

First, some transparency:

The references we mainly use for oil quality are:

  • The American Oil Chemist Society (of which we are members).
  • Codex Alimentarius (a document supported by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations – Guidelines and Codes since 1963 for food   safety and quality – Link to Codex
  • Bailey’s Oils and Fats, 6th Edition.

These resources represent the collective knowledge of many oil producers and analytical labs gathered over many years to establish best practices for oil quality and safety. After all – we are selling food ingredients to be used in cosmetics that sit on peoples counters for… unknown years so quality is crucial.

Back to “cold pressed”: the term is generally a marketing term. Why?

A few facts about the organic oils we sell:

            1 – most organic vegetable oils are mechanically pressed using stainless steel equipment. These presses have different designs but the goal is always the same: get as much oil as possible out of the seeds or fruit. For organic they can only use mechanical methods (no solvents).

            2 – The pressure plus the friction used to press the oil out of the seed will always generate some amount of heat. That is unavoidable.

            3 – Every oil has a different tolerance for heat – most of us know you do not fry with olive oil but you can fry with canola, for example. So – what is the significance of the heat for a specific oil if all oils are so different?

            4 – All of the references cited above agree that the technical meaning of “cold pressed” from someone that actually makes the oil is a) oil pressed without the addition of heat, or b) an agreement between the buyer and oil producer. So, unless you are buying 80,000 lbs. of oil it is unlikely you can have any say on the production method.

While there are companies all over the internet making claims about “cold pressed’ I suspect that few of them have any idea how their oil is actually made (with the exception of Laurel Skin!).

When we contract with a supplier we go to the manufacturing press, if at all possible. We require a production flow chart and we analyze the oil in addition to the analysis that they send us. We spend money every month monitoring the quality of the oil – because that is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than making random claims. We want to know how the chemistry of the oil is changing over time to ensure the you have the best quality oil possible.

The important thing about oil is to know what it’s chemistry looks like. Check out our blog on “Peroxide Value” to learn more about oil quality.

A Note on Quality: Peroxide Value and other Quality Measurements

I am always talking about Peroxide Value (PV) when I talk about oils. This is part of how we assess the quality of an oil.

When we receive a new shipment of oil, we check:

  • The Production date,
  • The test date,
  • The Peroxide Value,
  • And the Free Fatty Acids (not to be confused with the Fatty Acid Profile – 2 different things)

“Peroxide Value” is a chemical measurement of the peroxide (aka hydroperoxides) in an oil that indicates how an oil is aging. The PV on the Certificate of Analysis from when they made the oil is a snapshot in time. Six months later we may run another PV test. The free fatty acids should be within the limit set on the spec and will go up when the PV (or oxidation) has increased measurably.

You should also always look at the production date and the shelf-life so you know what you are dealing with.

Recently Isabel (our QC/QA manager) and I did a deep dive into the international picture of safety in oil and decided to make a couple of changes to our specifications. We have raised the limit on PV on our Specifications to a PV of 5 for refined oils and 10 for unrefined oils. This does not mean they are “bad” above those limits. It means they are starting to age and will eventually go rancid.

Our recommend USE limit for safety is a PV of 20 for an unrefined or virgin oil and of 10 for a refined oil. We will not sell an oil over 10 for Virgin and over 5 for refined (except olive oil – different story)– because we know they will continue to age.

We also recommend that you use a good antioxidant in your blends. We sell a sunflower derived natural tocopherol that will often, at the least, double your shelf life.

So – remember – these are food that we are using in cosmetics, they are made from plants and they all have different rates at which they age. You can always call us with questions.

How to Make a Cosmetic Black List … (Hint: Don’t)

I’ve no idea how many “green” brands and retailers there are but all of them seem to have a “black list”. They choose some number of nasty chemicals and promise that they are not in the products they sell.

Further – everyone seems to copy everyone else’s Black List – so you see the same list over and over.

Here’s the problem: there are 60,000 different cosmetic ingredients.  A list of 20 or even 200 chemicals is never going to capture all of the problem chemicals.

What is the solution?

First: everything this a chemical. H2O is a molecular description of the chemical, water.

Second: all chemicals are made using a finite number of methods. Some chemicals are made using biological methods like fermentation or production using yeast. Some are naturally occurring like oil in a sunflower seed. Most, however. are made using a set of reactions that require reacting one chemical with another chemical. If you are not a chemical engineer, how do you know what is “green”?

If you want to convey to a chemist your goal to use “green” ingredients, giving them a list of 30 chemicals just won’t do the trick.

One solution is to explain that you want “green chemistry” per a wonderful paper that was published in 1998 by John Warner and Paul Anastas*. The link below is to the American Chemical Society site which explains (in very clear language) these principles.

If an ingredient meets these standards, then it is a pretty sure bet that it is safe for skin and for the planet. Many chemists were never taught about this in school but it is high time that they learn.

Spread the knowledge and save the planet. Use ingredients that meet the Principles of Green Chemistry.

*Green Chemistry Link

Organic Documents for Organic Ingredients – MiniBlog

Do you have the organic certificate for each of the organic ingredients you call out on your
ingredients list?

Think about it – a label is a promise to a consumer. If you have not verified that you have a duly certified product, you could be in trouble and that would be a problem for your growing brand. Maybe you only use organic ingredients. That is great but…the USDA-NOP (National Organic Program) has the right to ask you to show them an organic certificate for each ingredient at any time – especially in California (where we have a State Organic enforcement program). Do you have those certificates on file?

Here is some info about requesting organic certificates:

  • What Standards are acceptable? The USDA-NOP is a LAW in the US that establishes the rules for organic production – from seed to finished product. There is an equally rigorous law in the EU member States and the US and the EU have reciprocity – we accept each other’s organic certificates by any ACA.
  • What is an ACA? An Accredited Certification Agency – these folks have been inspected and approved by the USDA. The link takes you to a list of US ACAs that are in good standing.
  • Do I need to have a finished product certified? You do not – however, if you claim that an ingredient is organic, it must be certified. If someone won’t send you a cert, they may not be certified and the ingredient may not be organic.
  • What if I want to be certified? Since cosmetics may contain ingredients that cannot be certified
    (surfactants, emulsifiers, and preservatives) under the food rules you may want to look at the Cosmetic Standards: COSMOS, NaTrue, or NSF-305

We are certified by Oregon Tilth (aka OTCO) and we are inspected once a year and receive a new
certificate each year. If you are using organic ingredients you are responsible for requesting a copy of the certificate each year.

“Natural” Documents – MiniBlog

Have you defined what NATURAL

means to you?

If you use the term “natural” to describe your ingredients or your finished products you may want to consider writing a definition of “natural” on your web site.

First, let’s make clear that a synthetic, in my world, means a human has made a new molecule.

What? New molecules? Well, oil, for example is naturally occurring in seeds and nuts and the molecules that make the oil is not changed when it is pressed out of the seeds. A simple example of a new molecule is soap: oil and lye are reacted. The mixture gets hot, a new molecule is formed and, violá, you have soap or Potassium Cocoate (made from Coconut Oil plus Lye – for example this is how they make Dr. Bronner’s soap).

I further categorize synthetics as good chemicals or bad chemicals. Good chemicals are made using a renewable resource plus using the Principles of Green Chemistry (see previous mini-blog for the reference to this paper). Bad chemicals are everything else and usually bad for the environment and most living creatures.

A “natural” ingredient is extracted from a plant using mechanical means like pressure, steam, or water extraction. This definition is published in the EPA regulations, although people seem to believe that “there is no legal definition of natural”. Wrong, it is in our existing laws.

Different companies define “natural” different ways – but you need to be clear. If you can verbalize a definition to your consumers, the courts are more likely to support you. Also – if you can’t explain it, how can you mean it?

For more on definitions, check our Definitions & Links page.

My Product is Certified Natural – Isn’t It “All Natural”?

The problem with “All Natural” or “100% Natural” claims

There is some confusion about the claim “All Natural” or “100% Natural” or even just “natural” by
companies that are certified to a “Natural” standard.

This is how it works: both the natural and the organic cosmetic standards allow the use of
synthetics (human made molecules), however they need to be made using plant based feed stocks and the Principles of Green Chemistry*. This means that people use ingredients that are “allowed” because they meet these rules but they are synthetic ingredients. They also use natural ingredients that are not synthesized like oils and waxes and plant extracts.

Example – the Principles of Green Chemistry allow hydrogenation as long as the molecules are fully saturated (not trans-fats). That means we are allowed to use vegetable waxes in COSMOS (formerly EcoCert) products if they meet the requirements of the standard. But they are still synthetic. Another example is plain old Castile Soap: coconut is reacted with potassium hydroxide to make “potassium cocoate”. Clearly a “chemical” even when “made from organic” ingredients.

In summary, companies claim “All Natural” because they are certified to a natural standard but
they clearly list synthetic ingredients on their ingredient list.  This is confusing to the consumer. It also means the Brands don’t really understand the standard they are using. Sometimes it means the Brand may be sued by mean attorneys who give nice attorneys a bad name and harass sweet brand owners. (Okay – I’m defensive.)

Synthetics are not “bad” if they are made from renewable inputs using safe methods and resulting in safe chemicals.

If you have been threatened by one of these suits and need a referral, let us know.

* The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry defined by: Anastas, P. T.; Warner, J. C. Green Chemistry: Theory and Practice, Oxford University Press: New York, 1998

Mislabeling: The FDA and the The No-No Words

A lot of cosmetic brands seem to have a “No-No List” of ingredients. I think it is time for a list of “No-No” words – because, you know, FDA and “mislabeling”.

The basic thing you need to keep in mind is that unless you are selling a registered, approved DRUG, you may not any use words that promise a medical outcome. That is considered mislabeling and mislabeling is against the law. So – here is a partial list of “No-No” words:

  •    HealMislabeling
  •    Healing
  •    Anti-inflammatory
  •    Anti-microbial
  •    Anti-bacterial
  •    Cures
  •    Penetrates to (heal, sooth, etc.)
  •    Stimulates circulation …
  •    Treats
  •    Alleviates eczema, rosacea, scarring, acne, etc
  •    Improves circulation
  •    Minimizes
  •    Improves the skin’s immunity
  •    Boosts collagen
  •    Protects from UV Rays (this = sunblock – and must be registered with the FDA)
  •    Protects against infection
  •    Cellular regeneration

Oh, I could go on. What these all have in common is what the FDA calls a “structure-function claim”.  Structure = a body part (skin, muscle) and Function = changing the physiology of that body part. These sorts of claims = DRUGS and are seen is mislabeling by the FDA. The USDA-FDA makes a lot of money approving drugs so if you have not sent them a couple 100,000 dollars, you are probably not selling a drug.

Look at your website – are you making structure-function claims? If so – use that wonderful, free thesaurus on Google and fix it before you get a scary letter from the FDA. You can “change the appearance of”, you can “sooth the symptoms of” you can do all sorts of things, but no structure function claims! You do not want a letter from FDA accusing you of mislabeling.

The organic and natural cosmetic industry needs to look good in the eyes of the law. We do not need big manufacturers telling the FDA that we should be heavily licensed or regulated. We need room to grow. Know the laws. Respect them. Do good work.

Hugs                   Resources:    Choose Your Words                          Link to FDA Article

 

3 Things to Know about Ingredient Quality

Organic Ingredient: Castor Oil
Castor Oil – I think it is beautiful!

You probably use a number of ingredient suppliers…

 

1 – When buying organic ingredients, always ask for a Specification from the supplier. This describes the physical and chemical characteristics of what you bought. Like: Color, Aroma, Form (liquid, solid, etc.), pH, and so on.

 

2 – Okay – you just received the ingredient shipment. You asked that it be sent with a C of A (Certificate of Analysis). This is the proof that the product meets the requirements described in the Specification. First, compare the C of A to the Spec. and make sure the C of A meets the description in the Spec. Now look at a small sample of the ingredient. Does it match the description on the Spec? See the example below.

 

3 – Small companies (us included) have neither a chemist nor the equipment in-house to test the product. If you compared the physical characteristics and they all passed, then you can trust the chemical characteristics EXCEPT: you should have a program that specifies that you send samples to a testing lab on some schedule.

 

Every other month we sent samples of at least 3 of our oils and other ingredients out for various types of tests. Since we sell oil, we like to know what the Peroxide Value is. This tells us if the oil is “stable” and not going rancid. We usually test the peroxide value and compare it to the Specification to assess the quality.

 

Sometimes we’ll send samples of our ingredients out to test for bacteria, yeast and mold. Although – oils do not support microbial growth so we’ve never had a positive.

 

You don’t need a full lab to assess quality. You need eyes, nose and commons sense and a written procedure to randomly test your ingredient quality at a reliable analytical lab.

 

If you need help finding a lab, let us know. We may be able to refer you to one near you. If these documents are still a mystery, come take a class. See the classes listed in this site: http://ohohorganic.com/class-description/

 

For more information about why this issue is important, check out: https://www.beautyindependent.com/gay-timmons/

 

Plant a tree, start a compost pile, smell the glorious roses. Join www.nohba.org

What We Knew All Along: Sperm Count is the Canary in the Coal Mine

When any population shows a marked decrease in reproductive health, it is serious. Today we are talking about “humans”.

In an opinion piece quietly published in the NY Times by Evan Hepler-Smith, he pointed to a study that indicates sperm count for men in the US, the EU, and Australia/New Zealand has dropped since the 1970s by 50%.

I look at this statistic as a “vector”, an arrow pointing to a significant issue or trend – in this case this vector means that human reproductive health is seriously threatened.

He also pointed out that the massive number of chemicals we are exposed to is the most likely culprit.

Here is a link to the study: https://academic.oup.com/humupd/article/doi/10.1093/humupd/dmx022/4035689/Temporal-trends-in-sperm-count-a-systematic-review

These chemicals are coming towards us from every possible direction: food, the personal care products we use, the chemicals we use in our homes, even the substances that our furniture is made from.

As consumers, we need to demand that this massive animal experiment be stopped: we are not rats to be experimented on for the profit of some CEO & his shareholders at a chemical company.

Read labels. Complain through web sites. Write your Senators and Congressperson about the EPA.

Participate.

 

Hugs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainability Rant #2 – July 31, 2017

What does “sustainability” mean?

For the past 20 or so years international companies have been talking about their “Sustainability Programs”.

We supply a couple of the international cosmetic companies. Recently one of them did a Sustainability Survey and our “sustainability” was evaluated and rated in the 70th percentile. This by a company that uses 4 layers of packaging when they sell you a single one ounce skin cream that invariably includes a significant number of petrochemicals and probably nothing organic.

Oddly, they liked that we replaced our lights with LEDs – they seem to think light conservation is more important than the ingredients they use.

None-the-less, I was irritated by the rating – hence the rant.

So – to be VERY clear (as everyone in DC seems to be saying these days), this is what Oh, Oh considers minimal sustainability practices & procedures for an ingredient business:

First – what is the principle statement of your “Sustainability Plan”? Ours is: We are committed to practices that looks at the long-term environmental impact of actions and decisions by our company, especially with reference to our major business activity. Decisions should be constantly re-evaluated and updated (on-going improvement).

So – what are some Sustainable Activities?

  • We sell ingredients as our major business so all of our products should be renewable:
    • Oh, Oh sells ONLY Certified Organic Agriculturally derived ingredients
    • We re-cycling everything possible. Goal: have less and less in the “garbage” can.
    • How do you use water? Much going down the drain? How can you change that?
    • Constantly assess packaging materials and look for more renewable alternatives.
    • Hire good people who care, train them, and pay them decently – it is your team. You need to depend on them. Let them go if it is not a good fit.
    • Try to provide health care to full time employees. (It took us 10 years but – it feels so good).
    • Think about freight impacts – we focus on the West Coast. We do offer a few things for our East Coast customers from a warehouse in NJ – we hope to open a full warehouse in NJ next year.

Then:

  • Practice what you preach:
    • Eat organic as much as possible.
    • Buy a hybrid or an electric car or a bike. Take public transit.
    • If you can’t do the above due to money – family – whatever – make a plan to get there (see “on-going improvement”).
    • You can always try again tomorrow.

And no – we are not certified to multiple various privates Standards. We are too small and too smart to pay 5 different companies to fly people to inspect our legal organic handling operation. We are not going to add to air pollution to have someone tell us that our skylight and roll up doors are a great replacement for electric lights. We are not going to pay for some volunteer ”sustainability” company that doesn’t care or practice what they preach and has no accountability.

We do pay to be certified to a Federal Law (7 CFR part 205) – under the USDA National Organic Program. Sustainable practices are measured in the regulation! We are inspected every year. All of our suppliers are also certified to this program (except the Non-GMO Tocopherol – they are certified to the ISO program that is law in the EU).

I want grandchildren and I want them to be able to enjoy this planet. Let’s get on it folks!