March 11, 2016

The Honest Truth About So-Called "Natural" Products

There has recently been a lot of press about natural cleaning brands and the ingredients they use. As a Chemical Engineer with over 20 years of experience formulating laundry detergents and other cleaning products, I feel the need to set the record straight on the science behind the marketing spin.

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported Jessica Alba's Honest Company is using chemicals that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (abbreviated as "SLS") when in fact Honest claims on their packaging the products are "SLS free."

Honest uses a blend of chemicals called "Sodium Coco Sulfate" or "SCS" as their main cleaning ingredient in products such as their laundry detergent, multi-surface cleaner, and hand dish products. These ingredients are commonly known as "surfactants" in the detergent industry. Honest isn't the only company that uses this so-called "natural" surfactant: Earth Friendly Products under their Ecos brand name uses SCS too, as well as other brands such as Johnson and Johnson's Natural Baby Shampoo.

Unfortunately for consumers, using the ingredient name "Sodium Coco Sulfate" hides an ugly truth: the number one chemical found in SCS is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate! Over 50% of the chemicals found in SCS are in fact SLS.

To emphasize this point, SLS is not a trace chemical found in SCS, nor is SLS left over in the manufacturing process as a mistake. The very reason a company would want to use SCS is because it contains SLS as the number one ingredient. The Sodium Lauryl Sulfate found in SCS is the reason these products are able to foam, create bubbles, and clean well. The SLS is in these products by design, not by mistake.

What exactly is SLS? To be precise, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a surfactant with 12 carbon atoms lined up in a row (called a "C12 chain" for short) and comes from coconut or palm oil. SLS is also known by its more formal name "Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate" or "SDS".

In order to make SLS/SDS, the fatty alcohols from plant oils are treated with reactive chemicals such as sulfur trioxide gas. This is hardly a "natural" process!

The resulting chemical formula for SLS looks like this: C(12)H(25)NaO(4)S

This is what SLS molecule looks like:

SLS Molecule

Ironically, Honest has recently admitted in a blog post this C12 sulfated surfactant pictured above is in their formula, and confirmed the C12 surfactant is part of the SCS blend they use. In other words, there is no debate that the chemical shown above IS in Honest's laundry detergent, dish products, hard surface cleaners, etc. Honest admits this themselves.


But Honest refuses to call this surfactant by its correct scientific name: SLS! Honest can't simply make up names for chemicals when the correct reference is well known and understood by everyone.

To make no doubt about it, all one has to do is look up the formal chemical name for this molecule used in Honest's products on the US Government's National Institute of Health website. The NIH calls this molecule "Sodium Lauryl Sulfate" - case closed!  To put it simply: the C12 surfactant referenced by Honest in their blog post is SLS, according the the National Institute of Health.

What is a concerned consumer to do? Are there any other cleaning products that don't contain SLS?

Yes! Simply choose cleaning products that are certified USDA organic. Unlike the marketing claims on Honest's or Ecos' labels, which are not reviewed or approved by any government agency before they are shipped, all certified organic products must have their formulations reviewed, the labels and claims checked for accuracy, and the manufacturing facilities audited by outside third parties to make sure there are no violations. It is simply illegal to sell a certified organic cleaning product that contains SLS in it - period.

I personally created the line of Fit Organic cleaning products with the goal of FINALLY giving naturally minded consumers what they really want: cleaning products that work without the worry of using harsh chemicals like SLS. Our independent certifications from organizations such as the Oregon Tilth Company (OTCO) confirm to consumers that they are not getting harsh chemicals they want to avoid.

In summary, don't be fooled by green-washing marketing tactics. Don't pay a premium for cleaning products that use a celebrity actress as a spokesperson but are not really natural.

If you want to buy truly SLS-free cleaning products, buy brands that proudly display the certified USDA organic logo instead. We would be honored if you would try FIT Organic as a new way to clean - organically!

Sincerely,

Todd Wichmann
CEO, President & Founder
HealthPro Brands Inc.
Makers of the Fit Organic Brand
www.fitorganic.com

November 16, 2015

Fit Organic Launches Certified USDA Organic Baby Laundry Detergent

Fit Organic today announced the launch of its certified USDA Organic Baby Laundry Detergent. The newest product in its Certified USDA Organic product line, Fit Organic Baby Laundry Detergent is specially formulated to be safe on a baby's sensitive skin with no harsh cleaning chemicals, no dyes, or artificial perfumes whatsoever. Because the formula is certified USDA Organic, this pioneering formula contains no sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or other skin irritating chemicals which is a first in the marketplace.
 

All of Fit Organic's cleaning products are made using a traditional soap making process the way it was done more than a hundred years ago, before synthetic detergents took over. Instead of using animal fats & oils, Fit Organic uses only certified organic plant oils and extracts, and mixes them together with natural minerals to create unique organic soaps. But unlike homemade natural bar soaps, Fit Organic formulas stay in a clear and pourable liquid form.  The products are also certified Vegan and Animal Cruelty Free by the Leaping Bunny Organization.

"We are particularly proud to introduce the Fit Organic Baby Laundry Detergent, as it fills a critical and currently unmet need for parents and babies," said Todd Wichmann, CEO & Founder of HealthPro Brands, the maker of Fit Organic products. 

"We understand parents have a lot of decisions to make when preparing for the new addition to their family, and may be overwhelmed and confused by claims about supposed 'natural' products. Unfortunately, many of these brands actually include harsh ingredients such as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), enzymes, and synthetic toxic preservatives. Our product represents the culmination of our efforts to create a baby laundry detergent that truly delivers on what we think parents have the right to expect from an organic brand, without compromising quality and value."

Artificial chemicals such as SLS are known skin irritants, which can be very harmful on the delicate skin of a newborn baby, and are found in many other baby laundry brands.  Fit Organic provides a new fresh choice for moms who want to use something truly different to clean their baby clothes.

Fit Organic Baby Detergent is the only baby detergent designated as "Certified USDA Organic" that is made using HealthPro's proprietary soap making process. Products with the Certified USDA Organic symbol have gone through a rigorous process to ensure they meet strict standards, do not contain harmful chemicals (like SLS), and must be comprised of at least 95% or higher organically produced ingredients.  [www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/NOPOrganicLabeling]. Unlike unregulated "natural" products, all certified organic products have to be audited, inspected, and approved by third party agencies such as the reputable Oregon Tilth Company (OTCO). 

"When parents read the Fit Organic Baby Laundry Detergent label, we want them to understand and trust the ingredients," said Wichmann. "The fact is, the use of the word 'natural' is not regulated and many contain synthetic surfactants and other unnatural harsh chemicals that can exacerbate skin issues, eczema, psoriasis, or lead to early asthma and allergies, not to mention being harmful to the environment. In fact, many 'natural' brands of detergents and cleaners use the same chemical ingredients as popular commercial brands – they just use different labeling. The Fit Organic certifications mean you can safely use our products knowing you aren't exposing yourself or your loved ones to any harmful chemicals, and we are the only laundry detergent in the United States who can honestly say this."

For more information about, or to purchase certified USDA Fit Organic cleaning products, please visit www.fitorganic.com

August 12, 2015

Household Cleaning Products Can Affect Your Health

There are so many cleaning product choices available on the shelf. Many promote a “natural” or “green” clean that tricks us into thinking that it is the better option for our homes. Unfortunately, there are NO regulations on either of these terms. Any company can slap the word natural or green on their product without meeting any certain requirements or certifications and trick you into thinking you’ve made a healthy, safe choice. As you can see from this article written by the American Lung Association (click on link below), it’s important to read product labels to ensure you are avoiding a host of harmful chemicals that can potentially lead to chronic health issues.

Want an even easier solution? Choose organic! All USDA certified organic products have to meet STRICT standards and are free from dangerous chemicals. Another reason to choose Fit Organic!

 http://www.lung.org/healthy-air/home/resources/cleaning-supplies.html

January 14, 2015

The Difference Between Natural and Organic

What is the difference between "natural" and "organic" cleaning products?  Both give the impression that they are better for us and contain only ingredients “naturally” derived and therefore safe for us to use in our homes, right?

Wrong!

Unfortunately, the use of the word “natural” on cleaning product labels is not regulated. These products can contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (an artificial surfactant that can cause skin irritation, endocrine disruption, etc) and other ingredients that clearly are not “natural” or safer for the environment.

For example, here is the ingredient list for Earth Friendly's Dishmate (hand dish) product, copied from their own website:

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Cocamidopropylamine Oxide, Phenoxyethanol and Methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives), Natural Fragrance.

If you can't read the ingredients and understand what they are, you are in trouble!  The only thing "natural" about this Earth Friendly dish product is the perfume!  

Here is another example from Seventh Generation's Laundry Detergent, again copied from their own website::

Ingredients: Water, laureth-6, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium citrate, glycerin, oleic acid, boric acid, sodium hydroxide, calcium chloride, protease, amylase and mannanase (enzymes), benzisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (synthetic preservatives)

How can Seventh Generation advertise their laundry detergent as "natural" when they include ingredients such as SLS, enzymes, and synthetic preservatives?  Unfortunately many consumers are fooled by a nice looking "earthy" label without ever reading the ingredients on the back.

Certified USDA Organic products on the other hand are very different. Products with the certified USDA organic symbol on them have had to go through a rigorous process to ensure they meet strict standards, do not contain harmful chemicals (like SLS), and must be compromised of at least 95% or higher organically produced ingredients.

Unlike the unregulated "natural" products, all of the certified organic products have to be audited, inspected, and approved by third party agencies such as the prestigious Oregon Tilth Company (OTCO). 

Big difference, right?

So the next time you head to the store, stay clear of “natural” cleaning products, and only purchase cleaning products with the Certified USDA Organic seal on them.

Remember, “natural” really means nothing!