Have you heard or used phrases like these? I can’t tell you how often I hear them.
It seems that a segment of consumers and makers believe that chemicals are inherently harmful and a threat to our health and earth. But are they?
Let’s look at how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines chemicals:
“A chemical is any substance that has a defined composition. In other words, a chemical is always made up of the same “stuff.” Some chemicals occur in nature, such as water. Other chemicals are manufactured, such as chlorine (used for bleaching fabrics or in swimming pools). Chemicals are all around you: the food you eat, the clothes you wear. You, in fact, are made up of a wide variety of chemicals.” https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/basic-ref/students/science-101/what-is-a-chemical.html
Water? A chemical? Yes, it is. We are made up of chemicals? Yes, we are.
If you’re looking for more, here you go: “A chemical is any substance consisting of matter. This includes any liquid, solid, or gas. A chemical is any pure substance (an element) or any mixture (a solution, compound, or gas). They can either occur naturally or can be created artificially.” https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-chemical-604316
This is not to say that every chemical is good, healthy and helpful, but many good things are chemicals.
Can we, as a handmade industry, pledge to be more accurate in our speech? We might refer to toxic chemicals or synthetic chemicals or another, more descriptive term instead of the uninformed, blanket term that sounds like we despise all chemicals.
Can we open our minds to embrace chemistry? I hope so. Strive to understand the chemistry behind ingredients and how they work together to create products that improve lives. It will make us better makers and formulators. Chemistry is not the enemy of safe products.
Are you with me?
May your days be filled with bubbles and wax.
Beth Byrne, for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine