:: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. ~ What ingredients are considered natural colors?
A. ~ The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the arm of the federal government which regulates the use of color additives in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics. "Natural" color additives are classified by the FDA as "Exempt from Certification". These colors come directly from plants or animals such as seeds (annatto), roots (turmeric), vegetables (red cabbage, beet juice), algae (beta carotene), insects (carmine), fruits (grape juice), etc. These exempt colors are regulated by the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Part 73. There are 28 such natural colors permitted for use in cosmetics.
Q. ~ What ingredients are considered artificial colors?
A. ~ Coal Tar Dyes, FD&C and/or Lake Colors are considered artificial colors. Mineral pigments are not considered artificial colors.
Q. ~ What about ingredients that don't fit the NIRC "Natural" Criteria, because while they are originally made from natural raw materials, they undergo significant processing or refining?
A. ~ Those ingredients are often called *naturally sourced*; "as having come from, in part or in whole, a natural organic source at one time. These ingredients are far from natural, but they may have naturally derived components as their original source." [Reprinted with Permission; Essential Wholesale]. "Naturally sourced" ingredients don't count toward the percentages of natural ingredients in a natural product since they more closely fit the definition for synthetic.
Q. ~ Is there such a thing as "Natural Soap"?
A. ~ Both science and history document that, although rare, soap is indeed found in nature. However, the "True Soap" we see for sale in stores, is made by combining fat from plants or animals and an alkali, called "lye".
Lye refers to sodium hydroxide [aka caustic soda, chemical formula NaOH] or potassium hydroxide [aka caustic potash, chemical formula KOH]. When combined, this chemical reaction called saponification occurs; resulting in soap [an alkali salt of fatty acids] and glycerin being produced.
The handmade soap maker leaves the glycerin in their soap. In commercial soap making, this ingredient is often removed and sold as a by-product. [see below]
Many people consider soap to be a synthetic product since it is the result of a chemical reaction between fats and lye, and/or because lye is usually manufactured in a factory setting in modern times, and some consider it to be synthetic. However, the lye, used to make soap, is no longer in the soap in the form of an ingredient in the finished consumer product.
The fatty acids and alkali have chemically changed into the finished product we call "true soap". The FDA interprets the term "soap" to apply only when the bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product's detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds, and the product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap [21 CFR 701.20].
Therefore, since the FDA considers "true soap" to be a safe enough product that it is exempt from ingredient labeling requirements, and since soap found in or produced by nature is not a safe or superior product, we feel the natural products industry and consumers will be best served by allowing a 'soap exemption' and permitting a "true soap", made with ONLY natural raw materials and lye, to be labeled as "natural soap".
However, we require that "true Soap", labeled as "natural soap", have ingredient labeling to help prevent the misuse of the natural soap label.
For more info see the NIRC "Truth in Labeling" Natural Product Labeling Guidelines.
Q. ~ Is glycerin a natural ingredient?
A. ~ It depends. The glycerin formed during the process of making soap, is the result of the saponification process. In cold and hot process soap making, that naturally
occurring glycerin is left in the raw and finished soap. That glycerin would be considered part of the "true soap" rather than a separate ingredient. It occurs as a result of the natural biological process.
However, the process necessary to remove glycerin from raw soap, is not considered minimal processing. It requires more processing that that which could take place in a household kitchen, stillroom, on a farm, or vineyard. Glycerin removed from raw soap and sold as a single ingredient, is not natural, however it would be considered naturally sourced.