When you’re looking to solve your skin problems, clean your house without damaging any materials, washing your clothes without damaging any aquatic life with wastewater, Mother Nature definitely knows best. But when you’re picking all natural cleaning products (or any all natural product) and products with natural ingredients, what exactly are you looking at? What precisely are natural ingredients and how can you distinguish between the actual real all natural products and the ‘impostors’ on shelves?
What they are
Natural ingredients include plant, animal, mineral and/or microbial ingredients present in (or produced by) nature. Natural ingredients may also be directly extracted using simple methods (like simple chemical reactions) or they may be the result of naturally occurring biological processes. An example of a natural ingredient is sodium chloride, or like we like to call it, regular, trusty, ol’ table salt! Salt is a naturally occurring mineral that, basically, just needs to be picked up by humans. Another example of natural ingredients are essential oils. These are obtained directly from plants by a very simple process called distillation. Freshly picked plants are suspended over boiling water and the steam pulls the oils right out of the plant. The steam rises, is captured in a container and pushed through tubing. Then, it is rapidly cooled, causing it to condense back into water. Since water and oil do not mix, the two separate and the essential oil is collected.
Natural ingredients, thus, are grown, harvested, raised, and processed in an ecological manner. They are NOT produced synthetically or extracted using petrochemicals. Therein lies the big difference between all natural cleaning products (petrol free) and regular cleaning products (full of petrochemicals). Natural ingredients are also not extracted using anything other than natural ingredients as solvents.
Unfortunately, there is no official, U.S. government-regulated definition for the term natural (pertaining to the natural products and cleaners industry). However, the FDA refers to natural ingredients as “ingredients extracted directly from plants or animal products as opposed to being produced synthetically.”
How to know which products to pick
Unfortunately, there is no shortcut around this. To be sure you’re picking actually all natural products with natural ingredients, you need to do some research. Either you research into the brand, its practices and the products that they sell, or you research the specific product you are interested in buying. Be sure to check that the products include an ingredient list on the back and then research each ingredient. At first it’s going to be a bit difficult. However, you will notice that most cleaners and all natural products actually use similar ingredients. You will start to recognize them and will take note of which ingredients to welcome into your household and which ingredients to stay away from!
If you’re looking for a safer cleaning alternative, a safer way to wash your clothes or just a safer way to remove your makeup, always opt for all natural products with natural ingredients. Mother Nature always delivers! ;)