Preservatives In Organic Soap Making

Today, I am going to let out some of my long kept secrets – organic preservatives. You see, there are lots of preservatives that can be use in organic soap making; most of which you can also use in your chemical soap. But before I go into details of preservatives; I will like to talk about what are not preservatives; as this will help you have a clearer understanding of what is a preservative and what is not.

What is NOT a preservative!

It is unfortunate that some people believe that all antioxidants are preservative; which is contrary to the truth. You see, because an agent is antioxidant does not mean it’s a preservative. This is because anti-oxidant lacks the anti-microbial qualities that other actual preservatives (Phenonip, Germaben, and Optiphen) possess. As only a preservative can truly prevent mold and bacterial growth in your lotion products.

For better understanding, I will discuss some antioxidants that aren’t preservatives. For instance…

  1. Grapefruit Seed Extract – Grapefruit Seed Extract (commonly known as GSE) is a thick and golden antioxidant that helps to prevent your oils from going bad in your lotions and lotion bars, but is not a preservative. Although, GSE is not a preservative, but if you are looking for a great anti- oxidant, GSE is the one to go with!
  2. Rosemary Oleoresin – Rosemary Oleoresin, also known as Rosemary Oil Extract or ROE is an oil-soluble, all-natural extract that is used to prevent rancidity in lotions and oil-products. It helps to extend the shelf life of your product, but as with GSE, is not preservative.
  3. Vitamin E – Vitamin E is a thick and viscous oil that is super easy to mix into lotions, liquid oils, and even bath bombs for its skin-loving properties. It is a wonderful anti-oxidant, but it isn’t considered a preservative because it has no antimicrobial properties to it. Many home crafters use it thinking it will preserve their products, but all it can do is extend the life of the oils in your product (similarly to ROE and GSE).

So, what are preservatives?

Preservatives are anti-microbial solutions that help to prevent mold and other yucky things from growing in your products.

Why would you use a preservative?

Preservatives are needed in any product that has water in it; to prevent bacteria and mold from growing in the product.

To be honest with you; there are no 100 present natural preservatives in the market at the moment. But there are some preservatives that are not harmful to our skin either. Some of which I am going to discuss with you in this piece.

  1. Germaben – Germaben is a great preservative to use when making lotions, as it helps to keep the lotion nice and creamy. Usage rate: 0.3-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 140 degrees.
  2. Optiphen – Optiphen is best to use in your oil-based recipes like shampoos, conditioners, and some lotions. Usage rate: 0.5-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.
  3. Optiphen ND– Optiphen ND is a water-soluble, broad spectrum preservative. This preservative works best in surfactant based systems, shampoos, conditioners, gels, creams, and lotions. Usage Rate: 1% of the total weight of your recipe and must be used at a temperature lower than 176 degrees.
  4. Phenonip – Phenonip is a liquid preservative that helps to suppress the full range of microbial growth in your creams, lotions, salt scrubs, dusting powders and liquid soap bases. When making products at a higher temperature, this is going to be the preservative you are going to want to use. Usage rate: 0.5-1% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 200 degrees.
  5. Optiphen Plus – Optiphen Plus is a water-soluble, paraben- and formaldehyde-free preservative. You can use Optiphen Plus in any recipe where water is used; as it helps to protect against bacteria, mold growth and even yeast! Usage rate: .75-1.5% of the total weight of the recipe and must be used at temperatures lower than 176 degrees.

What products need preservatives?

You wouldn’t want to find that your fabulous sugar scrub went bad after a few weeks, would you? Any recipe that includes water in it or any product that may get water in it needs a preservative. That includes most lotions and creams, sugar or salt scrubs, and some types of body powders. Preservatives aren’t generally necessary in liquid soaps, but can be added if desired.

Does bar soap need a preservative?

Fortunately, you do not need preservatives for your bar soaps; as both Cold Process and Melt & Pour soaps have a pH level that does not allow mold or bacteria growth in them. But it does not hurt if you added preservative either.

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