Friday, 20 June 2014

DIY vs. Chemistry

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Whenever a movement becomes popular there will be people who espouse that way of life without full understanding, and there will be the push back and criticism from others. Such is the case with living a green life and trying to avoid toxic ingredients.

Can We Trust Commercial Products?

One way people try to be more eco-minded is with household cleaners and personal care products. Without a chemistry degree and knowledge of how chemical compounds react and affect the human body, I find it difficult to know the difference between greenwashing products that throw around buzz words like "natural" and "eco", and truly non-toxic products. I am a diligent product ingredient reader, but I may not know what sodium chloride, laurel glucoside, sodium laureth sulfate, ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane are. They may or may not have toxic effects on humans, but I cannot trust that they are safe, or assume that they are dangerous, if they are listed in product ingredients.

In case you are wondering, sodium chloride (salt) and laurel glucoside (a surfactant from coconut oil and sugar) are fine, but ethylene oxide, sodium laureth sulfate and 1,4-dioxane, which can be found in soaps, are not fine. But I did not know this without doing some reading because I only studied chemistry until grade ten. How many people do this before they go shopping and grab dish soap or shampoo off the shelves? I am, therefore, electing to learn how to make my own products rather than reading about each and every ingredient in the commercial ingredients I purchase.

Is the Eco Movement Uninformed About Basic Chemistry?

The pushback is coming in the form of "science defenders" who feel the need to point out chemicals are not bad, and that everything is made of chemicals. If we make our own cleaning products from vinegar, salt, or baking soda we are idiots because these too are just chemicals. Chemicals and chemical compounds are natural because they are a part of everything and naturally occurring. How silly of people to make natural cleaners that are really just chemical compounds.

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