What am I exposing myself to as a Candle and Soap Crafter?

I get lots of questions regarding fragrance oils:

Are they chemicals?  Are they toxic?  Why does the label say they are dangerous to inhale- isn’t that what they are made for?

Hopefully, this blog will help to explain some of the facts, without needing a degree in chemistry to understand.

Here is an excerpt from www.ilpi.com website regarding chemicals:

There is no such thing as a "chemical-free" substance. Everything around us is a chemical - the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the planet we're standing on. After a number of bad experiences with various substances, society has grown to view anything referred to as a "chemical" with fear and suspicion. For every chemical compound that has caused societal, environmental or health issues (asbestos, DDT, thalidomide, chlorofluorocarbons), there are dozens of others which have caused no harm or provided us with great benefits (penicillin, Kevlar, Nylon).

When people (irrationally) fear a substance simply because "it is a chemical", we call it”chemophobia”. For example, if you ask someone who was not an ”organic” chemist if they wanted 2-oxo-L-threo-hexono-1,4- lactone-2,3-enediol in their body, the answer will usually be an emphatic "No!" A better answer would be "That depends...what effects will that have on me and the environment?" In this case, the effect would be beneficial because 2-oxo-L-threo-hexono-1,4- lactone-2,3-enediol is simply the formal IUPAC name for Vitamin C.!

All too often, people can't use the word "chemical" without putting the word “toxic” in front of it. However, it is important to keep in mind that the dose makes the poison. People have died from drinking sea water....in fact, people have even died from drinking “pure” water. Just because we can now detect chemicals at ever-decreasing concentrations, does not mean that those few parts per billion of an "unnatural" substance will kill you (although that can be true, of course).

Likewise, it's important to realize that there are many chemicals we can't live without. You can probably name some obvious ones like water, salt, and amino acids, but keep in mind that most of you reading this article probably would not be alive at the moment without the products chemistry and chemicals have made possible - antibiotics, alloys, and electricity, for example.

"Natural" products are not necessarily any safer or less toxic than "synthetic" or "artificial" chemicals. Sewage is natural, but it's not very good for you. Conversely, cis-platin is not natural, but it cures cancer.

SDS sheets are to be available for training purposes in an effort to provide information to employees of companies regarding exposure.  Safety Data Sheets are law if a product contains 0.1% of a carcinogenic ingredient.

Some of our fragrances contain upwards of 20 ingredients, of which one ingredient may be the “culprit”.  That one may be used at 2% in the mix.  What does this mean?  An ounce of oil (30mls) could contain 0.6 ml of the “culprit” ingredient, of which the concentration of the carcinogen is 0.1%, making it 0.06ml of the mix.  In some of the fragrance oils, the “culprit” is the essential oil part!!  As stated in the quote above, “natural” is not necessarily safer.

SDS sheets provide information which can be used to determine physical, health and environmental hazards.  Canada is moving towards complying with international standards by the end of 2018.  We are attempting to comply with these standards as well.

What is the difference between SDS and IFRA?

SDS (Safety Data Sheets) contain information about a product composition, possible hazards, first aid measures, handling and storage, and additional testing information. 

Candle fragrances are designed to be safe in candle making, and in many instances, soap as well.  An IFRA statement helps to communicate maximum usage limits of these oils deemed safe in different product applications.  A Maximum Use Level for skin exposure means the amount of fragrance oil, essential oil, or flavor oil that can be used in products that come in contact with the skin, not the recommended amount.  For example, Cinnamon has a Maximum Usage Limit of 0.9% in products that would be in contact with skin, therefore it is NOT considered safe for bath and body products (most body product recipes use 1.5-2% fragrance load, 6-10% in candles).  However, the Maximum Usage Limit for cinnamon in candle products is 6.3%, making it good for candles.  Fresh Apple’s IFRA, on the other hand, states its Maximum Usage Limit for hand lotion is 15.7% and 41.9% for candles.    Therefore, this oil could be used in both soap and candle products.

Skin irritation and Harmful if Inhaled warnings on the label???

You are asking yourself how can a “skin safe” fragrance be harmful if it comes in contact with the skin.  And how can a fragrance made for candles be harmful if inhaled?  Both of these hazards refer to large amounts of the oil being spilled on the skin (or clothes) or being inhaled at full strength in a small space.  Once the oil is used at its proper percentage in an actual product, the composition changes and the SDS does not apply to the created product.  The warnings shown on an ingredient do not carry over to its finished product.  For example, the SDS and IFRA for Fresh Apple apply to the oil, and would not apply to the lotion, soap or candle.  The precautionary measures should be followed.

The new handling and storage information should be followed to help you reduce exposure and risk as much as possible. There’s lots of information on the web, but not all of it is accurate. Be sure to look for authoritative resources by established governmental, academic, and public service agencies.  If you are not sure of what you are reading on our site, ask for clarification.

Don’t be alarmed by the new labelling.  You may see extra labels on our products and additional information on our site.  We will take every effort to educate our staff and you, the consumer regarding the products we sell.

Hopefully this blog has helped to clarify the new labels you will no doubt be seeing on many products you use daily, and also your candle and soap supplies.  

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