With everything JÖL makes, there are varying levels of science actively being applied. Sometimes it is as simple as knowing the right temperature to add scent to the wax to ensure adequate distribution throughout the wax and best scent throw when burning. Other times it is knowing the necessary, required even, ratios for creating oil in water emulsification. This is very important when it comes to making lotions, sprays and even soaps.
Anyone who has ever had a vinaigrette on a salad has experienced an oil in water emulsion. This is likely the most basic emulsion we see regularly, and it is not a good one. A proper emulsion would tightly bond the oil and water using an emulsifier. In a salad dressing, that emulsifier is often dijon mustard. Truly, it is not a proper emulsion, as there is not a tight bond but it does help to familiarize people with what is an emulsion. The best example, is mayonnaise. Egg whipped with seasonings and water based liquids while oil is drizzled in is an every day emulsion we see. Egg is an excellent emulsifier.
We don’t wish to use eggs in our lotions, so we need to find another method to create the same effect. This is where Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid and Polysorbates come into the mix. All of these are sourced from plants, no don’t be scared of the chemical names. Nor is Cetyl Alcohol in the same class of alcohols as Isopropyl, Ethyl or Methyl alcohols; it’s a fatty alcohol.
Emulsifiers bond with the fats; like shea butter, coconut oil to then create the bond with water. It’s like applying the glue to the wallpaper before placing on the wall. This allows the oils and the water to retain their properties while staying well combined in a bottle; ready for each use. Like the mayo in the jar, they should not separate and are ready to use every time. No shaking or whipping needed before each use.
How We Stack up to others
Many of our contemporaries on Etsy don’t use an emulsifier in their Linen Sprays or Body Mists. Some use Isopropyl Alcohol, incorrectly thinking that it is an emulsifier. While doing so, they tell you the danger of using “chemicals” in such products. Well, alcohol is a chemical too. Chemicals are not the collective danger, lack of knowledge is. Try to bake a cake without a leavening agent, like baking soda, in the recipe. Baking Soda, chemically known as sodium bicarbonate, is a chemical that helps create a desired chemical reaction to create a fluffy cake. Meanwhile, ricin is a deadly nerve toxin sourced from castor oil; something very natural. By not using an emulsifier in their sprays leads to a product you have to constantly shake to use each and every time. There is no assurance that each spritz will have a balanced blend of scent oils and water. The oil portion will also lead to clogging of the spray head.
By using a proper emulsifier, in our case we use Polysorbate 20, we can assure that every time you pick up the bottle and pull the trigger you will get a balanced blend of the scent. The water component is there to help distribute and dilute the concentration. In our Room + Fabric Sprays, we also use glycerin and alcohol to create an ideal mist that will dry faster. Glycerin helps form perfect little droplets while the alcohol works like water but will evaporate quicker. By using Polysorbate 20 we can offer a very well combined liquid that will provide consistency every time you use it. In regards to our BODY SPRAY, there is zero alcohol in our formula, but we do add witch hazel as an astringent to provide that fresh, lively feeling on your skin.
As a maker of “Natural” and/or “Organic” products we understand the importance of being open and honest about our ingredients as well as why we use them. A big danger to this industry is that using such words without defining them is done to mislead the public. Currently, there is no legal definition of NATURAL when it comes to any product. Where as Organic does have legal definitions, those requirements can vary by whatever institution certifies the ingredient. USDA has the lowest requirements due to lobbying by larger agribusinesses. I can talk more about this another time.
Ultimately we want you to know that we are doing what we can to ensure a quality product that is significantly less harmful to you and your environment while truthfully defining that plant-sourced nature of our goods. We also want to provide a quality product that may not be as pretty as those found on Etsy, yet likely perform better at a far more reasonable price. For example, we currently sell our 8 fluid ounce bottle of ROOM + FABRIC SPRAY [link to shop] for $12.00; meanwhile you can find 4 fluid ounce bottles of similar sprays that do not use an emulsifier for $20.00 or more! If you have not tried one of our linen sprays, you will quickly see why they are so immensely popular with our customers.
Let me know what you think in the comments. I hope to post more articles like this in the future to help bring the science of behind what we do in a much easier to digest context. Thank you! JC