There are many compounds, minerals, materials, foods, and general “things” which can have the same name and be pretty much the same, except one is man-made or synthetic and the other is natural. Now due to what one may have read or been told, one may be led to believe that every single thing about this item is the exact same, this isn’t always true.
In fact, a lot of the time, they can actually be different in some manner.
Thinking about this, I decided I would pick out 4 things which have man-made or synthetic versions and natural versions and explain some of these differences. Hopefully, this will inspire you to look into items you have which could have another version and explore to see if there are differences among those items when natural or man-made/synthetic.
Alas, let us begin.
Item 1) Lye: Lye is a common ingredient used in the soap making process for saponification. It is a base and can be the natural version (potassium hydroxide) or the man-made version (sodium hydroxide). The natural version (Potassium Hydroxide) would be from wood ash while the man-made version (sodium hydroxide) would be industrially produced. The natural version will normally result in a softer or a liquid soap while the man-made will result in a hard soap. If you add quite a bit of salt during the soap making process you can also possibly turn the naturally occurring version into a hard soap, though one needs to use a more solid fat with it like animal fat. The naturally occurring version also uses less water and could be argued as more concentrated or effective in regards to how the soap works when using the naturally occurring lye for making.
Item 2) Sweeteners: Sweeteners are used to make something taste sweet, and there are naturally occurring types and synthetic types. Naturally occurring types include cane sugar and honey while synthetic types include Aspartame and Saccharin. What normally results in the usage of these synthetic types over the naturally occurring types, is the concerns of calorie consumption or the economic cost as the synthetics tend to be cheaper.
Cane sugar is sugar that is obtained from the sugar cane, normally less processed than white granulated sugar which results in a slight natural color and courser grain. Honey is a sweetener obtained from beehives and depending where you get it can have different levels of processing. While sweet, it is liquid and has other minerals and proteins in it. In addition, depending on what plants the bees are going to that they are using to make the honey, the honey can have differing levels of sweetness and taste. Aspartame is made by fermenting and synthesizing* the amino L-phenylalanine with L-aspartic acid and methanol (I’ve posted links about these below with my other sources though to explain the individual ingredients would need another post). Saccharin is made through first converting phthalic anhydride into anthranilic acid. The Anthranilic acid is then synthesized with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia to create Saccharin.
The naturally occurring types of sweeteners like honey and cane sugar tend to have a less sweet taste in similar quantities to the synthetics, but are better absorbed by the body and digested. With the synthetics like Saccharin and Aspartame, weight gain is actually able to occur due to it resulting in making the body think it needs to store extra calories.
Item 3) Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a vitamin which helps to regulate other minerals in the body and aid the immune system. The naturally occurring type is Vitamin D3 while the synthetic type is Vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 occurs naturally in Fatty fish and through exposure to sunlight. With exposure to sunlight, please note that you need the natural oils on your skin to be present in order to actually absorb the Vitamin D3, washing oneself on a bi-daily or daily basis with harsh or conventional soaps strips your body of these oils which prevents the absorption of vitamin D3 through exposure to sunlight. In addition, excessive use of sunscreens can also prevent Vitamin D3 from being absorbed when getting it from exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D2 is synthetic and not at all necessary for your body, when talking about vitamin D levels, in fact, even though both are shown the Vitamin D3 is the preferred to have. Vitamin D2 is made by radiating ergosteral from the mold ergot. Vitamin D2 is not as potent as vitamin D3.
Item 4) Fleece: When talking about fleece, I am not talking about the sheep’s fleece, but actually am talking about the fleece common in clothing and blankets. Most of these are synthetically made from polyester, which as I have said before in a previous post, is terephthalic acid (a petroleum base) mixed with anti-freeze. Though there are some which are made from Cotton, which would be natural. Polyester is considered the warmer fabric, though due to polyester’s not so breathable nature, being a plastic and all, it tends to also result in a lot of overheating and some sweating which for many is a huge nuisance with the fabric and a major deterrent. Polyester also tends just not to feel as nice as cotton does even if it does try. As I personally notice, the polyester tends to “catch” onto the skin more.
Cotton fleece, would be more breathable and as a result not as warm, which may require an additional layer of something like wool in colder or wet weather or silk in more windy weather. Cotton fleece would be softer though and would not cause overheating while still adding a nice warmer layer. Polyester fleece though is cheaper and more easily accessible, while cotton would be harder to find. One could also get a fleece item made from wool which would be if minimally processed, liquid resistant and temperature regulating, but unless it is a higher quality organic wool fleece or something along those lines, it could affect sensitive skin and not be as soft.
Anyways, I hope this information has helped with seeing some of the differences and making one more aware that there can be differences among various items which are supposed to be the same, depending on whether they are the synthetic or natural versions.
Don’t forget to post in the comments your ideas for the next blog post!
Sources for information provided:
*Synthesis definition per oxford dictionary: The combination of components or elements to form a connected whole.