The Pure-Rest and Ecobaby Organics Blog

All about Natural and Organics for you and your home!

They’re both the same! Aren’t they? Natural vs. Synthetic or Man-Made products March 21, 2014

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:
http://sodium-hydroxide.com/sodium-hydroxide-vs-potassium-hydroxide-a-comparison-too-caustic/ http://ezinearticles.com/?How-to-Make-Lye-Soap&id=809119
http://www.survivalblog.com/2011/11/how_to_make_lye_soap_by_masqui.html
http://sugar.org/cra-lawsuit/science-other-facts/scientific-studies/
http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/nutrition/sugar-vs-sweeteners/
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cane+sugar
http://www.healthline.com/natstandardcontent/honey
http://www.food.com/library/honey-155
http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/549aspartame.html
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Aspartame.html
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/phenylalanine
http://www.ajiaminoscience.com/products/manufactured_products/l-amino_acids/L-Aspartic-Acid.aspx
http://www.articlesbase.com/industrial-articles/how-is-saccharin-made-6594500.html
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-929-VITAMIN%20D.aspx?activeIngredientId=929&activeIngredientName=VITAMIN%20D
http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/589256_4http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2896800090.html
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/synthesis?q=synthesis

*Synthesis definition per oxford dictionary: The combination of components or elements to form a connected whole.

 

Conventional vs. Organic Cotton Sheets; Some know-how and what to look for! September 7, 2012

Hello All and Good Afternoon on this beautiful September Day!
                I have been inspired to teach you all about that wondrous thing we make every morning and fall asleep into every night, the one-the only, your sheets. Sheets are extremely important when it comes to your sleep and they are not the same, at all.
                Sheets can vary in many ways, from the raw material, where that material comes from, how that material is sewn, how it is finished, how it is dyed, and even what quality that material is to its counterparts. This is not even all the differences; here I will explain further, variances in raw material among various types of sheets and give recommendations on how to find perfect, truly pure, sheets.
                Firstly, let us discuss conventional sheets and their variances. Conventional sheets, i.e. the sheets you get at most major retailers and stores, have three main raw materials. These raw materials are polyester, conventional cotton, and silk. Sometimes they are a blend of these materials, like cotton and silk or polyester and cotton, but they are normally almost always made of these main raw materials. Most sheets are made of 100% Polyester  unless you pay a little more money, and then they are the blend of cotton and polyester, pay somewhat more and you get  100% cotton, pay a lot more and you get cotton/silk, pay a whole lot more and you get 100% silk. I will not be discussing silk as the average American does not tend to purchase silk bedding. Please comment below if you would like me to post on silk and I will do so.
                Polyester, sometimes shorthand named Poly or Poly-Fabric is a synthetic raw material made from petroleum that is used to make fabrics and PET plastic. Polyester is made as a result of a condensation reaction between Anti-Freeze (Ethylene Glycol) and Terephthalic Acid (produced from petroleum/crude oil). Before I can get into any further detail on how Polyester is made I must explain how Terephthalic Acid is made and what it is. Terephthalic Acid, in simple terms, is a chemical that looks like a white powder made by distilling Petroleum then heating to an extremely high temperature that distilled petroleum in various complex ways multiple times then cooling it. Then separating the gas parts from the liquid parts, then stabilizing that liquid and heating until it steams/boils and redoing this until it becomes p-Xylene.  P-Xylene is a hazardous and carcinogenic colorless liquid (sometimes solid) and is considered harmful to people’s health. This p-xylene then goes through the process of oxidation and becomes Terephthalic Acid. 
                To put this in simple terms, to make polyester one would heat up Anti-Freeze and highly processed crude oil until it condensates together and becomes Polyester.
                Conventional cotton is a natural raw material that is picked off of cotton plants which grow mainly during the summer. Conventional cotton tends to be grown with many various pesticides and cotton is known to be using some of the largest amounts of pesticides among conventional plants. A few of the pesticides used include Deltamethrin, Parathion, and Thiram. Deltamethrin is considered moderately hazardous and is a known Endocrine Disruptor. Parathion is considered extremely hazardous and has the long term exposure effect of lowering red blood cell activity and count. Thiram is considered moderately toxic but is highly toxic if inhaled, it can also be found in conventional soap and sun screen. Conventional Cotton also is often genetically modified; genetically modified cotton is referred to as transgenic cotton. This transgenic cotton is mainly cotton with certain pesticides’ and herbicides’ genes added to it so that it can be either bug resistant or resistant to bug or weed killing sprays. In 2008, 94.6% of U.S. conventional cotton crop that was planted was the transgenic cotton.
                Organic sheets tend to be made with organic cotton. Organic cotton is cotton which is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or any other chemical. Organic cotton also cannot be genetically modified. Dealing with pests, weeds, or fungi is usually done through natural or more traditional methods like growing plants around the cotton which deters the pest and pulling out any weeds manually. Organic cotton in the U.S. needs to be GOTS certified organic in order to be called certified organic.
                When it comes to sheets, I personally recommend getting certified organic cotton that is grown in India, Egypt, or the United States. Egyptian and India organic cotton tends to be softer because the summers there are longer and therefore the cotton fiber grows longer. U.S. organic cotton is still soft (not as soft), but also tends to be sturdier and purchasing U.S. organic cotton shows companies the higher demand for such products which has the possibility of resulting in more supply of organic cotton products and less supply of polyester/conventional cotton products. Certified organic cotton is almost always going to be much softer and higher quality than conventional cotton and polyester products mainly due to the amount of additional care which comes with producing something organically. Lastly, with any sheets—not just organic cotton but preferably so—one would want to make sure that the sheets are dyed with either low impact dyes or traditional—from a direct tribe not a big company—herbal dying process and that the sheets are not finished with any chemical finishes like formaldehyde—which contrary to popular belief, are extremely hard or, in the case of formaldehyde, impossible to completely wash out—.
                I hope this has helped explain some factors with organic and conventional sheets and their raw materials well so that you may have some more knowledge on something as important as ones’ bed linens! If there are any questions please post a comment below and I will happily answer them!
               

Sources for the information provided:                                                           
http://www.whatispolyester.com/
http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2006/06/71268
http://www.cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/16085
http://pac.iupac.org/publications/pac/pdf/1994/pdf/6605×1077.pdf
http://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_iv/otm_iv_2.html#3
http://www.ejfoundation.org/pdf/the_deadly_chemicals_in_cotton.pdf http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Deltamethrin
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/parathio.html
http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/pyrethrins-ziram/thiram-ext.html 
http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/organic_cotton.html
http://www.cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/9181
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5011805.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terephthalic_acid
http://www.cotton.org/edu/faq/index.cfm
http://fscimage.fishersci.com/msds/95257.htm
http://www.speclab.com/compound/c106423.htm
http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/16085
http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf
http://health-report.co.uk/formaldehyde-fact-sheet.htm
http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/formaldehyde.htm

Comment below on what you would like our next post to be!

http://www.purerest.com