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Toothpaste With Added Plastic

What’s in your commercial toothpaste? For starters ther may be plastic micro beads!Did you know that at least 12  Crest  toothpastes have been identified as containing  microbeads of polyethylene (PE).

Crest 3D White Radiant Mint • Crest Pro-Health For Me • Crest 3D White Arctic Fresh • Crest 3D White Enamel Renewal • Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White • Crest Sensitivity Treatment and Protection • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Whitening Plus Deep Clean • Crest 3D White Luxe Lustrous Shine • Crest Extra White Plus Scope Outlast • Crest SensiRelief Maximum Strength Whitening Plus Scope • Crest Pro-Health Sensitive + Enamel Shield • Crest Pro-Health Clinical Gum Protection • Crest Pro-Health For Life for ages 50+ • Crest Complete Multi-Benefit Extra White+ Crystal Clean Anti-Bac • Crest Be Adventurous Mint Chocolate Trek • Crest Be Dynamic Lime Spearmint Zest • Crest Be Inspired Vanilla Mint Spark • Crest Pro-Health Healthy Fresh • Crest Pro-Health Smooth Mint.
This list may be out of date as companies have agreed to cut microbeads

And Crest are by no means the only company to do this. But you won’t know
as plastic isn’t and was never listed in the ingredients. Just to clarify – that’s even when the pastes did contain plastic beads. That’s a fact  I find worrying.

Why are they there? It seems they  added for decorative purposes only. However dental hygenists are concerned and I quote Trish Walraven
“I am not saying that polyethylene is causing gum problems. I’d be jumping too soon to that conclusion without scientific proof.  But what I am saying definitively is that plastic is in your toothpaste, and that some of it is left behind even after you’re finished brushing and rinsing with it.”
Bits of plastic get stuck in your gums! But  I strongly reccomend that you read her excellent article  in full and then consider using a different dentifrice.

Companies have agreed to phase out microbeads. At least in countries where there is a pressure to do so but frankly I would take matters into your own hands and search out a plastic free alternative immediately. You can find some options here

What Else Is In Your Tooth Paste? 

“Every toothpaste contains the following ingredients: binders, abrasives, sudsers, humectants, flavors (unique additives), sweeteners, fluorides, tooth whiteners, a preservative, and water. Binders thicken toothpastes. They prevent separation of the solid and liquid components, especially during storage. They also affect the speed and volume of foam production, the rate of flavor release and product dispersal, the appearance of the toothpaste ribbon on the toothbrush, and the rinsibility from the toothbrush. Some binders are karaya gum, bentonite, sodium alginate, methylcellulose, carrageenan, and magnesium aluminum silicate.
Abrasives scrub the outside of the teeth to get rid of plaque and loosen particles on teeth. Abrasives also contribute to the degree of opacity of the paste or gel. Abrasives may affect the paste’s consistency, cost, and taste.”
Read more about toothpaste and how it is made here

Break down of the ingredients

Standard (non-organic) toothpaste typically contain a set of ingredients that include:
Abrasives to clean bacterial film and debris from your teeth: Examples: Calcium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, hydrated aluminum oxides, magnesium carbonate, phosphate salts and silicates. Silica is the whitening ingredient in most whitening toothpastes.
Detergents for cleaning and the foamy lather we expect from toothpaste. Examples: sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium N-Lauryl sarcosinate.
Fluoride – all American Dental Association (ADA)Accepted toothpastes contain fluoride, even organic ones.
Flavor including sweeteners such as saccharine. No ADA-Accepted toothpaste contains sugar.
Treatment additives such as tetrasodium pyrophosphate for tartar control, potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to reduce tooth sensitivity, Stannous fluoride and triclosan for reducing gum inflammation and removing plaque.
Humectants to keep the toothpaste moist. Examples: glycerol, propylene, glycol and sorbitol.
Binders to stabilize the toothpaste formula. Examples: mineral colloids, natural gums, seaweed colloids or synthetic cellulose.
Source

Abrasives are the cleaning and polishing agents in commerical toothpaste.
They account for about a third of the toothpaste by weight.
Most abrasives are chalk or silica based.
They include dicalcium phosphate, sodium metaphosphate, calcium carbonate, silica, zirconium silicate or calcium pyrophosphate.

Abrasives differ in strength.
Abrasives help remove plaque and stains. However they can also,wear away the tooth enamel
The more abrasive the paste the more wearing it is

Relative dentin abrasivity (RDA) is a a way of measuring the effect that the abrasive components of the toothpaste have on a tooth.[7]
The RDA scale was developed by the American Dental Association The higher the abrasive value the greater the wear on the enamal. Toothpaste makers regularly measure their product’s abrasivity. It’s necessary for FDA approval,

BY US law, a dentifrice is required to have a level lower than 250 to be considered safe .

RDA Score
Level
0-70 Low abrasive: safe for cementum, dentin and enamel
70-100 Medium abrasive: safe for enamel, dangerous for cementum and dentin
100-150 High abrasive: dangerous for cementum, dentin and enamel
150-250 Very high abrasive: harmful limit, damaging for teeth
250 and above Not recommended

4 brushing teeth with water
7 baking soda
8 Arm & Hammer Tooth Powder
15 Weleda Salt Toothpaste
30 Elmex Sensitive Plus
35 Arm & Hammer Dental Care
42 Arm & Hammer Advance Whitening / Peroxide
44 Squiggle Enamel Saver
45 Oxyfresh
48 Arm & Hammer Dental Care Sensitive
49 Tom’s of Maine Sensitive
49-52 Arm & Hammer Peroxicare Regular
51 Crest with Scope
53 Rembrandt Original, Closys
57 Tom’s of Maine Children’s
60 Biotene Gel
63 Rembrandt Mint
68 Colgate Regular
70 Colgate Total, Arm & Hammer Advance White Sensitive, Colgate 2-in-1 Fresh Mint, Colgate Total
78 Biotene
79 Sensodyne
80 AIM, Close-Up, Biotene Paste with Fluoride
83 Colgate Sensitive Max Strength, Tooth and Gum Care
87 Nature’s Gate
91 Aquafresh Sensitive
93 Tom’s of Maine Regular
94 Rembrandt Plus
95 Crest Regular
97 Oxyfresh Powder
101 Natural White
103 Mentadent
104 Sensodyne Extra Whitening
106 Colgate Platinum, Arm & Hammer Advance White
107 Crest Sensitivity
110 Colgate Herbal, Amway Glister
113 Aquafresh Whitening
117 Arm & Hammer Advance White Gel, Arm & Hammer Sensation Tartar Control
120 Close-Up with Baking Soda
124 Colgate Whitening
130 Crest Extra Whitening
133 Ultra Brite
144 Crest Multicare Whitening
145 Ultra Brite Advanced Whitening Formula, Colgate Baking Soda Whitening
150 Pepsodent
155 Crest Rejuvenating Effects
165 Colgate Tartar Control
168 Arm & Hammer Dental Care PM Fresh Mint
175 Colgate Luminous
176 Nature’s Gate Paste
160-190 Crest Pro Health Formulas
200 Colgate 2-in-1 Tartar Control / White

While most seem to think an RDA of around 50 is fine these guys take it lower.
“The lower the number, the less enamel/dentin it is likely to be worn away. The higher the number – the more wear on your dentition. The ideal toothpaste would not have a RDA index higher that 7; therefore dentifrices with a low abrasivity index are desirable.”

https://www.lincolndentalcenter.com/relative-dentin-abrasivity-rda

FYI
Lush toothy tabs were graded accordingly, and here are the results.
Oral Pleasure: 31 (Low abrasivity)
Dirty: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Miles of Smiles: 43 (Low abrasivity)
Bling!: 54 (Low abrasivity)
Limelight: 64 (Low abrasivity)
Sparkle: 70 (Medium abrasivity)
Boom!: 96 (Medium abrasivity)

And…

The Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI)
This is a very interesting article but sadly I can find no links to original research. Google hasn’t come up with anything either.

Researchers studying stains, abrasivity, and cleaning ability found that a relationship exists between the relative abrasivity and the cleaning ability.  They came up with what they call ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ (CEI).
Let’s look at a couple examples of how this ‘Cleaning Efficiency Index’ works.
If for example, a product was low abrasive AND low cleaning ability, it’s efficiency index score was low too.  If a product was high abrasive AND high cleaning ability, it’s efficiency could still be low.
The Cleaning Efficiency Index really ranks the combination of abrasivity in relation to cleaning ability.
What researchers were looking for was a product ingredient that was low abrasive AND high cleaning ability.  This combination would give the highest ‘cleaning efficiency’ index score. Read the full article HERE

More

See all our posts on plasticfree dental care, HERE

Read

Ask the dentist
WIkkipedia
Remove stains safely Orel Wellness
Structure of teeth

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Downcycling

A comment often made about plastic recycling in, (I would suggest), a rather disparaging tone, is that it is not recycling but downcycling. 

Which seems dismissive of the recycling program and is  wrong as it does not apply to all forms of plastic recycling

So what is downcycling?

The term down-cycling is applied to a recycled product that is not as structurally strong as the original product as made from virgin materials.

This downcycled material can

  • only be used to make a different product
  • or has to be mixed with virgin materials before it can be reused to remake the original product

Paper for example; the fibres in paper degrade as they are recycled  so it goes from writing paper to loo roll, by way of newspapers.  Cotton too. The recycled fiber is of shorter and harder to spin so it needs to mixed with  virgin cotton fibers to improve yarn strengths before it can be reused.

This is true of plastic that is is mechanically recycled. The plastic gets weaker. One example of plastic  down-cycling chain is as follows

  • virgin PET bottle to fleece or carpet
  • fleece or carpet fibers to plastic lumber
  • plastic lumber to landfill though manufacturers claim that plastic lumber can be recycled again..

But why call it downcycling?

You may think I am being picky but I think that the name has negative connotations. Down-cycling suggests that the products created by recycling are moving down some kind of linear scale. And if this is so, then toilet paper  has a lesser value then writing paper. I beg to differ. Try wiping your bum  with Basildon Bond.

Applying the term downcycling to the process of plastic recycling as outlined above, seems even more counterintuitive. If you consider that a bottle has a lifespan of months, a fleece has a life span of years, a carpet decades and plastic lumber hundreds of years, it seems more like upcycling to me. The base material may not be as strong, it may may even need to be mixed with virgin plastic, but it is being used far more sensibly.

Using the term downcycling to describe this process  diminishes an essential and valuable practice that results in products with proven use whether it’s toilet paper or carpets.  Or have I got it all wrong?

The New Recycling

Just to remind you, not all recycled plastic is “down cycled” and closed loop plastic recycling is already being offered by a number of companies. For example “We take discarded soft drinks and water bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and milk bottles made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) and recycle them back into food-grade plastic. The resulting rPET and rHDPE is then used to make new bottles and food packaging.”

Plus some of the new synthetic fibres can be recycled as the same fabric with no loss of quality almost indefinitely. Patagonia is promoting one such closed loop fabric recycling scheme.

Then there are the associated technologies that turn plastic waste back into oil. While you might argue that is not recycling, you would be hard pushed to call it down cycling.

Find out more about plastics that can be recycled with no loss of quality here

N.B. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think recycling is the answer to plastic (over) use and misuse but as part of a system of controlled usage it has a vital part to play.

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Petrol in my vegetable oil?

Did you know that petroleum-derived hexane may be used to harvest your vegetable oil? No me neither but here’s how.

Extraction

Vegetable oil comes from plant components, nuts, seeds, or fruits, but typically seeds.
Oil from plants is can be obtained either chemically with the use of solvents or mechanically (often calledcrushing” or “pressing).

Solvent extraction
Most commercially produced oils are solvent extracted. This involves a chemical solvent like the petroleum-derived hexane and heat up to 500 degrees. Once the oil is dissolved, the solvent is removed by distillation.
This technique is used for most of the “newer” oils such as soybean and cannola oils. Many of these products do not give up their oil easily, it has to be forced from them.
Hexane is a colorless flammable liquid, C6H14, derived from the fractional distillation of petroleum.
It is classified as an air pollutant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and as a neurotoxin by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It’s unclear how much hexane remains in the food after processing

Testing by Swiss scientists found no detectable levels but independent testing commissioned by the nonprofit Cornucopia Institute found hexane residues in soy oil.

The process recovers 99% of the oil but to get rid of the hexane, the oil is heated to a high temperature.
Also the high temperatures used in this process can and do change the chemical structure of oils. Many argue this reduces or even completely destroys the flavour of many delicate oils.

Mechanical The oi is squeezed or pressed out of the vegetable matter in a variety of ways;

Screw press, a large screw based mechanism in a housing. As it turns it increases the pressure and  crushes the oils out of the seeds
Ram press uses  a  mechanise  piston in a cylinder that rams out the oil. Ram presses are generally more efficient than screw presses.

Expeller-pressing
Industrial machines for extracting oil mechanically are call expellers.  They squeeze the oil out of the raw materials, under high pressure, in a single step. As the raw material is pressed, friction causes it to heat up and can sometimes exceed temperatures of 120°F (49°C). The amount of heat produced is important as heat can change the chemical structure of the oil. Wikkipedia

Cold Pressed Oils
Cold pressing tries to avoid the problems of heat. In this process the nuts, seeds, or fruits from which the oil is being harvested are ground into an even paste.
This is slowly stirred till the oil to separates from the solids.Then pressure is applied,(either with a machine or in the traditional way, with a stone) forcing the oil out.
N.B The friction caused by the pressure will increase the temperature and manufacturers must keep it within a certain degree range to be able to claim that the oil is cold pressed. This varies the world over
European Union cold pressed oil must never exceeds a certain temperature which varies depending on the source material, but is usually between 80° to 120°F (27° to 49°C).
In the United States, labeling is not as regulated, so consumers generally need to contact companies directly to enquire as to their manufacturing process.
Many people believe that cold pressed oil has a superior flavor.

Next
The extracted oil may now be purified, refined or chemically altered. More of that to come.

More

Go back to the oil index to find out about the plastic free oils and butters we use

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Product Miles

Help Me

This is something of a prototype post and it needs some input. If you know of any great stores that should be on the list please let me know.

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One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the shops seeing what you can source. Better still if they are independant shops rather than supermarkets. But it’s not just about local shops, buying local produce is extremely important to me for a number of reasons, one of which is product miles.

What are product miles?

The distance a product has to travel from growth or production to the place of consumption. is called product miles.
It follows in the better known tradition of
Air-miles – how far a product had to fly
Food miles – the distance from farm to fork
I am sure there are others I don’t know about. Container miles maybe? Ship miles? But I prefer product miles as it covers them all.
Why Count Them
I am always concerned by how far a purchase has to travel to reach me. If it was grown or made next door it will, obviously, have to be transported a shorter distance than one made in China.
I want to cut the carbon cost of everything I use and product miles have an attached carbon cost. The longer the distance a product travels, the more petrol needs to be burnt resulting in more emissions, more trucks are needed on more roads… basically it means more of everything. And a lot of them things I don’t much like including global warming.

Seasonal & Local

Buying closer to home doesn’t always mean that product was produced more ethically. Peppers grown in cold Holland in artificially heated greenhouses may have a higher carbon cost then peppers imported from hot Spain even though it is further away. Out of season U.K. strawberries will have a higher carbon cost (again from heating greenhouses) than ones grown in season.

Buying native fruit and veg in season is the greenest way to buy. But does limit my choice. If I need to buy imported often because there is no unpackaged local veg my general rule of thumb is seasonal native from the country of origin.

Ideally No further away than  Europe – bananas being the exception.

The Product Miles Of A U.K. Made Plastic Bowl
Salmon Luke make plastic bowls here in the U.K. This is from their website:
“Here are the product miles for our bowl and cutlery.
One Salmon Luke bowl 1,972 miles
One spoon and fork set 2,164 miles”
But be aware that “the raw ingredient for plastic is obviously oil, but it’s nigh on impossible to find out where ‘our’ oil was extracted. So, for the purposes of our study, we calculated the product miles from the petrochemical company which produced the finished polymer. ”

Buying British Made 

Cutting product miles means buying British made. There is still lots of stuff make right here and a lot of it is lovely. Here are some websites that promote British made products.

N.B. not all the materials used will be locally sourced…

Make it British
Looking for products made in Britain? You’ve come to the right place!
Make it British is THE source of information on British-made brands and UK manufacturing. We are passionate about British craftsmanship and want to help YOU find products made in Britain. @MakeItBritish

Still made in Britain

Is devoted to promoting British manufactured products. You may think from listening to media reports or reading a newspaper that we in Britain do not manufacture anything. This could not be further from the truth. Britain is still producing high quality goods and classic products. @StillMadeInBrit

U.K. Made
My website “ukmade” is about celebrating British manufacturing and helping you source British made goods. It has many recommendations of quality products made in the British Isles.

British Footwear Association
Today there are 5000 people making 5m pairs. However, these bald statistics hide another story. All producers are currently working flat out to satisfy the increasing demand for British made goods and the Northamptonshire factories continue to set the benchmark for high grade men’s welted products.
You can find the members directory here.

More shoes.. Check out this useful guide to shoes still made in the U.K.

Carrier Company
Make great clothes right here.

Etsy U.K.
Etsy is a peer-to-peer (P2P) e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items. Wikipedia
It is an American owned on-line market place.
It has a British made section Etsy.U.K. A good place for finding small, U.K. based makers and artists

Shopping British Owned

Of course I try to use small local independently owned shops where ever possible but sometimes you have to go chainstore. In which case these are, as far as I know, British owned.
Tesco
W.H.Smith

Help Me

This is something of a prototype post and it needs some input. If you know of any great stores that should be on the list please let me know.

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Greaseproof paper/ waxed paper

Baking paper – also known as greaseproof bakery paper or parchment paper, is grease proof paper that is used in baking and cooking. It provides a heat-resistant, non-stick surface to bake on. It used to be made by beating the paper fibres. Now it may have a plastic or chemical coating.

It can be used for cooking as a liner to prevent food from sticking to the pan.
It is also used to pack greasy foods like butter.
In the US it is more often called parchment paper.

Not to be confused with waxed paper. They may look the same but are different products. Waxed paper  actually has wax on it. This too creates a non stick surface but it cannot be used at high temperatures so cannot be used for baking.

Waxed paper was often used for wrapping food. In many cases it has been replaced with plastic laminated paper. It looks like waxed paper but isn’t.


History
Greaseproof paper was first developed as a replacement for parchment by the  engineer Otto Munthe Tobiesen in 1894
During the paper making process, the paper pulp is beaten hard so the fibres bond more firmly. This results in a paper of high density with a small number of pores. It is now less absorbant making it reisistant to grease, fat and oil.
Natural greaseproof paper does not have any chemical treatments or coatings. It can be recycled, composted or burnt.

The New “Greaseproof” Paper
Since those innocent days various different types of greaseproof paper have emerged. These no longer rely on the way the paper has been made but rather  are  treated, coated or laminated papers. They do not get their grease resistance from denser fibers but from various additives. However they look just like the original greaseproof paper.
They fall into into two types; greaseproof paper for packaging and greaseproof paper for cooking.
The treatments for “greaseproof” paper include
Plastic lamination
Chemical
Silicone coating

Greaseproof Paper For Packaging

Greaseproof paper and waxed paper were often used for packaging. Though waxed paper was the more often used product. However the two are often confused and the names used interchangeably.  When talking about packaging the information applies to  both greaseproof and waxed paper or card.

They are used in the food industry for many things including wrapping food such as butter and making nonstick containers for microwave food.
Two common forms of treatment are
Lamination
Chemically treated

laminated
Where the function of the product is merely to stop grease leaking through the product like for instance a butter wrap the paper may be coated with a thin layer of plastic. This is often the case with food packaging where a product wants to maintain an old time look. Don’t be fooled by those charming greaseproof paper bags and butchers wraps on the deli counter. Check them very carefully.
Obviously this kind of greaseproof paper cannot be used for cooking as the plastic will melt and burn.
Read more about laminated paper here

Chemically Treated
Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a family of man-made chemicals? They are used
as a surface coating for paper and cardboard they make them water and grease resistant and so suitable for packaging processed foods.
They do not break down easily and can last in the enironment for years.
They have been found in both soil and water.
When they enter the food chain they are retained in animal tissue leading to a process called biomagnification, meaning that they are passed on up the foodchain from animal to animal and because they are stored in the body for years the amount increases exponentially as they travel up the food chain.

You can read more about them here

Greaseproof Paper For Cooking

This type can be used for both cooking and packaging. But is usually used for cooking. It is also called parchment paper.

Silicone Coated
To give parchment paper a really non stick quality some companies are coating it with silicone. Silicone is a kind of synthetic rubber. You can read more about that here .
Sierra say of its silicone coated paper “The baking paper’s silicone coating prevents food products from sticking to the paper or cooking pan. Silicone is an ideal release agent due to its pliability, natural lack of toxins, high insulationability, and heat resistant capability.”

Compostable?
If You Care supply genuine greaseproof paper products. But while the paper may be green and unbleached, the non stick quality comes from a coating of silicone. They claim their paper is compostable but silicone certainly isn’t biodegradable.
“Experts from the University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center said, “We would not recommend composting the parchment paper,” but acknowledged that they could not cite specific studies on the topic”

https://livegreen.recyclebank.com/because-you-asked-can-i-recycle-parchment-paper

Quilon Coating
This is (I think) a Teflon product also used to give parchment papers a non stick quality. I know very little about it other than that some are claiming it is toxic. I am currently researching it. All input welcomed.

Uncoated Papers

Are they even available? If You Care never used to talk about the silicone coating on their greaseproof paper which makes me wonder was it always there or is it new? And if it is new, is it to replace the toxic Quilon coating (that I never knew about either). If the former, are all parchment papers coated with something and we just never realised?

More to think about

Reasearch is ongoing and any input is greatly welcomed.
Beyond gourmet and Regency wraps have been mentioned as being only parchment paper but have not as yet answered my emails. Neither have If You Care.

As yet I have been unable to find an uncoated paper for cooking so I won’t use any.
I buy butter that comes wrapped in paper which I just have to hope is genuine parchment paper. I have my doubts but it is the best I can do.

Why buy unbleached parchment paper?
Until the 1990s, chlorine was mostly used for bleaching paper because it does the job very efficiently. The downside is that the process results in dioxins. Paper mills a major sources of dioxins in the environment.
Dioxins are known carcinogens that bioaccumulate in the food chain. You can read more here. They are very nasty and we do not want them lurking in the water or our body fat. Thankfully safer alternatives are being developed. Please consider choosing one when you buy any paper product.

Unbleached – BEST
No process is used to brighten the fibre and the resulting paper is the natural brown colour of untreated wood pulp.

When buying bleached paper heres what to avoid and what to buy

Elemental Chlorine. NO.
This is the old school method. A chemical gas is used to brighten paper fibers but results in the most dioxins.

Elemental Chlorine Free. IF YOU HAVE TO
“Uses a chlorine compound, most often chlorine dioxide, that significantly reduces dioxins but does not eliminate them. Paper companies using ECF often say that dioxin is “nondetectable” in their wastewater. This refers only to the sensitivity of prescribed tests, and does not necessarily mean there are no dioxins. State-of-the-art tests are often able to detect dioxins when prescribed tests find them nondetectable.”

Totally Chlorine Free YES
Non chlorine alternative bleaching processes, including
oxygen,
peroxide
ozone bleaching systems

None of the above result in dioxins or chlorinated toxic pollutants.

Processed Chlorine Free YES
When recycled fibres are used in the finished paper this tells you that the recycled content was originally bleached without chlorine or chlorine compounds as well as new the virgin fibres.

The Worldwatch Institute (Paper Cuts, 1999) reports that a mill using standard chlorine bleaching will release about 35 tons of organochlorines (dioxins and chlorinated toxic pollutants) a day. An ECF mill will release 7-10 tons per day. A PCF/TCF mill will release none.

CONCLUSIONS

Regenerated fibres, Rayon, Viscose, Modal & Tencil.

The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into the following fivers.

  • Rayon
  • Bamboo Rayon-
  • Viscose,
  • Modal
  • Tencel

Rayon Notes

The following is information I am collecting on rayon. It is a highly technical product and quickly gets confusing. It is meant to be an introduction only .

It has been hard to find out wether Rayon is biodegradable or not!

There are definitely some  biodegradable rayons as made by Lenzing  which are touted as such. BUT most rayons are not described as biodegradable so I assume that other rayons may not biodegrade Or rather to be completely accurate like other synthetic polymers they will eventually biodegrade but may take hundreds of years to do so.
If by biodegrade you mean more like compostable then as far as I know, no rayon has ever been classed as compostable. However it is difficult to find hard, understandable data on this – at least I have not found any yet. If anyone knows anything about it I would love to know. So while it is easy to find out how long it takes for cotton to rot when scattered as litter there is no information on rayon.
Then there is this from  Wikkedpedia The more water-repellent the rayon-based fabric, the more slowly it will decompose.[10] Silverfish can eat rayon[citation needed]. Many kinds of marine creatures eat rayon fibers and it ends up in their bloodstream which can be fatal.[citation needed]
A recent ocean survey found that rayon contributed to 56.9% of the total fibers found in deep ocean areas, the rest being polyester, polyamides, acetate and acrylic.[11]
which suggests that rayon fibres act like other micro plastic fibres!
So while cellulose plastics used in packaging are often described as biodegradable, many rayons are not described as such. Could be an omission but is a grey area and until research proves otherwise, I will assume they are not.

Bamboo Rayon

Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems.  great article here

The big bamboo swindle

“As the Commission charges, even if the rayon used in the companies’ clothing and textile products is manufactured using bamboo as the cellulose source, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant. The rayon manufacturing process, which involves dissolving the plant source in harsh chemicals, eliminates any such natural properties of the bamboo plant. Similarly, the Commission charges that the companies’ clothing and textiles are not made using an environmentally friendly process.

The rayon manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and results in the emission of hazardous air pollutants. And, despite the claims of Pure Bamboo and Bamboosa, the Commission charges that these rayon products are not biodegradable because they will not break down in a reasonably short time after customary disposal. Most clothing and textiles are disposed of either by recycling or sending to a landfill. Neither method results in quick biodegradation.”

Federal Trade Commission Report

Wether that means they will biodegrade in a compost heap but not in landfill,  I cannot say but the production of bamboo fibres isnt very green. Everyone seems to agree on 

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance has this to say about other forms of regenerated fibres

To make popular fabrics, including rayon and viscose, forests are cut down to make way for monocrop tree plantations. Trees from both the forest and the plantations are cut down and go through an incredibly toxic process to create what is known as dissolving pulp, a white fluffy material that gets spun into threads and woven into cloth.

This cloth is made into fabrics by some of the world’s most popular brands, including RAN’s Fashion Fifteen: Forest destruction for fabric has to stop. That’s why RAN has launched our Out of Fashion campaign, to demand the fashion industry commit to forest friendly fabric.

“But it still comes as a surprise to many to learn that some of the most common fabrics used by big name fashion brands — viscose, rayon and modal — also originate as trees in Indonesia, Canada, Brazil, and South Africa. Only now has a public conversation finally started about the fact that the forest fabric industry is causing human rights violations and forest destruction in some of the world’s most critical ecosystems.

Plantation expansion for pulp has also been devastating to indigenous and forest-dependent communities. Just in the area owned and operated by one company, Toba Pulp Lestari, in Northern Sumatra, a nonprofit organization called KSPPM has documented over 20 distinct cases where land traditionally owned by communities has been forcibly seized without the consent of the community and then clear cut for acacia plantations.

Lenzig & Greener, Biodegradable Rayon

Viscose, Modal and Tencel (lyocell), from Austria-based company Lenzing, are made from wood pulp. These high-purity cellulose fibres are obtained from sustainably managed forests, according to a report by the University of Cambridge’s sustainable manufacturing group. Compared with cotton, wood has the advantages of low water consumption, reduced pesticide use and produces up to 10 times the amount of cellulose per hectare, states the report. And these fibres are 100 per cent biodegradable.

Lenzing’s latest accomplishment in environmental fiber technology is known as Edelweiss. Edelweiss-technology is based on oxygen-based chemistry which is more eco-friendly than the conventional one. Thus Lenzing Modal® Edelweiss is the only Modal fiber which satisfies the highest environmental standards and is even CO2-neutral.

More

 

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Natural V Synthetic fabric

In April I am going to be trawling through my wardrobe, ( such as it is). here is some background information to get you in the mood.

What’s in your  Fabric

Synthetics

60% of fibres used today are synthetic and most of them are are petroleum derived, plastic in fact.

The most common are:

Acrylic fibre resembles wool and so is used to replace that natural fibre.
Nylon is used as a silk substitute. It is a very fine and strong fibre so can be used to make ladies tights.
Polyester is one of the most popular man-made fibres. It is the same  Polyethylene terephthalat, (frequently shortened to PET or PETE and was formerly called PETP or PET-P), that is used to make bottles and a lot of other plastic stuff.

Natural Fibres

The next big player in the textile market is cotton. Then in much smaller amounts wool and silk.

Regenerated Fibres

The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiber. One such in bamboo. Most bamboo fabric  is made using  chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide  combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Others are looking extremely promising and are biodegradable. But I don’t really know enough about them and more research needs to be done. They make up a small percentage of the market so for now I am going to discount them!

You can find more detailed facts and figures about synthetic and natural fibres here

Why Choose Natural Fibres

Natural sounds so lovely and clean but it can be low down and very dirty. Cotton comes with its own nasty a gender. A quarter of the total worldwide pesticide use occurs in cotton farming, hundreds or farmers get poisoned and it can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton. Greedy and dirty!Read more…

Wool isn’t much better “The top three pesticides used on sheep are moderately toxic to humans but they are moderately to highly toxic to fish and amphibians, such as frogs, and they are suspected endocrine disruptors. Some of these pesticides are also highly water soluble which means that they can easily be carried from the sheep dip application site by rain or irrigation water runoff into our streams and rivers and contaminate our groundwater.” From Organic Clothing blog

However there are equally nasty chemicals used in making synthetic fibres. For example when making polyester, “Antimony is leached from the fibers during the high temperature dyeing process which is then expelled with the waste water. If not properly cleaned this results in a hazardous water pollutant.  Acrylonitrile used to make acrylic fibres is classed by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen (Group B1).

A main ingredient of Nylon  is “the chemical adipic acid. Producing the acid was once the largest source of industrial nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas. Efficient pollution controls have reduced adipic acid emissions 61 percent between 1990 and 2006, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the chemical still accounts for 5-8 percent of global human-caused emissions of N2O.” read more

Plastic Fabric Pollution 

Synthetic sock survives ocean voyage

Moreover synthetic fibres have the same qualities as plastic. The problems with a polyester sock are the same as with a PET bottle. Though you get more wear out of a sock eventually it gets thrown away and because it is now non-biodegradable rubbish it needs to be special disposed of. Which is expensive and not always effective. Often cheap clothes and fabrics are not properly disposed of and go on to pollute the environment in the same way a bottle may. Plus all the other problems attendant with plastic products (you can read more about the problems with plastic here).

Micro Pollution

And it’s not just end of life disposal that is difficult, synthetic fabrics pollute through out their life time. Everytime they are washed they shed thousands of non biodegradable micro plastic fibres that wash down the drains and into the oceans where they are now affecting the ecosystem, (see micro plastics for more)

The energy used (and the CO2 emitted) to create 1 ton of spun fiber is much higher for synthetics than for hemp or cotton. 

My Choice

So, while acknowledging that natural fabrics have a major environmental impact I feel they are a better option for the following reasons

You can see the contents of my wardrobe here

 

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Selling second hand clothes to Africa

You give to Oxfam, (and lots of other charities), they sell it to textile businesses (not charities) who make a profit from selling it to poorer Africans! Oh the irony!

According to the latest available UN figures, the UK is the second largest used clothing exporter after the US. It exported more than £380m ($600m), or 351,000 tonnes, worth of our discarded fashion overseas in 2013. Top destinations were Poland, Ghana, Pakistan and Ukraine. From the BBC News

According to Dr Brook in his book Clothing Poverty only a small percentage of clothes donated to Oxfam end up in U.K. stores. Most is sold to be exported. The majority is sold through “normal market exchanges”. It is purchased by “clients in the global south “ who sell to “African traders.”

Apparently most charities do this.

“Only about one-fifth of the clothing donated to charities is directly used or sold in their thrift shops. Says Rivoli, “There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.”

So charities find another way to fund their programs using the clothing and other textiles that can’t be sold at their thrift shops: they sell it to textile recyclers at 5–7 cents per pound.”

Cambridge University issued a report in 2006 titled Well Dressed? The Present and Future Sustainability of Clothing and Textiles in the United Kingdom, in which it raised concerns that trade in secondhand clothes in African countries inhibits development of local industries even as it creates employment in these countries.

And the authors of Recycling of Low Grade Clothing Waste warn that in the long run, as prices and quality of new clothing continue to decline, so too will the demand for used clothing diminish. This is because in the world of fast fashion, new clothing could be bought almost as inexpensively as used clothing.

Read more

One of the sad ironies of today’s globalised economy is that many cotton farmers and ex-factory workers in countries such as Zambia are now too poor to afford any clothes other than imported second-hand ones from the west, whereas 30 or 40 years ago they could buy locally produced new clothes. The Guardian

And it would appear that H&M have got it really sussed. They sell you the clothes then you give them back so they can be reworn…. or resold.  From the H&M website

Don’t let fashion go to waste

No true fashion lover likes seeing clothes go to waste. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to give your garments a new life. For example, we’ve already made some new collections from worn clothes – many of which came via our own Garment Collecting service.

Looking ahead, there are three ways to repurpose the unwanted garments:

  • Rewear – clothing that can be worn again will be sold as second hand clothes
  • Reuse – old clothes and textiles will be turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths
  • Recycle – everything else is turned into textile fibres, or other use such as insulation.

You can see all posts on Charity Shops here

You can see all our posts on clothing, fabrics and the plastic-free wardrobe here.

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Fabrics, Fibres & Yarns Index

In this post you can read  an introduction to fibres and fabrics or use the quick links to jump to detailed posts:

Natural Yarn
Coarse Fibres Are used for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses.
Read more HERE
Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include cotton, wool and silk. Read more here

Regenerated  Fibres and fabricsHERE

Synthetic fabrics HERE

Yarns and threads

and what they are used for….
Thread for sewing
Yarn for knitting
See links to plastic free products HERE

why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

All about fabrics HERE

Buy Fabrics
Buy from on line suppliers
Local fabric shops.
British made Fabric
Kinds Of fabric – my ongoing experiences with cloth

Introduction

Fibres (and then yarns and ultimately fabrics) can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.

Definitions
Fibres are short fine hairs.
Fibres can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.
Fibres can be twisted or spun into longer thread or yarn.
Threads can be woven or knitted into fabric.

Know Your Fibres

Natural Fibres
These are plant or animal derived.
They biodegrade

Synthetic fibres
These are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Most are derived from oil and coal.
Most do not biodegrade.

Regenerated Fibres
The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiber.
Some it is claimed are biodegradable. Some are not.

which Fibres

Why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

Yarns and threads

and what they are used for….
Yarns and threads usually take the name from the fibre in which they are spun.
they can be used as
string for tying
Thread for sewing
Yarn for knitting
See links to plastic free products HERE

Natural Yarn
Coarse Fibres Are used for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses.

they include:
Abaca can be used for rope,
coir from coconuts has a wide range of applications,
jute is used for sack cloth and
sisal for string.
As well as these traditional uses there are many new applications.
Read more HERE

Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include
Cotton used to make cotton
Flax is used to make linen. It is one of the strongest vegetable fibres.
Wools include
Sheep’s wool in a range of weights and qualities
Alpaca wool used to make high-end luxury fabrics.
Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear
Mohair also from the Angora goat.
Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and has great insulation properties without being bulky
Silk is strong and light weight.

Synthetic 
These are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Acrylic, nylon and polyester come from oil and coal.
Most do not biodegrade.
Acrylic fibre resembles wool and so is used to replace that natural fibre.
Nylon is used as a silk substitute. It is a very fine and strong fibre so can be used to make ladies tights.
Polyester is one of the most popular man-made fibres. It is the same  Polyethylene terephthalat, (frequently shortened to PET or PETE and was formerly called PETP or PET-P), that is used to make bottles and a lot of other plastic stuff.

 

Regenerated 
The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources including wood, paper, cotton fiber, or  bamboo. It is then converted through a chemical process into a fiber. One such in bamboo. Most bamboo fabric  is made using  chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide  combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Others are looking extremely promising and are biodegradable.
They usually go under the trade names
Rayon
Bamboo Rayon
Viscose,
Modal
Tencel (lyocell)

Regenerated Fibres & fabrics  a very basic introduction

Fabrics

Threads can be woven or knitted into fabric.
They may be named after then yarn type. So cotton can be the fibre the yarn or the fabric. They may be named after the trade name like Modal.
See above for some fibre and yarn names.
But fabrics can also be subdivided into a huge number of additional categories. For example cotton fabric can be described as denim, lawn or muslin.
Woollen fabrics could be called tweed or
Silk comes under any number of of luscious sounding names including Charmeuse, Chiffon and Crepe de Chine.

Fabric may also be described by the technique used to make it. So jersey is a knitted fabric that could be made from cotton, silk or polyester.

Read more about

Clothing

Clothes are then made out of woven/knitted fabrics or knitted yarn.

More

Fibre Production

fibre pie chart

2013 figures

Global 2013 fibre production estimated at 85.5 million tons

• Global 2013 synthetic fibre production estimated at 55.8 million tons (i.e. excluding cotton, cellulosics and wool)

Natural Fibres
Cotton 25 million tons
wool production is around 2.1 million tonnes.
Silk 150 000 tonnes in 2006
Linen 147 000 tonnes of flax fibre 2007,
Alpaca 6 500 tonnes
Cashmere” after scouring and dehairing 6 500 tonnes
Mohair is estimated at around 5 000 tonnes a year, down from a high of 25 000 tonnes in the 1990s,
Angora is estimated at 2 500 to 3 000 tonnes
2009 figures  only – google let me down!

Carbon footprint

A study done by the Stockholm Environment Institute on behalf of the BioRegional Development Group  concludes that the energy used (and therefore the CO2 emitted) to create 1 ton of spun fiber is much higher for synthetics than for hemp or cotton:
KG of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber:

KG of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber:

crop cultivation

fiber production

TOTAL

polyester USA

0.00

9.52

9.52

cotton, conventional, USA

4.20

1.70

5.90

hemp, conventional

1.90

2.15

4.05

cotton, organic, India

2.00

1.80

3.80

cotton, organic, USA

0.90

1.45

2.35

Lots more great info on the carbon footprint of fabrics can be found here on this great blog.

More Information

Lots of outrageous statistics HERE

Read all our fabrics, apparel and yarn related posts HERE.

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Fabric Natural

Textiles and ultimately clothing start with fibres

Know Your Fibres

Fibres are short fine hairs that can be twisted or spun into longer thread or yarn. This may be woven or knitted into fabric.
Fibres (and then yarns and ultimately fabrics) can be can be natural, synthetic or chemically produced hybrid called regenerated fibres.
Natural fibres Are derived from plants like cotton or animals like wool and silk
Synthetic fibres are man-made from chemicals many of which are petroleum derived.
Regenerated Fibres The base material is cellulose that can be obtained from a range of sources. It is then converted through a chemical process into fibres.
Fabrics & Fibres, an intruduction
Guide to synthetic, (plastic), regenerated, combination and natural fibres.
why I prefer natural fabrics over synthetics here.

Yarns and threads

and what they are used for….
Yarns and threads often take the name from the fibre in which they are spun.
they can be used as a yarn or woven / knitted into a fabric.

Fabrics

Threads can be woven or knitted into fabric.
The fabric often takes the name of the fibre such as cotton or wool.
It can also go under a trade name such as nylon.

Natural Fibres

Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include
Cotton used to make cotton
Flax is used to make linen. It is one of the strongest vegetable fibres.
Wools include
Sheep’s wool in a range of weights and qualities
Alpaca wool used to make high-end luxury fabrics.
Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear
Mohair also from the Angora goat.
Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and has great insulation properties without being bulky
Silk is strong and light weight.

Coarse Fibres for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses include:
Abaca -Once a favoured source of rope, abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibres in automobiles
Coir -A coarse, short fibre extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, coir is found in ropes, mattresses, brushes, geotextiles and automobile seats. Can also be used in a brush rather like a bristle.
Jute -The strong threads made from jute fibre are used worldwide in sackcloth – and help sustain the livelihoods of millions of small farmers
Sisal -Too coarse for clothing, sisal is replacing glass fibres in composite materials used to make cars and furniture.
Copied from Natural Fibres

Hessian /ˈhɛsi.ən/, burlap in America and Canada,[1] or crocus in Jamaica,[2] is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant[3][4][5] or sisal fibres,[6] which may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar in texture and construction.

Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has historically been produced as a coarse fabric, but more recently it is being used in a refined state known simply as jute as an eco-friendly material for bags, rugs and other products.

Wikkipedia

Why is nothing EASY??

From the world wildlife fund

About 20 million tones of cotton are produced each year in around 90 countries.

China, United States, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and West Africa account for over 75% of global production.

Cotton represents nearly half the fibre used to make clothes and other textiles worldwide ( the rest is synthetic fibres)It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton; equivalent to a single T-shirt and pair of jeans. (Though I think there is more cotton in a tee shirt?)Here are some more facts about cotton taken from this article in GOOD
textile mills consume 4.5 million bales of cotton yearly
a quarter of the total worldwide pesticide use occurs in cotton farming.
Each year, the World Health Organization estimates that three million people are poisoned by pesticide use
In November 2012, Greenpeace International investigated the use of hazardous chemicals used in dyes and they discovered that 63 percent of the clothing items they tested showed high traces of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), and others had highly toxic phthalates and carcinogenic amines.

report found that water pollution in China over the past few years has grown, with the textile industry responsible for pumping out 2.5 billion tons of wastewater per year.

Read the rest for yourself … it’s just as bad.

You can read more about fabrics and yarns here….

There’s a great list of organic cotton products & suppliers here  at the www.curiouslyconscious.com blog.

Why This Post Is ….

A little bit rubbish. You are reading a work in progress. Here’s how the blog is written and why we post half cocked.

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Methane

Methane is a short-lived climate pollutant with significant climate warming potential.

Methane gas, or biogas, is released  when organic material breaks down. But only when organic materials are so compacted there is no oxygen they break down anaerobically and produce methane.

This is why landfill sites produce methane and compost heaps do not

“Rotting stuff in a landfill undergoes anaerobic decomposition and produces methane.  A compost pile undergoes aerobic decomposition and requires oxygen (O2) for the process to work.  Because it is exposed to oxygen it produces CO2 (carbon dioxide) instead of methane.”

Cow farts are also made of methane.

Global methane emissions from landfill are estimated to be between 30 and 70 million tonnes each year. Most of this landfill methane currently comes from developed countries, where the levels of waste tend to be highest.

Over a 20 year period, one ton of methane causes 72 times more warming than one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Methane can be  captured and used as fuel. This company is using methane gas from waste fish and chocolate to power their factory.

There are instructions here on how to harvest  methane at home (not from cow farts!)

Cut your methane production

Give up baked beans ….hahahahahahaa …..

Take up composting, the easiest way to cut your carbon footprint

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Antiseptics & Disinfectants

This post talks about

This is an area where you want to do your own research and decide what level of protection you need. I do not use antiseptic or disinfectants because I don’t do surgery on my kitchen table or have a low immune system. I keep stuff clean and it seems to work. BUT this is a subject about which I know little. This is my understanding of it. I strongly advise you to do your own research.
Here goes…..

Microbes

The world is full of microbes – micro-organisms – or germs.
“Microbes are single-cell organisms so tiny that millions can fit into the eye of a needle. They are the oldest form of life on earth. Microbe fossils date back more than 3.5 billion years to a time when the Earth was covered with oceans that regularly reached the boiling point, hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Without microbes, we couldn’t eat or breathe.Without us, they’d probably be just fine.”
Which is maybe why we seem determined to wipe them out.  Microbes are everywhere. Inside you outside you swarming all over that keyboard you just touched to type in that fantastically appreciative comment.

They can be divided into four main groups – bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Some are good such as the composting microbes, some are bad such as the pneumonia germs, some  just bumble about doing what ever it is they do in their teeny tiny world.
“By and large, the vast majority of the microbes on this planet are not those that make us sick. We have only scratched the surface to what microbes are out there, and more of them are harmless or even beneficial to us,” Says a scientist.

Kill THEM!!!!!!

But still we want them dead. And here’s how.

Antiseptics & Disinfectants

What are they and now are they different

  • Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that slow or stop the growth of micro-organisms (germs)
  • They are used on living tissues and cells on external surfaces of the body and help prevent infections. Though they are antiseptics they are often called skin disinfectants,
  • Antibiotics  destroy micro-organisms inside the body, NHS website says…Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading. Antibiotics aren’t effective against viral infections, such as the common cold, flu, most coughs and sore throats.
  • Disinfectants  destroy microorganisms which infect nonliving objects.

You would use an antiseptic to clean your hands, a disinfectant to clean your breadboard and an antibiotic to kill pneumonia
Wikkipedia tells us  that Some antiseptics are true germicides, capable of destroying microbes (bacteriocidal), while others are bacteriostatic and only prevent or inhibit their growth.
Antibacterials are antiseptics that have the proven ability to act against bacteria.
Antiseptics are not antibiotics.

Using Antiseptics and Disinfectants

This is not meant as advice I am just relating my personal choices. I never use disinfectants or antiseptics. I clean with  soap and bicarbonate ( which is mildly antiseptic but not as good as vinegar).

Most Common Uses

Disinfecting The Home

Food preparation, kitchens and bathrooms are the obvious places for disinfectants. You don’t want bad germs in your food.
I do the obvious things like wash my hands before eating and after I have touched anything dirty. I keep cooked and uncooked food separate. I don’t eat raw meat. I store food in clean conditions. I wash the chopping board if I have used it for meat before I use it for anything else. I have two boards that I use when preparing food. I clean fruit and veg before eating.
For all of this I use soap and hot water. soap and a good scrub.  I don’t think think that anything else is necessary. ,
Also disinfectants kill all microbes, the good the bad the stuff we don’t know what it does yet. Which is unessecary and possibly harmful. There are arguments that living in a sterile atmosphere lowers resistance to infection as the body has not built up any resistance.
Clean not sterile is my mantra.

We need to talk about vinegar…..

Commercial disinfectants are extremely effective. Green alternatives are billed as kinder less harmful. They are certainly less harmful to the microbes because they don’t work as well.

Vinegar & Essentail Oils
Vinegar is the much touted disinfectant of choice for the plastic free.
It is about 5% acetic acid. It’s the acid that kills bacteria and viruses, most probably by denaturing (chemically changing) the proteins and fats that make-up these nasties. It is  good but not as effective as common commercial disinfectants.
Vinegar will not kill  salmonella, “which can transfer from raw meat to chopping boards and onto other foods to give us food poisoning.”
Ammonia, baking soda, vinegar, Borax, “are not registered with EPA and should not be used for disinfecting because they are ineffective against S. aureus.

Undiluted vinegar and ammonia are effective against S.Typhi and E.coli 53, 332, 333.
Neat vinegar also kills flue virus.

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer. It can kill salmonella.
Research published by the Journal of Food and Science in 2003 showed effective results of using hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate apples and melons that were infected with strains of E.coli.
Essentail Oils – there is even less evidence for  efface of essential oils and they take a lot of resources to produce.

Cleaning A Wound

For a long time hydrogen peroxide was used as an antiseptic on open wounds and grazes. Now many recommend against it saying it also kills off healthy tissue and beneficial bacteria. In short using any antiseptics on an open wound is an area of medical controversy.

“In clinical practice, antiseptics are broadly used for both intact skin and wounds, although concerns are raised based upon their effect on human cells and wound healing. Opinions are conflicting. Some authors strongly disapprove the use of antiseptics in open wounds.[6-8] On the other hand, others believe antiseptics have a role in wound care, and their use may favor wound healing clinically.[9,10]

Web MD claim that  cool running water “is the best treatments for common wounds, and that you should rinse the wound for at least five minutes to remove it of debris, dirt, or anything else that may be in there. The water will clean the wound out well enough for your body to take over without harming the still living tissue around the wound.

I don’t get many wounds and when I do, I don’t use antiseptics. Most cuts and scrapes seems to clear up with out infection – even when travelling in some of the dirtier places. Again, not a recommendation just an observation.

Skin Disinfectants ( Antiseptics)

Removing bacteria from the skin is done to prevent the spread of disease. The area of skin you need to keep cleanest is your hand which carry microbes from place to place  by touch.

Soap

The easiest way to disinfect the skin is to wash with soap and water. But don’t bother with anti bacterial soaps. “Washing your hands is extremely important for preventing the spread of infectious illness, especially at critical points like after using the toilet, changing the baby, or handling raw foods. But consumers can’t assume that antibacterial soaps are better for this than other soaps.”

Soap doesn’t kill bacteria but removes it .

“harmless and harmful microbes stick to the oil your hands naturally produce, and, absent removal, willingly hitch a ride until they reach their ultimate destination (inside of you or somebody else) where they can in some cases wreak havoc…. [washing hands]… for at least 20 or more seconds at a time, is a highly effective way of removing bacteria despite the fact that the bacteria doesn’t die, but is simply flushed away when you rinse (or wiped off on a towel).”

Alchohol

If you have no soap and water or that is not appropriate you can try alcohol. Both ethanol or ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, or isopropanol can be used as antisceptics and have similar effects. However ethanol or ethyl alcohol is the stuff that makes you drunk isopropyl alcohol, or isopropanol (also known as rubbing alchohol or surgical spirit) is made from propene derived from fossil fuels and water. You can read more about it here

If you want a petroleum free product use ethyl alcohol.

ethyl alcohol.

Can be used as a skin disinfectant. It effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi, and kills most bacteria, fungi, and many viruses on the hands and skin.

It is commonly used as skin antiseptics, often in the form of wipes Wise geek

It is

  • effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi,
  • kills most bacteria, fungi, and many viruses on the hands and skin
  • is commonly used as skin antiseptics, often in the form of wipes or gels, and for disinfecting surfaces
  • Its main  main effect on microorganisms seems to be to coagulate essential proteins, rendering them ineffective, and causing cell death or inhibiting reproduction.
  • It may also have a dehydrating effect and may interfere with the functioning of cell membranes. Wise geek

Mouth  & Mouthwashes

Now this I do use. I have a troublesome wisdom tooth that occasionally flares up. I can keep it at bay with a rigorous tooth cleaning regime. When it is bad I use a salt mouthwash. And I have used hydrogen peroxide which seems to work.

Sodium chloride (salt) solution can be used  as a mildly antiseptic mouthwash.

Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a mouth gargle The Merck Manuals recommended diluting the 3% hydrogen peroxide 50 percent with water, but suggest it as a rinse and part of a treatment for trench mouth, for example.  The FDA has approved 3% solutions of hydrogen peroxide for use as a mouthwash.  Most sources said to use it only for a short time, however, such as part of a treatment of a mouth infection.  A report from Well-Connected (written or edited by physicians at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital) recommended against extended use, saying that overuse may actually damage cells and soften tooth surfaces. We were not able to find any authoritative information about hydrogen peroxide and canker sores.

Hydrogen peroxide may be amongst the better options.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved hydrogen peroxide as a sanitizer. It can kill salmonella.

Research published by the Journal of Food and Science in 2003 showed effective results of using hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate apples and melons that were infected with strains of E.coli.

You can use of hydrogen peroxide is to bleach hair. The concentrations are between 3% and 6%.

It can be used to clean blood stains out of clothes and brighten colours but do be careful it doesnt actually leave bleach marks.