Tin Foil Hats and Other Joys

Talking about green alternatives always brings out some craziness. My favourite are the people who immediately start ranting about chemicals being evil.

Let’s try something. Read the following:

_______ is composed mainly of the mixed triglyceride esters of oleic acid and palmitic acid and of other fatty acids, along with traces of squalene (up to 0.7%) and sterols (about 0.2% phytosterol and tocosterols). _________ contains a group of related products with potent properties that give __________ its bitter and pungent taste and are esters of tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, including oleocanthal and oleuropein.

What goes in the blanks? Some evil chemical compound right?

Actually it’s Olive Oil.

Here’s a good one: SODIUM CHLORIDE. Sounds evil right? Easy jump to Chlorine, which is poison right? Well Sodium Chloride is common table salt. I bet you’ve had a ton of it today. And while we’re on Sodium, how about SODIUM HYDROXIDE? Gross! Well no, it’s lye, and yes it’s terribly caustic, but you can’t saponify oils without it, and thus, there’s no soap without lye. None remains in the finished product, due to something called science.

So stop saying things are chemical-free. That’s impossible. What you mean is that you’re concerned about synthetic compounds, as they may not have been thoroughly tested. You’re welcome to be concerned about these guys, but stop calling them just “chemicals.” You sound ridiculous.

Let’s put it as simple as possible: Water is a chemical. Chemical is not a codeword for “nasty harmful thing.”

And try something called research. I remember the first time I heard about Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. It was a proven carcinogen, according to my roommate, and her dad sold healing rocks online, so obviously she knew her stuff.

Let’s ask Snopes about it

If you didn’t want to read all that let me sum it up: You’re confusing it with Ethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate. Similar name, different composition.

So check your facts. Just because it sounds similar it’s not evil. Dihydrogen oxide (water) is very different from Hydrogen peroxide (bleach.) And let’s face it: just because someone told you something or you read it somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Heck, don’t even take my word for it! Check your sources, read multiple articles. Research is a wonderful thing!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for natural products, and there are many good reasons for going this route! Go natural because you can know what’s in your products without anything unknown hiding behind generic words. Do it for the environment! Do it for your health! But don’t do it because of unfounded paranoia. If you’re going that direction you might as well start folding tin hats.

And that’s always a party and a half!


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