This is a very good question recently asked by email that we are happy to expound upon.
In order to answer this, one must first know how the USDA defines Organic Soap and Organic Skin Care Products. We urge you to not be MISLEAD BY MISREPRESENTED PRODUCTS AND BE AN INFORMED CONSUMER.
Organic certification is the only way to be sure a company's
product is truly compliant with organic standards. To put an equation to this is
simple, no certification + no proof = Not Organic. With
the increasing demand for organic products, many companies today are
taking advantage of labeling a soap "organic" simply to cash in on the
movement toward health conscious demands for organic products. The
'key' word left out is 'certified'.
The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) provides the global standard for defining what is recognized as organic. Within the NOP, there are three levels of certification. A product's certification level is based on the total percentage of its organic ingredients (without counting water or salt). Here's what all of this means:
USDA Organic Definitions
1. "100% Organic"
This means exactly what the number states, 100% with no room for deviation below this amount.
The "Organic" category applies to products that contain a minimum of 95% organic contents by weight. These are usually products that contain a small amount of a natural preservative or processing aid that prevents them from reaching the 100% mark. As an example, many fixed oils (such as palm and coconut oil) contain a trace amount of citric acid to increase their shelf life. More importantly, these trace ingredients must conform to the USDA's list of approved ingredients that can be used in organic products.
3. "Made with Organic..."
"Made with Organic..." applies to products that contain a minimum of 70% organic content but do not reach the 95% mark. The USDA has determined that 70% is the minimum amount of organic content a product can have and still use the terminology of "organic" in its labels and marketing. Here too, a product's ingredients that are not-certified organic must conform with the USDA's list of allowable products. Because of their chemistry, bar soaps cannot every reach the 95% level of organic content. Our custom line of organic soaps are manufactured 85% organic and are thus labeled as organic in accordance with the USDA’s determination italicized in this paragraph.
Because of their chemistry, bar soaps cannot ever reach the
95% level of organic content. Organic soap and skin care products are
among the most misrepresented organic products. This has to do with
formulation issues, labeling requirements, and a misrepresentation of
the standards. All bar soaps, and most skin care products, fall short of
the 95% organic mark. Bar soaps require sodium hydroxide (NaOH, or lye)
for their production. Sodium hydroxide is on the allowed list of
non-organic ingredients that can be used in making organic products, and
it accounts for approximately 10-15% of the ingredients, by weight (not
including water or salt and depending on the recipe). Even if every
other ingredient in a bar soap were certified organic, the soap would
never have an organic content of more than 90%, as this is the maximum
level of organic content possible in a bar soap.
Many companies claim to use organic ingredients or call their products organic although few have actual certification to back it up, which is really the only proof for the claim. Part of the certification process includes proving an audit trail and showing the ability to trace any organic product sold back to its original organic ingredients.
At Lotus Garden Botanicals™, ALL of
our custom manufactured soaps contain an organic content level of 85%
as referenced above. Our custom manufacturer has taken the additional
step of becoming certified under the USDA National Organic Program.
Therefore, Lotus Garden Botanicals™ is confident in offering our custom
line of soaps labeled as organic, containing 85%
certified organic ingredients. Out of 85% organic, the other 15%
accounts for the lye that was added in the whole process.
Even though the final product does not contain lye (the chemical
reaction takes care of that), the USDA guidelines require that it be
accounted for. This is the reason it is impossible to create 100%