Wednesday, November 26, 2008

£1 million for your 100% chemical free products

A long time ago, when I was an angry young blogger, I wrote about Sarah Beany and her nonsense 'chemical-free' cosmetics.

The Royal Society of Chemistry has taken this one step further and recently announced that they'll give £1,000,000 to anyone who can furnish them with 100% chemical-free material.

Part of the riot has been caused by Miracle-Gro who have longed claimed (to the derision of anyone with basic chemistry understanding) that some of their products are:
Made from 100% naturally occurring materials. 100% chemical free.

The Advertising Standards Authority have been unusually backward on this and according to a Guardian report by Frank Swain at the time, they stated:
When there is a colloquial understanding of a word, we can take this into account when reaching our decision. In this case, we believe that most viewers are likely to understand the term 'organic' as meaning no man-made chemicals have been used to manufacture, or are present in this product.

I wonder if the Royal Society of Chemistry will amend the remit of its Organic Division accordingly.

I spoke briefly to Jon Edwards at the RSC to see if anyone had taken him up on the offer, apparently a few smart arses had offered him a vacuum or lightning or similar.

So will the companies claiming 100% chemical free status come forward? I doubt it. I'd like to see the RSC approach them directly (and the ASA for that matter) and see where that takes them. A brief google search gives two major arenas - coffee and cosmetics. Coffee, because of the Swiss-water method of decaffeinating coffee (fancy some Colombian Supremo?) and cosmetics, because nasty, evil, vindictive, malevolent chemicals are not good advertising when you're trying to persuade someone to plaster their face in order to hide their natural ugliness. So we have products like The Lip Pencil, 100% organic and chemical free. Oh, luckily it lists the ingredients:
Hydrogenated palm kernel glycerides, Talc, Hydrogenated vegetable oil, Caprylic/Capric triglyceride, Hydrogenated palm glycerides, Rhus succedanea fruit wax, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Ascorbyl palmitate. [May contain: +/- Titanium dioxide (CI 77891), Mica (CI 77019), Manganese violet (CI 77742), Iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Red 30 (CI 73360), Carmine (CI 75470)]

Should be a straightforward phonecall to the RSC and pick up the cheque, I would have thought.



  1. Manganese violet

    That's a good one. Even by the marketing definition of "chemical", it's a chemical.

    The color additive manganese violet is a violet pigment obtained by reacting phosphoric acid, ammonium dihydrogen orthophosphate, and manganese dioxide at temperatures above 450 °F.
    - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

    Or maybe all that happens naturally in a volcano somewhere, and the product collects on rocks to be harvested on a sustainable basis by native Manganese violet gatherers?

  2. ammonium dihydrogen orthophosphate will be naturally loaded into reaction vessels, along with Manganese dioxide by natural artisans (18 stone compounders called Bob or Jeff if its made in the states) or by naturally blonde process operatives called Hans or Fritz, who also weigh the equivalent in Kilos, in a Hooge great factory in Germany.

    What I hate about the ASA is the inconsistency. They will allow the rubbish above to be published, but for stuff I've been looking at, will turn it down flat even though it is way less offensive than that

  3. Those who believe the '100% chemical free' claim should avoid the dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide. It's highly corrosive, overdoses can cause death, etc.