When is Something “Organic”?
Most of us are concerned, or at least aware, of our impact on the natural world. Elon Musk is moving away from fossil fuels and making electric cars. Candle makers are moving away from micro plastics like glitter and choosing eco-friendly materials like micas, vegetable waxes etc. Awareness about human impact on the environment has brought a host of terminology but what does it all mean?
The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, in the U.S., organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers, or bioengineered genes (GMOs). – From helpguide.org
Organic Certification in the USA
lifehacker.com defines it as follows, “… if you see the “USDA Organic” or “Certified Organic” seal on your food, the item must have an ingredients list and the contents should be 95% or more certified organic, meaning free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering, according to the USDA. The remaining 5% may only be foods or processed with additives on an approved list.”
Organic Certification in South Africa
We suggest reading more about what organic certification means in South Africa. When you see this claim, it means:
- No harmful chemicals have been applied for at least 3 years.
- The farmer and processor have annual certification inspections.
- They have kept detailed records of their practices and have a recorded audit trail.
- They use ecologically-friendly methods and substances to improve the soil and control pests.
In the USA 91% of soybean crops are genetically engineered. It is clear that commercially grown soy products are therefore highly unlikely to be certified organic.
A few of our customers have asked for soy wax that is certified organic. According to the US definition it would be almost impossible to produce such a wax commercially: for starters at least 91% of the soy plants grown are genetically modified. Secondly the production of soy wax involves the use of industrial solvents.
Therefore, if anyone sells you organic soy wax, it would be wise to check the certification thoroughly.
What is Soy Wax Anyway?
Soy wax is hydrogenated soy bean oil. After harvesting, the beans are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. The oil is then extracted from the flakes and hydrogenated. The hydrogenation process converts some of the fatty acids in the oil from unsaturated to saturated.
What is a ‘vegetable wax’? It is a wax made from plants or parts of plants.
If It’s Not Organic, What is It?
Soy candles may not be organic but at least they are natural and vegan. Manufacturers increasingly use the term “natural” to differentiate their products from chemical or synthetic products.