Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Linen spray preservatives driving me a bit crazy. A lot crazy actually

  • Linen spray preservatives driving me a bit crazy. A lot crazy actually

    Posted by DiscoMonkeys on March 25, 2024 at 12:58 am

    Admittedly I know very little about this, but the more research I do, the more barriers to entry I seem to find. Here goes:

    I’m trying to use the fragrance oils I use into room and linen sprays. The problem is I live in Asia and don’t have access to any of the branded preservatives I see people talk about online. The only one I can buy is Liquid Germall Plus. Here’s the first problem I ran into: it seems the jury is out on how safe this is for use in airborne products, and it’s all but banned in the EU.

    How about alcohol? I can get very high proof pure grain alcohol. But then again, information is all over the place in terms of the legality of selling something made with beverage alcohol. How about perfumer’s alcohol? Sure. But again, I live in Asia and the suppliers won’t tell me what they added to denature it because it’s a “trade secret”. So if I was in the US, I could just get SDA 80B, but that doesn’t exist here.

    Lets say I could get it, the VOC requirements for the US basically mean a high alcohol concentration isn’t allowed (18% VOC for room sprays…).

    See why I’m having trouble? Sure I’m not selling in the US or EU yet. But lets say one day I do.

    I decided to look at a couple of bring brands to see what they do. Aesop are Australian and have a pretty complete list of their ingredients. They use alcohol as the preservative from what I can see:

    “Water (Aqua), Alcohol Denat., PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Polysorbate 80, Limonene, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Citral, Geraniol”

    How they’re getting around the VOC limitations, I don’t know. On their safety sheet it says Ethanol 10-20% which to me seems too low to serve as a preservative. Maybe the upper limit of that would.

    I then looked at PF Candles. From what I can see, they don’t use alcohol in their solution at all. At least it’s not listed. They instead use phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol as preservatives:

    So here’s the question…s

    What on earth is a guy to do to preserve his linen spray?

    I’m totally fine using alcohol as the preservative, but how on earth are companies doing that and staying VOC compliant?

    If I do go down the make-it-myself route and use phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol, are those 2 enough? I see a lot of people also add a third sorbic acid.

    I’m open to a third option is anyone knows of one. I’m fine with working out a way of importing one of the brands like Optiphen Plus or Geogard Ultra, if I know they’re going to be right for linen sprays and I wont run into some other regional restriction.

    DiscoMonkeys replied 2 weeks, 4 days ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • camel

    March 25, 2024 at 2:55 am

    You will want to take your advice from an expert like @PhilGeis but my guess is that using a preservative like phenoxyethanol (and) ethylhexylglycerin in combination with alcohol could be sufficient for a room spray since the formula is relatively simple. I am not sure about VOC requirements.

  • PhilGeis

    March 25, 2024 at 4:57 am

    If you want to sell in US. Assume this is a pump spray.

    Germall + is not at safety issue, tho’ there are some concerns for aerosolized IPBC. But it’s not legal in household products. You need to use chemicals registered with EPA as pesticides for use as preservative. Pretty sure phenoxy and certain cap glycol are not registered (don’t think much of cap glycol in any use). Consider a registered DMDM Hydantoin- e.g. Dantogard with some ethanol and maybe some Sodium Benzoate is your pH allows. Emerald Kamala now Lanxess sells a registered version. Low levels of ethanol even down to 5% can help, but you need ~20% to assure preservation.

    You must ensure every chemical in your product is on the “TSCA inventory”. https://www.epa.gov/tsca-inventory.

    VOC reg’s are a pain and vary among the states. Use California’s – none are more demanding. . https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2022-11/Consumer%20Products%20Reg%20Article%202_11-30-22.pdf

    Reading the reg’s is complicated and haven’t dealt with those guys in years but look at the reg’s – you need to decide what you are. Air freshener pumps are 18% VOC but fabric refresher is down to 5%. There is no “Linen spray” category per se. They regulate VOC content by weight with “VOC” being any carbon containing chemical with few exemptions so your product’s plastic bottle is 100% VOC. BUT I recall exempt those with vapor pressure < 0.1 mm Hg at 20C.

    • DiscoMonkeys

      March 25, 2024 at 5:24 am

      Thanks for the detailed answer.

      If I’m being honest, this wants to make me give up on the whole idea 🤣

      I’m a bit confused about phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol though, since PF are a California company and it’s what they’re using as preservatives. Are you saying these 2 are not suitable?

      I’m also fine with using 20% ethanol instead and just dealing with the US VOC restrictions if/when we look at the US market. It looks like the UK market doesn’t have the same restrictions.

      • PhilGeis

        March 25, 2024 at 6:00 am

        You can see how discouraging state regulatory activism is to small businesses. Regulations like these favor big guys who have staff to understand and negotiate and money to comply. They stress small guys who are surprised and haven’t the money and expertise to reformulate without screwing up their product. Big guys can pick off those with good brand names.

        Phenoxy/cap glycol may work but is not a legal preservative system. They might have contrived a BS story as cover and hope EPA never gets around to looking at their product - phenoxy is a perfume carrier or solvent and cap glycol is ???

        • DiscoMonkeys

          March 25, 2024 at 8:17 pm

          Wow this is all really interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

          On a side note, I’ve seen a few “pre-made” preservatives designed for room sprays and the like, and a lot of them have that combo of phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, and sorbic acid. So that’s quite worrying.

          There doesn’t seem to be the same VOC restrictions where I live, or in the UK which would be our next market if we ever get that big. So alcohol it is!

          Thanks again for all your input @PhilGeis !

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