Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Phosphates in a nutshell... Or, a dish pack

One of the questions I got on the latest Bath Bomb Cupcake tutorial was how someone could make dish packs, the little packs that are self-contained dishwashing detergent. As I was tooling around to find some recipes, I ran smack dab into the Phosphate Regulations headed our way.

What are phosphates you ask? Great question!

Phosphates are inorganic chemicals commonly found in cleaning products and detergents that act as water softeners and grease cutters. In a nutshell, it's the ingredient that cuts the grease on your dishes and makes your white laundry white.

Soooo...are phosphates bad? Scientists are finding phosphates cause harm to the water we drink, boat and swim in. Phosphates become detrimental when they over fertilize aquatic plants and speed up the natural aging process of a lake, stream or body of water. Bodies of water are being aged at a much faster rate than geological forces can create new ones. Phosphates are scientifically linked to water pollution (yuck). An article from the Seattle Times explains "Phosphorus in detergents and fertilizers that gets into rivers and lakes through wastewater and runoff promotes algae blooms, which reduce the amount of oxygen available for other aquatic plants and fish". There are still detergents and soaps on the market that contain phosphates.

The good news is that this information has started to filter up to the right people and manufacturers are slowly phasing them out (hopefully for good). Citric acid is the front runner for phosphate's replacement. It's an organic acid containing natural preservatives so it's perfect for creating your own environmentally friendly cleaning products. Check out the Soap Queen Blog for some eco friendly cleaning recipes.

Bramble Berry has never carried any products containing phosphates for the 11 years we've been in business. And, to the best of my knowledge, none of our customers made dishwashing detergent or laundry soap with phosphates either. The handmade laundry soap I've used has performed admirably over the years, without phosphates. Thanks to new formulation rules, our rivers and streams will be more healthy and by utilizing alternatives, such as citric acid, our clothes and dishes will get just as clean.