The Most Popular Natural Preservatives

Pak_Pure_HoneyAlthough some may say no preservatives are the best choice, here’s a list of the most popular natural preservatives used today.  Some you might have heard of before, others you might have no idea what they could be used for.

Neem Oil – Neem is one of the most powerful oils on the market today. It has been used in India since the time of Sanskrit. Today it is recognized as an all around oil. It is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial as well as anti-protozoan and a spermicide.

Salt (sodium chloride) - most people have heard of Smithfield Hams. These hams can last forever because they are salt-cured. Salt has been used since ancient times particularly for meat, as a preservative. The salt enters the tissue and in effect binds the water, inhibiting the bacterium that causes spoilage. The salt restricts to tiny concentration and protects food from yeasts and molds. It draws out moisture and creates an environment inhospitable to bacteria.

Sugar (carbohydrates) - this organic compound, may be either refined (white) or raw (brown) and has a variety of names. It is used as a natural preservative inhibiting bacterial growth after food or products have been heated.

Lemon - it is part of the Rutaceae family also known as a citrus fruit. Lemons are grown in the milder regions and can be from 30 to 45 percent juice depending on type and climate. The acid produced mostly by the citrus and identified as C6H8O7 promotes preservation. The lemon is rich in Vitamin C and much like salt removes moisture to prevent spoilage and rotting.

Honey - is known for being highly stable against microbial growth because of it’s low moisture content and water activity, low pH and anti-microbial constituents.

Bee Propolis - is a mixture of beeswax and resins collected by the honeybee from plants, particularly flowers and leaf buds, it is used to line and seal the comb. The propolis is effective in protecting the hive offering both antibacterial and antifungal properties.

The Greeks and Romans used propolis to heal skin abscesses and through the centuries its use in medicine has received varying attention. The ancient Egyptians also knew its’ benefits and it is still used in Africa today, as a medicine, an adhesive for tuning drums, sealing cracked water containers or canoes and dozens of other purposes.

Rosemary Extract  - helps against aging processes, such as browning, thickening and wrinkling; and melanoma and other skin cancers are thought to be accelerated by the accumulation of peroxides in the skin tissues. These peroxides are produced by environmental factors such as heat and ultra-violet radiation from sunlight, a primary cause of sunburn and melanoma. In a study conducted to test photoprotectivity, it was discovered that Carnosic acid (found in Rosemary) did protect the skin from UV damage. [3] This evidence is further corroborated in expired US patents 5,358,752, which show in the examples complete elimination of peroxides as a result of UVB radiation. Rosemary also has a history of anti-bacterial and anti-microbial applications. One study found it to be effective against HIV-1 [4]

Grapefruit Seed Extract : A natural antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative. It is used to promote the healing of almost any atypical skin condition. According to published sources it is effective against more than 800 bacterial and viral organisms, 100 strains of fungus, and a large number of single-cell and multi-celled parasites. This preservative is used by many handcrafters in products that contain water.

Citric acid - t’s an acid, flavoring, chelating agent: ice cream, sherbet, fruit drink, candy, carbonated beverages, instant potatoes. It is versatile, widely used, cheap and safe. iT is an important metabolite in virtually all living organisms and is especially abundant  naturally in citrus fruits and berries. It is used an a strong acid, a tart flavoring and an antioxidant.

Alpha tocopherol (also known as vitamin E) - it’s an antioxidant and nutrient. Vitamin E is abundant in whole wheat, rice germ, and vegetable oils. It is destroyed by the refining and bleaching of flour. Vitamin E is used because it prevents oils from going rancid. Recent studies indicate that large amounts of Vitamin E may help reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Be aware that there is a synthetic on the market called variously Tocopherol, Alpha Tocopherol and /or Tocopherol Acetate.

Potassium Sorbate - effectively preserves against mold and yeast, it is not useful for protecting products from bacteria. it is also not effective at all in products with a pH over 6, which most lotions are. While potassium sorbet is found in nature, any available today would have been synthetically made so it is not all-natural. It is also believed to cause contact dermatitis.

Natural preservatives are considered safer by many because they have always existed in nature and our immune systems are used to them. Most of the preservatives that come from a plant source are safe for humans. The main disagreement when it comes down to the use of natural preservatives in cosmetics is that they are not powerful enough. This may be true but, it does not mean that because of this more chemical or synthetic preservatives need to be used.

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Posted by on Nov 11th, 2009 and filed under FEATURED ARTICLES, NATURAL INGREDIENTS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

27 Responses for “The Most Popular Natural Preservatives”

  1. Sue Ingram says:

    Great list of the more popular natural preservatives used. Are you planning to publish or research the shortcomings of these preservatives for cosmetics? eg. Rosemary extract’s smell hasn’t been very well received by our customers, so you have to add essential oils that then create skin irritations and such. Perhaps you plan to look into the more uncommon ones, or the ‘up and coming’, newer ones?
    We have tried Aspen Bark, Leucidal Liquid (radish root), and keep looking into and experimenting with some of the lesser known ones.
    There is such demand for natural cosmetics to get this aspect of a non-toxic preservative for formulas right.

  2. turquoisegrece says:

    Hi Sue,

    Could you please tell me what are the other natural preservatives you are experimenting with? Tried totarol? Thanks. Turquoisegrece

  3. turquoisegrece says:

    please what % of neem as a preservative and in what concentration of neem oil?
    Thanks. Turquoisegrece

  4. Sue Ingram says:

    Thanks for the tip on Totarol – looks interesting.

  5. Great information about preservatives. If only more companies would look for these alternatives! No, they may not be as strong as synthetic preservatives, but using a bit of these ingredients in the formulation, would certainly reduce the amount of synthetic preservatives.

  6. We all would love to have only natural preservatives used in products and this list above looks good but the truth is that products sit on retail shelves and in bathrooms, sunlight etc and need to be protected by a good broad based preservative that is effective against bacteria, mold, fungus etc and can withstand time and elements such as tempature and humidity. There are non-paraben preservatives that are excellent but they are synthetic and unfortunately non of the items listed above have been proven to be just as effective over time and the elements I mentioned. Bacteria grows very quickly (within days) and is microscopic at first so you won’t see it in your products and when you do it’s already been present. The good news is that preservatives are used in quanities of 1% or less most times (my product line anyway).

  7. Grant says:

    Hi Sue
    Have you tested Tinosan and Rokonsal BSB-N preservatives? They look very promising.

    Thanks Grant

  8. Hi !

    Very informative article !

    Here is a list of chemical ingredients you should be aware of when you buy cosmetics.

    Read…www.anti-aging-beauty-guide.com/natural-skin-care.html

  9. Aditi says:

    Very informative….but if we do not use parablens, then which are the other broad spectrum ones which give us a shelf life of more than 15 months.

  10. Desiree says:

    amazing website really helped me just bravo

  11. alfabe says:

    Hi,

    Is there an organically certified preservative for foods?

  12. Eugenist says:

    Of course you realize this list is close to being nonsense. Fro example sugar is listed above as a preservative. Yes, sugar when in very high concentrations well inhibit some growth, but sugar is a basic ‘food’ of that entire classes of microorganisms REQUIRE in order to grow.

    And btw, antioxidants are not anti-microbials

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  21. I didn’t know that grapefruit seeds are also full of good compounds. So, they are ok to eat?

  22. Phil says:

    This article was written by folks who’ve never preserved anything much less a cosmetic. The only possible useful material listed is sorbic acid – a rarely used material as it works only in acid products and isn’t real stable.

    It’swell known among those in the industry that grapefruit seed oil is a sham. There a number of publications including one from the USDA that say it includes synthetic antimicrobials such as parabens, triclosan, quaternary ammonium compounds.

    Development and Validation of an HPLC/UV/MS Method for Simultaneous Determination of 18 Preservatives in Grapefruit Seed Extract . J. Agric. Food Chem., 2006, 54 (11), pp 3768–3772

    Identification of Benzalkonium Chloride in Commercial Grapefruit Seed Extracts
    J. Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53 (19), pp 7630–7636

    Aspects of the antimicrobial efficacy of grapefruit seed extract and its relation to preservative substances contained. Die Pharmazie [1999, 54(6):452-456]

    Simultaneous identification and quantification by liquid chromatography of benzethonium chloride, methyl paraben and triclosan in commercial products labeled as grapefruit seed extract
    Die Pharmazie – An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Volume 62, Number 8, 1 August 2007 , pp. 593-596(4)

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  25. kim says:

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    am producing massage oil & body scrub using fruits at home which my friend will like to try to. I would like to seek advise as what type of natural preservative is good to ensure the life time is around 1year ?

    appreciate your help
    kim

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