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FAQ - Organic and Organic Certifications

FAQ - Organic and Organic Certifications 
What is organic certification?

What is organic certification?

Organic certification is the only way you can be sure a company's product truly complies with organic standards.  The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) provides the benchmark, global standard for defining organic. Within the NOP, there are three levels of certification. A product's classification is based on the total percentage of its organic ingredients (without counting water or salt).

What is the difference between "organic" and "made with organic"?

The category "Organic" applies to products containing a minimum of 95% organic contents by weight. Usually, these are products that contain a small amount of a natural preservative or processing aid that prevents them from reaching the 100% mark. For example, many fixed oils (such as palm and coconut oil) contain a trace amount of citric acid to increase their shelf life. Importantly, these trace ingredients must conform to the USDA's list of approved ingredients that can be used in organic products.

"Made with Organic" applies to products that contain a minimum of 70% organic content but do not reach the 95% mark. The USDA has determined that 70% is the minimum amount of organic content a product can have and still use the terminology of "organic" in its labels and marketing. Here too, a product's ingredients that are not-certified organic must conform with the USDA's list of allowable products. Because of their chemistry, bar soaps cannot every reach the 95% level of organic content.

Can soaps be "organic"?

Because of their chemistry, bar soaps cannot ever reach the 95% level of organic content. Organic soap and skin care products are among the most misrepresented organic products. This has to do with formulation issues, labeling requirements, and a misrepresentation of the standards. All bar soaps, and most skin care products, fall short of the 95% organic mark. Bar soaps require sodium hydroxide (NaOH, or lye) for their production. Sodium hydroxide is on the allowed list of non-organic ingredients that can be used in making organic products, and it accounts for approximately 10-15% of the ingredients, by weight (not including water or salt and depending on the recipe). Even if every other ingredient in a bar soap were certified organic, the soap would never have an organic content of more than 90%, as this is the maximum level of organic content in a bar soap. 

Are Soap Ministry products organic certified?

At Soap Ministry, we maintain a minimum organic content level of 85% in all our bar soaps. We have also taken the additional step of becoming certified under the USDA National Organic Program. Our certifying agency is the Montana Department of Agriculture.

 


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