Monday, 5 January 2009

Dried Scale Insects, Honey Bees, Shrubs and Palms...

Carmine (E140, crimson lake etc.) is a pigment of a bright red colour obtained from the carminic acid produced by some insects such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal and is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, rouge, yoghurt, cosmetics, food additives, and crimson ink. Carmine may be prepared from cochineal by boiling dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid and then treating the clear solution with alum, cream of tartar, stannous chloride to precipitate the colouring and animal matters present. Sometimes egg white, fish glue or gelatine is added before precipitation. I am no vegan, but the thought of boiling insects and adding egg white just makes me ill, so carmine is not an option in my line and neither is gelatine actually...

Beeswax is a natural wax produced by young worker bees between 12 and 17 days old by glands on the abdomen. Honey bees use beeswax to build honeycomb cells in which their young are raised and honey and pollen are stored. To produce their wax, bees must consume about eight times as much honey by mass and fly ~270,000 miles to make 1kg! Beeswax is one of the best natural ingredients to use as a thickening agent, emulsifier, and humectant. It has emollient, softening and soothing properties and helps the skin retain moisture. Even after processing to cera alba (the form found in mascara, lip glosses etc.), it still retains some anti-bacterial properties and contains vitamin A. No bees are harmed in the process of obtaining wax as the wax cap is cut off in order to extract the honey anyway. I read recently that bee-keepers are actually having trouble getting rid of wax as the demand has reduced so technically I have no problems with beeswax and it is 100% natural and organic.

However, I prefer non-animal derived ingredients and If you are vegan or you love bees or the likes, I can see why you would not like beeswax, as the bees work so hard to make it and use it to make houses.

Carnauba wax is derived from the leaves of the Carnauba palm native to Brazil. During the dry and hot months, the leaves exude the wax to conserve moisture and protect the tree against dehydration. The leaves are removed individually by workers during the months of September to March. A maximum of 20 leaves is removed from each tree to ensure that the tree is not endangered. The leaves are cut, sun-dried, and then thrashed to remove the wax from the leaves.
Carnauba Wax is a wonderful ingredient to use in natural cosmetics. Due to its hypo-allergenic and emollient properties, it can be used in many cosmetic formulas where it is used to thicken lipsticks, eyeliners, mascaras, eye shadows, foundations etc. It is extremely durable, and dries to a glossy finish. It is a good alternative to beeswax, and is popular among individuals who choose not to use animal derived products. Carnauba Wax is harder than beeswax, and this must be taken into consideration when incorporating it into recipes. Even though Carnauba does not have as many good properties as beeswax, it is an effective alternative.

Candelilla wax is derived from the leaves of the small Candelilla shrub native to northern Mexico and the south-western United States. The wax is obtained by boiling the leaves and stems with diluted sulphuric acid and skimmed from the surface and further processed. After the wax has been refined it is harder and more brittle than beeswax and less hard than Carnauba. Candelilla wax has been used as a hardener for soft waxes and when Candelilla wax is warmed, the odor resembles that of beeswax. Few people have ever heard of Candelilla wax yet nearly everyone has had personal contact with it. If you have chewed gum, used cosmetics or worn shoes you have probably encountered Candelilla wax. It is used in the cosmetic industry for many purposes like lipsticks and creams when the product requires a good glide property and is a vegan alternative to beeswax.

So for all you vegans and insect lovers out there, there is hope. I will endeavour to avoid beeswax...

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