I have just got off the phone from discussing a citrus fruit extract I have commissioned. I have been disparaging in the past about what are called tip ins – but there are times when you want a particular extract and it is rather splendid that companies exist that have the expertise and capabilities to produce, within reason, any extract that you want.
I was after a blend of citrus fruits to give a natural mild cleanser and suitable smell without having to include a fragrance. Fragrances usually require a solubiliser and solubilisers tend to be irritating, so a fruit extract was a good choice. It also kept to the natural brief.
I had selected some fruits that I thought would be suitable – orange, lime, grapefruit, lemon, bergamot and mandarin. I wanted them to be organic as well, which I didn’t think would be a problem given that they are all fairly common. Or so I thought. But it turns out that organic mandarin oranges are in short supply in the quality needed for this kind of job. So I had to give up on that but I still had five left so not too much of a hardship.
The next question was the solvent to be used. Propylene glycol used to be used a lot for extracts, but glycerin is more commonly used today. Propylene glycol is a petrochemical derivative which means it is cheap, and it also pretty safe but it really isn’t very natural so didn’t really fit in with what I wanted it for. You also have the option of propandiol which is also green and probably more environmentally friendly that glycerin at the moment. I went for glycerin because I was already using glycerin in the formulation so that meant one less ingredient on the ingredient list.
There was then the question of how much glycerine to use. The more you use the more components you carry over from the fruit and the stronger the smell and the longer it lasts. I was feeling generous so opted for the highest level.
Finally we discussed the preservative system. Here it is a question of picking the least worst option. I went for a combination of phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin. These are necessary evils but at least they are approved by most of the various bodies that set organic and natural standards. And they do the job.
So I am now looking forward to getting a sample to see how it turns out, and in particular how it smells. Hopefully it will do the job I intend for it, but if it is really good it might turn out to be a blend I can use again in the future. I have a few things like this that I have gone back to time and again. For example I have a really fresh smelling mint flavour that always makes a good impression and which I have dug out of the cupboard quite a few times in my career. It is always worth working hard on the details of this kind of thing.