Independent Purity Testing - Chemistry Clinic - Strathclyde University.
We initially approached Interface who are the body that link up companies in Scotland with academia in a collaborative project. We wanted to in fact develop at that stage an asthma free candle knowing we're using the purest of ingredients. We learned from the responses that was a little naive as there are so many factors that trigger asthma.
However one Department did take the time to arrange to speak to us to see if they could help in another way. I received a phone call from Dr John Liggat (pictured) The Head of The Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry at Strathclyde University. Within around 10 minutes we'd agreed another more focused objective; let's get our candles tested phthalates free. Lorraine Thompson at Interface who had had the tenacity to keep the search going for a partner when all appeared lost, was surprised that this was agreed so swiftly as often there are many discussions and meetings involved before a clear agenda is put in place.
Phthalates are nasty chemicals long since banned in infant's toys and with recognised links to cancer, asthma, lowered IQ, lowered mood, birth defects and known also to be endocrine disruptors. They are astonishingly still legal and come in the form of the cheapest synthetic fragrances available for use in candles, diffusers, wax melts, cosmetics and perfumes in the UK today. They don't always have to be specifically listed in the ingredients list (especially in skincare), so the consumer often isn't aware of the risks. At Zing we use only pure essential oils to fragrance our products which are all entirely botanically sourced. However we wanted to be sure that what we were buying in as raw ingredients in good faith were indeed safe. Even some plant sourced Pure Essential Oils have in the past been found to be adulterated with phthalates to dilute them as a cost cutting exercise by manufacturers and we wanted to be certain we weren't using anything like this.
A very wide range of our pure essential oil blends, handling and storage equipment and end products (candles at this time) were all tested phthalates free.
The successful outcome of this study had led to a number of exciting collaborations with the Chemistry Clinic. New protocols have been established to deliver swifter purity testing by The Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry which Zing now has full access to at a reasonable cost. The students themselves through this partnership gain valuable experience working with a commercial organisation.
We don't know of other home fragrancing or skincare brands engaging in independent purity testing of this kind. Many brands create inferences of naturalness when in fact synthetics including phthalates are being used.
A ten minute conversation has led to a long term and ongoing relationship with John Liggat and his team at Strathclyde and it has enabled Zing to punch well above it's weight in ensuring the integrity of its product range.
So forever lose the notion of academics as non committal and dithering! - this time we were lucky enough to meet one of the enthusiastic 'we can make this happen' ones! His coffee's not bad either!