Is It REALLY Chemical Free?

Updated on May 13, 2011
S.J. asks from Cherryville, MO
17 answers

How do you know if something is truly chemical free and good for you? For example, there are so many tricky marketing tools out there that would make one believe they are getting a chemical free product (Back to Nature is one off the top of my head...there are many). I have been duped even at my local health food store! I am really interested in going completely chemical free , especially with regard to food and cleaning products. I already do vinegar and baking soda for so much.

Anyone have any info on Burts Bees? I love that line, but I am wondering just how close to "chemical free" they are.

I am NOT looking for someone to sell me something, so PLEASE do not send me PMs trying to sell me your product. All I want to know is if you use a product because it is chemical free or what have you, how do you know what you are really getting?


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So What Happened?

More detail: I guess I would say, synthetic chemical formaldehyde, parabens, sodium benzoate, to name a few....I don't really have a periodic table in front of me, though.

Sunshine - THANK YOU!! Your post made me laugh! It was also of both worlds.

Thank you everyone! I am so pleased with the helpful responses!

Featured Answers


answers from Dover on

I got rid of all the household "chemicals" about a year ago when I found Melaleuca. Safe, toxic-free, eco-friendly products. We love them.

Yes, I am a marketing rep now but I do not sell anything.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

Correction: Burt's Bee's is owned by Clorox, not Colgate. Colgate did, however, purchase Tom's of Maine and has changed their kid's toothpaste formula.

Here's a little interesting reading, too:


Original post:
Burt's Bee's has been purchased by Colgate. FYI.

There's a good site called "Skin Deep" that has ratings for toxicity/health hazards in many cosmetics/toiletries/sunscreens. My guess is that you are correct, there isn't much out there that's all natural. This site is helpful, because while it's difficult to find chemical-free, you will be able to find things that are safer/safest for your skin.

And good for you for taking care of the planet. We love BioKleen products ourselves. Not harmful to waterways and breaks down safely. Better for the environment and my skin! and no, I don't work for them. We try to live as chem-free as possible in our house, including Natracare feminine products, which are dioxin-free from Europe. I know they are made of, because the box is pretty clear about it. I guess I know what I am 'really getting' because I don't have a reaction. If it's chem-laden, I will. My skin suffers.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can look at the ratings of cosmetics, creams, sunscreens, the cosmetic database. They disclose ingredients and give safety ratings. You can search for Burts Bees products there.

Seventh Generation discloses all ingredients on their products and I am very happy with how well they clean. I simply do NOT buy a product that doesn't list every single ingredient on it.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm an all natural/organic mama and the best I can tell you is educate yourself on ingredients. Ingredient listings can be tricky as so many things can go by different names when it comes to labels. Also, labels change w/o notice so if you are super picky, watch those labels like a hawk. You can also email companies and ask them where certain ingredients originate from so you can do your own sleuthing to see if that organic "citrus" cleaner is in fact, organic.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

MamaMay has given this answer before and it's obvious that the original post is asking about toxic chemicals. Splitting hairs about this particular terminology is absolutely pointless.

Are you on facebook? Check out the blog ecoSAFE. They research and review many products and they uncover harmful ingredients in many products and have wonderful product suggestions. I find the Skin Deep Database helpful, but even they don't recognize petroleum products as harmful, which I feel is a gross oversight.
Burt's Bees is better than many products on the market, but it is not toxin free. Hazel had a great point, citing that Burts is now Colgate owned. I would never trust Colgate to care about the consumer!

I use mostly BioKleen cleaning products. I use Charlie's Soap for laundry (their all purpose cleaner is an amazing stain remover), and purchase skin products from a local organic vendor. Her products are also available online (check out Natures Garden Therapies on - certified organic, PETA certified).

I also use raw coconut oil as a moisturizer, essential oils for cleaning and personal care, and grapefruit seed extract for many cleaning and health purposes.

Great question! And run out and find a periodic table of elements ASAP!!! Haha!

*Edited to add about Melaleuca products- They will not tell you what is in their products. Melaleuca will only disclose that they use tea tree oil, a handful of other ingredients and then state that the rest are "proprietary". They will not even disclose with a doctor's orders, which is why we called to ask about ingredients.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Hi S.,

Like MamaMay said, everything is a chemical. You simply have to pick and choose your poisons, lol. Avalon Organics uses phthalates which is a hot button for's what makes vinyl siding pliable and is carcinogenic. Burts Bees chap stick has traces of lead in it. It's now owned by Clorox so it's probably worse now. I personally use Melaleuca products. They don't purport to be all organic or all natural but safe. The do have some organic products, they also have some products that they consider natural and then their are some products that are higher grade mainstream like their ibuprofen. What I like about their company is they have a call line and will tell you what is in their products...and why they use that particular ingredient.

My advice to you is what other moms here have said is go to skin deep or Their info is not only helpful but I've found it to be reliable. Even vinegar has to be run through machinery and who knows what that picks up... we do the best we can!

Hope this helps.

M. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Burts Bees is better than many companies, but still contains chemicals in many of their products. I like Seventh Generation when I need a prepared cleaner. For personal hygiene products I only buy from companies that disclose all their ingredients. I've been amazed at how many natural/organic companies still have stuff like sodium laurel sulfate and parabens.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

If you have a particular product in mind, look on the label and call the 800 number. They can tell you wether it is chemical free or not. Also, there is a website called skindeep that lists everything imaginable on there. GL!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I go 100% natural and we use Dr. Bronner's soap for everything. Check their label, they are absolutely 100% chemical free.

For cleaning we use vinegar, water and tea tree oil.

For moisturizers we use pure almond oil and coconut oil. We buy food-grade and use it. It's 100% natural.

We also use a steam cleaner.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Join the Club! There are a lot of chemicals out there and it's hard to know what is okay and what isn't. Your best shot is to just peruse the net and educate yourself. Make a little notecard of the ones you want to avoid and carry it in your purse.

The only way to have an idea as to what you are getting is to read labels. If they are vague you have to do internet research.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a website that provides information about the ingredients in products, and lists additional information such as safe handling, disposal, and health effects.

You can search for an item, or in the side bar click on Product Name under Browse A-Z. The list comes up and you just click on the letter of what you are looking for.

Here's the link:

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

If I have questions towards something I will google all the ingredients. I have pretty much stopped using anything that is not from LUSH for body products. They, hairdye, body soap, lotions, hair balm, bath bombs, bath fizz, bath bars, shampoo/conditner, deodorant...I am sure I am missing some. Anyways, everything they make is hand made, all they put into their products I can pronounce and none of it has ever been tested on anything but REAL people!! The binders for all of their stuff is organic and simple.

I am not trying to sell you their products...I have just fallen in LOVE.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I saw an interview with Nicole Richie on "the talk" that had a book advertised that seemed to be pretty legit, you could probably find it in their archives. It is not her book but she supports it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think S. meant chemicals synthesized in a laboratory...

Check out what was formerly the cosmetics database:

You can search products for detailed information. The "Crunchy Mamas" group on babycenter helped me reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in our home:

I don't agree with everything in the group... public health measures have saved an incredible number of lives. There is no rational argument for avoiding vaccines! And don't drink raw milk, etc.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

it is really hard to tell, because not ALL chemicals are bad. our bodies are made of chemicals and SOME chemicals can even be beneficial. However, you are right, avoiding things with formaldehyde and the likes are definitely the wiser choice to go. I am lucky in that regard, with how sensitive my skin is, it can generally tell me if there is something that shouldnt be. the big thing is, find something you like and STICK TO IT! i know that we all like to shake things up here or there, but its really not worth comes out of it! lol. if you are going to dabble, do it in something that you arent going to use all the time. like a perfume you will only wear here and there. things like that. use essential oils when you can, tea tree oil as an anti-septic, honey and egg for a face mask, etc.


answers from Philadelphia on

Please do your research, however do not use skindeep database. It actually has a hidden agenda and lists incorrect information all the time. You do need to be careful when speaking of chemicals, and although most of us know what you are getting at, as mentioned before, everything is a chemical composition. There are products with no additional chemical dyes or fragrances...that's a great start. I would specifically stay away from anything with mineral oil for skin care products. Good luck, it is a lot of work.

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