In the summertime, we take Soul Salve to festivals markets around the state of Colorado, including the Old South Pearl Street farmers market. As patrons stop by our booth and read our brochure, they often scan the ingredients of our products.
One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, "why do you have alcohol in your products? Won't this dry out my skin?"
The quick answer to this question is "no", the alcohol in our products will not dry out your skin. The ratio of alcohol to oil and wax in our products is so small that the alcohol will never be able to dry out your skin. To better understand this, let's break down a recipe mathematically.
Just about every product we make has the recipe posted on this website with directions on how to make the product. I'm going to post the ingredients to our Lip Salve below to use as our example.
The recipe above yields approximately .60 ounces of lip balm. The 3 drops of lemon balm extract from a glass dropper is going to measure just under 1/4 of a teaspoon. And 1/4 of a teaspoon is equal to about .04 ounces of liquid extract.
If we divide .60 ounces (of our total product) by .04 ounces (of our grain alcohol extract), the answer is 15. This means 1/15th of our Lip Salve is actually grain alcohol - nowhere near an amount capable of drying out the skin. Now that's not all, there's more to this answer.
We use organic grain alcohol to make our extracts. Typically, we use 190-proof, or 95% ABV (alcohol-by-volume). Grain alcohol is an excellent liquid for extractions as the chemical properties found in plants attach themselves quite comfortable to the molecules or alcohol.
If you have ever used (or drank, yuck!) grain alcohol of this proof, you know that it evaporates very quickly. It is a very volatile alcohol, and extremely potent. Even a teaspoon left out in the open can evaporate completely within a few hours or less. Add a little bit of heat to the equation and it dissipates even faster.
When we use the alcohol extract (watch our videos), it is added to a hot mixture of oil and wax and blended until cooled. When we blend our oils, waxes, waters, and extracts, we are creating emulsions that literally bind the molecules of these ingredients together. The alcohol molecules that are carrying important plant-chemical properties are bound on a molecular level with the oils, waxes, and waters, distributing and capturing the very chemicals that were once found within the medicinal plant.
Not only are our alcohol extracts blended with oils and waxes at the smallest of fractions, but the alcohol itself evaporates almost entirely from the heat and emulsion process - leaving us with a smooth, hydrating blend that will nourish the skin.
One thing I do not recommend doing is applying alcohol to the skin alone, without a carrier oil! For example, applying essential oils directly to the skin can be extremely irritating and drying, as would applying our extracts to the skin alone. A carrier oil is an oil that "carries", or transfers, the alcohol or essential oil safely to the skin. Stay tuned to learn more about carrier oils.