Labelling of home fragrance products

Have you purchased one of our home fragrancing products and been a little alarmed by the warning labels?  

We've received a couple of queries about this, and thought it might be helpful to explain why all candles and reed diffusers (not just ours) have to show such detailed allergen information.

CLP legislation

In 2009, a new piece of legislation was introduced in the EU called the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008.  It covers the labelling of products that contain chemical substances, and includes products like candles and reed diffusers.  It's separate to cosmetic products - which have their own set of legislative requirements.  These types of products contain high percentages of fragrance ingredients (so it could be essential oils or fragrance oils), and each ingredient has it's own set of guidance on use, permitted percentages, warnings that must be printed on packaging and red diamond shaped warning images that are known as pictograms.  These need to be printed on products over a certain size that contain a certain percentage of the ingredient so consumers can identify items that are explosive, corrosive, toxic, hazardous to the environment, health hazard etc. 

Essential oils contain powerful chemicals

It's important to remember that fragrance ingredients including essential oils can cause skin irritation, breathing difficulties, can damage the environment (if poured down the sink or added to water courses) and most are highly flammable.  Just because an ingredient is perceived as "natural" it can still have many hazards.  This is why we're always advising customers to use essential oils with care, knowledge and respect.  They must be diluted thoroughly before skin application, never ingested and stored away from children and animals, cool and dark in bottles with safety droppers etc.  This is to minimise the risk of neat essential oils causing skin irritation or health issues, reaching their flash point or potentially poisoning someone if accidentally ingested.  Essential oils are very powerful, contain naturally derived chemicals from plants and can easily remove the print off labels and damage polished and natural surfaces!  

The red warning pictograms on some essential oil flasks can look pretty scary e.g. Eucalyptus has 4 of them.  It's all about using the material safely and with knowledge.  When we use essential oils in a skincare product, we carefully dilute and calculate the correct percentage to use so the amount is safe (they're all different, so it's much more than tipping in a few drops and hoping it smells pleasant).  We calculate the allergen concentration in each and every skincare product that we make, so our customers can read the labels and see which allergens are present (we have to calculate and list 26 allergens in cosmetic products).  This is why we name all of the essential oils on our product labels (even though it is not a legal requirement, and many cosmetics producers simply state 'parfum' or 'aroma') and their allergens.  So when you read our labels and see words like limonene, geraniol, citral etc, please be reassured that these are international chemical names for fragrance components.  We typically only list up to 7 of the 26 allergens because we mainly use the safest/skin-kind essential oils in our cosmetic products.

CLP requirements for candles and diffusers

So let's return to candles, diffusers and wax melt products.  We have these made on our behalf and discovered that these types of products contain much higher percentages of essential oils and fragrance ingredients than the cosmetics we manufacture.  This means they are far more likely to cause skin irritations etc.  So the CLP legislation was introduced to protect the consumer, since previously there was no requirement to list the individual allergens on the packaging.  So now, whenever a new candle or diffuser is formulated, the manufacturer has to ensure the ingredients are within certain limits and to ensure the packaging correctly shows the relevant pictograms and prescribed warning statements.  So you should find this information on all home fragrancing products above a certain weight, either as a label directly applied to the container or on the box.  We'd be worried about buying any fragranced product that didn't show any pictograms or warning statements, since it suggests that the manufacturer may not be correctly implementing the CLP legislation.  Anything with a fragrance will usually have some hazard statements on the packaging, and some will have more than one.  Usually essential oil containing products have more hazards than those containing fragrance oils and this is because essential oils, though natural, are so powerful.  Candles will have fewer hazard symbols than reed diffusers because by weight they contain a lower percentage of fragrance.  The only time that a candle or diffuser label won't have any hazards is when the product is unscented.

So we hope this offers some reassurances - our candles, diffusers and wax melts are manufactured on our behalf to high standards and fully comply with CLP.  We chose them because they are more natural than similar commercial products.  Some reed diffusers are made with an alcohol derived base (from the perfumery industry) which makes them evaporate quickly, but they're highly flammable and some have a noticeable synthetic smell.  Our reed diffuser base oil is derived from botanical sources and has been developed to be as natural as possible whilst working with natural rattan reeds (completely natural oils do not work since they clog the rattan reeds).  Since reed diffusers contain high percentages of fragrance materials, warnings have to be placed on the packaging since they could cause skin irritation if you have very sensitive skin.  But to put this into context, we knocked over an entire bottle of Inspire reed diffuser oil at one of our Christmas events which resulted in me having some of the reed base on my hands for several hours and I suffered no ill effects.  On that occasion I had nowhere to wash my hands so I removed as much as I could with a wet wipe.  We'd recommend that you immediately wash your hands if you handle the product directly.  Remember to mop up any spills, since the ingredients can damage polished or natural surfaces if they're left to sit on them for a long time.  

So we hope this information helps and offers some reassurances.