Organic Chemistry

Organic and natural ingredients

Many chemical ingredients are derived from natural sources  such as plant essences and minerals  and are labelled as ‘natural’, ‘organic’, 'herbal' or ‘pure’. However, they may not meet our definition of a naturally occurring chemical because of the process used to extract the chemical from its source.

What is a naturally occurring chemical?

Naturally occurring chemicals can be either:

  • an unprocessed chemical that is found in nature, such as chemicals from plants, micro-organisms, animals, the earth and the sea
  • a chemical that is found in nature and extracted using a process that does not change its chemical composition

If all the ingredients in your product that you import or manufacture meet our definition of a naturally occurring chemical, then you do not need to register with us.

It’s important to note that most processes used to extract chemicals and aroma compounds from the natural environment  such as steam distillation and solvent extraction  create ingredients that do not meet the legal definition of ‘naturally occurring’ because their chemical composition has been changed.

Examples of naturally occurring chemicals

We don't have a list of approved chemicals or ingredients to use in products. But here are some examples of chemicals that are  or are not  defined as naturally occurring. As you’ll see, it depends on the process used to extract the chemical.

  Naturally occurring Not naturally occurring

Essential oils

Aroma compounds extracted from plant materials are commonly used in cosmetics.

If you produce essential oils using maceration, cold-press extraction or water distillation of plants, then they are defined as naturally occurring chemicals. If you produce essential oils using steam distillation or solvent extraction of plants  including the stems, leaves, roots, flowers or fruit  then they are not defined as naturally occurring chemicals. These processes change the chemical composition of the source product.

Argan oils

This plant oil extracted from the kernels of the argan tree is commonly used in cosmetics.
If you produce argan oil by cold-pressing the fruit and seeds from Argania spinosa, then it is defined as a naturally occurring chemical. If you deodorise (the selective removal of volatile compounds from the oil using steam) the argan oil after cold-pressing, then it is not defined as a naturally occurring chemical. This process changes the chemical composition of the source product.

Plant extracts

Extracts from the leaves, roots or flowers of a plant can have industrial uses and are often included in cosmetics or cleaning products.
If you freeze-dry a plant (or part of a plant), grind the material and then use water to obtain the extracts, those extracts are defined as naturally occurring chemicals. If you extract the ground-up plant with a solvent other than water (such as methanol), then it is not defined as a naturally occurring chemical. This process changes the chemical composition of the source product.
Beeswax Beeswax that is heated to remove any water is defined as a naturally occurring chemical. If you treat beeswax at any stage with bleaching earth or activated carbon (for example, to change the colour of the wax), then it is not defined as a naturally occurring chemical. This process changes the chemical composition of the source product.

Chemicals used in construction

These chemicals are defined as naturally occurring if they are obtained from the earth without chemical or heat processing:

non-bleached clays
silica
mined gypsum

These chemicals and products contain ingredients that are not defined as naturally occurring:
lime
soda
cement
mortar
grout
epoxies

Mineral ores These mineral ores are defined as naturally occurring if they are obtained from the earth without chemical or heat processing:
hematite
magnetite
bauxite
chalcopyrite.
Extractive and secondary manufacturing methods  such as refining, roasting, smelting, steelmaking and leaching  result in chemicals that are not defined as naturally occurring

 

https://www.industrialchemicals.gov.au/


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