learning about clay

Why is there a warning sticker on Redmond Clay?

By | clay questions answered, learning about clay | 3 Comments

prop65If you spend much time in California, you’re probably used to seeing warning signs about Proposition 65. They’re on display at restaurants, banks, gas stations, grocery stores, even Disneyland. But why is there a proposition 65 warning on Redmond Clay?

What is Proposition 65?

In spirit, prop 65 is a great idea: California lawmakers decided the public needs to know if their water and food supply contains toxic chemicals. So they compiled a list of 800 substances and required any business using the substances proclaim the use publicly. (There’s more to it, of course, which you can get right from the source.)

So my bank, and Disneyland, are… toxic?

No. Well, maybe. The way prop 65 is enforced has created a defensive business strategy: infringements can cost businesses $2,500 per day, and nearly all cases are reported by citizens motivated to earn as much as 25% of that fee by “blowing the whistle,” as it were. These cases are handled in civil lawsuits, which are themselves quite expensive, with nearly all the award going to attorneys. Since there is no penalty for a business who warns customers about prop 65 chemicals even when none are in use, proposition 65 warning signs have become a hallmark of the California lifestyle.

So when you see a prop 65 warning sign, the business might be using toxic chemicals, or they simply might have decided it’s cheaper to hang a few signs than fight the civil lawsuits that these prop 65 law firms bring. It’s an unintended consequence of a law that has probably done a lot of good to protect California residents–while creating a new legal specialty and providing steady business for sign-makers across the state.

What about natural products?

The really interesting thing about proposition 65 is that many fruits and vegetables would be included in the ban as written by California legislators.  For example, carrots and green beans both contain more than twenty times the legal limit of arsenic, as defined by the proposition. (Other offenders include yams, apples, tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach and potatoes.) A compromise was reached to spare natural products from conforming to prop 65 standards: if a product is completely natural, businesses don’t have to report the otherwise banned substance.

But Redmond Clay is natural! So why the warning?

Peaches and pears–and Redmond Clay–contain the tiniest bit of natural (and harmless) lead, which is on the prop 65 list. Like other natural products, Redmond Clay falls under the exempted products definition, but we’re pretty cautious around here, and not terribly interested in defending civil action by prop 65 watchdogs hoping for a settlement or share of $2,500 daily fines. So we ordered some stickers.

We know the language on proposition 65 warnings is pretty heavy, but we wouldn’t sell Redmond Clay if we weren’t completely satisfied by its safety. Like so many other companies, we’ve decided it’s simpler to apply a prop 65 sticker to our products than worry about possible complications down the line. Fortunately, like so many other customers, you probably see so many prop 65 warning labels that you already understand our reasons. If you didn’t, we hope you do now!

Questions or concerns about proposition 65? Please get in touch!

What about the aluminum in Redmond Clay?

By | clay questions answered, learning about clay | One Comment

Aluminum is one of the most abundant minerals on earth, accounting for roughly 8% of our planet’s crust. Every plant and animal alive contains a trace amount of aluminum, which has been associated with healthy cellular function and metabolic processes. Of course, recent studies linking aluminum to mental degeneration has left a lot of people wondering whether the FDA will change the “generally recognized as safe” label that has been applied to aluminum-based food additives. In the mean time, many people have concerns about aluminum in products they use, from antiperspirant and makeup to pickles.

Two sides to aluminum

Like other metal elements, a tiny amount of aluminum is required to keep our body’s systems working properly—nickel for our heart, iron for blood, copper for nerves, and so on. The crucial distinction is the source and form of the elements: you could ingest aluminum in natural spring water, or you could force down a bit of aluminum foil. Your body can tell the difference, and won’t treat the sources of aluminum equally. It’s a silly example, maybe, but the basic idea is that our bodies recognize a chemical difference between heavy-metal aluminum, which could be absorbed by our system and potentially lead to health issues, and the naturally-occurring aluminum found in montmorillonite/bentonite clay.

Aluminum in bentonite clay

Unlike aluminum additives found in some products, experts agree that the natural aluminum in bentonite clay cannot be absorbed by our bodies. Once bound to silica, aluminum carries such a high negative charge it is actually central to the beneficial functions of clay—without it, the bentonite molecule that seems almost magical wouldn’t be able to do its job. (If we’re losing you, head over and learn how Redmond Clay works.)

Why aluminum is safe in clay

We wandered into some confusing territory there for a minute, so let’s regroup for those of you who like skipping to the end. Aluminum occurs naturally in our bodies, and in Redmond Clay. As with everything else we put in our bodies, the source and form of aluminum makes a big difference in how our bodies use it. The molecular structure of bentonite, especially the high negative charge of the aluminum silica particle, makes it impossible for the aluminum to leach into our systems. Instead, the aluminum leaves our bodies the old-fashioned way—along with the positively-charged toxins and impurities that the clay has bonded to. At a chemical level, much of clay’s healing benefit depends on aluminum.

In the mood for some light reading? Here are some resources about clay and aluminum: