What is Triethyl Citrate?

What is Triethyl Citrate?

This is part of our ongoing series helping consumers better understand chemicals, chemistry, and product formulations. We translate the science, bust the myths, and give you an honest assessment, so you can make informed choices for your family!

Ingredient: Triethyl Citrate

What it is: Triethyl citrate is a chemical naturally present in cherries and wine, but for commercial uses it’s made through the the metabolic fermentation of plant-based ethyl alcohol and citric acid.

What it does: This colorless, odorless liquid is commonly used as a food additive to stabilize foams (like whipped creams and egg whites) and as a pharmaceutical and supplement coating. For our purposes, it acts as a solubulizer to help blend the essential oils in our product. You know how oil and water separate when left standing? Our vanilla and citrus oils would do that, too without the addition of triethyl citrate. It helps keep everything nicely mixed together.

Why we use it: Triethyl citrate is safe (it’s never shown any signs of sensitizing potential and in product formulas it’s non-irritating to skin and eyes), naturally sourced, biodegradable, and effective. It’s really tough finding gentle preservatives, so we were ecstatic when this one worked for our formulations! On top of all that, it’s in The Handbook of Green Chemicals and it’s Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved (whose standards, developed by a team of scientists over the course of years, are some of the strictest available). If these credible sources give it a thumbs-up, we do too.

Why we’re featuring it today: Some online sources question the safety of triethyl citrate because it’s used as a solvent and plasticizer for things like plastics and lacquers. And, certainly to the average consumer, words like “solvent” and “plasticizer” can raise red flags. You might think, “What’s a plasticizer doing in my natural shampoo?”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Just because an ingredient is included in a product you consider toxic, doesn’t mean that ingredient is toxic.

  • A solvent is a liquid that dissolves a solute. Do you know what’s “the universal solvent”? Water. There are many toxic solvents, and there are many non-toxic solvents. Triethyl citrate is a non-toxic solvent.

  • A plasticizer is something that increases the fluidity of a material. They’re used in plastic to make it flexible. But, again, there are toxic plasticizers (like phthalates) and non-toxic plasticizers (like triethyl citrate).

Still have questions about triethyl citrate? Let us know in the comments. We’re always happy to answer!


Follow This Thread: Eco Innovation Cut from a Different Cloth

With cotton, hemp, linen, and silk, humans have woven the wonders of the natural world into various forms of protection and display for nearly 30,000 years. We’ve come a long way since then, but we’re still working on making materials that keep the world as clean as our conscience and feel just as fresh.

A new crop of companies is showing us that recycling in fashion is not just about trends like grunge — it’s also about being resourceful enough to turn our excess into exciting new material for change. Recycling post-consumer waste, the stuff that would normally end up in landfills and oceans, is transforming plastic from a toxic trap into an elegant innovation in clothing and home accessories.

Because it all begins with the ocean, it makes sense that Bionic Yarn has made a big splash. Started by Tyson Toussant and Tim Coombs, Bionic Yarn makes fibers for durable materials with a dynamic appeal, including canvas substitutes and cloth perfect for outdoor gear and more fashionable pursuits. It’s all about retrieving, recycling, reducing, replacing and raising awareness that taking plastic out of our oceans and the food chain makes us healthier by ensuring the safety of our seawater and seafood.

Once the bottles are brought in, they are converted into smaller flakes, melted down into fiber and the then woven into a yarn with an organic or natural-blend outer layer, an ocean plastic inner layer, and a powerful core that promises peak performance. With the support of brand ambassador, investor, and “hatty” camper Pharrell Williams, Bionic Yarn has been seen in a variety of collections, from G-Star denim and Timberland’s Earthkeeper’s collection to this chic eco vest from Moncler designed by Pharrell:

The Moncler Vest is Made with Bionic Yarn

Image by Moncler

Conscious companies like Patagonia (a fellow B Corp) have made us look and feel good producing iconic styles with post-consumer plastic for years, making the most of modern dilemmas with good old-fashioned ingenuity. Repreve uses certifiably sustainable “first-quality” fibers from post-consumer waste and plastic bottles not only for Patagonia, but for many classic American brands, like Haggar pants, The North Face “Denali” Jacket, and the seats for Ford’s Focus Electric and Fusion hybrid models. Fun fact: Outfitting one Ford Focus recycles 22 bottles, while the Fusion hybrid uses 42!

Ford Focus Seats Made by Using Recycled Plastic Bottles

Image by Ford.

You can also take steps to re-imagine a post-plastic world—literally—and plant your feet on gorgeous rugs made from recycled plastic straws. Fab Habitat has a variety of affordable styles in vivid hues and pop patterns. We love this Berlin rug for its vibrant indoor/outdoor versatility:

Fab Habitat Berlin Rug Is Made from Recycled Plastic

Image by Fab Habitat.

Is post-plastic fantastic the wave of the future? Share with us how you transform your trash into something wonderful in the comments, on our Instagram or Twitter using #honestdiy!

Make it Better: Join National Volunteer Week


As a company, it’s always been our philosophy to leave things better for future generations. And we know we can make the most profound difference if we work together.

For the past forty years, National Volunteer Week has also celebrated this belief — that through our collective service we can address the critical needs of our communities, foster change, and positively impact the nation. It’s a time to inspire people to creatively give back, as well as salute the contributions you make in your own backyard.

In honor of National Volunteer Week, we’ve launched our Social Goodness Timeline. See how our Honest team has worked to make a difference in our community and get ideas for how you, too, can volunteer. And check out these sources and stories to learn about more opportunities:

We also want you to share your volunteer stories with us! Please join us in giving back during April 6th through April 12th, and let us know how you got involved. Simply share your efforts on our social channels or in the blog comments below by using #honestcares.

We want to recognize what you are doing, so please check back on April 15. We’ll fill you in our day of volunteering with Food Forward. And, as a thank you, we’ll highlight your contributions on the blog too.

National Volunteer Week is the perfect time to find new opportunities to help our local communities. Even a small action can add up to something great. Together, we WILL make it better.

Reuse Your Old Buttons in 3 Crafty Ways

Button DIY Three Ways

In a true effort to kick off Earth Month, the challenge this week is to make a kid-friendly DIY using only materials found around the house. Everyone has spare buttons lying around, whether they’ve fallen off your most well-loved clothes or they were the spares you received and saved but never used (or took the time to use, rather). This DIY will show you how to make unique and useful crafts with the simplest of materials.

Recycling is so easy, it just takes a little creativity and the imagination to look at things in a new way. Teaching your kids to recycle and utilize resources they already have is both fun and cost effective for busy parents and caregivers.




  • Buttons


  • Colored cord
  • Twine
  • Corks
  • Ribbon
  • Clothes Pins
  • Magnets
  • Recycled and found materials of your choosing!


1. Gather your buttons! Have the kids help out, looking high and low for fallen fasteners. Expert tip: Check the couch cushions (the kiddos will love the spare change they find there, too).

2. Search for your other supplies. For these examples I used leftover corks, some twine, and some colored raffia, but feel free to get creative and think outside the box.

3. Get crafty! See these examples for ideas to replicate or inspiration for your own:

Button Bracelet

DIY Button Bracelets

Measure out some twine and braid the strands or knot them together like a friendship bracelet. Secure buttons for unexpected and colorful flair.

Button Stamp


Place a dab of non-toxic craft glue on one end of a cork and use it to secure your button of choice. The more intricate or obscure the better — an old, vintage sweater would be the perfect place to look for this sort of button. Then use a stamp pad or some non-toxic craft paint to add a personal touch to an envelope or gift tag.

Button Gift Wrap

DIY Gift Wrap

Use a decorative button to fasten your ribbon or raffia when wrapping a present. This idea is also a perfect way to wrap baby shower gifts. Bonus: Be extra green and use an old Honest box to store your gift and recycled paper bags.

Reuse Buttons for 3 DIYs

Can you think of any other ways to reuse your spare buttons? Share in the comment section below!

9 Surprising Uses for Oxy Boost (It’s Not Just for Laundry!)

We at The Honest Company created Honest Oxy Boost because we don’t like what conventional chlorine bleach does to our lungs, our skin, our families, fabrics, and the environment. So, our Oxy Boost has all the power of conventional bleach, minus the toxic fumes and risks. And, just like bleach is used for far more than just laundry, our Oxy Boost is super multi-functional, too! Here are 9 surprising uses to get you started unleashing the power of this product today!


9 Surprising Uses for Oxy Boost


1. Sanitize bottles, toys, cutting boards, & more! Dissolve 1-2 pods in a sink of hot water and dunk your dirty doo-dads. Let soak for 20 minutes or longer, wash with Honest Dish Soap, rinse, and dry. (Note: wooden toys and cutting boards should not be soaked.)

2. Polish porcelain sinks. Make a paste by mixing crushed pods with hot water. Apply to surface of sink, let sit for 10-20 minutes, rub, and rinse.

3. Freshen drains & disposals. Dissolve 1 pod in 2 cups hot water and pour down drains once a month to clean and deodorize them.

4. Manage mold & mildew. For non-porous surfaces, make a solution of 1 pod in 2 cups hot water and pour into a spray bottle (for tougher jobs, make the paste mentioned above). Apply to surface and let it sit for 10-20 minutes. Gently scrub and rinse clean. This works great for soap scum, too! (Learn about preventing mold and mildew and important safety issues from the EPA.)

5. Kick coffee stains off your mugs, cups, and carafes. Dissolve a pod in a sinkful of hot water and soak dishes for a few minutes.  For tough stains, gently scrub.  Wash and dry as usual.

6. Deodorize your diaper pail. Simply break up a pod (or two) and add to hot water. Clean the pail with this solution, rinse, and dry before adding dirty diapers.

7. Wipe out weeds in walkways. Crumble a pod or two into a bucket of hot water and pour over weeds in the cracks and crevices of your sidewalk and driveway. Those pesky plants should be dead in a day and the Oxy Boost solution will help keep them from coming back. (Note: works best on sunny days. Also, be careful not to get the solution on surrounding plants or grass.)

8. Clean-up concrete. Stains or mildew making your concrete patios and walkways look a little lackluster? Mix a few crumbled pods into a gallon of hot water and pour onto the offending area. Let it sit for about ten minutes, scrub with a wire brush and rinse. Tougher stains may take more treatments.

9. Whiten walls. Say goodbye to sticky fingerprints! If you have white walls in need of a quick cleaning, break up one pod of Oxy Boost and mix with a liter of water and a few drops of Honest Dish Soap in a spray bottle. Spray, wipe, and presto! (Note: works best on white or other light-colored walls with glossy or eggshell finishes. Always spot test first.)

BONUS:  Try Honest products for free and also get 40% off your first purchase by entering Honest40 at checkout.  Valid for first-time US & Canada customers only.  Expires on April 30, 2014.