What is it?Derived from natural gas and oil, Poloxamer 335 and 407 belong to a category of ingredients generally known as surfactants. Poloxamer 407 is in all of our mouthwashes except the Natural Cleansing Mouthwash, which contains poloxamer 335.
What does it do?Surfactants have a very special function: they make it possible for oil-based ingredients to be dissolved into a water-based solution. A surfactant molecule is characterized by its two distinct functional properties: a polar, hydrophilic ("water loving") property and a nonpolar, hydrophobic ("water fearing") property. This dual receptivity allows oils to be dissolved into solution with water. It is necessary to have such an ingredient in our mouthwash because the natural mint oils we use for flavoring would not otherwise mix with the water, glycerin and aloe base. Poloxamer 335 and 407 represent the best choices to serve this function in our product because they perform their function safely and effectively without negatively affecting the mouthwash’s appearance, taste, or smell. We also chose these ingredients because they are nonionic surfactants, which means that it far less likely to react with the other ingredients that make up the formula.
What are the alternatives?Because Poloxamer 335 and 407 are derivatives of a non-renewable resource, we have investigated over 1600 commercially available ingredients in the hopes that we might discover a natural ingredient which can perform the same function but do so in a more renewable fashion. Although several ingredients yielded promising results, none of them ultimately proved to be a superior choice for the purposes of this formulation. One alternative we considered, for example, performed the oil-dispersion function well but gave the product a cloudy brown appearance that testers found unappealing and unappetizing. Other alternatives failed because they created less stable formulas, added a bitter flavor, or were not available in a food grade. Alcohol could also solubilize the flavor oils if it were included in large enough quantities, but for many reasons we feel strongly that our mouthwash should be alcohol-free. Poloxamer 335 and 407 represent the best choice at this time for dispersing our flavor oils into our mouthwash base. We are always looking for ways to take advantage of the latest advances in herbal science, however, and would be excited to discover a plant-based ingredient that could serve in its place.
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