The Back Story

FormaldehydeThe Back Story

Formaldehyde is a chemical compound that exists in various forms, making it tricky to identify on ingredient labels.

Examples of ingredient listings for formaldehyde-related ingredients: formalin, formol, methanal, oxomethane, methylene glycol, oxymethylene, methyl aldehyde, formic aldehyde, and many more names.

Formaldehyde (or its derivatives) is commonly used as a preservative, and may be used in the manufacture of pressed wood products, car interior components, sterilizers, and cosmetics (including hair and nail products). Some wrinkle-free clothing, stick deodorants, fungicidal products, paper towels, and home furnishings contain small amounts of formaldehyde. It’s also a byproduct of cigarette smoke, automobile exhaust, and forest fires. Not so surprising, formaldehyde is one of the chief components of smog. In fact, formaldehyde is such a common ingredient, that it’s impossible not to encounter it as we go about our daily lives.

When it comes to BKTs, the concerns about formaldehyde stem from these two facts:

(1) According to EMSL Analytical, a multi-site company that specializes in formaldehyde testing, the most dangerous contact with this chemical compound is when inhaling contaminated air. (When a 450º iron is applied to BKT solutions, formaldehyde—if present—is released into the air.)

(2) The FDA cautions that formaldehyde is only considered safe when product formulations contain no more than .02% free formaldehyde (formaldehyde that can be emitted into the air, under certain circumstances).