Monday, January 16, 2012

When Good Bottles Go Bad

If you make your own skin or hair products, re-bottle products, or refill bottles from large (gallon/liter) containers, chances are your bottles will, at some time, become contaminated. You may never notice.
For at-home decontamination, you can wash bottles with hot, soapy water and run the liquid through their caps if you have a flip-cap. Then use a bleach solution, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, or vinegar to kill bacteria by pouring some in the bottle, shaking it vigorously now and then over the course of about 20 minutes. Run that through the cap too. For a final rinse, use water you have boiled and cooled (cool enough so it won't melt the bottle), and rinse several times. Air dry.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

Plaque: a bacterial biofilm
But there's a sneaky little trick some bacteria have to stick to the bottle, presenting a possible source of contamination for your product. It's the same trick bacteria use to stick to your teeth, creating plaque: BIOFILMS.
©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
A bacterial biofilm is made of extracellular  polysaccharides (long-chain sugars, much like those in some hair gels that form the lovely film which keeps your hair in place) and other sticky, gooey things. Biofilms are sticky, gummy, thick and generally yucky goop that clings to colonies of some species of bacteria. These bacteria create them under some circumstances to gain control of their environment. In some cases, a biofilm will protect the bacteria from the surrounding environment almost completely so that they can live in situations otherwise hostile to bacteria; such as on the wall of the bottle, next to your preserved product. If the bacteria can live in the product you've added to the bottle, they may escape their biofilm and get growing.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013
Biofilms can resist (in some cases) bleach, alcohol, acids, bases, hot water and soap and any but the most vigorous scrubbing. Abrasive scrubbing can actually scratch surfaces, giving biofilms a better place to grow. This is why, after scraping your teeth, you get them polished smooth at the dentist's office - to offer a more slippery environment to bacteria.©Science-y Hair Blog 2013

So keep track of how many times you re-use a bottle. Be sure to clean it well between uses, but please recycle the bottles you use after a few uses and use a new one. Better safe than sorry.

Next post is a more in-depth look at why hair curls - I'm taking my time so it's well researched.

1 comment:

  1. Good site! I really love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I'm wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a nice day!
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