Airless Pumps versus Tubes
By Bob Root Keys Technologist
I am often asked the question of why I chose airless pumps for our products over traditional tubes. Well, there is no simple answer, but a series of reasons that we chose this very advanced technology developed in the Netherlands along with our design team. The most important reasons are health, safety and cleanliness of the product. True, tubes are less expensive, easier to fill and more common. The problem with tubes is that they were never designed for natural products.
I will try to simplify my decision in order of priority below.
1. The major reason for using the airless pump the technology is featured in the technologies name; Airless. Most skin care products use a chemical called “paraben” to kill bacteria. Parabens are used in many products to kill gram positive and gram negative bacteria. Natural products tend to use preservatives used in food to help with mold and other bacterial growth and do not use parabens because of extensive testing that show health concerns for people and especially children.
At Keys we use essential oils, container technology and our processes to insure a clean microbiology free product with a reasonable shelf life. The number one cause of any bacterial growth is contamination from touching the nozzle and oxygen. The airless containers are a technology that has a piston in the bottom of the container that when the product is pumped follows the contents upward keeping the container completely airless. The animation her shows how the technology works. This keep the product cleaner, more pure and more effective longer.
2. “Draw-Back” contamination is the second reason. Remembering that we want to keep bacteria out of the container, using tubes has a phenomena called draw-back. Draw-Back is caused by squeezing product from the tube and has pressure is released; it actually pulls some product back in the tube. Unless you sterilize your hands with 90% alcohol before applying, bacteria from your skin are pulled back into the tube and the air in the tube provides an environment for growth. Seems pretty hard to believe, but we have seen microbiology growth in 72 hours when contaminated by normal handling.
3. The tubes themselves are of concern as to how they are made and processed. There are many different tube materials that are problematic. Some plastics are process with chemicals that can leach into the product. Some of these chemicals include 1,4 Dioxane, Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) and various mould release agents used in the manufacturing of the tubes before they are filled. Some tubes are made of aluminum, but are easily damaged just by touching them which makes them look used and therefore people will not buy them. Some companies use aluminum tubes and then put them into boxes to protect them. We precycle as a policy, so boxes are out.
There are more reason, but these three preclude us from using tubes for our full size products. We do use a special tube that we get from Sweden for our travels sizes, but shelf life is not so much a concern for these small sizes.
Simply, if I can find a tube manufacturer that can solve the three issues above, I will consider switching to tubes.