Friday, August 9, 2013

The Truth About Stockmar Crayons Ingredients

I owe my readers, as well as the other companies featured in my recent post on non-toxic beeswax and soy crayons a very big apology.  I do my best to research things as thoroughly as possible, and almost always double check things first with companies or at the very least find it in writing on their website.  But everyone makes mistakes, and I made a large one. 

I was swept up in the hype of Stockmar crayons.  Loved by all, sold on many natural toy websites as "beeswax crayons"... I am stunned and thoroughly disappointed in myself that I didn't even notice that there is no mention of beeswax in their description on the actual stockmar website.  Perhaps the idea was subliminally planted there by the list to the left with the crayons that has "Beeswax Candles" listed below it, or maybe it was just an assumption that German products are traditionally made of the highest quality non-toxic, natural materials.  I usually don't make assumptions when reporting these things to my readers.  I am embarrassed and humbled, and believe me when I tell you that I learned my lesson!

I was alerted by an astute reader (thank you!) who commented that Stockmar is "full of petrochemicals."  I do my best to investigate all comments when I have the time, and that one really stood out to me.  I immediately checked the site, and my heart sank when I made the first discovery that I already mentioned, that I saw nothing about beeswax on their site in reference to their crayons.  Then I could find nothing through googling or otherwise on an ingredient list.  I found their product information files, and noticed that under their description of what "organic" ingredients could mean, they note things that come from oil or petroleum qualify. 

Here is what eats me about this whole thing.  They very well could be "non-toxic" as they claim, and I still support the fact that from a utilitarian standpoint, they are damn good crayons!  But...and this is a huge but...if you look at their website, you will see the same thing phrased a number of ways.  This is taken from the "Stockmar Quality" page - "one thing we can promise our customers - Stockmar products have no negative effects on health or on the environment."  I would like to challenge Stockmar to find some evidence for me that proves that petroleum based products "have no negative effects on the environment."

I have copied my correspondence with Stockmar below.  I added a question about the Artemis Plant Colour Pastel Crayons from the original post, when I realized they made them too.  On what I believe to be the manufacturer's website, it says, "the chalk pastels contain plant colour extracts bound with beeswax."  His response in regards to these crayons?  "the Artemis crayons don't contain beeswax at all."  You can read more below.  This has weighed so heavily on me all day I needed to publish this as soon as possible, and amend the original crayon post.

I feel a little taken, and while their crayons may indeed be harmless in toxicity, and they really ARE superior in performance, I feel like their lack of transparency on this issue is wrong, wrong, wrong.  My sincerest apologies to all of you! 

I hope you will all help me spread the word and share this with those who are familiar with their products.

Here are excerpts from the pdf he sent me, which I have been unable to find online anywhere.  I call it, "Excuses, Excuses, Excuses" where it is evident that achieving their superior color quality is their number one goal.  Perhaps some would disagree with me, but I'm not convinced by their explanations that using oil as a resource over beeswax is better for the environment.  THE EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE IS BELOW THESE EXCERPTS.

UPDATE 8/12/13: I heard from Stockmar today, and they have now posted this document on their website for everyone to see the ingredients!  You can find it here under "Stockmar wax colours: Product Features and Quality"  They also adjusted the description of the Artemis crayons on Mercurius website!  I would like to personally thank Stockmar for making the right decision here and making their ingredients available for everyone to see.



Why Stockmar uses paraffin (microcrystalline wax) in its wax crayons


Paraffin is broadly used due to its non-toxicity and water insolubility. It is often contained in ointments, skin creams and lip balms, and is even a principle component in many skin protection creams for small children.  Paraffin is also used in foodstuffs (sweets, chewing gum, wax coatings for cheese) and in medical applications (as an antidote for poison and as a laxative). The possibility of deposition in the human body only exists in the case of constant intake of the substance.



A constant intake is highly unlikely in the case of wax crayons.

According to expert opinion, however, the detrimental effect to health in the case of paraffin does not stem from any potential deposition, but through heating to high temperatures as this could release carcinogenic substances. Accordingly, hazards to health relate to people whose work, for example, involves heating paraffin for long periods and who breathe in the resulting vapours; which naturally does not apply to consumers of cosmetics, medication and wax crayons.
For our wax crayons, we use paraffin (microcrystalline waxes) with a high melting point, that is they first melt at a temperature of around 70 °C (158 °F). Can this happen with children’s wax crayons or even wax crayons that have been swallowed by kids? 70 °C? We don’t think so. The paraffin in our wax crayons have an extremely positive impact on colouring quality. In contrast to chalky fillers, they don’t dull the colours, but rather maintain the transparency and colour intensity.  Paraffin is produced as a by-product in oil refineries and, as a crude oil product, is naturally not a renewable resource. Nevertheless, we currently have no viable alternative to paraffin that would be resourceconserving and ecologically friendly and at the same time maintain the colouring quality of the product to the extent of the high melting paraffin we use.

 
Stockmar wax colours: product features and quality

 
Other frequently used resources that are eagerly touted as renewable, such as soy and palm oil, do not produce the same product quality and in our opinion are not ecologically friendly. As a result of the increase in global demand, they lead to the creation of monocultures, in turn prompting the clearing of rainforests and disappearance of areas used for agriculture, with all the resulting negative ecological and social consequences.




Why Stockmar Wax Crayons contain 10% beeswax – no more and no less


Stockmar wax crayons contain 10% natural beeswax, which provides the right degree of transparency and gives off a pleasant beeswax scent. In addition, the essential oils in beeswax have a preserving effect, enabling us to completely abstain from using preservatives in our wax crayons. A proportion of beeswax in wax crayons that is appreciably higher than 10% would have a negative impact on colouring quality. Too little colour would be produced and the actual colour of the beeswax would distort the colour shades. As a consequence, the use of a higher proportion is not necessary.



Beeswax has advertising appeal: it’s natural, ‘renewable’, smells good and everyone admires and loves bees. Beeswax – what kind of substance is it exactly? It is a precious and limited natural product. In the interests of bees, whose numbers are under threat worldwide, any use of beeswax should be acutely conscious, measured and responsible. Any beekeeping geared towards increasing beeswax production would not constitute natural beekeeping and would have ominous consequences from an ecological perspective.

Why use more beeswax in our crayons if it wouldn’t enhance the product quality and would only unnecessarily consume a precious natural product?  That is precisely why Stockmar consciously uses 10% beeswax for its wax crayons.


Visit www.mellifera.de (most parts only in German) for more interesting information on beeswax and bees.


EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE (I have obviously removed my personal email address):
__________________________________________________________________________
Gesendet:
Donnerstag, 8. August 2013 00:21:54
An:
info@stockmar.de
Betreff:
crayon ingredients
Diese Nachricht wurde automatisch von einer Regel weitergeleitet.

Can you please give me the ingredients of your crayons?

Thanks,
Amy 
__________________________________________________________________________
 
From:karin.schmidt@stockmar.de
Sent:Thu 8/08/13 1:22 AM

Dear Amy,
on the side www.stockmar.de you find productsinformation.
So you can download them.
Sincerely
Karin Schmidt 



Hans Stockmar GmbH & Co. KG
Borsigstrasse 7
24568 Kaltenkirchen
Tel. 04191-8009-0
Fax 04191-8009-22
http://www.stockmar.de  
__________________________________________________________________________
  
Sent:Thu 8/08/13 10:29 AM
To: karin.schmidt@stockmar.de (karin.schmidt@stockmar.de)

Karin,

That doesn't give the specific ingredients. I saw that and it says if you'd like further information to contact you, which is what I'm doing. I'd like to know what the specific ingredients are in your crayons?

thank you,
amy


___________________________________________________________________________


From:stefan.rueter@stockmar.de
Sent:Thu 8/08/13 10:47 AM
  
 
Hi Amy,
a short answer to your request is:
Stockmar Wax Crayons and Blocks - Ingredients
Ingredient
% approx.
Paraffin (microcrystalline waxes)
52
Stearin (plant based waxes)
30
Beeswax
10
Synthetic organic and/or synthetic inorganic colour pigments
8 or more
Hans Stockmar GmbH & Co. KG
Borsigstr. 7

24568 Kaltenkirchen
fon +49 4191 8009-0
fax +49 4191 8009-22
__________________________________________________________________________
  
Sent:Thu 8/08/13 12:20 PM
To: stefan.rueter@stockmar.de (stefan.rueter@stockmar.de)
 

Can you tell me what the "Synthetic organic and/or synthetic inorganic colour pigments " are?

thanks!

__________________________________________________________________________________
Hi Amy,
concerning Stockmar colour pigments:
Synthetic organic means petrol based, i.e. different hydrocarbon compounds. (Yes, these hydrocarbon compounds have a great range of colours.)
Synthetic inorganic means mineral based. Of our colours only white and ultramarine blue are inorganic.
Concerning Artemis and beeswax: The Artemis crayons don't contain beeswax at all. They contain paraffin, japanwax and almond oil.
Find attached a pdf in which we clarify a little bit our understanding of beeswax and how we use it in our products. There you can seee that we have good reasons (quality reasons as well as sustainability and ecological considerations) not to use too much of it.
viele Grüße von
Stefan
___________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Stefan,


Isn't this your manufacturer's website for the Artemis crayons? Why does it state they are "bound with beeswax?" 

http://www.mercurius-international.com/product_info.php?cPath=21_37&products_id=2698&language=en

Amy

____________________________________________________________________________________________


Hi Amy,
our manufacturer website for Artemis is www.artemis-pflanzenfarben.de
The information with the beeswax as an ingredient in the Artemis Plant Colour Crayons on the Mercurius website seems to be corrected now.
I've read your entry from Friday August 9thabout Stockmar in your blog The Mindful Home. I understand that you criticize the fact that we haven't published the information document which I'd sent to you on our website. I'm sorry for that. To catch up with that we've published it now also on our website:
Thank you that you've also published (at least part of) our point of view in your blog entry. And for all who are interested in more information from our side in our Wax Crayons, please read the documents listed on the page mentioned above, especially "Stockmar wax colours: product features and quality".
viele Grüße von
Stefan


 
 

7 comments:

  1. thanks for being so thorough in your research! Your web site is really informative

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  2. We've been hoodwinked! Very sad. Thank you for reporting your findings. :(

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  3. I certainly think these crayons are talked up as being more natural than they may be, and in true marketing style they downplay the lesser aspects of their ingredients. But the fact is they really do have superior qualities to most crayons and the colors match Goethe's color wheel- and I haven't found any others, esp. in blocks, that do what these crayons do. I personally was never under the impression they were 100% beeswax- they would be so hard if they were, you'd have to press like crazy to get color out- I've tried making beeswax crayons and you cannot use just beeswax, you need something of softer quality. If anyone can achieve the purity of color and the lovely blending properties in another ergonomic, more natural crayon I'd be all over em!

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    Replies
    1. I agree with you that they still are superior from a quality standpoint, and that perhaps that wouldn't be achievable any other way. But that doesn't excuse their lack of transparency, and the fact that they allow stores all over to advertise their products as "beeswax crayons" when next to pigments, beeswax constitutes the smallest proportion of their ingredients. I just don't think it's right, and it's definitely not right to have their $30 Artemis crayon pastels described as "bound with beeswax" when they contain NO beeswax. For a company that acts as though they are so great for the environment in their practices, I find these facts pretty despicable. I'm also not a fan of the hoops you have to jump through to find this information, because they clearly know people won't be happy to know about it.

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  4. so very disappointing. I plan to tell others.

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  5. Thank you so much for your blog post and for reaching out to my store regarding your findings for the Stockmar crayons. We are working to verify your findings regarding the specific ingredients so we can post them on our site, but we have modified our store's descriptions of the crayons. I greatly appreciate your caring and diligence with this topic. I still have yet to find an alternative to Stockmar that is GMO-free. I would love suggestions!

    That said, I personally love Stockmar. I love how warming beeswax is, and my children and I prefer Stockmar over other crayons. In my opinion, the colors are second to none. I find them easier to hold and work with, and the assortment of sticks and blocks allows for flexibility. Also, they provide certification and documentation of their rigorous safety testing. I agree that they need can make improvements to be even more forthcoming, transparent, and honest, and enforce instructions to retailers to be truthful about their products.

    Thank you again for reaching out to me. It's moms like you who can help keep toxins away from the things our children use most: Food, bedding, furniture, skin care, clothes, and their beloved toys and art supplies! Thank you again!

    Warmly,
    Anthia
    UrthChild.com

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  6. I do think that, with the decline of bees, we need to be conscious of using beeswax. Being environmentally conscious obviously includes not using a product that is at risk of being depleted. To me, while it seems they may have been duplicitous in their advertising, it seems they still are considering the environment in their production and design of the crayons.

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