As you browse through the Terracotta & Twine website, you might notice that I mention the cord included in all my macrame craft kits being OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified. I do like to brag about this quite frequently, but you might be thinking "awesome, good for you, but I have no idea what that is and it sounds a bit like echoey-texas", which is fair.
So I thought I'd take this blog post to talk about what OEKO-TEX certification is and why you should care.
In simple terms, OEKO-TEX certification means that a textile product has been thoroughly tested and deemed to contain no harmful or allergenic substances.
This is great, because textiles usually spend a lot of time against your skin - think of everything you wear, or touch on a daily basis. Especially with something like macrame where you're spending hours running the cord through your hands, sending fibres out into the air and potentially even getting a couple of blisters. It's really important to know that you can fully immerse yourself in your project without having to worry about your macrame cord potentially causing you health problems. Saying that, you should probably take a break if you are getting blisters, but, I've been there. I get it.
OEKO-TEX certification can be applied to any textiles product, so things like a fully formed jacket (where everything is tested, including the zip), or a woven blanket or, cotton macrame cord.
WHO ARE OEKO-TEX?
Founded in 1992 (it's the same age as me!) OEKO-TEX is made up of 17 independent textile and leather testing institutes in Europe and Japan. I'm assuming each one is massive, because I don't actually think that sounds like very many if they're testing textiles from all over the world, really. They do also have offices in more than 70 countries, which allows them to work with manufacturers in any language necessary, without relying on the often confusing results from Google Translate.
Since their start in 1992, OEKO-TEX have become the best known and most trusted certification for textile safety in the world.
CLASSES OF OEKO-TEX CERTIFICATION
There are four 'classes' of certification. Each class has different requirements to meet, based on how much skin contact it has and the age of its intended users. For example, a pair of trousers for a baby must meet a much stricter criteria than a pair of curtains and your knickers must meet a stricter criteria than your belt.
The macrame cord included in my macrame craft kits - sourced from Bobbiny - has class 1 certification meaning it contains zero ingredients that could be harmful to babies or other humans. This is great news as it means you can create macrame products for anyone AND you don't have to be concerned about the amount of contact between your skin and the cord whilst you're crafting.
The breakdown of each class is as follows:
This means products are free from any chemicals or substances that could harm babies. It has the strictest requirements.
This includes products that have a lot of direct contact with a lot of skin. For example, underwear, mattresses and other clothing items.
This includes products that have minimal skin contact. So things like belts and jackets.
These items tend to be more decorative. Think, fabric homewares - table cloths, upholstery fabrics etc.
WHAT IS THE OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 CERTIFICATION CRITERIA?
I am not a scientist, nor do I work in an OEKO-TEX laboratory. So, I've explained their certification criteria below to the best of my understanding and in basic terms as much as possible. However, their web page on this criteria is here if you want to read it from them.
OEKO-TEX checks textile products for harmful substances, against a catalogue which is updated annually. Each class has its own limit values that are allowed for each substance in the catalogue.
Substances they check for include prohibited azo dyes, formaldehyde and nickel amongst other regulated items.
They also check for chemicals that are harmful to health even if they haven't yet been statutorily regulated.
The test method covers the requirements of Annexes XVII and XIV of the REACH Directive, and of the ECHA-SVHC Candidate List (honestly I have no idea what these things mean, but I'm including them incase they mean something important to you)
In total, the laboratory tests include roughly 100 parameters, and take into account the intended use of the product.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER MACRAME CORD?
Other macrame cord might be fine. But it also might not.
It's important to me when I sell you a product that I can be sure that it's fine, given how much contact you're going to have with the cord, and having Bobbiny cord be OEKO-TEX certified gives me that assurance so that I can give you assurance too. And, y'know, if you meet a baby that fancies a grab at your plant hanger, you can rest assured that it'll be fine. At least, it won't be harmed by any chemicals. It's probably still a choking hazard and a plant-falling-on-head hazard, so I wouldn't encourage the grabbing.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification is a very nice little reassurance that the macrame cord you're using is totally safe. So, if you're thinking of purchasing a Terracotta & Twine macrame craft kit, you can safely craft away to your heart's content.
It's also made me realise that I should be paying more attention to my clothing. I realise I've paid a lot of attention to the safety of my craft materials, but not the textiles that I wear against my skin on a daily basis. I'll be going to check my wardrobe now...
If you'd like to read more about OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification, you can do so here on the OEKO-TEX website.