Worth It: Honestly, This Soap Is Magic

Illustration for article titled Worth It: Honestly, This Soap Is Magic

Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our daily recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.

Who wouldn't love a concentrated soap that gets up a nice lather from a few drops, smells amazing, leaves no residue, and has ingredients you can pronounce? Dr. Bronner's has a Castile soap base made from saponified organic extra virgin coconut, olive, jojoba and hemp oils, which is then adulterated with one of seven great-smelling essential oils (there is also an unscented "baby mild" formula). I always get the peppermint kind because I like how it feels all tingly (and because the scent, combined with shower steam, is basically the best hangover/cold/miscellaneous cure-all ever).

Dr. Bronner's liquid soap is also Fair Trade certified, USDA certified organic, and sold in recycled plastic bottles that bear recycled labels. A 32-oz bottle lasts me around a year and sets me back $17. I use it to wash, I use it to shave my legs, and I use it to feel alive in the morning. Theoretically, you can also dilute the soap and use it as a household cleaner, a shampoo, a laundry detergent, and a toothpaste, among other things (Dr. Bronner claimed his soap had 18 uses). But in addition to feeling good and being cheap, the reason I use Dr. Bronner's is the bottle labels. Because it is fun in the shower to breathe in those minty fumes and read messages like:

Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Teach the moral ABC that unites all mankind free, instantly 6 billion strong and we're All-One. "Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!"


All punctuation and capitalization in original. The label proceeds, in increasingly microscopic fonts, to offer what seem to be Dr. Bronner's guidelines for living. There are thirteen listed on the front of the label, above and below the product information and ingredients; on the sides of the label, there are more esoteric passages that follow a totally different numbering system. Those varyingly discuss "Mohammed's Arabs" and the formation of Israel, and quote at length from Thomas Paine and Rudyard Kipling. There also (used to be?) some stuff about fluoride and wind power, and how Vaseline and lemon juice work as a contraceptive. (Don't use Vaseline and lemon juice as a contraceptive.)

"The 2nd coming of God's Law Mohammed's Arabs, 1948, found Israel Dead-Sea-Scrolls & Einstein's "Hillel" prove that as certain as no 6-year-old can grow up free without the ABC, so certain can no 12-year old survive free without the Moral ABC mason, tent & sandalmaker, Rabbi Hillel taught carpenter Jesus to unite all mankind free in our Eternal Father's great All-One-God-Faith! For we're All-One or none: "Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!"

Bronner was very into the monism stuff. Or, as the company website puts it, he wanted to spread his "urgent message to realize our transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides."

As Mao wrote in Redbook 51: "Marxist-Communism, once in power, is utterly unworkable, has less value than cowdung. Its power is the gun!" ... As teaches African-shepherd Astronomer Israel for 6000 years, "LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!" For on God's Spaceship Earth, with Bomb & Gun, we're All-One or none!


"Spaceship earth" is, incidentally, architect and fellow counter-cultural icon Buckminster Fuller's phrase.

Emanuel Heilbronner was born into a German soapmaking family in 1908. He changed his name to "Bronner" when he emigrated to the U.S. in 1929; the Straight Dope writes that Bronner

pleaded with his father to do the same when the Nazis came to power. The old man refused. One day Bronner got a postcard with the words, "You were right. — Your loving father." He never heard from his parents again.


They died at Auschwitz and Terezin. Bronner's middle years were marked with other tragedies; the American woman he had married died in a mental hospital in 1944, their three children went into foster care, and Bronner himself was involuntarily institutionalized in Illinois in 1947. He escaped three times and made it to Los Angeles, where he founded his soap company and continued to propound his theories about humanity, being All-One, and the dangers of fascism and communism. His descendants continue to run the company today. They say they will not change Dr. Bronner's labels, except if they are legally required to because of labeling laws. They haven't messed with the formula much, either, except to add hemp seed oil to the mix in 2000 for its "smoother lather and less drying afterfeel."

So there we have it. Great soap with a lather of world peace and sadness overcome.


Dr. Bronner's Magic Peppermint Liquid Soap, $16.99 for 32 oz.


Worth It only features things we paid for ourselves and actually like. Don't send us stuff.

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Great product! I also use it in my neem oil pesticide solution in the garden. It helps the oil dissolve without breaking it down/rendering it ineffective. And the peppermint and lavender scents repel some mild types of insects.