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Review of Dr. Bronner Magic Soap Bar and Liquid Soap

After reading and hearing so much about Dr. Bronner and how organic their skincare and other products are, I decided to finally try out the “magic soaps” for myself.

Yes. I admit it. I haven’t before. I thought the price was way too prohibitive. But there I was, in front of a whole isle of all things Dr. Bronner, and I just couldn’t resist. After all, organic skin care is my passion. And those bottles were sooo organic.

Which is why I didn’t buy just one bar of soap. No. I went all out and bought two bars :) And a bottle of liquid soap. I had to see what all the fuss is about.

And thus, faithfully reporting to you once again, here are my reviews:

Dr. Bronner Magic Soap Bar and Liquid Soap: Unscented Baby-Mild Hemp Pure-Castile Soap.

This is the bar:

And this is the bottle:

About the brand:

The story of this brand and it’s founder is abundantly scattered thought the web for anyone curious to research. But for those who just want a bird-eye view, here is the gist:

The company was founded by an eccentric German immigrant castile soap maker Emanuel H. Bronner. He was a third generation soap maker, and upon arriving to America continued on working his family trade. The actual company was founded in 1948 and the first products where peppermint soap and healthfood seasonings. The company has since expanded into skin care and various other natural products.

(The company site has a very easy to follow time-line of its evolution here.)

Emanual Bronner died in 1997 and the company is presently run by Ralph Bronner (his son) and David Bronner (his nephew). It is a family owned operation.

The company’s soaps have been certified organic since 2003 (under USDA) and the company itself is certified Fair Trade since 2007.

According to the company site Dr. Bronner Magic Soaps make about $9 million in annual sales.

Dr. Bronner Magic Soaps have recently been in the news for the Organic Lawsuit the company filed against other brands and some certifying bodies. The company is alleging that rivals use misleading labeling to confuse consumers into thinking that products are more organic then they actually are. (There is a good article about the lawsuit here . Also you can read a press release about their requests from the industry here.)

Price:

I paid $4.49 Cdn for the bar and $9.99 Cdn for the bottle.

I think the bar is overpriced. At least psychologically paying that much for a bar was a challenge. However the price for the bottle is very reasonable and is comparable to other body washes. And the bottle is sufficiently big (16 oz, 472 ml.

Certifications:

Both products are certified organic by Oregon Tilth (USDA).

Packaging:

The bar is wrapped in Living Tree Paper (10% hempflax / 90% post consumer waste). The bottle is 100% biodegradable.

Reading the ingredients:

Bar: Saponfified Organic Coconut, Organic Palm & Organic Olive Oils (w/ Retained Glycerin), Water, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, salt, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.

Bottle: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Organic Olive Oils (w/Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, citric Acid, Vitamin E.

I have no idea what “saponified” is. I tried to read the explanation on Wikipedia, but got even more confused. Some kind of process to make soap. Sounds normal and natural. Just a bit too technical for me. Dr. Bronner’s site explains it better , so feel free to read all about it.

Reading the packaging:

There is so much written on the bottle, that it would take me a whole post just to list it all. Ingredients, instructions, certifications, and numerous quotes and commandments.

Here is a typical example:

Knowing the full-truth that unites the human race, and not teaching all is deathly guilt”, learned carpenter Jesus from Mason Rabbi Hillel! But Marx, innocent grandson of 2 rabbies, learned only half truth! As Mao wrote in Redbook ’51: “Marxist-Communism, once in power, is utterly unworkable, has less value then cowdung. Its power is the gun!” What an apology we Rabbis owe Israel, Marx, Mao, all mankind, for not teaching Astronomy’s great All-One-God-Faith, that with just 6 words eternally unites the human race! As teaches African-shepherd Astronomer Israel for 6000 years, “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!” For on God’s Spaceship Earth, with Bomb and Gun, we are All-One or none! All-One! All-One! All-One! Exceptions eternally? Absolute none!

There… The message on the soap bottle.

Honestly, the benefit of this bottle is if you keep it in the bathroom, you won’t need to invest in any additional bathroom reading material :) This quote is just one of what looks like gazillion quotes written in different sized fonts and directions.

Other claims on the bottle: “Enjoy 1 soap for 18 different uses!”… This left me confused. I only know of one way to use soap: for cleaning…

And more statements:

100% Vegan.
Guaranteed no synthetic peppermint oils.
Not animal tested.
“For All Major Ingredients we are going FAIR TRADE.”

The paper on the bar was much more succinct. “FAIR TRADE”, “Vegan”, “Not animal tested” plus ingredients list and a note on importance of recycled paper and use of soy ink.

Scent:

I found the bar’s sent to be basically non-existent. The liquid soap, however has a hint of wet-burned-paper scent. The first time I used it I thought there was fire somewhere and panicked for a second. But once I realized the source, I found it oddly pleasant, in a quirky kind of way…

Texture:

Bar: A perfectly regular soap bar. Nothing unusual to report.

Liquid Soap: More runny/watery that regular body wash. So don’t tilt the bottle too fast.

Effectiveness:

I haven’t tried the “18 different uses”, but it does the regular washing (hands and body) job pretty well. It lathers up quickly and evenly — a little goes a long way.

Verdict:

The bar is nice, but overpriced. The liquid soap is a way better value – you literally need just a drop or two.

Both products get high marks for organic content. But the liquid soap gets extra bonus point for the fun read :)

So, buy the Liquid Soap and be merry!

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3 comments

1 natural soaps { 07.15.08 at 7:41 am }

Natural soaps maybe more expensive, but they are definitely worth money spent. I only use 100% natural handmade soaps!

2 Becky { 09.11.08 at 4:11 pm }

Ooh, I love Dr Bronner’s soaps! I currently have the almond one, but I’ve tried the lavender one too. They’re fantastic for cleaning around the house, my work surfaces have never looked so shiny. I love not having to use synthetic cleaners anymore.

I once tried it as a shampoo, but that didn’t work out so well… I couldn’t get it out of my hair until I’d used my regular shampoo three times and done a vinegar rinse.

I also use it as a hand and body wash. I find it very economical, especially with the variety of sizes available.

3 Deanna Vazquez { 02.18.09 at 11:06 pm }

Just wanted to quickly give you an answer on what ‘saponified’ is: In a nutshell, saponification is what happens when one mixes fat (animal or vegetable) with a caustic substance commonly known as ‘lye’ – usually either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. By calling it “saponified coconut oil”, soap manufacturers (especially organic) can probably avoid consumer shock – (the chemical sounds really nasty). It’s also not legally necessary to include it on the label once it has been processed into soap.

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