After my years of research and trying out different brands and products, I find Dr Bronner to have the best natural soap for eczema (read this article to discover why eczema skin needs natural products).
Dr Bronner is truly an exceptional and amazing company. All the 160 years of soap-making, they have been upholding their ancestors’ vision, and their founder’s philosophy. To them, spreading love and upholding principles and integrity is much more important than profit-making.
Holding their products to the highest quality so that their consumers can lather in the most natural and organic soaps, being environmentally-friendly and aiming for zero waste in their production, fighting for health and environmental policy changes for the benefit of the people are just some of the things that they do.
History of Dr Bronner
In 1858, the Heilbronner family started making soap at home in Germany. They invented the first liquid castile soap, and sold bar soaps too. In 1908, Emanuel Heilbronner (Dr Bronner) was born. He studied soapmaking, and had a university degree in chemistry. He was the 3rd generation in the family soap business. His strong personality and ideas for modern soapmaking led to clashes with his father and uncles, so he migrated to the U.S.
In the U.S., he was the advisor for various soap and chemical specialty manufacturers. With the rise of Hitler in the 1930s, he dropped ‘Heil’ from his last name. In the 1940s, his parents were killed when the Nazis nationalised the family soap factory. Later, he adopted the honourable “Dr” in his name, which no one disputed, given his intensity, scientific knowledge and strong German accent.
In 1945, Dr Bronner escaped the Elgin State Insane Asylum after being institutionalised for his opinionated moral and religious views, that humanity should stand united as one and not let our differences rip the world apart.
1948 marked the founding of Dr Bronner’s brand of liquid castile soaps, bar soaps, along with some health food seasonings. He lectured on world peace and the unity of the entire human race, selling and giving away soap on the side.
When he realised that people were simply taking the soap without sitting in his lectures, he began to print his message, together with the All-One! slogan, on the labels of the soap. The slogan is still printed on the soap labels until this very day, in his honour.
In the 1950s, his sons, Jim and Ralph, joined the business. With Jim’s leadership and foresight, Dr Bronner’s soaps grew to become the iconic soap of the era. Ralph worked with his father to continue refining the message on their labels.
Dr Bronner passed away in 1997. Jim Bronner died in 1998, from cancer, a year after his father’s passing. His son, David, stepped up to run the company together with his mother (Jim’s wife), and Uncle Ralph.
You would have thought that would be the end of the history lesson. Oh, no…. not yet. Dr Bronner’s went on to contribute their utmost to humankind, still holding strong to their beliefs of doing good and making the world a better place.
The Spirit Carries On
In 2000, Dr Bronner’s soaps began exporting all around the world. In 2003, they became the largest personal care company certified under USDA’s National Organic Program. They pioneered 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. They placed much focus on staff welfare and benefits, providing 100% health coverage. They dedicated any profits that are not needed for their business to progressive causes (a reform movement for the improvement of society) and charity.
Dr Bronner’s funded and pushed hard for the re-commercialisation of industrial hemp, believing strongly in its medicinal properties, and that adults should be trusted to use cannabis safely to manage and treat illnesses and diseases, in place of harmful pharmaceuticals. In 2004, they triumphed over the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) hemp regulations.
In 2007, Dr Bronner’s was certified as a Fair Trade company, with all their major raw materials from certified Fair Trade sources. In 2012 and 2013, Dr Bronner’s worked hand in hand with a coalition of consumers, health, and environmental groups to demand for the labeling of genetically modified foods. In 2014, they moved the factory to a larger premise, and committed to a zero waste operation.
In 2015, the passing of Uncle Ralph reminded everyone of how the company had always aspired towards the mission of spreading love first, and making profits second.
Phew! That was certainly one long history lesson, without which one would find the labels on Dr Bronner’s soaps extremely bizzare. Now, at least we understand the strangeness of the labels comes from a family that holds so strongly to their views and does their utmost to produce the best organic soap, and at the same time contribute to the world in so many other ways, with profit-making down at the bottom of their priority list.
What is Castile soap?
Castile soap is one of the most natural and biodegradable soaps around. It is also non-toxic. It got its name from the Castile region in Spain, where it originated. The original version of Castile soap was made with mainly olive oil. Now, Castile soaps can be made from other vegetable oils too, like coconut, hemp, avocado, walnut, almond, etc.
It binds well with dirt and grease to perform its cleaning job around the house and on us. Dr Bronner’s Castile soap is advertised as having 18 uses! On our bodies: face; body; hair; bath; shaving; teeth; foot bath; and clearing congestion. Around the house: handwashing dishes; laundry; mopping; all-purpose cleaning; windows; toilet; fruit & veggie rinse; dog washing; plant spray for bugs; and ant spray (on ants, not on plants). Another… phew!
One point to note is Dr Bronner’s liquid Castile soaps are in high concentration, so it should be diluted before most uses. The label does give the instructions for each use on our body.
Another point to note is that Castile soap is alkaline, so do not combine it with anything acidic like vinegar, as this will cancel out the potency and effects of both ingredients.
It is a staple around our house
We are now Dr Bronner’s ‘converts’, if I might call ourselves that. After discovering his products, along with their goodness and versatility, our kitchen is always well stocked with Dr Bronner’s liquid Castile soap and bar soap.
With just these natural soaps, along with some common kitchen basics like baking soda, … Viola! ALL our cleaning needs can be met, whether it’s cleaning around the house, laundry, or dishes, or it’s cleaning ourselves from head to toe, we now use all natural ingredients. Each cleaning need has its own concoction, which I have detailed in separate articles. You can read them here:
- DIY laundry soap powder and softener
- DIY household cleaners
- DIY cleaners from head to toe
Only when I am feeling just a bit lazy, or looking for just a bit more variety, will I use Dr Bronner’s 4-in-1 pump soap (read about it in this article) for our body cleaning needs, without having to summon my witch’s cauldron for mixing and fizzing and bubbling.
I hope you find this article useful, and do feel free to comment below on your experience with any of Dr Bronner’s products, or other natural personal care products.