It’s almost noon.  Do you know where your Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer is?  Yesterday, mine accompanied me to the top of Sri Lankan landmark Sigiriya, the Lion Rock, atop which sits the ruins of a magnificent palace.

the top of Sri Lankan landmark Sigiriya Dr Bronner Hand Sanitizer There’s a fascinating story about this place with an extremely abrupt ending.  Around 473 AD Prince Kassapa, jealous of his half-brother Moggallana’s claim on the throne, walled his dad the king up alive and then chased his half-bro out of the country.  Fearing Moggallana’s inevitable return, he moved his royal headquarters to the unassailable top of the 1000+ foot Sigiriya Rock. In just 7 years, the palace up there was built and I can only imagine the talk around the water cooler by the workers that had to haul the bricks up there piece by piece.  And I got jittery using the steel steps with sturdy railings carrying nothing.  Anyhow, in only 7 years they built this stunning palace that even included an enormous water tank whose means of filling is still under debate. The king and his entourage are all installed up there, when Moggallana returns with an army of mercenaries.

Lisa Bronner in Front of 1000+ foot Sigiriya Rock

Here’s where the story takes an unexpected left turn.  It seems to me, now I’m no military tactician, but it seems to me that the whole idea of setting up shop on top of a 1000 foot rock is so that when the enemy comes, they can’t get you.  However, if you don’t stay on top of the rock, the rock can’t protect you.  Nonetheless, when big bro returned with his army, little bro K went down the rock and rode out in front to meet the oncoming troops on an elephant.  Due to some serious miscommunication, K’s troop’s thought he was retreating, and they themselves scurried back up the rock, leaving K to face his bro’s attack alone.  K promptly fell on his sword and died.

As I said it ended abruptly.  And because on top of a huge rock is a fairly inconvenient place from which to rule a kingdom, Moggalana moved the capital back to the ancient city of Anuradhapura.  So all that work was only royally useful for about 15 years, but it left behind what are now astoundingly splendid ruins.

Going Down is Dangerous

This is my favorite sign on Sigiriya.  It’s at the top.  It seems like it would have been much more useful at the bottom.  Once you’re at the top, there’s no help for the fact that you have to go down.  And it doesn’t offer any advice – “hold the handrail”, “go slow”, “don’t look down”.

Back to the hand sanitizer. 

This has been a great companion in all my traipsing around Sri Lanka.  Because of it, I’ve been able to enjoy a mango from a roadside stand with nary a washroom in sight.  I’ve been able to have a snack atop Sigiriya after clinging to the steel railings all the way up, right behind all 20 million people ahead of me that day.  (There aren’t sinks up there, either.)  And on the airplane, I was able to settle my tummy with a little bite to eat while we were jouncing along over the Atlantic making the bathroom inaccessible.

Other ways the hand san has come in handy:

  • A quick clean of my camera lens – I sprayed the edge of my shirt and wiped the lens.  (I probably just made some true photographers faint.)
  • Spraying a public toilet seat that looked, um, well used.
  • Quick relief from a mosquito bite before the itching set in too badly. (Quick Plug – I didn’t get many bites, thanks to my All Terrain Herbal bug repellent.  Good stuff!)

Best of all, since the sanitizer comes in a 3 oz. bottle, you can take it through security with your carry-on, no problem.

So when your deciding what to take and what to leave behind, the hand san has an excellent size:functionality ratio. In addition to the germ killing on hands, it has all the other little uses I’ve mentioned before that help reduce the number of miscellaneous products you’ll need to pack.

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A Closer Look at Fair Trade

July 16th, 2014

The Bronner Mom is far from home.  In fact, I could hardly be further.  Kuliyapatiyia, Sri Lanka.  A 12 ½ hour time change.  Site of Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade coconut oil project Serendipol.  And before you go off thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Sri Lanka.  I bet she does that all the time”, let’s get one thing straight.  I don’t.

I am learning firsthand what Fair Trade is all about.  In a nutshell (coconut shells, to be exact!) Fair Trade is a certification that verifies all the practices you hope your favorite companies already do.  Fair Trade is about people – paying living wages and providing community benefits for farmers, workers and their families.

“I buy organic.  Doesn’t that mean it’s all good?”

Organic means a lot of good things: no petrochemical pesticides, no synthetics, no GMO’s to name a few.  But Organic is completely silent about the issue of labor.  While it is better for laborers not to be exposed to all that, they could still be paid pittance, work in slummy conditions, and live in near poverty while providing us with our organic goodies. This is where Fair Trade comes in.  Organic certification is a pre-requisite for Fair Trade certification.

What Fair Trade looks like at Serendipol

A witness to worker well-being at Serendipol is the employee retention rate.  Workers stay.  They don’t find better work elsewhere.  What they have at Serendipol is very good.

Guaranteed year round work.

Annual bonuses

Daily production incentives

Fixed monthly salaries

Direct deposit bank accounts

Eye care and medical benefits

school books , uniforms and shoes annually for all employee children

Grants for employee personal home improvement projects.

There’s also a physiotherapist on site twice weekly to assist workers in worker-related muscle fatigue or strain.  There are morale boosting annual family celebrations with cricket, badminton, and other competitions.  There are educational opportunities for workers and farmers to provide advancement or increased yield.

Here’s one evidence of the improvement in the socio-economic well being of the workers:

Dr Bronner Employee Bike Shed

Initially, the factory provided a shed for all the employees’ bikes.  Now, more space is needed for their motorcycles.  Some employees already have tuk-tuks (local three wheeled vehicles) or even cars.  Gordon de Silva, Serendipol’s Managing Director,  joked, but seriously, that he’s soon going to have to buy additional property for employee parking.

Serendipol is a state of the art facility whose goal in 2014 is to process 20 million coconuts.  They’re on track.  They receive 17 truckloads of nuts every day.

The Gleaming Silos

These gleaming silos hold the oil before final filtration.

Dr Bronner Coconuts

That’s a lot of coconuts!

Dr Bronner Vegetable Garden

Here’s an on-site vegetable garden whose produce is all given to employees.

Dr Bronner Building in Serendipol

The buildings at Serendipol are beautifully constructed.

grounds are lush and manicured with landscaped paths flower beds

The grounds are lush and manicured with landscaped paths, flower beds, and even a badminton court.  There is also an employee canteen to provide a comfortable place for them to eat their meals.

I’m going to stop here for the day and I haven’t even gotten to the multitude of Community Improvement Projects Serendipol has funded.  Stay tuned.

Fair Trade is not as widespread as it should be.  It’s a concept many consumers as well as suppliers and manufacturers are still finding out about.  You won’t find all your products available with Fair Trade options.  But the ball has started rolling.  Help it pick up speed by

Asking companies to pursue Fair Trade certification

Buying products from companies with strong Fair Trade certification

Educating friends and associates about what Fair Trade is and how much it does.

 

Check out more information about Serendipol on the Dr. Bronner’s website, www.drbronner.com, including the Coconut Rock video.  Also, our Serendiworld site shares about all of our Fair Trade operations worldwide.  

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Six legged stowaways are a possibility on any produce.  Yes, I mean bugs.  Are they toxic?  Not usually.  Do I want to eat them?  Not personally.  Even without the critters, produce just needs a little bath.  And even moreso, non-organic produce that might be waxed - such as apples or cucumbers - definitely need a scrub.

Once again, enter Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soaps and Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

Bug Elimination

As I’ve established before, critters with exoskeletons perish in the presence of Castile soap and I still don’t know why.  However, it is a great help with buggy leaves.  Here’s a fabulously effective remedy when you come across a head of lettuce or bunch of kale with some tagalongs:

Needed:

1 or 2 big bowls filled with cool water

Castile soap (I use the Citrus in the very off chance that it doesn’t get fully rinsed.  A little citrus would blend right in, where eucalyptus or tea tree might not.)

Process:

Squirt the castile soap into one of the bowls of water.  (I don’t measure this, but I would guess about half a tablespoon.  And it doesn’t get bubbly, but it might get cloudy.) Separate the leaves from the head or bunch and plunge them whole into the bowl of slightly soapy water.  You can put many leaves in at a time as long as there’s still room for swishing the water around them.  Swish, swish, swish the leaves.  You’ll notice a lot of floaters in your bowl. Then, take the leaves out, shake the water off a bit and plunge them into the bowl of clear water.  (Or if you only have one bowl, dump the soapy water and add clean water and do the same.)  Dry the leaves however you prefer.

“But Lisa, that’ll take FOREVER!”  Honestly, it’s taken me much, much longer to write this description that it takes me to wash a head of lettuce.  Once you’ve identified the bowl and grabbed the soap, it’s really a quick thing to do.

Dirt elimination

If your produce just has a bit of field dust on it, either the Castile Soap or Sal Suds will get rid of it.  I prefer using a big bowl of water with either one added to it, as opposed to washing under running water.  I think it saves time and water in the long run for me, but then, I’m usually washing a lot at one time.

With Castile Soap: Fill a big bowl with water; add a small squirt of castile soap.  Swish your produce and rinse.

With Sal Suds: Add just a drop or two to a big bowl of water and swish away.

Wax elimination

The wax that is put on certain non-organic produce to make it more presentable and even preserves it a bit can be trickier to eliminate.  However, Sal Suds is the best option for this job.  Take that big bowl of water and add the two drops of Sal Suds.  Dunk the produce and take a soft cloth to rub the wax off gently.  Rinse and dry and there you go.  Check out a quick video about it here.

 

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Posted in Food Prep | 6 Comments »

I can always tell who has been in the refrigerator.  Its stainless steel doors keep clear record of which grimy hand closed it recently.  This is the “half-full” benefit of having all stainless steel appliances in my kitchen.  The “half empty” side points out how stainless steel mercilessly exhibits every fingerprint, water spot, grease splatter, or wayward breath that has dared come near it.

When I first moved into this house, I knew it was not built for the likes of me.  I can’t blame all the mess on my short ones.  I like to cook.  I like to cook often.  I am a messy cook.  The upside is that I have LOTS of opportunities to try out my cleaning solutions.

And so I bought countless products that were supposedly the miracle stainless steel surface cleaners.  None of them worked.  It took someone outside the family to point me back to the basics: a hot cloth and my Sal Suds All Purpose Spray.  Boy, did I feel sheepish for not figuring it out sooner!

My Sal Suds All Purpose Spray:

1 quart water

1 Tbsp. Sal Suds

In a quart spray bottle, in that order.

The video also shows my beloved microfiber cloths.  These are crucial with stainless steel because the little nubblies pick up the grease and fingerprints.  When the cloth is hot, it works even faster and more effectively.

I’m coming to appreciate the stainless.  It is pretty. And it does encourage me to clean up after myself. And someday it will go out of fashion.

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Where I live, wasting water is akin to eating baby seals. With that in mind, waiting to get hot water at my kitchen sink becomes a soul-wrenching experience. However, I need hot washcloths roughly 73 times a day.

Hot washcloths greatly decrease cleaning time while increasing cleaning effectiveness. While there are many things to do with the “waiting for it to heat” water – filling a watering can for houseplants or the dogs’ water bowl, washing a not too dirty pot – many times, my plants and dogs are well watered, my pots are all clean, and I still need a hot washcloth.

So here’s a quick tip on overcoming this existential quandary:

Plus, this gives me one of the three powerhouse tools for the safest and most effective cleaning: Heat. Attack messes with the triple punch of cleanliness: thermal, mechanical, chemical.  (Bear in mind that “chemical” means something that cleans on a molecular level, which includes Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps and Sal Suds .) What this looks like for me is Dr. Bronner’s and a hot, microfiber cloth.

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I think of myself as a blonde. In my mind, my hair looks like this:

Lisa Bronner at 6 years old

Here’s a more recent picture:

Lisa Bronner and daughter

I’m the one who is not the baby. The one who is not blonde.

Faced with this reality, I needed to change either how I thought of my hair or my hair itself, so I took the easier route. I became a highlighter. Otherwise I would have had to change my driver’s license.

Time out! Let’s step back a bit to what I wrote about my personal conversion from shampoo to soap. It ended with the somewhat devastating disclaimer that soap, due to its alkalinity, is unsuitable for color-treated hair. The higher-than-7 pH of the soap – 8.9 to be exact – causes the hair follicles where color is stored, to open up, allowing the color to escape. There has been keen disappointment in the comments over this disclaimer, and I absolutely hate disappointing people. Now I’m here to offer some hope. Hope in the form of highlights. But how can I get away with highlighting and still wash my hair with Dr. Bronner’s soaps?

Think of highlighting as a controlled color-stripping process wherein color is strategically removed to look like naturally occurring highlights. Color is taken out, not added in. There is no stored dye to worry about. Aha! A new day has dawned!

Warning: If you never, ever venture into the world of hair color, you may want to look away from this paragraph. The world of color is no simple sphere, so let me spin your head some more. When hair is professionally highlighted, stylists sometimes add lowlighting back in. This is more subtle streaking of color that creates depth. So, if your hair is lowlighted as well as highlighted, then you’re back in the “color added” category and the soap is not for you.

Breaking this down:

  • ➢ Highlights only = Dr. B’s soaps OK
  • ➢ Highlights and Lowlights = soaps not OK
  • ➢ Color-treated hair = soaps not OK

All of this to say, Dr. Bronner’s Castile and Shikakai soaps are safe on highlighted hair. Allow me to say that again: Dr. Bronner’s soaps are safe on highlighted hair! Release the confetti.

If you have never dabbled in the realm of hair color, I probably lost you at the first “blonde”. By the time we hit “lowlighting”, you had crossed the state line. However, if you are a highlighter, or are looking for a way to change your “look” but still want to use an organic, Fair Trade soap for shampooing, Dr. Bronner’s has your answer. As always, follow up a Dr. Bronner’s Castile or Shikakai hair wash with the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Conditioning Hair Rinse. It balances out the pH which is always necessary to keep our tresses happy. And the Dr. Bronner’s Leave-In Conditioning Hair Crème adds extra moisturizing.

And I am happy to be a blonde again.

Lisa Bronner

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Deodorizing the Garbage Disposal

February 26th, 2014

Recently, my son learned the unforgettable life lesson known as “what-happens-when-you-leave-a-hard-boiled-egg-in-your-lunch-box-over-a-three-day-weekend.” Unhappily, the rest of us got to experience the natural consequences of that lesson as well. Rotten eggs really do smell as horrendously horrible as they are reputed. Until now, I had happily never actually smelled one. But, oh my stars, now I know for sure: rotten eggs smell like rotten eggs. It knocks you flat.

Of course (and if you spend time with kids, you know this is an “of course”), at the moment my son opened that ill-fated container, my other son simultaneously knocked a shelf out of the refrigerator, (“I accidentally backed into it”) and eggnog – the alcoholic kind – was running across the kitchen floor. I sensed a theme here.

What were my options? The rotten egg demanded to be dealt with first. The dog was handling the eggnog just fine. I didn’t want to put that bomb in my trash can.  The trash truck had come the day before and if that egg waited another week, the trash can would never recover and my neighbors might seek legal action. I thought about burying it, but that would only attract wildlife. I opted for the garbage disposal.

Maybe there was a better option, but in the midst of that stench, it wasn’t apparent. Down the garbage disposal it went. Unfortunately, the stench did not go down with it.

Lemon Slices

Providentially, winter in southern California is lemon season, and I happen to have an abundance. There they were, glowing on the countertop. Beautiful, juicy, deliciously lemony Meyer lemons. I grabbed one, sliced half of it thinly and threw it down the garbage disposal after the egg. Sweet! Instantly the air cleared. The sickly cloud of green hovering over my kitchen was sucked down the drain along with those circles of sunshine. Perhaps it was an ignoble death for the lemon, but it was a worthy sacrifice.

Garbage disposals can get funky smelling under normal circumstances, so even without my extreme situation, you may find the need to freshen up your disposal. There are several lemony components at work here. First, the lemon juice is acidic, which can cut through grease in your drain. Secondly, the lemon peel wipes off the blades themselves as they’re minced. Thirdly, the oils in the peel coat the disposal and leave that awesome lemony-fresh scent behind. A trifecta of effectiveness.

Deodorizing the Disposal

Before you try this out, bear a few things in mind:

➢ Use a fresh lemon if possible which would be juicier and more tender.
➢ Cut it into thin wedges so as not to burn out your disposal.
➢ Put the lemon slices down the drain before turning the disposal. (I just feel like I need to say that. I live with kids.)
➢ Run cold water while you turn on the disposal.
➢ Let the disposal run until you don’t hear it grinding any more bits. This may take 30 seconds or so.

Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in my rotten egg situation. Hopefully, I won’t again either. But forewarned is forearmed, and keep those lemons handy. And my dog is fine. I don’t recommend frequent eggnog, but that once didn’t do him any evident harm.

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So let’s tackle one of the least romantic parts of housecleaning – toilet bowls.  I don’t need to tell you that these can get icky, especially if you have boys in the house.  (I love my boys to pieces, but they do – well – miss.)  Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds and Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap are both powerful enough to cleanse a commode.

Honestly, my conventional toilet cleaner was one of my last conventional products to give up.  There was something so confident and reassuring about the thick, beautiful blue gel with its minty fresh scent.  However, let’s just take a look at each of those features.  The reason it’s so thick is that it is supposed to cling to the insides of your toilet without dispersing in the water.  At the risk of stating the obvious, that means that it doesn’t disperse readily in water.  This means that if the gel goes down your pipes, it’s going to be in clumps.  It also means that if you or a little one gets it on your skin, it will cling and burn.  Next, I’ve already tackled conventional fragrance In “Changing the Smell of Clean” and the dye for the color is another melting pot where manufacturers can hide nasties.  Furthermore, toilet bowl cleaners are needlessly intense.  They are meant to disinfect the filthiest of toilets and then some with next to no effort from the user.  The cleaner then goes down your pipes and either into area water sources or, if you’re like me, into your septic tank and ultimately back yard.  Then what?  It doesn’t just vanish.  Conventional stuff doesn’t even break down readily.  It’ll be there long after you’ve stopped thinking about it.

Keep in mind what I’ve said about how things get clean: chemically, manually, or thermally .  If you just try to clean with one of these means – let’s say chemically, what you use is going to have to be really, really strong.  However, if you use an alternative cleaning method that combines the chemical (for this purpose, please accept that Sal Suds and soaps are technically chemicals, just not bad ones) along with the mechanical (i.e. your scrubbing) plus a little bit of time for the cleaner to sit and work, you’ll end up with just as clean of a toilet with no risk.

One of my favorite resources, the Environmental Working Group, gives over 56% of commercially available toilet bowl cleaners an “F” for safety – and some of these “F’s” have the word “Natural” in their name.  I’m sorry to pop any bubbles with that one.

What You’ll Need to Clean the Toilet

Either my Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds All-Purpose Spray or my Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile All-Purpose Spray with added pure essential tea tree oil (1/2 tsp. or 50 drops) which is a little more than what I normally use around the house.

Check out the links, but in a nutshell, the Sal Suds spray is a quart of water with 1 Tbsp. Sal Suds.  The castile spray is a quart of water with ¼ c. liquid Castile Soap.

Baking soda

A high quality plastic toilet brush (metal can scratch the enamel on the toilet and cause rust)

Method

  1. 1. Turn off your toilet water.  There is a knob on the wall underneath the toilet.  It turns.  Turn it clockwise until you can’t (don’t wrench it).  The water is now off.
  2. 2. Flush the toilet.  This will drain the water out of your bowl.  You might need to do this twice.
  3. 3. Spray down the inside of the toilet bowl thoroughly with either the Sal Suds spray or the Castile soap spray.  While you’re at it, spray down the outside of the toilet, too, just not as thoroughly or else you’ll have lots of drips on your floors.
  4. 4. Let it sit for 10 minutes.  Perhaps clean the rest of the bathroom or just sit
  5. 5. Sprinkle baking soda on your scrub brush (while holding it over the toilet bowl).
  6. 6. Scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly, making sure to get under the rim of the toilet bowl which is where minerals build up.  If you sprayed the outside of the toilet bowl, wipe it down with a microfiber cloth.
  7. 7. Turn the water back on.  Let the tank fill with water.
  8. 8. Flush the toilet.

A Precaution:  Undiluted Sal Suds is about the same consistency as conventional toilet bowl cleaner.  However, do not use it as such.  If you coat the inside of your toilet bowl with undiluted Sal Suds, you will have a toilet bowl of bubbles for a week.  If you have a toddler who already loves to play in the toilet, this will not help.

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Dr. Bronner's Organic Hand Sanitizer

My Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer is loaded in an outside pocket of my purse where I can grab it in an instant.

We have become a society that is addicted to hand sanitizer, so I want you to read this disclaimer:  Hand sanitizer does not replace soap and water if available.  Soap and water is more effective and if it is feasible to wash with soap and water, please do so.*  However, the sanitizer is a must when my ducklings exit the grocery store where they’ve touched every part of the cart and run their hands on the check out conveyer belt and picked up a penny from the parking lot and handled the pack of ground beef we bought and then ask, “Mom, can I have a snack?”

Although the Directions for Use should be pretty obvious, let me mention that it is best if the sanitizer is wet on the skin for 10-15 seconds for maximum effectiveness.  So, give the hands a good spray and wait a moment before handling the snack.

Dr. Bronner's hand sanitizer protects when you can't wash your hands.

Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer protects when you can’t wash your hands.

Additional Uses

The uses for hand sanitizer do not stop with the obvious.  While I wouldn’t recommend these applications on a large scale due to cost, there are a few other things I’ve used my hand sanitizer for when I’m out and about.  There are many, many more uses for rubbing alcohol around the house, but to keep our wallets happy, you really should just buy a larger bottle of organic ethyl alcohol for those purposes.  But, on the go, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s Hand Sanitizer for:

  • • Cleaning my son’s glasses.  I never seem to notice until we are very far from home that my 8 year old’s glasses are fuzzy with grime.  Alcohol is not the best thing to use on glasses regularly, but it works in a pinch.
  • • Spraying off public surfaces that must be touched – I’ve done grocery cart handles, airplane trays, steering wheels, diaper changing trays, even toilet seats.  This is not a cost-effective measure, I am well aware, but again, it works in a pinch.
  • • Quick relief from a mosquito bite – it really cools the sting.
  • • Eliminating stickiness. There’s a lot of sticky in my life.  We leave the house non-sticky and arrive at our destination sticky.  I don’t know how it happens  – sticky hands, sticky keys, sticky phones, which segues nicely to…
  • • Cleaning phone screens.  Do this with care because liquid and electronics don’t mix, so spray a tissue and then wipe the phone.   As with my son’s glasses, I am much more prone to notice filthiness on my phone when I’m far from home – I think it’s that public humiliation of, “What will they think of me when they see my phone?!?!”  Not really.  But still…
  • • This one is from a friend who uses it regularly – as an underarm deodorant, but not right after shaving.

A Rundown of Ingredients

This will be quick because there are only four: Organic Ethanol, Water, Organic Glycerin, and Organic Lavender Oil. All ingredients but the water (which is un-organic-able) are certified under the National Organic Program (NOP), which certifies organic food.

Organic Ethanol (62%):  NOP standards include a non-GMO policy, so this ethanol is from non-genetically modified cane sugar.  Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or the alcohol you drink, is an effective antiseptic. Isopropyl alcohol is the other one, which is made from propane. Hand sanitizers generally are alcohol based or triclosan based. (Any hand sanitizer that has a “natural” sanitizing claim has not been verified by the FDA.) So why do we use alcohol and not triclosan?  First off, triclosan isn’t and can’t be organic.  Second, the effectiveness of triclosan in killing germs is in dispute.**   Lastly, triclosan is also repeatedly being credited with contributing the formation of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Water – Not in there as a cost saving measure, water dilutes the alcohol so that it won’t dry out our skin and to aid the penetrability of the alcohol into the cells of germs.  Before you ask, alcohol will not penetrate human skin which is too thick and the alcohol evaporates too quickly.

Organic Glycerin – Glycerin is a natural humectant which draws moisture into the skin, further countering the drying nature of alcohol.

Organic Lavender Oil – The lavender oil is used to denature, or make undrinkable, the alcohol.  This is necessary to keep curious little people or mischievous big people from consuming the hand sanitizer. (You should still not leave the hand sanitizer in the hands of Untrustables.)  It also keeps the product from needing an alcohol tax.  This addresses the question, Can we make an unscented hand sanitizer?  No, we can’t.  It is legally necessary that we put something really untasty – though still organic and non-toxic per our own standards – in the formulation.   And since your next question will be, why don’t we make other scents of hand sanitizers, there are a few other essential oils that are permitted for denaturing, but we also have to consider safety to skin, cost, and demand.

While it’s a must-have for a diaper bag or a mother’s purse, I know I’ll be carrying this far past my child-rearing days.  And, as this was recently relevant to me, with a 2 oz. bottle, it is OK to carry it on to an airplane.

* Check out one of my previous posts, “Who Gave Soap a Bad Name”.

** Check out NBC’s “Think Twice about Antibacterial Soap, FDA Says

If Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap is so versatile, why make another kind of soap, the Organic Pump Soap? Which should I buy?

Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap is an extremely simple soap. It is my grandfather’s original, and if you have only heard of one Dr. Bronner’s product, it’s probably the castile soap and probably the peppermint. Its method of reacting oils with a strong alkali is millenia old; someone from the middle ages looking at our soap-making process would understand exactly what we are doing. The art of creating the perfect castile soap, though, lies in the choice and balance of oils as well as other processing methods. When you have the perfect castile soap, it is the most versatile cleaning agent possible. If you had to choose only one cleaning product for every aspect of your life, Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile soap is it. However, through the years, we have repeatedly heard a few requests:

  • “It would be nice if the castile were thicker.”
  • “It would be nice if it were more moisturizing.”
  • “It would be nice if it worked in a pump.”
  • “It would be nice if it were USDA certified organic.”*

Enter the pump soaps.
The Fair Trade & Organic Pump soap is based on the Pure Castile soap but the addition of a few ingredients makes all four of these desires a reality.

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap vs. Shikakai Soap

The pump soap drops the water from the castile soap and adds Organic White Grape Juice, Organic Sucrose, and Organic Shikakai Powder. Here’s how each benefits:

Organic White Grape Juice:

  • Acts as a humectant, which is something that helps the skin retain its natural moisture

Organic Sucrose:

  • Also a humectant (which is why sugar scrubs are so popular for the body)
  • Caramelized sucrose keeps the soap from coagulating and clogging the pumps

Organic Shikakai Powder

  • Conditions Skin and Hair as it cleanses – Shikakai is derived from a south Asian tree, the acacia concinna, and has long been used in traditional Indian body care as a moisturizing skin and body cleanser
  • Thickening agent

Why use one soap over the other?
Personal Care – The pump soap is more moisturizing and works in a traditional pump dispenser.  Other than that, it is mostly a matter of personal preference. The two soaps feel different. They smell different. They react differently on different skin types. If you are in love with the Pure Castile soaps, chances are, you are not going to like the pumps. If you’ve turned away from the Pure Castile because of dryness or intensity, the pumps are your answer.
House cleaning – The Pure Castile soap is the only way to go. Your household surfaces do not need to be moisturized (for the most part), and the ingredients that provide the moisturizing afterfeel on your skin make it a little more difficult to rinse off of hard surfaces. Also, the very slight graininess of the Shikakai powder (kind of like cinnamon) might clog spray bottles.

A final note:
There is no difference in the formulation of the two sizes of pumps. The 12 oz. is more conducive to sink-side, hand-washing use, and the 24 oz. lends more towards in-shower, whole-body washing. There is also a refill half gallon size.

*A few questions that might come to mind:
Why doesn’t the Pure Castile soap have the USDA organic seal?
In order for a product to qualify for the USDA organic seal, it must be made with 95% organic materials. However, for our castile soap making process to work correctly, we must add over 7% of the alkali (sodium or potassium hydroxide) to the oil blend.  Also bear in mind that substances such as water, salt, and hydroxides are all by nature inorganic, which means they do not come from a plant source. Therefore, the term “organic” can never apply to them.  The water content in the Pure Castile soap is not included in the organic percentage calculation.  The Pure Castile soap does carry the label “Made with Organic Oils”.  However,  the Fair Trade & Organic Pump Soap does not use water, but rather organic white grape juice, for the reasons mentioned above.  The organic white grape juice does count in the organic calculation and brings the pump soaps above the 95% threshold.

Why not replace water with white grape juice in the pure castile soap?

The beauty of the castile soap is its simplicity. And it is this very simplicity that makes the pure castile soap so very versatile. Once we start fancifying it with anything, the soap will lose some of its attractiveness as well as its usefulness.

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