Over 150 years ago, Dr. Emanuel (Emil) Bronner strayed from his German–Jewish relatives and one of their fundamental family traditions. They were in the business of making soap the old fashioned way: from rendered animal blubber and flames. But this didn’t jive with “the Doctor” (a title he awarded himself during his process of perfecting his own soap recipes and creating a religious philosophy titled “All-One-God-Faith”). Bronner left his homeland in the 20’s for the United States, and in 1948, after escaping from a mental hospital that performed shock treatments on him, he began mixing the oil and peppermint brew we know and love today. The result is the perfect travel soap.
What It Is
More often than not, traveling gets nasty. You need a strong, potent soap to scrape the crud from your body, and that’s where Bronner’s comes in. It’s made from hyper condensed organic oils (olive, jojoba, coconut) and other natural ingredients. Because of its strong nature, a little goes a very long way. Varieties come as peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree and others. It’s biodegradable, vegan, is packaged in 100% Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) bottles and all of the ingredients are certified fair trade.
Why It’s Awesome
Dr. Bronner’s comes in many sizes and can be used for everything. Seriously. Everything. Meaning that rather than packing laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and tanning oil, all you need is Bronner’s, saving money, not to mention plenty of space and weight in your pack. You can use it to wash your dishes, your clothes, yourself, as shaving cream, as mouthwash, and reportedly, it can even be used for douching (never tried that one though – don’t have the requisite parts…). Just make sure you dilute it, otherwise your tenders may feel a rather ferocious burn.
Why You Should Support the Company
Most recognized for the nearly 3,000 words of maniacal prophetics that cover the label (while washing you can read up-lifters like, “Health is wealth.” “Absolute cleanliness is Godliness!” “Balanced food for body-mind-soul-spirit is our medicine.” and “Be satisfied with what you have.”) the Bronner Co. doesn’t just spout its beliefs, but acts on them too. They spend as much on social and environmental causes as they make (after taxes). They’re active in supporting fair trade practices, charities and progressive causes.
Sure, it is just soap, but it’s also the most versatile thing you’ll ever add to your pack. Plus, we need to stay at least somewhat clean, and what traveler doesn’t want to bring a little magic with them to foreign lands?
By Bryan Schatz