FAQs

What are the “18-in-1” uses? Where can I find recipes and dilutions for your soaps?

You can use Dr. Bronner’s soaps for washing your face, body, hands and hair, for bathing, shaving, brushing your teeth, rinsing fruit, aromatherapy, washing dishes by hand, doing laundry, mopping floors, all-purpose cleaning, washing windows, scrubbing toilets, washing dogs, controlling dust mites, and killing ants and aphids. Now, that’s eighteen uses right there, but customers have told us over time about many more uses they have found for our soaps. Let us know what else you use our soaps for!

To get you started with recipes and dilutions, check out Lisa Bronner’s “Liquid Soaps Dilutions Cheat Sheet.”

 

What does “Castile” mean? Is your bar soap also a castile soap like the liquid? What is the difference between your bar and liquid soaps?

In earlier centuries, an all-vegetable-based soap was made in the Castile region of Spain from local olive oil. By the turn of this century, “Castile” had come to mean any vegetable oil-based soap, as distinct from animal (tallow) fat-based soap. “Pure-Castile” is now also your guarantee that what you are using is a genuinely ecological and simple soap – not a complex blend of detergents with a higher ecological impact due to the waste stream created during manufacturing and the detergents’ slower biodegradability. Unfortunately, many synthetic detergent blends are deceptively labeled as “Liquid Soap” despite the fact that they contain absolutely no real soap whatsoever.

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid and Bar Soaps are both pure-castile, as they are all vegetable oil-based. The difference between the liquid and bar soaps is that the liquid soaps use potassium hydroxide to saponify the vegetable oils, while the hard bar soaps use sodium hydroxide instead.

To learn more about the difference between our liquid and bar soaps, check out Lisa Bronner’s related blog post.

 

What’s the shelf life of your products? How can I tell when they were made?

In general, we recommend using Dr. Bronner’s body care products within three years of purchase. Soaps are self-preserving, but because our products are biodegradable, it’s best to not leave them on the shelf for too long, as they may start to lose strength.

To find out when our personal care products were manufactured, you can consult the “lot code,” a number that appears printed or etched on the packaging, typically near the bottom just below the label. The first digit refers to the year (i.e., “2” is 2012, “3” is 2013, etc.), while the next three digits refer to the Julian Date (i.e., the day of the year out of 365 total days). So, for example, if the first four digits of a lot code number are “3165,” then that means the product was manufactured in 2013 on the 165th day of the year (June 14th). You can see a Julian Date calendar here.

For easy reference, our Fair Trade & Organic Virgin Coconut Oils (VCOs) are labeled with a “Best By” date next to the lot code. Due to space limitations, we use a different system to code our Organic Lip Balms, so if you have a question about the expiration date for a lip balm, please contact our Customer Service Department directly.

 

Can I use your soaps to shampoo?

Yes, absolutely, and many people do! However, it is important to pair the soap with an acidic conditioning rinse, such as Dr. Bronner’s own Organic Citrus Conditioning Hair Rinse.

Our soaps clean hair very well, but they can leave a tangly look and feel. So, use our conditioning rinse to tamp down the cuticles in your hair and give it a smooth and silky after feel.

To learn more about shampooing with our soaps, check out Lisa Bronner’s related blog post.

 

Which of your products are vegan? Do you test your products on animals?

All of Dr. Bronner’s products sold in the U.S. and Canada are Certified Vegan, except for our Organic Lip Balms and Organic Body Balms, which contain organic beeswax. All of our products carry the “Leaping Bunny” seal, which indicates that they are cruelty-free and that there is no animal testing done with them.

Although our product lines are otherwise vegan, we do use certified organic beeswax in our lip and body balms. We have not yet been able to find a certified organic plant-based wax, and Sue Kastensen, the creator of our balms, insisted that she had not found a plant-based alternative that could substitute for the amazing qualities of natural beeswax. Based on her experience, and her extensive training and mentoring under the Native American herbalist Keewaydinoquay, Sue formulated her original lip balms with just avocado oil and beeswax, because beeswax has natural antibacterial and sunblock qualities and provides a superior barrier to keep moisture in. We buy our certified organic beeswax from Zambia, where we have confirmed that the queen bees are not killed each year, a practice sometimes employed in conventional beekeeping to maximize yields.

 

Where can I buy your soaps in the U.S.? What about outside the U.S.?

If you live in the U.S., please use our Store Locator to find a retailer near you. You can also purchase products directly from Dr. Bronner’s through our Web store.

Our soaps are also available in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, the U.K. and much of the E.U. If you live outside of the U.S., please visit our International page to find links to our various international distributors.

 

Why is palm kernel oil now in the liquid soap? Is it sustainable?

As our company continues to grow, we are able to partner with more and more organic & Fair Trade projects around the world, thereby supporting organic farming practices, fair wages, and economic development. Adding Organic & Fair Trade Palm Kernel Oil to our soaps allows us to support the good work being done by Natural Habitats in Ecuador, where small-scale farmers grow oil palms sustainably and receive a fair price for their palm fruits. Because the fatty acid profile of coconut and palm kernel oils are so similar, they can be used interchangeably in soapmaking, where they produce an identical rich and copious lather.

No rainforest habitat or wildlife is harmed in the production of their palm kernel oil, and Natural Habitats is certified under IMO’s “Fair for Life” program, the most rigorous fair trade and sustainable certification in the world, that also certifies Dr. Bronner’s existing fair trade coconut and palm oil sister companies, Serendipol and Serendipalm.

Extensive careful evaluation and blind customer trials have confirmed that using a small amount of palm kernel oil alongside coconut oil results in no change to our soaps’ unsurpassed quality. Thus we are excited to partner with Natural Habitiats and small-holder farmers who demonstrate how to produce palm kernel oil sustainably, and support their families and communities over the long-term.

 

Are your tropical oils, including palm and palm kernel oils, produced sustainably?

Some Dr. Bronner’s customers have been concerned that the palm, palm kernel and coconut oils we use in our soaps may come from plantations that were established on recently-cleared tropical forestland or from operations that otherwise contribute to environmental destruction. But rest assured, that is not the case.

As with any other crop, it’s not just what you grow, it’s how you grow it. We purchase from growers who are all certified organic. This means that no agrochemicals are used (chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides) and soil fertility is replenished by natural means such as compost, manure and mulching with crop residues. The production of our oils also does not contribute to deforestation, unlike palm oil grown on huge plantations in Indonesia, for example.

Our palm oil comes from about 2,500 acres of smallholdings in Ghana that were established decades ago, and our palm kernel oil from sustainable small farmers in Ecuador. We support growers in improving palm fruit yields – thus getting more oil out of the same amount of land. Our coconut oil comes from about 500 small to mid-size farms in Sri Lanka, most of which have been in the owner’s family for generations. We encourage our growers to intercrop with other beneficial species and supply organic fertilizer at subsidized prices. This improves the soil fertility, yields and profitability of small farms – and allows them to compete with larger plantations.

By having our entire supply chain certified Fair Trade and organic, we also hope to demonstrate that one can produce any crop – and the products made from them – sustainably.

To learn more, see our Ethical Sourcing page.

 

Are your soaps safe for babies?

Dr. Bronner’s soaps are exceptionally mild and safe for babies, however they are not tear-free, so it’s important to be very careful and make sure that the soap does not get in your baby’s eyes (or yours either!).

For babies, we especially recommend our Unscented Baby-Mild line, as their skin can be sensitive to the essential oils that are in our scented soaps.

Most tear-free formulations on the market use some kind of synthetic numbing agent. We have chosen to keep our soaps free of any such chemical additives.

 

Can I wash my pet with your soaps?

Yes! Dr. Bronner’s soaps are wonderful for washing pets, especially dogs. To see a great demonstration of how to wash your dog with our soaps, check out Lisa Bronner’s blog post on the topic.

For cats, you have to be a little more careful. Many essential oils can be toxic to cats, especially tea tree, lavender and peppermint oils. So for cats, as for babies, your best bet is to use one of our Unscented Baby-Mild varieties.

 

Do you have a satisfaction guarantee? What is your return policy?

You can read Dr. Bronner’s guarantee and return policies here. If you have any questions about them, please contact our Customer Service Department.

 

Do your soaps contain any foaming agents or detergents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate?

Absolutely not. Dr. Bronner’s soaps are 100% true pure-castile soaps. The high-foaming lather of our soaps comes from their high coconut oil content, which creates a more luxurious and richer lather than any detergent could ever produce. “Pure-Castile” is your guarantee that what you are using is a genuinely ecological and simple soap – not a complex blend of detergents with a higher ecological impact due to the waste stream created during manufacturing and the detergents’ slower biodegradability. Unfortunately, many synthetic detergent blends are deceptively labeled as “Liquid Soap” despite the fact that they contain absolutely no real soap whatsoever.

We do have one product, Sal Suds, which contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Coco-Betaine, and Lauryl Glucoside. Sal Suds is an all-purpose household cleaning product, and is not intended for use on the body. It is a balanced formulation of naturally derived surfactants that are mild and gentle on the skin, cruelty-free and biodegradable.

 

Are your products free of gluten, corn, soy and nuts? Why am I having an allergic reaction?

In general, Dr. Bronner’s products are gluten-free, and they do not contain any common allergens such as soy or nuts. However, there are a few exceptions: our Shaving Gels, Lotions and Hair Crèmes contain xanthan gum derived from non-GMO corn. Our Castile Liquid Soaps, Castile Bar Soaps, Pump Soaps, and Shaving Gels contain citric acid derived from tapioca (although in the past we did use citric acid derived from non-GMO corn). If you are having an allergic reaction, then it is possible that you are sensitive to one of the essential oils that are in our products, such as peppermint oil or lavender oil. If you have sensitive skin, then we recommend using our Unscented Baby-Mild varieties, which contain no essential oils. Our Toothpaste contains glycerin derived from organic soybean oil.

Our Coconut Oils are produced and bottled in nut-free facilities with equipment that is used exclusively for our Coconut Oils. Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to your allergist before adding coconut to your diet.

 

I am getting a burning sensation from using your Peppermint Soap, is that normal?

It is not common, but some people do experience a burning sensation when using our Peppermint Soap, especially over sensitive areas. Most people experience a “tingly cool” feeling, due to the menthol molecules in the peppermint oil bonding with receptors on the skin that send a “cooling” message to the brain. What seems to be happening with people that experience a burning sensation is that the menthol molecules are instead bonding with different (but related) receptors, ones that normally respond to capsicin (the molecule found in chile peppers), thus sending a “burning” sensation to the brain instead of a “cooling” one. Unfortunately, there is not much to be done in this case and our only recommendation is to switch to one of our different scents, as the other scents will not cause the burning sensation.

 

How is your coconut oil made, and what is the difference between your White Kernel and Whole Kernel oils?

Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade & Organic Virgin Coconut Oils (VCOs) are made using a “dry process” – after the coconuts are harvested, nuts mature for three weeks on the farm or at the factory. Then the outer, fibrous husks are removed, and the nuts are processed into oil within two days. After shelling and washing, the coconut kernel is ground and air-dried in a fluidized bed dryer. Within twelve hours, the ground and dried kernel is expeller-pressed. The oil then goes through a two-stage filtering process to remove solids, producing a clear oil.

Our Whole Kernel oil – sold in the jar with the brown label – is made from the whole coconut kernel, with the brown parings (the soft inner skin) left intact. Our White Kernel oil is produced from the kernel after the parings have been removed. The Whole Kernel oil is somewhat more nutritious and has a slightly nuttier flavor. Both oils can be used interchangeably for all culinary and body care uses.

To learn more, see our Ethical Sourcing page, or download our VCO FAQs.

 

When checking out of your Web Store, the system told me that there was a problem with my “Ship To” address. I entered my correct address, so why did I get this notification?

We now use an address verification system via our shipper (UPS) to minimize the chances of shipping an order to an incorrect or invalid address. This saves us time and expense, which in turn allows us to better serve our customers. There are very particular address formats that UPS prefers, and so your “correct” address may look “incorrect” to UPS. As long as you review and confirm it, you can continue on either by choosing to go ahead with what you entered or by selecting the “corrected” version offered by the system. On the other hand, if you determine that the address is indeed incorrect, then the system allows you to correct it and then move on.