Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile vs. Sugar Soaps

If Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap is so versatile, why make another kind of soap, the Organic Sugar Soap? Which should I buy?

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid 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 soap 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 Organic Sugar soap is based on the Pure-Castile Liquid soap but the addition of a few ingredients makes all four of these desires a reality.

The Organic Sugar 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.
  • Read more about the amazing qualities of Shikakai on my post, Benefits of Shikakai Powder for Hair and Body.

Why use one soap over the other?
Personal Care – The Organic Sugar 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 soap because of dryness or intensity, the Organic Sugar Soaps 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 after feel 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 Organic Sugar Soaps.  The 12 oz. bottle 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 Organic Sugar 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.

194 thoughts on “Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile vs. Sugar Soaps

  1. We really love your products. We use your Shaving Soap, your Castile soap, your hair rinse, your sugar soap. It’s great!

    Lately, our local ant population has decided that the sugar soap is very tasty. They’ve discovered our kitchen and every single bathroom in our house. They have taken to climbing up the sugar soap bottles and eating the sugar soap that collects at the end of the spout.

    I haven’t seen anyone else report this on this forum, but a few other amazon commenters seem to have the same issue.

    What do you recommend?

    • Hi Andrew- Unfortunately, ants are no different than us in this regard. They too are attracted to sugar! I recommend not using the Sugar Soaps in ant-prone areas. Instead, try using our Castile liquid soap in a foaming pump dispenser, diluted at 1 part water to 3 parts soap.

  2. Hi Lisa,
    I would like to know if the sugar soaps actually put any sugar, or sugar residues on the skin. I would like to try them, but not if the sugar is still available after the soap making.
    Thank you, Sandy

    • Hi Sandy- Organic sugar is present in our sugar soaps, but it’s rinsed away along with the soap.

  3. Is there any suggested formula for adding fragrance to the unscented sugar soap with essential oil?

    For example, if I wanted to add lemon or peppermint or lavender essential oil to a 12oz hand soap pump dispenser, how many drops is a good start?

    • Hi Randy- About ten drops total of essential oils, but adjust to your preference. For stronger oils/scents, you can go with less.

  4. Thanks for the quick response. What do you personally think will be the best ingriendents to use for a facial exfoliating scrub?

    • Hi Sam- For a facial scrub, I recommend one of our more mild-scented Castile Soaps, which are Almond, Unscented and Rose.

    • Hi Sam- It sure is. Because the skin on our face is more sensitive than the rest of our body, you don’t want to be too rough. Instead of using regular sugar, make the scrub with ultra fine sugar (sometimes called baker’s sugar). This is available at many markets, or you can make your own by running regular sugar through a food processor.

  5. I love all your information and soaps! My question: can the sugar soap be used in a foaming soap dispenser? If so, what is a good ratio? I’ve used the Castile soaps in a foaming dispenser but add a little fractionated coconut oil as a moisturizer – maybe another oil is better tho. Any comments? Thank you so much.

  6. Hi there,

    Any chance that the sugar hand soap may come in Rose scent anytime soon or at all? I absolutely love love love the sugar hand soap unscented but love the Rose scent in the regular Castile soap. The other scents are just way too strong and harsh for me personally, wish you had the rose being that it’s a softer and also moisturizing sent

    • Hi Lolla- There are no new scents in the works for the Sugar Soap, but everything begins with an idea. I’ll pass yours on to product team. In the meantime, to create a scent similar to the Rose Castile soap, you can add a few drops of pure Rose or Geranium essential oil to the Unscented Sugar Soap.

    • Hi Elizabeth- For some, oily skin is caused by naturally dry skin that is trying to compensate by overproducing oils, in which case the Sugar Soap my help. But generally, people with oily skin prefer the Castile soap.

  7. Hi Lisa. I have another question. Does the company have plans at any point to expand the Sugar Soap line to mirror the Castile Soaps? I ask because the Citrus Castile Soap is by far my favorite scent, and I know the Lemongrass Lime Sugar version is similar, but it’s just not the same. I would love it if I could get it in the Sugar Soap.

    And I know from speaking to various friends and family that they would love other Castile Soap versions available in the Sugar Soap as well—like Almond and Eucalyptus.

    • Hi Brent- That’s a great idea! There are no new scents in the works, but everything begins with an idea. I’ll pass yours on to product team.

  8. Suggestion — Would certainly help if it was printed — large enough to read — at the top of the label. Also, the direction to turn.

  9. Just got the sugar soap with a pump. How do I make the pump work? Make the pump pump?

  10. Does the unscented sugar soap also have double the amount of olive oil like the unscented Castile soap?

    • Hi Brent- It’s funny you should ask. All our Sugar Soaps are formulated with the Baby Unscented Castile soap as a base and thus, contain double the olive oil.

  11. Can I just say , Thank You!!!. I’ve grown up with your Castile soap and I love it, I Just discovered your sugar soap and I really Really love this tooo!!! Aww I just love you guys so much ??????Thank you for all that you do, and for keeping true and not changing even though it may be hard sometimes. Thank you.

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