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Dr. Bronner's Products

My Favorites – Get to Know the 8 Castile Scents

It’s been twelve years since I originally wrote this in 2010 and I have a few more things to say about the different scents! I’ve learned more about their history, and I’ve had my own different experiences with them. I hope you learn something new here, too!

Overview of the Castile Soap Line

Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps came from a family formulation that was launched by my grandfather’s grandfather in 1858 in Laupheim, Germany. My grandfather was Emanuel Bronner, and his grandpa was Emanuel Heilbronner (the Heil was dropped in order to distance from the “Heil Hitler” association of World War II.) After his apprenticeship, Emanuel Heilbronner passed his examination to become a master soapmaker (literally in German “soap boiler”) and received authorization from King Wilhelm I to begin making soap. Five generations later, we are still making soap.

The base of the Pure-Castile Soap is a blend of olive, coconut, palm or palm kernel, hemp, and jojoba oils. The Castile Liquid is made with palm kernel oil and the Castile Bar with palm oil. For more on our use of palm oil, read my deep dive “Making Ethical Palm Oil a Reality.” For more on differences between the Liquid and Bar Pure-Castile Soaps, read my comparison “Liquid vs. Bar.”

All of the Castile Soaps have the same soap base, with the only difference being the essential oils that are added. But what a difference the essential oils make! The exception is the Baby Unscented Castile, which not only has no essential oils, but also a different ratio of oils in the liquid, as I explain below.

Those of you who have been with us for a while may remember when the Rose and Citrus were the newbies. You may even remember the paper labels, which were great until they got wet!

If you haven’t come across the full range of scents, check out the Store Locator over on the Dr. Bronner’s site (select Filter and select scent or size), or you can readily find them on many online retailers as well as our own webstore. An easy way to try the range is to pick up a set of the 2 oz. bottles or the bars. These also make a great gift set. For the Liquid Soap scents I use the most, I keep a gallon on hand to refill my 8 oz. bottles, which is a great way to reduce plastic usage.

So here’s all the scents, in their order of debut, as well as where you’ll find them in my house and what I use them for.

These are my preferences only! I know I’m in the vast minority with my Peppermint Castile opinion since it’s our number one selling product by far! Feel free to share your preferences and what you use them for.

Peppermint

If someone only knows one Dr. Bronner’s Castile scent, it’s usually the Peppermint. This is the original scent my grandfather began selling in 1955, though he had been making it and giving it out for free for a while before then. The zest! The tingle! It’s been described as a snowman hug, a York peppermint patty in your underwear, the lovechild of an apothecary and a magician. Still the company’s best seller by far—the Peppermint wakes you up and cools you down. Peppermint was Dr. Bronner’s personal favorite, as well as that of my parents, Trudy and Jim Bronner (Dr. Bronner’s youngest child).

  • Label Color: Royal Blue
  • Debut year: 1955
  • Scent in one word: Refresh!
  • Scent personality: Cooling, tingling, and refreshing. A knock-your-socks-off powerful minty burst.
  • Where I use it most: Peppermint is my go-to scent at the end of a hot day—after a workout or the beach or working in the garden. A shower with the Peppermint makes me feel like I’ve molted!

Almond

Two decades later, along came the Almond. This is my all-time favorite for personal care. The Almond is mellow and soothing, like a cup of tea in a comfy chair. The perfect way to ease into or out of the day. The Almond is ultimate companion soap: It blends well with everything. Citrus & Almond, Peppermint & Almond, Rose & Almond. It’s a friend to all. Maybe it’s my favorite because I aspire to the same thing.

  • Label Color: Emerald Green
  • Debut year: 1975
  • Scent in one word: Comfort!
  • Scent personality: Warm and cozy like marzipan or amaretto. Wraps you in a protective and buffering blanket against the world’s agitations.
  • Where I use it most: Every day in the shower, head to toe, for my hair, my face, my body.

Eucalyptus

The Eucalyptus and the Lavender debuted the same year, but could hardly be more different. Though lesser known in the Dr. Bronner’s lineup, the Eucalyptus has fierce devotees. This is the favorite of my brother Mike Bronner (President of Dr. Bronner’s). When my brothers and I were growing up, my dad mixed Eucalyptus with Peppermint for what he called the Euco-Peppo Bear Wash to bathe our dogs.

  • Label Color: Brown
  • Debut year: 1978
  • Scent in one word: Invigorate!
  • Scent personality: Adventurous and woodsy, capturing the wild freshness of a forest.
  • Where I use it most: This soap lures me outdoors and I love taking it camping. I still wash my dogs with it, like my dad. It is my backup facial soap, after the Tea Tree, when my skin is imbalanced.

Lavender

Refined but passionate, our Lavender is no flimsy floral flash, but is lush and spiced, rich with cultivation. If there’s any scent which has been misrepresented most by synthetic copycats, it is lavender. This is no lightweight, but penetrates deep. The Lavender was the favorite of my Uncle Ralph Bronner (Dr. Bronner’s oldest son.) 

  • Label Color: Lavender
  • Debut Year: 1978
  • Scent in one word: Calm
  • Scent personality: Rich yet relaxing, calming while passionate, actively soothing.
  • Where I use it most: Guest bathroom for foaming hand soap, bedding, gifts to new parents.

Baby Unscented

My grandfather received a request from the maternity ward at the UCLA Medical Center for a version of the Castile Soap that would be ideal for newborns’ delicate skin. The result was the Baby Unscented Castile with no essential oils and, in the liquid, double the amount of olive oil in the ratio blend. Olive oil is especially nourishing and mild to our skin. The label was originally light pink but later changed to light blue.

  • Label Color: Light Blue
  • Debut Year: 1979
  • Scent in one word: Soothe
  • Scent personality: Mild and gentle, the lack of essential oils means that all you will smell is some of the naturally occurring olive oil. And since you can add your own essential oils, this is the scent of endless potential!
  • Where I use it most: When I want to customize a scent with my own essential oils for personal or body care. For my garden spray for pests since it doesn’t flavor the herbs and vegetables. In gifts to new babies or to those with skin sensitivities.

Tea Tree

Early in his tenure leading the company, my brother David Bronner (now CEO—Cosmic Engagement Officer) developed the Tea Tree Castile. Research was pouring in about this native Australian plant’s success in the treatment of acne, fungal infections, and general antimicrobial action. This soap accompanied me on my journey out of adult-onset acne. While all of the Castile Soaps do a superb job removing makeup and leaving skin clean and residue-free, the Tea Tree is my favorite for this. When combined with the Eucalyptus, it is a compellingly clean scent for anyone who thinks that green cleaners lack that convincing aromatic punch of conventional cleaners.

  • Label color: Bright Orange
  • Debut year: 1998
  • Scent in one word: Restore!
  • Scent personality: Woodsy and herbal, with notes of pine, this is a therapeutic and cleansing scent.
  • Where I use it most: For nightly face washing and nightguard washing; For housecleaning, in my GIY All-Purpose Spray and anytime I feel the house needs an extra antimicrobial punch.

Rose

Mike brought in these last two scents, the Rose and the Citrus. The Rose with its rich blend of floral essential oils brings to mind an abundant summer garden, exuberant in blooms. Sweet and plush, the Rose Castile is welcoming and one I often keep in my guest bathroom. Although the essential oils are the same in both the liquid and the bar, I find that they communicate differently. The Rose Bar is my favorite of the bars, and in the middle of winter, when I’m craving a reminder of spring vibrance, I will unwrap a bar of the Rose.

  • Label color: Deep pink
  • Debut year: 2006
  • Scent in one word: Embrace!
  • Scent personality: Delicate, comforting, and sweet, this is the most romantic of our scents.
  • Where I use it most: In the guest bathroom. In the shower during the winter. A super thank you gift to a host or hostess.

Citrus

With its blend of sweet orange, lemon, and lime essential oils, the Citrus is my overall second favorite scent after the Almond. Both for personal care and house care, I love the Citrus’ sunny brightness. It is definitely the happiest of the scents, and I was thrilled when Mike developed this blend.  

  • Label color: Light orange
  • Debut year: 2008
  • Scent in one word: Energize!
  • Scent personality: Fresh, bright and cheery, with the zesty sharpness of a freshly peeled orange.
  • Where I use it most: Kitchen foaming dispenser, cleaning stone kitchen counters, laundry, mopping.

Okay, okay. I said this was about my favorites, and then I went on to tell you how they each are my go-to in different situations. So I guess the takeaway is, in one way or the other, they’re all my favorites!

Now it’s your turn! What are your favorites? Have you ever blended two scents, or created your own from the Baby Unscented? When did you first come to know the soaps and how were you introduced? Do you remember the paper labels on the bottles that would dissolve in the shower? Do you remember when the Baby Unscented was pink? Which of you have been washing with Dr. Bronner’s the longest?

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Kit says:

Thank you for sharing this! I love to know about the products I use. I’ve been using Dr Bronner’s soap since the late 1970s, when one could only find it in Co-ops and health food stores! I remember the paper labels well. Peppermint and Almond tie for the top of my list, but recently Lavender has moved up there, too. I was also so grateful to have the hand sanitizers available during the height of the pandemic. Our cleaning supply cabinet is stocked with all the scents, both bar and liquid, except for Tea Tree and Eucalyptus (too strong for me!).

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kit- Its always wonderful to hear from long-time customers! Thanks for your support over the years!

Nic says:

You mention a few times using a “foaming dispenser”. Do you just put the liquid version in a foaming bottle or is anything done to it first (diluting or ???)?

Dave says:

I’ve really enjoyed Jasmine Sandalwood as a scent of Dr. Bronner’s soaps overseas (Germany, Australia). Any plans to bring that scent to the USA? As that is my total favorite, I would love that. Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dave- We don’t have any plans right now to introduce Sandalwood Jasmine into the U.S. However, customers have found it on occasion at stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s.

Diana says:

This topic is dear to my heart as I love not only the soap base but also adore natural, botanical scents. Difficult to pick a favorite! I think each scent is a favorite in a different situation -which includes function but also my state of mind. So I guess my rating has to do with which I use most frequently, and which I never want to do without. I met almond and peppermint in the mid 1970’s and it was love at first whiff. I still love to use them for bathing but tend to gravitate to the almond as I find it so soothing soothing and comforting. Right after almond my next two favorites are eucalyptus and citrus, both for myself and for cleaning nice things. Next is lavender; love it for face and body wash. About 2 parts lavender and 1 part eucalyptus makes a beautiful wash for wool. Like Lisa I prefer rose in the bar, but i get mostly liquid so have not used rose in a while. All this reliving the scents is making me want to run and get a rose bar ASAP! Sadly I have always had very hard water and the Bronner soaps don’t work well as shampoo for me -bummer… In short, if I were obligated to pick only one or two, I would settle for almond and eucalyptus, after throwing a major tantrum, that is! (P.S. I do keep a bottle of tea tree soap around for major sanitizing.)

Diana says:

P.S. I would love, love, love a spruce-fir-pine type of blend!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Diana- I’m making note of your request! Have you tried our Sal Suds biodegradable household cleaner? It has just that scent your after. Its not intended for body care, but you can enjoy the pine scent while you’re cleaning your bathroom or doing dishes and such.

Megan says:

I have used the tea tree oil soap for sinus issues and it always works for me. This has been great during the last two years with the virus. If I think I was exposed or my nose is getting stuffy, I immediately spray my throat with my throat remedies and use Dr Bronner Tea Tree soap for my nasal passages and I am good to go! I also use the Baby unscented and lavender in the shower, the peppermint lip balm and peppermint toothpaste. Thanks for make clean products!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Megan- I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying the soaps! They certainly got me through a lot these past couple years as well. As far as using it as a nasal lavage, I do encourage folks to check with their medical advisor before using it for this purpose. I’m glad it’s been working for you!

Laura says:

This is a fun read. I discovered Dr. Bronner’s about 20 years ago; the label first drew me in with its philosophy. Soon began regularly enjoying the longtime standby, peppermint, which as you say is particularly excellent on hot summer days. The most favorite of mine for 10+ years is eucalyptus. It is like a wonderful relaxing spa experience every day. Lavender has a special nostalgic place too. Recently for the first time ever I tried the rose– it is so beautiful. Thanks for being a great company that makes great products!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Laura- Thank for your two decades of support! You’re right in line with my brother Mike in your love for the Eucalyptus. If you haven’t already used the Rose to wash bedding and such, I recommend it. It comes out with a sweet, gentle scent.

Ellen says:

Please consider persimmon for us again boomers. Nonenal creates a horrible, “old people” smell and persimmon neutralizes it. I have now added Mirai products to my Bronner collection.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ellen- Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll most certainly pass it along!

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Lisa Bronner

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Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

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