During my first trip to America, back in the late eighties, I encountered an odd little product known as Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. It sounded as though it would be delivered by a manic Gene Wilder and turn parts of the body invisible, but instead it was a very good, if strangely minty, liquid soap, useful for all sorts of things. Indeed, reading the label (which back then was paper and gradually disintegrated into blue pulp if you took the bottle into the shower) it seemed to be part of plan to cure the world’s ills and not just clean its grubby hippy types. The soap was almost impossible to find in the UK at the time, but I kept buying and using it each year when I returned to America to work at summer camps. It was even handy for laundry, with the minor side-effect of making my T-shirts smell like a roll of Polos, and the label made for entertaining reading on those quiet summer evenings.
It’s also a product beloved of ultralight hikers, who use it to avoid taking separate soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and even toothpaste, thus reducing weight. Yes, toothpaste. I’d heard about this unconventional use of the product years ago but had never tried it because a.) it sounded utterly bonkers and b.) we have very nice proper toothpaste in the house, thank you kindly. With my TGO route finished and submitted I started looking over the gear list I was tinkering with and began to wonder where I could shave a little weight from the equipment.
In case you’re wondering, it tastes like soap. Minty soap, to be sure, but soap nonetheless.