Eli August will put you in a lather (with his handmade soaps)
Created by AustinSirkin on 8/20/2012 5:46:39 PM

Writer and Scholar, Austin Sirkin, cleans up for a review of Eli August's handmade soaps.

If you've been involved in the Steampunk scene for a while, you've probably heard the name Eli August, but you may not have any idea who he is or what he does. He's primarily a musician who books gigs in the Northeast US at Steampunk conventions, and his music is particularly notable for being sad. Soapmaker and Musician, Eli AugustNot pathetic sad, I mean makes-you-want-to-cry sad, because his raw sound and poignant lyrics crawl inside your ocular cavity and literally hurl tears out of your eyes. Still, it's not by any means an unpleasant experience, and everyone needs a good cry from time to time. He also has a few romantic songs that are really, really sweet, and an entire album with a nautical theme.

So what's a musician doing making soap?

Yeah, you heard me. In addition to selling music, Eli August also sells handmade soaps, and if you think that music and soap are an odd combination, you've clearly never brought your nose with you to a concert or convention. Personally, I've known Eli for quite a while, and when he decided to dabble in the soap industry, I was simultaneously pleased (marketing cleaning products? Yes, please!), confused (you're making what?), and wary (soap is a thing you can make at home?).

So in the interest of science, I told Eli that if he sent me some samples of his soaps that I would review them for the Steampunk Chronicle. I did this out of the goodness of my heart, and not because I wanted to rub sweet-smelling goodness all over my body, I swear. Eli dutifully sent me a sampling of each of his many varieties of soaps, which all have a Steampunk bent. There's LavenDarwin, Samuel (C)Lemons, Anise Oakley, Edgar Allan Potpourri, Ni-clove-a Tesla, and Tea Tree Barnum. If handmade soaps aren't inherently Steampunk, I don't know what is, but I have to admit that I also got a kick out of all the clever names.

Of course, having seen Fight Club like everyone else, I had to ask if the soap was made from discarded, liposuctioned human fat, and Eli was kind enough to assure me that it wasn't. I think I believe him, though after trying them, I have to admit that I don't really care. I enjoyed them enough that even if they were made of human fat, I'd still rub them all over myself.

The soap itself, dry, is a pleasing variety of both colors and smells. My favorite scents were the LavenDarwin, the Tea Tree Barnum, and the Samuel (C)Lemons, though I just generally dislike anise and cloves, so it's unsurprisingly that those didn't rank higher for me. My favorite color was the black Edgar Allan Potpourri, because I just get a kick out of black soap. It seriously took me a while to work up the nerve to use it, because I wasn't entirely convinced that it wouldn't turn my skin black. Then again, I was that kid who had trouble eating the green ketchup because it looked like it would taste like green paint.

In the shower, the soaps all lathered up quite nicely, and were easily spread around. What I really, really liked about these soaps, though, was how odiferous they were. That is, their odor really opened up when the soap got wet, and scented the entire bathroom. Sometimes I'll leave the bathroom and have it smell like nothing, but with these soaps, my bathroom would literally smell nice for hours. It was fantastic for me, but if you're one of those people with a really sensitive nose, you may feel overwhelmed. It does speak volumes, though, that my wife has an extremely sensitive nose, and she still enjoyed the soaps. This may be due to the very pleasing smells associated with each one.

When I agreed to try these handmade soaps, my primary concern was that they wouldn't really get me as clean as the soaps that I buy in the store. However, Eli's soaps left me feeling surprisingly clean after my showers, in a way that store-bought soaps didn't.

My one complaint about his soaps are that they left my skin a tiny bit dry afterward, but not so dry that it was a problem. I didn't need to alter my moisturizing routine at all, I just noticed that I felt a little drier than usual. Again, wasn't a problem for me, but if you habitually suffer from dry skin, you may want to take note.

In closing, I was overall very pleased with my encounter with Eli August's soaps, and I can, with a clean conscience (pun intended), recommend that you support a small business and give them a try! Eli's a talented guy, and his soaps are in many ways like his music: get them in your eyes, and they'll make you cry.

Want to give Tea Tree Barnum or Edgar Allan Potpourri a try? Order here from Eli's website.


Austin Sirkin is a modern day, Victorian-inspired Renaissance man who wears many hats, both literally and figuratively. Primarily a literature scholar at Georgia State University, Austin uses his training to explore Steampunk and has presented papers on the topic at academic conferences as well as giving many panels at fan conventions. He was also in the Panic at the Disco music video "The Ballad of Mona Lisa", has been featured in Locus magazine, is the Culture and Media track director at AnachroCon, and has contributed in countless ways to the growing Steampunk scene.

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