Soap + Water: How Soap Makers in the U.S. Bring Safe Water to Africa

It all started with a hug, a beginning fitting for the generous and kind company that was to come from it.

“One day I hugged my friend and said, “Wow, you smell good! What do you have on? And she said, ‘It’s my soap!’”

Carol Modrak laughed at the remembering of this story. It was the beginning of what would become her and her husband’s small business—Earth Essentials, a collection of bath, body, and home products based in Ohio. It was also the avenue by which Carol and her husband, Ronald, would give safe drinking water to families in need in Lifewater’s Africa programs.

Ronald “fell in love” (as they would both describe it) with the soap, and he worried that the owner, Barbara, was close to retiring. As it turns out, Barbara was retiring the very next year.

So, in 2015, Ronald and Carol purchased Barbara’s equipment and became her apprentices. As they learned to make high-quality soaps using Barbara’s decades of refined recipes, they grew to build a strong and loving friendship with her.

Earth Essentials
Earth Essentials handmade soaps (left) and Carol and Ronald Modrak and Barbara Downey (right)

Today, Earth Essentials is a thriving business with expanded products and the same long-held commitment to quality ingredients.

Giving Safe Water with Soap Sales

As Carol and Ronald began making soaps, lotions, candles, and more on their own, Carol was reading a book about creating goals for your life.

“One of my life goals was to donate enough money to dig a well in a country that needed water,” Carol said. “I can wake up at 3 a.m. and walk out to my kitchen and grab a glass of water and go back to bed; there’s women just like me that don’t have this luxury.”

“One of my life goals was to donate enough money to dig a well in a country that needed water.”

– Carol Modrak, Earth Essentials

“It’s just something on my heart,” Carol added.

But every time Carol and her husband began saving towards this goal, something would come up.

“It just wasn’t happening,” she said. “This one day, the Lord just spoke to me and said do it little by little like the ant, like the proverb; the ant stores little by little.”

That’s when Carol and Ronald decided to dedicate a portion of their sales to safe water. Carol researched and researched for an organization she would be proud to share with her customers.

Lifewater International Clean water
Lifewater employee, Peter, filling a cup of safe water for a child in Uganda

“A lot of organizations, although they do good work, they dig the well but then they leave,” she said. “They don’t train people on how to fix it… so then if the well runs dry or breaks, the community ends up being just the way it used to be.”

“Lifewater seems to take more of a holistic approach to it,” she added. “Lifewater rose to the top as the cream of the crop!”


Today, 25 cents of every soap purchase goes towards bringing safe water to families in need and completing one of Carol’s life goals.

Carol and Ronald are driven by their faith, and Carol believes that God put it on their hearts to give in this way. For businesses considering giving back to a cause close to their hearts, Carol gave this advice:

“It’s a great way to give,” Carol said. “Having it tied to our sales… it makes us very accountable to our promise because we’re putting that promise out there to our customers.”

“We want to make sure we standby what we say we’re doing,” she added.

Today, Carol and Ronad Modrak are about 50% of the way towards their goal of giving enough to build a well. Little by little, like the ant, they are saving to change lives and end the water crisis for families in need.

To learn more about partnering with us through your business, contact a Lifewater representative today.


Choose a Village. Change a Life.