April 23, 2014

Soap Nuts Are An Eco-Friendly Cleanser

Update:  I moved the soap nuts natural shampoo recipe.  Click here if you are looking for the soap nut shampoo recipe!

Feel free to click on the sections below to look up specific information and uses of Soap Nuts to save yourself some time.  There are several more recipe’s and uses that I did not have time to cover, so check back as we will be writing several more articles about Soap nuts and soapberries.

Soap Nuts Basics

 

Soap Nuts: The All Natural Detergent

Soap Nuts Are A Fantastic All Natural Detergent

Why people insist upon using artificial cleansers at the rate they do is beyond me.  Chemical cleansers have been known to cause air pollution in the manufacturing process as well as pollute waterways and groundwater after they are flushed down our drain.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using chemical cleansers in moderation.  They do serve a useful purpose at times.  Here is a little more info about a more natural way to clean almost everything you use in your home.

Soap nuts, also known as soapberries, have been used as a natural detergent and cleanser for thousands of years.  Soap nuts come from the fruit of around a dozen species of trees of the sapindus genus.  These trees are indigenous to Asia and parts of north and central America. The one most widely sought after for its cleansing attributes is known as the Soap Nut Tree (also known as the Chinese Soapberry).

soapnuts lrg Soap Nuts Are An Eco Friendly Cleanser

A picture of chinese soapberries. These are some of the most common soapnuts on the market and can be used for many cleaning purposes. They have been used for several thousand years by people the world over for many, many uses. The original picture is from

A Soap nut is a small (just under an inch in diameter) yellow-brown fruit that contain a black seed. The shells around the fruit contain a chemical called saponin.  Saponin dissolves in water to form a froth that has the ability to lift grime and dirt by dissolving fats and oil .  Soapnuts are also great to use in your greywater pit or blackwater  system, so if sustainable living is your passion then you may find many uses for soapnuts.  Simply put the soapberries into your greywater pit and pour your dirty water over them.

If you plan to use soapnuts in grey or blackwater recycling systems, I would recommend that you purchase the whole nuts and pour your greywater over them.  For almost every other use I have found, purchasing the powder would probably be your best bet.  If you are using soapnuts as a cleanser, it takes time to grind the shell yourself.  You will get more use out of the powder and save yourself a ton of time.  If you are so inclined, you can use a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle to make the powder on your own.

Now, for all the great things soap nuts can do, they have been known to have a negative impact in waterways when overused.  Soapberries were once used by ancient peoples the world over to stun fish so that they float to the surface, making them easier to collect.  So if you use them in large amounts or high concentration, do not pour the concentrated extract directly into lakes or streams.

Here is the scientific name breakdown for the soapberry I found on http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SAPIN

KingdomPlantae – Plants
SubkingdomTracheobionta – Vascular plants
SuperdivisionSpermatophyta – Seed plants
DivisionMagnoliophyta – Flowering plants
ClassMagnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
SubclassRosidae
OrderSapindales
FamilySapindaceae – Soapberry family
GenusSapindus L. – soapberry

Here are some great places to find soapberries:


I plan to write a series on the uses of the soapnut, so stay tuned to learn how this great natural cleanser can help you reduce your chemical output.

Washing Laundry With Soap Nuts

Using soap nuts to wash clothes is one of the more popular uses of this green wonder-nut.

A few soapberry shells in a cotton bag can replace your average laundry detergent.  2-3 teaspoons of soapnut powder poured directly into your washing machine will also do the trick.  A few shells in a cotton or mesh bag will generally last for 3-4 washes.

il fullxfull.141078594 Soap Nuts Are An Eco Friendly Cleanser

Soapnuts are also free of synthetic fragrances, yet another benefit soapnuts have over chemical detergents.  The shells are also fantastic organic matter to add to your compost pile once the saponin levels have been used up.  Soap nuts are still utilized abundantly in many countries for cleansing wool clothes and delicate fabrics and materials.

Using soapnuts to do your laundry can also save you cash!  You can typically expect to save up to 50% as opposed to your average chemical laden detergent.

Keep in mind that although soapberries are good for washing normal loads, soapnuts are not ideal for stubborn stains like red wine, blood, ink, etc. Also remember that warmer water is needed to release the saponin from the shell.  The higher the water  temperature, the more saponin is released throughout the washing process.

If you need to wash your laundry in cold water, try adding extra soapnuts to the bag.  You could also soak the bag with the soapnuts in some hot water for a few minutes, then throw the bag along with the water into the washing machine.  If you do utilize this method, let the water sit for a few minutes to cool before you add your cold water laundry.  If you throw those clothes into the hot water, that will defeat the whole purpose!

Another great aspect about soap nuts is that they are low sudsing, meaning they work very well with high-efficiency and front loading wash machines.

 

Share Your Soap Nuts Experiences

If you have experience with soap nuts, let us know by leaving a comment below!

 

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Comments

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  3. Another great, user-friendly way to use soap nuts is with Berry+. Berry+ is a 95% berry-based, 100% plant-based laundry soap. It comes in a convenient microdose (about half a teaspoon), so you’ll never have to lug that jug or overdose on detergent again. One tiny microdose cleans any small, medium, large or oversize load of laundry up to 30lbs. It was designed to be the gentlest soap around, without anything to irritate even the most sensitive types. Berry+ was also designed to work any way you wash: HE, front-loader, top-loader or even in the sink. Visit our website (berryplus.com) to learn about or purchase Berry+ or like us on Facebook:
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  4. Hi,

    Great post and nice blog. Been using soap nuts for years and they’re incredible. Here’s a some things I’ll share:

    - Try using a saponin liquid for a glass cleaner – wow!!! Blows everything away. I dilute NaturOli’s Extreme 18X liquid concentrate at about 10 parts water to one part Extreme. Amazing results. You won’t believe it. No haze, no streaks, no chemical or ammonia odor. I tried it with my own liquid that I boiled up from the soap nuts, but can’t seem to be able to filter it as well or something. It worked, but results were not as CRYSTAL clear as with the Extreme mixture.

    - Try it on any jewelry, diamonds, etc. too! Talk about sparkle! Quite a few retailers carry the Extreme. I’ve only seen it in 8oz bottles with a squirt pump. But 8oz is a LOT!!! Use LESS than you’ll probably think you need. One bottle can last months. It’ll do about a hundred loads of laundry.

    - Powder is kind of wasteful. You use a lot of berries to get a little powder. A lot ends up down the drain, too. A course grind makes a GREAT scouring powder though!

    - Add a “natural” soap plus some vinegar when it comes to washing dishes. The soap will help sudsing and cutting grease (I grate a little off a good quality bar and it works really well). The vinegar will clear up any haze (especially when rinsing). I haven’t been happy at all with using soap nuts in any form alone when washing dishes.

    - Try using soap nuts when washing your dog (or whatever pet). I’ve found them to help with fleas and pests a LOT! Same idea as for head lice as mentioned. Haven’t needed a flea powder ever since using soap nuts. That’s very cool!

    - Try soap nuts instead of a store bought car wash or detergent. Fantastic. Leaves a nice sheen and won’t remove your wax job! No chemicals to leach into the yard either.

    - A couple other blogs worth mentioning:
    1. http://www.soapnuts.pro (Everything you ever possibly wanted to know about soap nuts – VERY detailed information. This guy really knows his stuff.)
    2. http://www.soap-nuts.info (This lady seems to have used them for every imaginable cleaning use, plus skincare and hair care use, too. She gives a lot of helpful tips and recipes.)

    - If you want to try a fabulous soap nut shampoo, try NaturOli. It’s phenomenal! I prefer the normal to dry formula, but ???. I have never used a shampoo like this. Can go THREE days between washes! Used to need to wash everyday to look nice. I can’t say enough to really explain. It’s a must try. Seems a little pricey at first, but a little goes a long way – and you don’t need a conditioner at all. It’s a large 16oz bottle, too. You can get it from http://www.NaturOli.com or on Amazon. Haven’t seen it anywhere else or in stores. Try searching “soap nut shampoo” or NaturOli if on Amazon. It’s called “Extreme Hair”. I could never make a good shampoo from the raw berries myself. I tried the recipe above, but it would just not leave my hair feeling clean enough, nor would it leave it with the body I like. Although I came up with a great hair and scalp TREATMENT that I use occassionally.

    Hope I’ve added some things of value for you. Go soap nuts!!!

    Tom

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