Soap Nuts

Have you ever thought what all those washing machines, what all those dishwashers and what all those car washes do with that detergent ?

Well it goes into the water system of course, the final 'cycle' of the wash.

But a long, long way from 'Natures Natural Cycle'!

This was the River Irk in 2009
( our thanks to the Manchester Evening News.)

The River Ebbw, about 22,000 fish died.
( thank you BBC news)

Well, I admit, these photos are of two only too frequent accidents - but the steady drip, drip of all that chemical soap into our waterways is quite invidious.
( I think that's the word - I like it anyway.)

In fact in parts of America detergents with Phospates are banned.

Oh don't go on, and on, I hear you moan everybody wants us to feel bad about what we're doing to the environment, now we can't even wash our smalls without feeling guilty !

Well, I agree with you.
Everyday we are being preached at, made to feel bad about this, worse about that and downright suicidal about some things
( filled up your car lately.)

But as far as detergent goes, I have only one thing to say to you

Soap Nuts

soap nuts

'Soap Nuts',
The fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree

The actual seed, sometimes called 'Soap Berries' are not much good at anything, apart from growing more trees obviously, it's the shells we're after.
Why, well because of all that 'Saponin' of course - but don't rush me !

Our Soap Nuts come from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree, which is a pretty tough character.
All of our Soap Nuts come from trees in Nepal, where they grow uncultivated in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Soap Nut tree

Totally Natural - Totally Organic Sapindus Mukorossi 'Soap Nut' tree growing in the Himayalan foothills

They grow on scrubby ground and really help to fight erosion.
But do you know what else the 'Soap Nut' tree fights ?

Well, poverty and pollution for starters !

You see as well as being a totally organic detergent, the collection of the soap nuts, and the shelling of them, is a very important source of income for the village people of Nepal.

Just shell, and dry in the Sun. That's the 'manufacturing' sorted out !

Collected, shelled, then dried in the sun -then you just put teh Soap Nuts in your washing machine !

A totally natural, organic, sustainable, biodegradable detergent.

Yeh, right I hear you say - but do soap nuts work ?
Well, I tried them out for over three months, at least three washes a week, and they work as well as my detergent did - and it was much cheaper !

(My kilogram bag of soap nuts was about 1/4 full at the end of the 'Trial' - so about £7.50 for roughly 40 washes. How much is chemical detergent, about £3-£4 a kg for about 12 washes - even I can work it out. I saved money !)

That sounds too good to be true, I can still hear you old doubters saying, well I must admit for deep stains I used a stain remover, but I used to do that anyway !
( Don't complain - I never said we were perfect, Joe leaves a lot to be desired !)

How do these rather unimpressive looking soap nut shells do all this cleaning ?

Soap Nut shells

Soap Nuts, now we just pop them in a bag

Well these soap nut shells are coated in a substance called 'Saponin'.
This is a totally natural 'soap' ( did you know 'Sapo' means soap in Latin - I didn't !)

It's been used for centuries, probably longer, to clean clothes , and other stuff, all over the Indian sub- continent.
(You know, we've still an awful lot to learn about what we did before all those synthetic chemicals came along - take organic Neem Fertilizer for example.)

How do you use them ?
Well, take 4 or 5 saop nuts, perhaps one or two more if you are in a hard water area, pop them into the little cotton bag that they come with and put them into your washing machine.
That's it - apart from you can use the same shells two or three times before you put them on the compost heap.
You don't need to add any fabric softener, the natural Saponin in the soap nuts leaves your clothes lovely and soft.

Because of their gentle nature, the saponins are perfect for silks, woollens are all those delicate things. Particularly as the soap nut shells work perfectly well at about 40 degrees.

Soap nuts are low foaming, so ideal for modern washing machines and will soon get rid of the residues left in your clothes from manufactured detergents.

In fact you know ( apart from being sustainable and biodegradable and all the benefits their collection brings to people in Nepal) the huge benefit of using organic soap nut shells is that they are hypoallergenic.

Like many other parents, we had to be very careful which soap we used on Daisy. We didn't know about soap nut liquid then !

This means they are much safer to use for children and babies, anybody in fact who has a sensitive skin or suffers from dermatitis and other irritating stuff.
Anyway, even if you're a tough old bird ( O.K. like me) do you really want chemicals rubbing up against you all day long ?

To sum up ( apart from when I say more below that is) Soap Nuts are :-

Organic

Sustainable

Biodegradable

Hypoallergenic

Economical

while they

Wash your clothes carefully, softly, thoroughly.

Really so wish I had discovered them years ago !

Natures natural detergent

Buy Now

Well, I know I'm going on a bit now - but this natural soap has so many uses.

So let me tell you about a few more.

Making a liquid soap

Using about 3 soap nut shells to a mug of water, boil and then simmer away for about an hour.

When cool, sieve out the shells ( it's easy, they don't disintegrate) and put into something airtight.
Jar, bottle, whatever - just so long as you can store in cool place, and it will be easy to use.
( Remember, this is an organic natural solution with no preservative so use it over the week ahead.)

Then what do you do ?

Wash up with it

Shampoo with it

Bathe the dogs in it

Ted

Ted hates bathing even more than he hates being dressed up. Then we throw his bath water on the veg. beds - and he keeps well away from them !

Use as a handwash

( Put it in an old liquid soap bottle.)

Soak your jewellery in it, then use an old toothbrush.

( Doesn't take me long - Joe believes in minimalism in buying jewellery !)

In fact if you want to clean something, just use your soap nut shell liquid

Making Soap Nut Shell Powder

The main advantage of powder over the liquid is that it keeps longer.
Just use a blender to grind your shells to a powder, although I've found the finest powder comes from putting your soap nut shells into a coffee grinder.
( Do rinse out afterwards though, or your coffee will taste very vinegary - as Joe carefully , and very succinctly, explained once when I forgot. )

Just store in a tin or jar somewhere cool and dry, and use in any cleaning situation you can think of.

Lastly ( honest, I'll shut up in a minute) when you have finished washing stuff just through any soapy water on the garden - it will not harm any plants, and is said to be a pest repellent.
( As I said, soapy water really repels Ted !)