Natural soap

4 posts in this topic

Yep, you guessed is yet another post as promised about green living.

Now in my two previous post I have been focusing on the goodness of esspecially baking powder/soda and vinegar which is great for both cleaning and hair wash, but it will not do well for cleaning clothes or to be used as a body shampoo.

But there is no reason to rush down to the nearest health shop and spend a fortune on a vegan friendly/organic/kind to trees body shampoo, neither do you need to go for the first and best chemical cocktail of a body shampoo found on the shelf in your supermarket. There are options and they are suprisingly cheap and effective.

The first and most easy option is using wash nuts (what follows next is copied from the book I am writing, it is not edited do not go all granmmar- and spelling nazi on me):

Soap nuts - Sapindus

They grow on trees, they are nuts and they can wash your clothes, clean your home and wash your skin and all this sound like a bunch of gibberish...or at least it used to do to people living outside India, Bali and Bangladesh. However these days more people are discovering wash nuts or soap nuts as they are also known as. Soap nuts or Sapindus which is roughly translated Latin for Soap from India have been used for thousands of years in warm climates all over the world. In India where they are still used there are used for both laundry, washing and even for cleaning temple ornaments.

The reason that soap nuts is a multipel purpose product is that even though they clean, they clean gently and contain natural oils which means that when washing your skin with soap nuts it will not dry out and when washing your clothes the oils will replace fabric softner which also means that you do not need to buy and use special washing powder for delicate materials like silk or wool. Another great thing about soap nuts are that they are cheap to use, they may look small and a bag of soap nuts might seem expensive, but that is until your try them...a bag with 400 grams of wash nuts will last around 6 months and will in all cost 3/4 of the prize of conventional washing powder alone. But how do you use them for different tasks? Well, read on and see how easy it is to use soap nuts.

Washing with soap nuts

When washing with soap nuts you will need:

1: Soap nuts

2: Baking powder for white washes

3: Bile soap if you need to remove any tough stains.

4: Soap nuts will leave your washing smelling clean and fresh, for a perfumed scent add a few drops of a essential oil of your choice on the soap nut pouch before you put it in the washing machine.

When purchasing a bag of soap nuts there a small pouch will be included. You will need the pouch for the soap not put them directly into the washing machine! Take 3 whole nuts or six half shells and put them in the bag and put them in with your laundry in your washing machine and wash as normally. In cold to medium hot washes (30 -40 C or 86-104 F) the nuts will last 3 washes and in hot washes (60-90 C or 140-194 F) the nuts will last 2 washes. So there is no need to change soap nuts each time.

For your whites pour some baking powder in the compartment where you would normally put washing powder in for your main wash. You do not need to pre-wash when using soap nuts! If there are some though stains on your clothes then use some bile soap to remove them. Bile soap is exactly what the name saids it is 100% natural and contains no harsh chemicals and yet at the same time is a fantastic stain remover, in fact it is the best that I have ever tried. Just wet your hands and the texstile that needs to be treated and foam up the soap, then rubs it on the stains and put the item in the machine with the rest of the laundry and start the machine as you usually would do.

Soap nuts body shampoo

Aside from bile soap and Rasul clay soap then soap nuts is the most gentle way to cleanse your skin and remove body oders. Everybody can safely use soap nuts body shampoo regardless of age, skin condition and allergies.

There are two methods of preparing soap nuts for body shampooing. The easy method only takes a few minutes but does not exactly look flattering on display in a bathroom. The other method will look more like conventional body shampoo.

For the easy method you will need:

1: Some soap nuts...either fresh ones or some which are not light brown and flakey dry.

2: A jar with lid...preferebly a glass jar.

3: Hot tap water.

Place some soap nuts in the jar, be bit generous while doing this...use around double the amount that you would use in a laundry pouch depending the size of the jar. Then add some hot tap water, put the lid on firmly and then shake for a minute or so. Then simply store the jar on a shelf and allow the mixture to set for a day or so.

When using the mix, take a bowl and fill 3/4 with hot water and add some of the soap nut mix. Take the bowl with you into the shower or by the sink. Wet your skin as normal and use a sponge or wash cloth to dip into the soap nut mix and scrub you skin with the spong or wash cloth, then rinse as normal.

The soap nut mix is so mild that it can even be used as intimate soap. But be careful not to get it into your eyes, the soap might come from nuts but it is still a soap and it will sting your eyes. Make sure that you do not swallow any of the mix either or it will result in stomach problems lasting a few hours.

For the second and more “pretty†version you will need:

1: Soap nuts

2: Pouch for soap nuts

3: 3-4 cups of boiling water

4: And old and clean shampoo or body shampoo bottle

Step 1: Put 8-10 half nut shells or 4-5 whole nuts in the drawstring pouch.

Step 2: Put the pouch in the pot of the boiling water and leave it in the boiling water for 15 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the pot from the stove and set it to cool.

Step 4: Take the pouch out of the water and put the soap nut mix in a new or old, but clean bottle.

Remember to store your soap nut mix in a cool and dark place. The soap nut mix will not last forever, after a few weeks it will go rancid and will have to be thrown out. To prolong the life of your soap nut mix for a few days more, add some pressed lemon juice to the mix.

The above methods can not only be used as body shampoo but also as universal cleanser for practically all surfaces in your home and for washing your car, bike etc. However you might want to think twice before considering to use soap nuts as a shampoo, terrible residue can build up making your hair sticky and oily.

Unused soap nuts have no given shelf life, by own experience I have had soap nuts stored for two years and they were still fresh, as if they had just been picked from the trees. So as long as your store your soap nuts in the bag that they came in and in a dry cool place then they will last for at least a few years. Only when the soap nuts have become brittle-dry and light brown, it is time to throw them out and they can go in the same bag with your other organic rubbish.

Some might experience that in one bag the soap nuts are all shiney and in others the are all dull. This has nothing to do with the quality of the nuts, it has simply something to do with if the season when the nuts were growing was a wet one or a dry one. Another thing that first time buyers of soap nuts wonder about are the little black hard “beads†that can be found amongst the soap nuts, they are simply nut seeds...some retailers carefully choose bags of soap nuts without or with very few seeds in and amongst them and others are not so picky, it does not effect the quality of the soap nuts, but will raise the volume in the case where the seeds are still in the soap nuts and this will make shipping more expensive.

So now you have read about all the many advantages of using soap nuts, but sure there must be one of two dissadvantages? It depends on how you like to shop and how long you are willing to recieve your soap nuts after paying for them. Because you might have noticed that you cannot buy soap nuts where you normally buy your groceries. Soap nuts are still, here in Europe and in America too considered underground and something that only hippies use and it will probably take years if not forever before even the first brave supermarket chains start selling soap nuts. So for now online shopping and the odd health shop are the only places where you can buy soap nut or wash nuts are some retailers label them. But despite online shopping often being the only alternative it is not hard to find a retailer...a search on Ebay will as these words are being written give you a list of 22 active listnings and you will not have to search for long on Google either before retailers websites such as ,, or just to name a few manufactures and retailers.

Soap nuts pros:

1: Soap nuts are 100% organic which means that you will be when using them avoiding the contact with harsh chemicals and hence not letting any harsh chemicals into nature´s water ways.

2: You can use soap nuts on practically any textile may it be sturdy cotton or delicate silk. If you are unsure then try to rub a water/soap nut mix on a small patch of the textile in a place which is not visible when normally worn.

3: You do not need to use fabric softner when washing with soap nuts. The natural oils in the nuts will protect and soften the textile fibers.

4: Soap nuts are a true multupel purpose cleaning product.

5: The daily use of soap nuts for your laundry, personal hygiene and cleaning will cost you much less than conventional products for the same purposes.

6: Soap nuts are low risk allergenic.

Soap nuts cons:

1: You can not so far buy soap nuts in regular supermarkets and corner shops where you normally buy your groceries. Which means that you will have to, in most cases, buy them online and wait for them to arrive by post.

Note: The exact amount of soap/wash nuts that you will need depends on how hard you water is. The amount stated in this book is based on medium hard water. The softer you water is the less soap/wash nuts you will need. Sapindus soap/wash nuts can be used on all fabrics even delicate ones such as wool and silk.

Colder climate natural soaps

More than a thousand years ago there were tribes of people living in the north of Europe who unlike the rest of Europe at the time actually did wash everyday and took a bath at least once a week compared to the rest of the Europeans cousins who litterally stunk! And these weekly baths were not just a splash over the most smelly body parts with a rancid and half decaying wash cloth either, they were rea hot water baths and involved the usage of soap!

In comparisment with other Europeans of the day the Norse were squeaky clean, even when exploring the world in the famous long boats. The Norse never reached India, Indonesia or what it today the southend parts of north America and even though trading was dynamic and the goods were plentiful and exotic even back at the time, then soap nuts were unheard of in Europe. But that was not a problem, because who needs to look far abroad when you have got your own soap growing if not in your own back garden then close by. The Northern European and later Northern American version of soap nuts are what most have known since childhood as Horse chestnuts! But before Horse chestnuts were spread all over Europe, soapwort and bracken were used as soap. People have used soapwort, bracken and horse chestnuts to make soap since the Paleolithic stone age (12000 bc) and most likely even earlier than that. Even fabrics like the Turin Shroud was according to scientific data washed with soapwort due to it´s gentleness towards fabrics.

Bracken soap

Bracken grows almost everywhere on this planet except for the very north polar areas, it is one of the most ancient of all plants and grows so plentiful that some see it as mistakenly as weed, but bracken has many qualities, soap ad being one of them and bracken soap is easy to make. The saponins are in the rhizome of the plant and begin to lather into a soap when poured into hot water.

1: Take a fair amount of bracken rhizome and chop or slice it into small pieces.

2: Take some boiling water and pour it into a bowl.

3: Take a piece of cheesecloth or any other loose woven fabric and the drape the cloth over the bowl...make sure that the cloth touches the bottom of the bowl.

4: Pour the bracken down into the bowl and let it set for 1-2 hours.

5: Gather the sides of the cloth and pull the the cloth out of the water and squeeze it to get rid of all the water.

6: Pour the water, now liquid soap into bottles or jars.

Soapwort soap

Soapwort can be found all over the colder areas of Europe and Asia. As with all other kinds of natural soaps preparing soapwort is easier than many think.

All you need to do it to fill a pot with water and heat the water until it hot, but not so hot that it boils. Add two cups of soapwort chopped leaves or roots to the hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and let is simmer for 40 minutes. After the required time remove the plants from the water and store the liquid soap in bottles or jars.

You can do the same with the roots to make soap, follow the above recipe, but let the roots set for around 12 hours before you can use them as soap.

Horse chestnut soap

Horse chestnuts contain as Sapindus saponins, they also like Sapindus taste very bad, can be used to the same purposes as Sapindus and sting your eyes just as much. But unlike Sapindus, Horse chestnut conkers/nuts will require more preparation the Sapindus before being ready for usage.

To make horse chestnuts soap you will need to:

1: Take a fair amount of horse chestnut conkers. You will need the double amount compared to sapindus nuts (ex. six shells of sapindus - 6 horse chestnut conkers). And gently peel of the skin with a knife.

2: Depending on what kind of soap you want to make...liquid soap, soap bars or use as laundry soap. You will need to either slice, grate or crush the conkers with either a knife, cheese grate or a pestle and mortar.

For laundry usage slice the fresh conkers, put them in a laundry pouch and use as you would do with sapindus nuts. If you want to use the conkers for personal hygiene or a universal cleaner then prepare and use the conkers as you would do with sapindus nuts (Read Sapindus soap/wash nuts page....).

Things get a bit more complicated if you want to make soap bars. You will need a bowl of hot water and a piece of loose woven fabric such as a cheesecloth. The drape the cloth over the bowl, be sure that the cloth touches the bottom of the bowl as well and the pour the conkers into the bowl. Leave it to set for 1-2 hours. After the required amount of time gather the edges of the cloth and pull it out of the water, then squeeze the conkers to get rid of all the water. Pack the soft conkers in soap molders and leave to set for around 12 hours in a dark and warm space and the soap is ready to use.

Note: The exact amount of horse chestnuts conkers that you will need depends on how hard you water is. The amount stated in this book is based on medium hard water. The softer you water is the less horse chestnut conkers you will need.

Cold climate natural soap pros:

1: You do not have to order soap on the internet and wait for sometimes up to several weeks for it to arrive by snail-mail. What you need to make soap you can more than often find in your own back garden, close to where you live or close enough to make your harvesting of soapwort, bracken or horse chestnuts a part of a day out in the park or a forest.

2: It is incredibly cheap! Unlike buying Sapindus wash/soap nuts, when you have to pay for farmers to grow and harvest the nuts and then for the shipping, you will be doing the harvesting yourself. Just make sure that you are harvesting your bracken, soapwort or horse chestnuts in a public park, lane or forest. Most owners of forest lands will not mind someone picking the odd soapwort, but understandably there are not interested in having their properties overrunned by people each weekend stripping the land of plants or nuts. If you do want to harvest of privat owned lands, then ask for permission first.

3: It is easy to make soap from bracken, soapwort or horse chestnuts. Apart from perhaps the fabric, you do not need any specialist equipment...ordinary pots, bowls, glass bottles or jars will do nicely.

4: Needless to say, natural soap do not contain any chemicals which will be harmful to your skin or to the environment.

5: Both sapindus, bracken soap, soapwort and horse chestnut soap are so gentle that they can be use and an intimate soap.

6: Both bracken, soapwort and horse chestnuts can be used for washing delicate fabrics such as wool and silk.

Note: Do not use on bracken, soapwort or horse chestnut soap on pets as a shampoo. When being wet animals tend to lick their fur and both bracken, soapwort and horse chestnut will cause nausea, vomiting and diarhea if ingested in to large amounts.

Cold climate natural soaps cons:

1: While the storage life for sapindus is longer than with conventional off-the-shelf washing powders then this is not the case for bracken and soapwort. Bracken can be stored for up to six months as most rhizomes and roots in the fridge or freezer. Horse chestnuts can be stored for the same way you store nuts and will remain fresh for 12 months or so. Soapwort roots can be dried and they will last for around a year or so, but as for the rest of the soapwort it will have to be used on the same day and cannot be reused again. Want to prolong the storage time of the liquid soap? Add some few drops of pressed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

2: You will need to do a lot of harvesting. As an eco warrior you will do your bit to go easy on our water supplies, not clean everything to a state of permanent spotlessness or limit your laundry washing to once a week. But no matter the effort, you will still need soap and perhaps more than you think. Using natural soap which comes with an instruction such as when you use Sapindus nuts is easy. Figuring out the right amount of bracken rhizome or soapwort is a bit more tricky, it is all down basically down to trial and error unless instructions are available. But it is not more difficult that you will get the hang of it quickly. There for be sure that you harvest a bit more horse chestnuts, soapworts or bracken than you think you need. I do not normally recommend this when harversting in nature, but until you get the hang of it during 2-3 seasons, you might have to do this. Harvested to little? Use sapindus nuts as backup. Harvested to much? Grab an artist brush, some paint and a bottle or jar...decorate the bottle or jar, fill it with your liquid soap and give it to a friend or loved one as a is both personal, original and is bound to be appreciated.

3: However gentle both bracken rhizome, soapwort and horse chestnuts are still soap. If you get any of the soap into your eyes it will sting and avoid swallowing any of the liquid. Do not used it on pets either as they tend to lick their fur when it is wet and there might still be traces of soap there, after all pets rarely stand nicely under the shower long enough for a very thorough rinse.

Bile soap

Just the name sounds like something that you would not wish to have on your clothes, but truth is that bile soap is the best 100% organic and toxic free stain remover that you can use. Because truth is that no matter how highly I praise soap nuts they cannot remove tough stains such as grease and grass stains, for this you will need to go for something more effective, but not necessarily something stacked with harsh chemicals in it.

Bile soap is made of as the name hints bile from animals and it´s usage has been known for thousands of years. Today the bile soap comes as a bar or as liquid and can be used for not only stain removement but as hand/body soap and for cleaning surfaces in your home too. It can be a bit hard to foam up unless the water is hot, sometimes to wash your laundry in, but on the other hand one bar pf bile soap just lasts and lasts, if washing a few machines of laundry once a week a bar of bile soap will last for at least 12 months and will cost you a lot less than conventional stain removers.

Not all but most retailers who sell soap nuts will also sell bile soap, if not then suggest this. Most Green Living retailers are open to suggestions from their customers.

Bile soap pros:

1: It is very effective and 100% organic.

2: One bar of bile soap can last much longer than conventional stain removers.

3: It is inexpensive

4: It is a multiple purpose product.

Bile soap cons:

1: Not all Green Living retailers who sell soap nuts also sell bile soap, but these will more than likely be open to customer requests and suggestions for new products.

Now for the next post I am planning to go all girly...meaning there will be alot about natural perfumes, organic and mineral make-up, how to ease menstrual cramps, how to best crimp hair without wrecking your luxerious locks...etc. etc. etc. So fine gents of this have been warned :D


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Definitely going to try some of these out Jalyndre, thankyou

I have some Horse chestnuts and a plentiful supply of Bracken to play with.

Zygo :flame:


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