My crazy Family Living in Japan

Military Family Living Abroad

Soap and Nuts – Do these go together? December 1, 2009

Filed under: Around the House,Going Green,Your Health — Annastasia @ 22:29
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YES!! They do, and wonderfully might I add!!

So, upon the quest to live more “green” and chemical free, I have been trying to find something that is a little more cost effective (and green) than my Seventh Generation Laundry soap. I do occasionally use Mrs. Meyers laundry soap ~ I ♥ their dish soap, it is to die for ~ and as natural as I can find that still gets the dishes clean.  Anyway, back to my laundry soap delima. . .  so, while researching a greener way to get my laundry clean. . . . I came across soap nuts. Yes, you read that right. . .   soap nuts.  Now, to me . . . those words just don’t go together, but I was intrigued enough to check them out.

Just in case you don’t know what these are, let me explain a little to you.  They come from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. (I know, Where is that? I still am not sure, but it sounds far away)  Soap nuts are known worldwide by many names such as soapnuts, soapberry, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nut husk, Ritha (Hindi) nut shell, Chinese soapberry and many more. Very simply, soap nuts are the dried shells (or husks) from the soapberry (or soap berry nut). These berries are the fruit from a quite unique tree species. These shells contain a substance called saponin that produces a soaping effect. Saponin is a 100% natural alternative to chemical laundry detergent and cleansers. It can replace many chemical detergents such as those containing sodium laureth sulphate (SLS) that are becoming well known by consumers for being a skin irritant and health hazard.

Now, I am going to share a little scientific mumbo jumbo with you. Sapindus (the botanical name) is a sustainable agriculture and forest product. In many ways it is similar to an olive tree. There are several common varieties of the soapberry tree. Sapindus Mukorossi and Sapindus Trifoliatus are the primary sources for the soapberry that has become know as the soap nut. They are both of the family Sapindaceae, and the genus Sapindus. The botanical name is derived from the Latin words, sapo (soap) and indicus (Indian). Based upon its high amount of ‘soap’ content and consistency, the highest quality soap nut is Sapindus Mukorossi, which grows primarily in northern India and Nepal. It grows uncultivated in poor quality ground and helps fights erosion, particularly in the Himalayan foothills. It also provides needed income to the local population. It is a relatively hardy tree being resistant to diseases and insects. The tree grows to 10 to 20 meters in height and begins flowering and bearing fruit after about 9 years. It blooms with small, white grouped flowers in spring and early summer and is harvested annually during the fall season. The soapberry fruits (the soap nut) are round yellow berries that become gummy, reddish tan and wrinkled as they ripen. Its appearance is somewhat like that of a date. The tree synthesizes its own natural saponins, (soap) which coat the shell of the fruit. The tree has great longevity and will produce fruit (soap nuts) for about 90 years.

The Sapindus Mukorossi variety produces the most consistent quality of soap nuts of high saponin content. Sapindus Trifoliatus, which grows primarily in southern India, Indonesia and Pakistan, is a smaller tree producing smaller fruit that lack consistency and saponin content compared to Sapindus Mukorossi. The soap nuts from the Mukorossi tree are larger, brighter in color and gloss and are more effective in producing the ‘soapy’ effect. These soap nuts are typically exported from New Delhi (closer to their growth areas in the Himalayans). Soap nuts from the Trifoliatus tree are less desirable, of lower cost and are often exported from Indonesia. All soap nuts being marketed throughout the world contain the all-important saponins. Consistently high saponin content is the primary measure of quality. In this regard,Sapindus Mukorossi reigns supreme.

After learning ALL of this information, I had to try these out!! I called and talked with the lady and ordered mine right away. I gave her the promise that if I loved them, everyone I knew would know about them. I also inquired about becoming a reseller of them as well, cause I am all about helping others follow a more green and chemical free lifestyle.  I ordered 1lb to start, which is supposed to wash 160 loads!!! This was under $20 too!!

Finally today my box arrived, I got in the car and couldn’t wait ..  I opened it up in the parking lot of the post office. I am not sure what I intended to do with a muslin bag full of nuts in my car. . . . but I wanted to check them out. Well, it looked like a bag full of nuts.  I was a little mesmerized as to how these things were supposed to clean my laundry.  I got home, and found some laundry to throw in (this is not a hard feat in my house, there is ALWAYS dirty laundry with 3 kids). I put 5 little nuts into this small muslin bag, and threw them in the machine. I ran some warm water for a few minutes to let them “soak” some, then I switched it to cold and threw in my clothes and closed the lid.  I threw them in the dryer when they were done, and I was so impressed. They smelled wonderfully clean, and I could find nothing wrong with them.  Even my dishtowels came out clean!! I didn’t even need to use a dryer sheet (which are not good for you either), and they were super soft!!  I am a HUGE advocate of these things. I have now washed 4 loads of laundry since I got them home, and I think I am in love. I have found a chemical free way to get all of our clothes clean!!  Now, I am just waiting for the time to be right stateside to call the woman about becoming a reseller for these things!!


(information above taken from Naturoli)