Guest Author - Jacqueline Rosenbalm
Nature provides everything we need, even laundry soap. Have you ever heard of Soap Nuts? They are wonderful as a natural laundry soap and as easy to use as it gets! Simply put six soap nuts in a mesh bag, tie it shut and add it to the wash. It not only washes the load but softens it as well.
Soap Nuts are actually berries from the S. marginatus or Florida Soapberry Tree. They are commonly used to wash laundry or make a cleaning liquid suitable as an all-purpose cleaner. Unless they are growing in the tropics they are deciduous trees. In the spring they produce a beautiful flower cluster consisting of many small creamy white flowers at the tip of the current year’s growth.
The fruit is an orange-brown, somewhat translucent, roughly round in shape and generally about three quarters of an inch across. The fruit may stay on the tree for months and are quite attractive. They have but a single black seed.
Take note that the best soap nuts to buy for use as laundry soap are the ones that have already been cracked and the seeds removed. When paying by weight seeds are an unnecessary expense because the seeds contain no saponins and have no use other than growing another soap nut tree.
Medicinal uses for soap nuts :
1) The Soap nut fruits contain saponin which is reported to have anti-tumor properties.
2) It has been used internally for treatment for epilepsy and migraines.
3) Saponin is an antimicrobial natural detergent.
4) People that suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity find the natural saponin in the soap nut is the only detergent they can tolerate.
How to use Soap nuts:
1) Place six soap nuts in a mesh bag and tie it shut. Add to the laundry at the beginning of the wash cycle. When a soap nut comes in contact with water and is rubbed or agitated it produces a soapy lather. Soap nuts are safe for wool, silk and other delicate fabrics.
2) The same six soap nuts can be used for approximately three loads of laundry before changing.
3) If you add Washing Soda or Soda Crystals to the wash cycle it can increase the performance of the soap nuts.
4) Take the used soap nuts and boil them in water for a few minutes. Pour into a spray bottle when cooled thoroughly and save for cleaning glass, shower stalls, bathtubs, counter tops, sinks and floors.
Tips on buying the highest quality soap nuts :
1) Not all soap nuts are created equal. The best quality soap nuts are grown in the US, Caribbean and Central America, so check to see where they come from. The lowest quality comes from Asia and China.
2) Soap nuts are best used when young or fresh off the tree. Make sure they are brownish in color and not black. It takes a soap nut quite a while to turn to a black color. After a soap nut turns black you can no longer tell how old it is.
3) Buy seedless soap nuts. Seeds do not produce soap but are heavier than the fruit. If you buy soap nuts with the seed you will get less usable product than buying the seedless products.
Soap nuts are not commonly found in the grocery store. Try a health food store near you to find a source for purchase. I hope you found this article helpful and informative.