Soap nuts are berries that grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi trees in India and other temperate or tropical regions. They fall off the trees and are dried in the sun without any chemical processing or artificial ingredients. When they are agitated in water, they release a saponin that makes a natural surfactant (soap!) They reduce the surface tension of water and release dirt, grime and oil from fabric and other materials. Soap nuts have been used for a long time by indigenous people around the world for cleaning as well as folk remedies. You can read more about it on wikipedia.
The following instructions on how to use soap nuts came from a variety of sources but most of the recipes and their corresponding applications came from the wonderful people at Superior Soapnuts in Upsala, ON.
Put 4 soap nuts into a little cloth bag or sock and throw it in with your dirty laundry. Your clothes will come out clean, scent-free and soft. Air dry the bag and reuse for the next 3 to 4 loads (or more!). When it reaches the end of it usable cycle, it can be composted! It is 100% biodegradable and the soap nuts we sell are certified organic and fair trade.
Some sources say that washing in hot water is more effective. It is fine in warm water. For cold water washing, soak the nuts in a bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes before pouring the solution and nuts into the washer.
For an all-purpose liquid soap:
Simmer about 8- 10 soap nuts in 6 cups of water for 30 minutes. You should end up with about 4 cups at the end or add more water to end up with 4 cups. Let cool, pour into a container or spray bottle and use. Some sources have suggested using up to 15 nuts for a more concentrated soap. Play around with proportions for a preferred concentration.
For laundry, use 2-3 tablespoons per load. For dishwashers and other applications, use as you normally would. Because there are no preservatives in these recipes, store liquid soaps in your fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze in ice cube trays. 1 cube is good for 1 load of laundry.
For body, hair and fur:
Boil the soap nuts to make the standard liquid soap (here is where you may prefer a higher concentration) and use as a hand/body wash, shampoo and pet shampoo. Add a few drops of essential oil for fragrance or other aromatherapy properties. Soap nuts are believed to possess anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
For hand/body soap, pour into a bottle or dispenser and use as normal.
For shampoo, massage into hair and scalp and leave in until the end of your shower or bath. It takes a bit of getting use to as it does not produce much suds but it does clean and leaves your hair soft even without using a conditioner.
For pets, pour into a spray bottle and spray on their fur and bath them as normal. Take care not to get soap into their eyes as it will be very irritating.
For windows and glass:
There are many more applications for liquid soap nuts (fruit and vegetables rinse, jewellery cleaner, silver polish, as well as using as shaving cream, pest and mosquito repellent, plant sprayer, dandruff control . . .)
Contact us if you have any questions.