Saturday, July 9, 2011

On my Soapbox about Soap Nuts

This is kind of a long, potentially preachy, post.  My intention is never to offend anyone - or tell you what to do.  :) I share what I do in my home in the hopes that maybe something I say will positively effect someone else in their home.  Having a voice on this blog, as small as it might be, I can't help but to occasionally share things I learn and feel passionate about.  And I'm telling you right now, once you learn things (about our food, the products we use, the impact we sometimes completely unthinkingly have on the earth), you can't "un-know" them.  You've been warned.  ;)  Read on...

Have you heard of soap nuts?  Actually, they're technically a berry.  So have you heard of soap berries?  They are a magical little fruit which hails from faraway lands.  And I bought some recently.  Actually I bought 2 lbs of them.  And they just came.  Super excited!

In a nutshell (ha!), soap nuts/berries are an excellent, superior in fact, alternative to our chemical-laden commercial laundry detergents.  They are 100% natural (they really are berries!), totally toxin & chemical free, and are very effective.

Here's a pic w/me holding my big fat bag of soapnuts for better perspective.  Oh, and that's a sample package for my sister. :)
I'm slowly trying to wean our house off of any kind of unnecessary chemicals.  It's amazing what we (society) have been brainwashed to believe.  For instance, just using one product - laundry detergent - as an example:

  • Suds = Clean.  Wrong!  Soap nuts contain saponins and are highly effective cleaners - but produce almost no suds in the laundry.
  • Scented clothing = Clean.  Wrong!  Using scented detergents do nothing but leave potentially irritating residue on clothing.  This applies even more to fabric softeners.  I can't stand fabric softeners.  Haven't used them in years.  They're full of useless toxins, give me a headache, and did you know, over time, they can actually "eat" your clothing?
  • Chemicals = Clean.  Wrong!  Well, technically right - but at what cost?  The FDA does not currently require our cleaning product companies (or cosmetic/lotion/etc, for that matter) to fully disclose the ingredients in their products.  Ever wonder what they mean exactly by "fragrance"?  Yeah.  And who knows what else is in there?!  I do.  After doing a little, and then a lot, of research regarding what exactly goes into the products I was using everyday...and what their effects are on my health, my family's health, and my earth...I started looking for alternatives real quick.
So anyway, we're slowly but surely eliminating all that kinda stuff from our home.  One thing I'm happy about - I haven't used shampoo or conditioner in...2 years?  Give or take.  And no, I don't smell like a rhino.  ;)  However, I do support other artisans (here & here & here are some of my favs) whose livelihood revolves around creating 100% toxin-free, natural and environmentally-friendly handmade soaps.  There's another brainwasher - you do not need 20 different soaps in your shower, ladies.  I use the same bar for my hair, body, face and shaving.  (FYI: There is definitely an adjustment period regarding quitting commercial shampoos, but it is so worth it.)

Photo credit: OwlNaturals 
This is the site where I purchased my bag-o-nuts.  Actually - there is a limited number of their products offered on Amazon too.  If you're gonna try out some soapnuts for yourself, I highly suggest doing a bit of basic research. (Great place to start here - tons of info.)  This is not one of those "buy the cheapest batch you can find" dealys.  One concern I originally had with this soapnut thing was, where do the berries come from?  Are they being sustainabley grown and harvested?  Are the workers paid fair wages?  Is the soapnut industry depriving the local users of their native product?  (Well, I guess that's a number of concerns.  I can get carried away.)  But everything seems to be on the up and up with this company.  Actually, they seem to be the best on the market from what I can tell.  They have a very informative site and seem to be just as passionate about my health and our earth as I am!  

Anyway, like I said, the point of my post today is not to try to tell anyone else how to live.  But just to offer some facts and some food for thought.  :)  If anyone is interested or would like more info on anything I've mentioned today, or similar topics, feel free to comment or email me!  I'd love to chat with ya!


diane said...

sounds interesting and I've not heard of soapnuts. Tell me are they ok to use in the newer high efficiency machines? Do they dissolve or do you re-use them.

PoetessWug said...

Thanks for the info. Never heard of soap nuts, but some of the other info I did know already. Thanks!

Cassandra said...

You're welcome! I only found out about them in this last year or so and just now made the switch. I'm trying to be brave. :) I'm pleasantly surprised with how much I like them and don't miss my soap at all.

marathon1981 said...

Oh I would love to know how they work out for you. I've seen them at a few local shops but never tried them out. We use natural laundry detergent ( I can't remember the brand ... eco something?) and dish washing stuff and shampoo too. I don't like chemicals in the home, and got way more strict when Gwyn came along. I have never worn makeup in my life because I didn't want crap on my face but recently I've been looking into mineral makeups ... we'll see!

Cassandra said...

@Diane: Yes! They work in the HE machines. Sadly, I don't have an HE washer (on my wishlist) but I do know the FAQs of that link I posted covers the details of that question.

To use them, you take about 5 berrys, put them in a small muslin bag (which seems to always be provided to you wherever you buy from), tie shut, and drop them in the washer. You can re-use that same bag of soapnuts for about 4-6 loads of laundry. They get discolored and mushy when the are spent. Then you can compost them!

Cassandra said...

They're working out great, Kami! I bought a couple trial size bags last month and have been using them since then on all kinds of stuff. My gentles, my stinky dish towels, some musty/smokey fabric I bought from an estate sale. It gets all the smells out and everything comes out fresh, soft and clean. So I decided to take the plunge with the 2 lb bag.

The only thing I haven't experimented with yet is stains. We're a non-munchkin household so we rarely have to do stain-removal around here. So I can't speak for their effectiveness on that.

I knew you were a kindred spirit on this subject. :) And I think about that too - how if I ever have kids, I would be so much stricter, with myself and even more so with the things I bring into the house. One thing I haven't yet been able to give up is my commercial mascara. :( I don't use any other makeup- but I feel naked without mascara and haven't found a good, natural replacement. Yet. :)

whiletangerinedreams said...

I know! It's so creepy when you realize the layers and layers of toxins around us. When revisiting this concern and learning of even 'clean' products dubious contents the change to safe ingredients couldn't be made quick enough!