• Great Green Gifts

Originally published during the 2009/10 Holiday Season:

Soap nuts are truly a timely rediscovery for environmentally friendly detergents and household cleaning products. People are actively seeking better earth friendly products more than ever before in history. What could be a better gift idea than soap nuts? They are a perfect green gift!

Soap Nuts Sampler Stocking StuffersThis is a holiday season when we all want – and need – to be frugal. It is a year when green shopping has taken on much greater importance. This year soap nuts have actually become a “buzz”! However, few people really understand them. So, what makes the ideal green gift that is both fun and practical; a gift that will be used and appreciated; a gift that just might change someone’s life for the better – and certainly will be better for our world? SOAP NUTS – the only true 100% natural, chemical-free, green laundry detergent and cleaner.

Tremendous credibility was given to soap nuts (soapnuts, soap berries, etc.) this year by the “Green Dot Awards – Celebrating Excellence in Green Products and Services.” Some of the largest and most innovative companies in the world compete for their awards. Their jury reads like a who’s-who of green movement leaders. In their own words, “NaturOli green detergents and cleansers. Use of saponin, which is derived naturally from soap nuts, is possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday household cleaning needs.” And further proclaimed, “Although the Green Dot Awards are worthy unto themselves, they are also a consumer guide to excellence in environmentally-sustainable practices. A business with a Green Dot Award is a business that can be trusted by consumers with stewardship of the environment.”Soap Nuts in Holiday Canisters

We have an incredible opportunity to spread the word about soap nuts and their fantastic benefits, and do so very economically – plus have some real fun in the process! “No, mom, they are not lumps of coal.” LOL!!! I can hear it all now. People are absolutely astounded that such a wonderful natural thing exists!

For those of us that use soap nuts we realize they are a dream come true. Not only are they the best and purest earth friendly detergent, but they can replace 90% of the everyday chemical cleaners around the house, too. To understand soap nuts is to love them. We veterans realize that to use them is the only way to fully embrace their wonders. So, let’s spread the word about these little gems from Mother Nature with our loved ones, friends and co-workers! We can share these healthy and fascinating green gifts to better people’s lives! That sure beats chocolates or silly things, don’t you think? (Oh, I wouldn’t recommend it as the only gift for your significant other. That might be a problem.)

The NaturOli team has been putting together lots of creative green gift ideas for you. And there are more soap nut products this year to consider – such as soap bars, soap nuts shampoo bars, liquid concentrate and maybe more. You will find a lot of fun soap nut gifts on the NaturOli Store.

Soap Nuts Starter Gift SetsHowever, here’s the simplest, most inexpensive way to share soap nuts and spread the word in a major way: Little soap nut samplers and trial sizes as green gifts and stocking stuffers! You can get soap nut samplers and trial bottles of Extreme 18X Soap Nuts Liquid Concentrate for very little cost. There are packages where you can get a bunch of them for parties and stuffers that are marked way down. You can be creative and even more frugal by simply getting large sized bags and start making up your own special green gifts. You will use about a half ounce (5 or 6 soap nuts) per each raw soap nut sampler. Get as many wash bags as you’ll need. Add some ribbon or a bow and you are good to go! (Eco-friendly embellishments are getting easier to find.) Now you just made lots of very inexpensive, environmentally friendly green gifts that are sure to be a huge hit! How cool is that?

(btw: If you have one of those with huge families, are throwing huge parties or planning the corporate holiday party, don’t be shy about writing for special orders and prices. The NaturOli team can accommodate just about anything. That’s a win-win for everybody! Try to plan ahead – it’s an exceptionally busy season.)Soap Nut Deluxe Gift Sets

If you choose to get soap nuts from NaturOli, the team will help you spread the word by providing information and directions pamphlets for every gift of soap nuts you give. (Printed on recycled paper with soy inks, of course.) Be sure to add a little note in the comments with your order that you are giving them as gifts. These info and instructions for soap nut use will make your earth friendly gifts all that much more meaningful and interesting. There is a lot of information in the pamphlets. Even Extreme 18X Liquid is described.

So, take a bunch of these great little green gifts to the holiday work party, to family get-togethers, block parties or whatever occasion! Put soap nuts in every stocking. Have some fun with them! One thing is a certainty – Everybody is curious about soap nuts. You’ll be amazed at the responses. Many are still skeptical, but they all want to see, touch, feel and try them! They are so new, unique and just plain cool.

My warmest wishes to you all! Happy green holidays!

• Storage

Storing soap nuts and/or preserving soap nut liquid is simpler than you may think.

This is touched upon in FAQs and various soap nuts related articles, but warrants its own post. I am frequently asked about the shelf life of soap nuts, so here you go.

Let’s break this into two kinds of storage: Storage of the raw, dry soap nuts and preserving soap nuts liquids.

Raw soap nuts:

Whether whole, pieces or dry soap nuts powder, this is very simple. First remember that a soap nut (soap berry) is a dried fruit. They are originally sun dried, and then continue to dry during open air storage (unless it’s very humid, of course). How long will a dried fruit last? A very long time – years. No preservatives are needed. The soap nuts should be stored in a stable, relatively dry environment.  Just for reference, the perfect conditions are approximately 20 to 30% humidity and cool to room temperature. Avoid direct sunlight due to the heat created. Nothing special needs to be done by the average user for short-term storage (less than a year). Use common sense. If you are in a very moist environment use of an airtight container may be helpful. Be mindful of temperature changes and possible condensation. Silica packs can be helpful to dry out excess moisture in some cases. (You can find packets in many products you buy, such as electronics or anything where the manufacturer wants to avoid condensation and moisture. These work great.)

Lots of soap nuts in muslin bags.

Lots of mukorossi soap berries in muslin bags. Photo: Private collection.

We do not have any culinary use for soap nuts; hence we do not need to be concerned with them becoming stale. The active ingredient, saponin, does not evaporate – but the moisture will. Potency may decrease if very old, and particularly if very dry or very moist from improper storage. (If sealed when overly moist, you’ll end up with a black gummy mess.) So, plain old-fashioned, dry-cabinet storage will be most peoples’ soap nut storage solution. The more stable and moderately dry the environment remains, the more they will continue to resemble the soap nuts on the day you put them away.

For long-term soap nuts storage, the basics are the same. However, use an airtight container becomes much more important. Vacuum sealing is a great option if you have the capability. I personally have soap nuts that are three years old and they are still effective and look good. The trick is to have them just a little pliable and slightly tacky – neither too dry or too moist before sealing them up.

It is common for soap nuts to change in color over time. That pretty golden color from a fresh new harvest will only last for a few months. They will continually deepen in color over time. Color is often your best indicator of age. When buying soap nuts, I recommend buying the freshest ones you can get. The reason being: Why not? I’ve often seen soap nuts that were new out of the box, but obviously a year or two (or more) old. They’ll work, but I’d much prefer big, plump soap nuts (preferably mukorossi soap berries) to ensure I’m getting the maximum level of saponin content.

Soap Nuts Liquid:

Storing soap nuts liquid is an entirely different story. Shy of being professionally preserved, there are two age-old ways to go: Freezing or canning. Period. Unless you really know what you are doing, don’t bother with at home preservatives (e.g., citric acid, tea tree oil, rosemary, etc). These are not full spectrum preservatives and will have limited usefulness. You may be able to extend the shelf life of the soap nuts liquid a little, but not enough to make much of a difference. If you are purely preserving the liquid (that is, strained of the soap berries), I suggest making soap nut liquid ice cubes. These are very convenient to use. Melt them as needed, or just toss some in with your laundry. If you are making other soap nut cleaners, melt as many as needed for the solution. Don’t make up more than you’ll use in a week. Having “ready to use” soap nuts liquid doesn’t get much more convenient.

Canning is another great option – particularly for long-term storage. It’s great if you are preserving the whole soap nut “stew” to play with another day. Most likely you either know or don’t know how to “can” food products. I won’t spend time here explaining how, but it is very simple. If you want to learn, there are many sites that will teach you step-by-step. Grandma could can her garden tomatoes and fruits, so you can do the same with your soap nuts.

So now, how difficult is it to store or preserve soap nuts regardless of form? Not at all. I’ve received emails from people that actually seemed overly concerned about the shelf life of their homemade soap nuts liquids. That’s a bit silly. Any unpreserved plant, fruit, vegetable or food product will go bad over time – particularly if in water. There’s no need to be afraid of it. If it goes sour, you’ll know it. You may still use it in compost or to water plants with it. My plants seem to love soap nuts regardless of state or condition.

Professionally preserved soap nut liquid is available, and also available in a very highly concentrated form. See NaturOli’s Extreme 18X soap nuts liquid cleaner for a highly concentrated formula with a two-year shelf life. You can also find it on Amazon and sometimes on Ebay. It can be used for laundry or a plethora of household cleaning needs, and is to be diluted as desired. I highly recommend it – and it has a long shelf life. Do be aware that there are numerous ways to extract saponin from soap nuts. Some processes use harsh chemical solvents. It’s fast and cheap. Needless to say, that’s not what most of us want to see for it defeats the purpose of safe natural liquid. Look for only products using a water-based saponin extraction process.

Go enjoy your soap nuts for a long time to come. Larger sizes cost less per ounce.  So, I hope this will help you to take better advantage of those significant savings on soap nuts.

• Best High Efficiency (he) Detergent

Hands down soap nuts (a.k.a soapnuts, soap berries, wash nuts, etc.) are the best HE (high efficiency) detergent or laundry soap available anywhere at any price. Period. Soap nuts actually accomplish everything that the HE chemical detergent producers are still trying to accomplish – and soap nuts do it even better  completely naturally – and totally green.

Typical he front loading washer.

Typical he front loading washer. Stock photo.

Soap nuts release precisely what the chemists at the major detergent producers are struggling to develop. Soap nuts simply accomplish it naturally and synthetic chemical free. A low sudsing, effective surfactant is the objective of any good HE detergent. Such is saponin – the all-important active ingredient that the soap nut releases to produce the “soaping” effect.

(Just in case: A surfactant is an agent or substance that reduces the surface tension of liquids so that the liquid spreads out, rather than collecting in droplets, hence allowing easy water flow through the soiled fabrics and facilitating the removal or release of dirt, oils, grime, etc.) Saponin does precisely that!

Soap nuts also come with some truly major extra benefits. They are naturally anti-fungal, antimicrobial, biodegradable and hypoallergenic. Plus to top it all off, used properly they are by far less expensive than the commercial chemical detergents. Geeez…what more can we ask for? See the article on affordability.

Virtually everything written in this article applies to all front-loading washers. Front loading washers are essentially HE washers by design. Newer front loaders that are called HE are simply more efficient than older units. They use tumbling as opposed to agitators to clean your laundry and use less water. Tumbling the laundry is the ideal way to agitate the soap nuts. It further enhances their release of saponins.

A very interesting point to be noted is that most HE washers have a maintenance cycle that is required to be run to keep the machine operating at peak efficiency. I very recently wrote an article specifically about purging and cleaning your machine using soap nuts (regardless of machine type). See the article on cleaning up washing machines with soap nuts for more detail. Soap nuts do not leave the residues and build ups that chemical detergents do (even the so called “green” ones). They actually break down such residues. Given that much less water is used in HE washers, a good “flushing” of the detergents, residues and additives out of your laundry and your machine is not achieved. Hence this newly found need for a maintenance cycle to help clean it out periodically.

Chemists are struggling to keep up with the washing machine technologies, and not doing a good job of it. Most of those I speak with that own HE and front-loading machines are not happy at all with the commercial detergents. As the founder of NaturOli, I speak to a lot of people every day about different detergents and the effects of using soap nuts. I routinely hear stories of these nasty odors and gross build-ups – and how well soap nuts work to eliminate the problems.

So, if you have a new or old HE washer (either top or front loader) simply try using soap nuts. It’s my bet that you will be totally astounded. You’ll love what they do for your laundry, your machine and your pocketbook, too!

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo courtesy of Electolux.

Electrolux 2007 Design Lab winner. Soap nuts washer prototype. Photo: Electrolux.

I’m certainly not going to try to address every single machine out there. They all don’t operate alike. Fundamentally they are the similar, but there are differences. It is very important to realize that the machine manufacturers are working with the chemical detergent producers and writing their manuals accordingly. They are certainly not addressing soap nut usage. Soap nuts are not even on their radar screens. As of 2009, it appears that only one European manufacturer, Electrolux, has actually demonstrated their foresight and vision by addressing soap nut usage.

Soap nuts are a 100% natural alternative to the synthetic, chemical detergents. Using soap nuts in a wash bag is such a radically different way to wash laundry, some experimentation on your part is going to be needed for you to determine the best method to achieve the best results using soap nuts in your machine. But, that’s part of the fun of them. Soap nut liquid and powder are used much like you would use any other liquid or powder detergent.

When using the wash bag method just forget about the compartments. Even if using liquid or powder, I recommend not using the compartments initially. Simply add the soap nuts (in whatever form) directly in with your laundry. Experimentation over time is the only way to know what works best for YOU. Since washing machines function differently the compartments and their dispersion methods introduce variables. As any good scientist will tell you, if you want to learn more and learn faster, minimize variables. Forget about the fabric softener department, too, since you normally don’t need fabric softeners when using soap nuts.

If you are using soap nuts in the traditional method (soap nuts in a wash bag) and washing in cold, definitely make a cup of soap nut “tea” and pour the tea and bag right in with your laundry. Heat helps to activate the release of the saponins. The starter “tea” method works great. You usually don’t need to make the tea again when doing loads back to back. Alternately, just boil some soap nuts and make a liquid, or grind them to a dust-like ultra fine powder. How you use soap nuts is purely a matter of personal preference. All methods work.

An exception regarding compartments: If you are using EXTREME 18X, dilute it as instructed to whatever amount of liquid is typical for your machine. Use both the wash and pre-wash compartments. It is very pure and void of any oils, hence it works great using the compartments – and immediately starts to work clean up your machine’s internal plumbing.

All in all, simply use good old-fashioned common sense. Know that heat and agitation help to release saponin from raw soap nuts. Using powders and liquids are simply convenient alternative methods. Many people really enjoy producing their own homemade detergent concoctions.

What’s most important to know and understand is that you have available to you (right now) the absolute very best HE detergent you will ever find – soap nuts. Soap nuts are the perfect HE detergent in every way – and again – more affordable, too! I guess Mother Nature is a little smarter than all those laboratory chemists. Why am I not surprised?

• Soap Berry Liquid Detergent: Efficacy Test

NaturOli’s soap nut liquid detergent goes toe to toe with leading chemical detergents in independent laboratory testing to compare cleaning power. This is the first time in history an independent US laboratory detergent comparison included soap nuts.

Just in case: Efficacy: ef-fi-ca-cy, noun. The ability to produce the necessary or desired results. (Courtesy of Encarta World English Dictionary)

Independent laboratory efficacy testing. Photo: Private collection.

Independent laboratory efficacy testing. Photo: Private collection.

Recently documented (June, 2009) via laboratory efficacy studies, soap nuts and saponin are proved equivalent in cleaning power to the some of the most popular mainstream synthetic chemical detergents on the market. The testing was for cleaning power only. There is no consideration given to the “mile long” list of additional benefits (either health or environmental) from the use of soap berries and saponin. For most, soap nuts sound to good to be true – but this is real. These are the facts. Here is the proof.

In June of this year, a diluted version of NaturOli’s Extreme 18X concentrated laundry soap was provided to Specialized Technology Resources (STR) in Canton, Massachusetts for comparative testing and analysis. The dilution of the 18X was done to approximate a one-ounce to one-ounce single load comparison. One ounce of “pure” Extreme 18X will wash approximately six to 12 loads. A full ounce of Extreme 18X would not make for a realistic comparison. It was diluted to equate to a single load dosage to compare apples to apples.

Comparisons were made against Tide 2X Ultra, Tide Free 2X Ultra, Seventh Generation Free and Clear 3X Concentrate and Method’s 3X Detergent Concentrate. Tests were conducted using a cold water (70F), normal wash cycle and used top loading vertical axis washing machines.

In the final analysis it is quoted by STR, “At approximately a 35% lower Use Level than both the Tide and Seventh Generation products and at the same Use Level as the Method product (NaturOli’s liquid soap nut detergent) demonstrated approximately 98% Tide’s, Seventh Generation’s and Method’s Overall Soil Removal Capability.”

That’s using 35% less product in the comparison with Tide and Seventh Generation. The tests were conducted using cold water with vertical agitation – one of saponin’s most difficult scenarios for maximum effectiveness. Amazing! Of the numerous tests, even with additional enzyme boosters by the competitive brands, the very lowest comparative results proved 91-93% effectiveness. There are currently no enzyme boosters whatsoever added in NaturOli’s Extreme 18X saponin laundry soap. This is a due to NaturOli maintaining the product’s purity.

Virtually across the board in every single test the results were comparable. The tests compared soiling by dust, clay, coffee, cosmetics, grape juice, grass, blue ball point pen, spaghetti sauce, motor oil and more. Test evaluated results on fabrics such as cotton, polyester and blends.

Hands down, this is a major victory for saponin over synthetic chemical detergents. Please don’t think that the supposedly “green” products that the saponin detergent was compared are actually “green”. Read the ingredients for yourself. They are far from it. SLS is still a primary ingredient.

Bottom line: The first of NaturOli’s saponin-based detergents went head to head with the leading detergents on the market and the jury called it a draw. Given that the emphasis of saponin-based products is placed on purity from all hazardous chemicals, this is a monumental achievement.

• Affordability

Soap Nuts – Possibly THE MOST Affordable Way To Wash Laundry.

I have read erroneous articles discussing soap nuts as an expensive alternative to chemical detergents. Interestingly I have received more than one apology from journalists that simply didn’t do enough homework on the subject of soap nuts. Anything used improperly will produce unreliable data. One journalist claimed that the cost of soap nuts was in the 50 cents per load range. I promptly set her straight. Frankly, properly used, soap nuts can be one of the most affordable ways possible to do laundry – and the math is very easy.

Now, it is important to realize that it is not cost effective at all to buy samplers of soap nuts. The purpose of samplers is to try them. Period. If you like them, then you would certainly buy them in larger quantities to reduce your cost per ounce. That’s a very nice thing about NaturOli. Not only do they offer very large sizes of reasonably priced quality soap nuts. They even work well with co-ops, similar type groups and resellers of all sizes on even larger orders.

But let’s first compare the cost of using soap nuts to using commercial detergents – as average consumers. Let’s just crunch some numbers:

You can purchase 32 ounces of high quality soap nuts for around $30. That should be enough to last an average household six months to a year when it comes down to simply doing laundry. Used in the traditional manner, you will use approx. one-half ounce in a wash bag and will average about 5 loads from it. That yields approx. 320 loads. Now I can usually get more loads than that, but that is only because of some tricks I use to extend their life and maximize saponin extraction. To be conservative, let’s even just go with only four loads.

Oh, a note worth mentioning: I’ve seen some soap nut sellers claim less loads being possible. That is very likely a good indicator of the type and quality of soap nuts being sold. I’ve also heard of people claiming to use half the amount of soap nuts I suggest using. (I still don’t get that one.) But let’s bare in mind the many, many variables in how people do their laundry. We will devote more time on this subject later.

Again, being very conservative, at only four loads per half ounce that would yield us only 256 loads. $30 divided by 256 equals $0.127 per load. And we are talking standard loads – not high efficiency (HE) loads that will lower the cost per load dramatically.

Soap nuts affordabilty - cost comparisons. Photo: Private colellection.

Soap nuts affordabilty - cost comparisons. Photo: Private colellection.

Now let’s run some comparisons with NaturOli soap nuts at various popular sized bags with leading “natural” and other types of detergents in typical sizes in which they are available. Note all comparison items were priced from discount yet reputable and respected sellers. All NaturOli prices per load are based upon standard loads, not HE loads. He loads would be approximately half the stated costs per load.

– NaturOli’s 64 ounce bag of soap nuts: $57.95 for 512 loads ($0.113 per load)

– NaturOli’s 32 ounce bag of soap nuts: $29.95 for 256 loads ($0.117 per load)

– NaturOli’s 16 ounce bag of soap nuts: $19.95 for 128 loads ($0.155 per load)

– NaturOli’s 8 ounce bag of soap nuts: $12.75 for 64 loads ($0.199 per load)

– Seventh Generation’s Free and Clear Natural Laundry Detergent 2x Ultra: $11.99 for 50 loads. ($0.239 cents per load)

– All’s Small and Mighty 3x Concentrate for HE washers: $8.49 for 32 loads. ($0.265 per load)

– Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 32 loads ($0.421 per load)

– ECOS Laundry Detergent, Ultra Concentrated with Soy Fabric Softener: $9.49 for 26 loads ($0.367 per load)

– Tide’s 2x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $14.99 for 32 loads ($0.468 per load!) This one really surprised me!

– Seventh Generation’s  Free and Clear Powder Laundry Detergent: $10.99 for 42 loads ($0.262 per load) Note: This is based on a package priced 4-pack at $43.99)

– Dreft’s 2x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $31.99 for 110 loads ($0.290 per load!)

– Babyganics 3x Concentrated Laundry Detergent: $13.49 for 33 loads ($0.408 per load)

– Method’s 3x Concentrated Baby Laundry Detergent: $10.99 for 32 loads ($0.343 per load)

Very quickly it becomes apparent that soap nuts (even when using our very conservative estimates) are very inexpensive compared to commercial detergents. The cost per “soap nut” load is dramatically lower! Used properly soap nuts can cut laundry costs by half or more. And this does not even factor in that you have virtually no more need for fabric softeners or dryer sheets.

(Forgive this brief departure, but at this point I can’t resist mentioning the environmental impact. Can you imagine the mega-tons of big plastic jugs and boxes that are completely eliminated from existence forever when using soap nuts? That’s staggering – and that’s only one of the many ways soap nuts are better for our planet. We will drill into this much more deeply in other articles.)

I gave a single mother, good friend of mine with three children a bag of soap nuts for the holidays. She has been working hard to make ends meet. Since that time she has raved about how wonderfully they worked, how her laundry never smelled so clean and soft, how her washing machine no longer smelled like mold and mildew. She had difficulty describing the scent, because there is no scent. How does one simply describe the scent of clean? Think about it.

She didn’t stop with laundry. She hasn’t stopped experimenting, and I last heard that the liquid she made cleaned her coffee maker better than even CLR did. Amazing.

We are all stretching our dollars as far as possible these days. We are also very concerned about all possible health hazards, and living greener lives. Unfortunately, what usually goes along with even supposedly “greener”, better products are higher price tags. One walk down any aisle in a grocery store, and this becomes immediately apparent. I have recently read numerous articles on the green profiteering that is occurring in nearly all industries.

Soap nuts are not only growing in consumer awareness when green is “in”. It is growing in awareness at a time when we all can use conserving a little more of our own green. No time could be better than now to discover all the wonders of soap nuts.

• Laundry Use: The Wash Bag Method

Let’s get to the age-old, traditional method of soap nuts (soapberries) laundry washing. That is, using the dried soapberries in a wash bag. It is extremely simple, but the most difficult method to wrap our brain around. It is simply such a different and unique way to wash laundry. Never use soap nuts without a wash bag. That would be very wasteful, plus you would likely get bits and pieces of the soap nuts in your laundry. Do not put soap nuts into the detergent compartments (either loose or in a wash bag). Doing so will not permit the agitation that helps the soap nuts release their saponin – their all-important active ingredient.

With traditional soap nuts wash bag usage, forget about your washing machine’s compartments entirely. Put five or six soap nuts (approximately a half an ounce) into a muslin or cotton wash bag. Tie it closed and simply toss the wash bag right in with your laundry. Period. That’s it. It doesn’t matter whether your machine is standard, HE, front-loading, top-loading or whatever. All we want to do is get the wash bag to be “washed” right along with the rest of your laundry.

NOTE: Be sure that the soap nuts do not contain seeds. (You can tell very easily if they do. The seeds are large, like a seed in a cherry. There are some soap nuts being sold on the market that are not de-seeded. The seeds are big, very hard and black as coal. They have no cleaning benefits at all, and can potentially leave spots on your laundry. This is not to mention that since you purchase soap nuts by weight, the seed will weigh about as much as the shell (the part that produces the saponin). Beware of very cheap prices.

VERY IMPORTANT FUNDAMENTALS:
Certain things are necessary to understand how to use soap nuts traditionally and to achieve the best results from them. Some basic points:
1) The dried soap nuts must become saturated with water. The dried fruit will become softer when it is releasing saponin at a desirable rate.
2) Heat is a catalyst that can be used effectively to more quickly soften the soap nuts and facilitate a faster release of the saponin.
3) Good water flow in and around the soap nuts and laundry, plus agitation are key factors to effective and ongoing release of saponin throughout the wash. Overstuffed laundry loads will not produce desirable results.
4) Cold water merely reduces the degree to which the saponin is released. There is no need to remove the soap nuts during the commonly cold rinse cycle. Saponin is so benign that a little in the rinse cycle has no negative effect whatsoever.

The traditional method of soap nut usage is the most economical method of use. Soap nuts’ cost per load is far less than most commercial detergents – particularly the so-called “natural” laundry soaps. Plus you will need no fabric softener or dryer sheets anymore. You will typically get around five loads per half an ounce of soap nuts. When washing and rinsing in cold water or when using an HE washer, you can often extend that to 6-7 loads. Tip: If you choose to, you can remove the wash bag prior to the rinse cycle and that will also extend the useful life of the soap nuts. This is not necessary at all. It may simply get you an extra wash or two per soap nuts wash bag.

If using a cold-water wash cycle, it is best to soak the bag of soap nuts in a cup of warm water first. Make a soap nut “tea” so to speak. That will help to stimulate the release of saponin from the soapberries. Then pour the cup of liquid and the bag right into the machine, add your laundry and start washing. If you have a pre-wash cycle, that’s fine. It won’t make a difference. Many people do not do take this extra step, and get great results. Water hardness and the exact water temperature are other variables. One person’s cold can be many degrees different than another’s. Softer water will allow the soap nuts to begin working more quickly, too. Hence, it is best to simply experiment to determine what works best for you.

Overstuffed laundry loads is the #1 reason for less than desirable results - regardless of detergent type.

Over-stuffing laundry loads is the #1 reason for "less than desirable" wash results - regardless of detergent type.

Be certain not to over-stuff your loads. If water is not flowing adequately through the fabrics, no detergent of any kind will work well. You should always be able to see your laundry intermixing and moving about. If nothing appears to be moving about freely, then your  laundry load is packed too tightly. Overly packed loads may save water, but at the price of having laundry that has not been properly cleaned.

Once you begin using soap nuts you will quickly understand just how simple they are to use. I feel that much of what I write is not because we need to learn so much about how to use them, but rather to explain the many things that we have come to believe about doing laundry that are just plain wrong. Given the fundamentals above, you would figure most of this out for yourself through trial and error. However, I hope that to help shorten your learning curve, bring clarity to certain issues about using soap nuts, and minimize any confusion that occurs during the course of changing our ways of doing laundry.

Through the course of business I meet many people in the laundry business. As one professional specialty laundry cleaner of many years put it, “Most people shouldn’t do their own laundry.” He stated that there are just too many things that most people do not fully understand about what actually causes the proper cleaning of their laundry. That’s very interesting, don’t you think?

We learn more about soap nuts and saponin every single day. The list of benefits that the soap nut offers us and our environment gets longer all the time. It is ultimately my goal to move on to addressing all these wonderful benefits and the many other soap nuts uses. Mother Nature handed us a remarkable gift when that first soapberry tree took root. I look forward to sharing all I have learned from soap nuts. They will change our lives forever.

• Liquid or Powder: Better Natural Laundry Results?

Soap nut liquids and powders are growing rapidly in popularity because they are more inline with how we typically wash laundry today – primarily liquids. Statistics show liquid detergents are over 90% of the detergent market and are still growing. The traditional soap nut method (the dried fruits in a wash bag) is so radically different it warrants its own post. I will discuss the traditional method of using soap nuts or soapberries in a separate article. For now we will look at only the pro and cons of soap nuts liquids and soap nuts powder.

Use of soap nuts date back to antiquity, but modern manufacturers know little to nothing about them. Hence, don’t expect to find a machine with a soap nuts compartment for quite some time. So, where does that leave us? The answer is very simple: Use of our common sense. All that is required is a basic, understanding of how your washing machine and soap nuts work. Armed with that fundamental knowledge, you will find all your answers.

During a recent trip to look at new washers and dryers, I must admit that they appear to be quite complex, but appearances are just that. The fundamentals are still similar to that 20-year-old Maytag.

An aside: Ironically, if we would have ever been taught the real science of washing and cleaning (other than the technologically improved energy saving mechanics), we could use that 20 year old Maytag and get fabulous results without ever using a drop more water than absolutely necessary. We have been trained to wait for “somebody” to come out with a better way so we can purchase that better way. In essence we are trained to be dependent on businesses to offer “push-button” solutions. That is exactly how big business wants us to think. I believe that we finally are beginning to realize that if we use our brains and learn more, we can stop waiting for the next solution to be sold to us. Knowledge is power. There is truly a great deal to know about effective cleaning and washing that most of us simply do not know and have never been taught – or taught properly. I believe the Internet and information age are going to change many routine and everyday ways we do things in our lives. I believe the future holds many age-old fundamentals that will be rediscovered. The time is coming when less money and resources will be wasted on needless things, and those resources will be rerouted to development of products that will genuinely improve the overall quality of life. The recent economic downturn coupled with the green movement has provided very good reasons to take a second look at how we live our lives. That “second look” is very likely to evolve into an entirely new era for mankind. A very interesting thing about knowledge – when you get a little, you want more.

Getting back on track: There are more bells and whistles in the new machines. There are some extra features and cycles available. Some of them can be very useful. Just keep in mind that we must simply think a little differently and make adjustments as needed to accommodate proper use of soap nuts. Experimentation is always helpful. From household to household there are many variables. Some are environmental. Some are due to our personal habits. Regardless, we are all different and we do things a bit differently. Finding our own personal best way is a function of thought and such experimentation.

Soap nuts are available in liquid and powder forms in addition to their raw form (right off the tree and dried). The soap nuts liquids and soap nuts powders can be made at home or specific formulations can be purchased from a handful of developers. That makes usage much more similar to using standard and HE detergents, and therefore much simpler. However, note that the manufacturer of your machine has written instructions based upon typical “store-bought” detergents and additives – not soap nuts detergents. And once you are using soap nuts, it’s a whole new ballgame. For example: the fabric softener compartment. It is simply not needed at all anymore. (That is going to make some companies unhappy.) Some other compartment will prove to be useful.

Now stick with me on this for it is very important: If you have a high efficiency (HE) washer that requires HE detergents, soap nuts in any form are ideal when used properly because they are naturally low sudsing. They blow away every HE detergent on the market. If you have a standard machine, they are still ideal. Many people get confused at this juncture. What you must realize is that suds are not required to clean. Nor are they a barometer for evaluating the cleaning that is occurring in your washer. That is one of the big myths regarding detergents and soaps. Regardless of machine type only three things are required for effective washing of everyday laundry:

1 – A surfactant to lessen the water surface tension allowing it to break up and loosen dirt and grime.

2 – Adequate water flow.

3 – Agitation.

That’s it. So, for now try not to get hung up on the whole suds issue. I am going to address suds at great length in another article.

Given the above, now let us get to the nitty-gritty of using soap nuts liquids and powders. The variables here (aside from amounts to use) are primarily the concentration and potency of the liquid, and/or the fineness of the powder. If you are making your own liquid then the potency of saponin in the liquid will vary depending upon how you make it. If you are using a CleanNut, Terra, or Maggies soap nut detergent, they will be used very much like all others (a little more or a little less depending upon the machine type. Water hardness is a variable here. If you have hard water use a little more. Experiment and let the results speak for themselves. Back to the suds issue, do not use suds as a barometer to gauge results. Results are determined when your laundry has dried. Does it look and smell clean and fresh? Is it soft and absorbent? This is where you gauge results. This is where it counts. I had to laugh one day as a woman explained her first experience with soap nuts. She said, “I felt like I was just washing in water.” But stood in amazement at the dirtiness of the water coming from a “not all that dirty” load of laundry. She was astonished at how fresh, clean and soft her laundry came out. (She’s another one who will never look back.)

Comparison: 96 loads with 18X soap nut liquid concentrate

Comparison: 96 loads with 18X soap nut liquid concentrate

If you are using NaturOli’s EXTREME 18X soap nuts liquid concentrate this is quite different. The same “little more” or “little less” principle still applies, but this is a very highly concentrated soap nuts detergent. You will typically use only a half to one teaspoon per load. No kidding. That’s just a squirt or two if using the dispenser bottle. That’s a no-brainer. You can use the compartment as you would with any liquid detergent. You simply use much less. You are probably best to start with a teaspoon (2 squirts) and then cut back and compare. Overcome that feeling of needing more – and let the end results speak for themselves. This is where “concentrated” takes on an entirely new meaning. It is actually more of a pure soap nut extract. A small 8 ounce bottle of EXTREME 18X will have as much or more cleaning power than those  that come in a big 32 or even 64-ounce jug. I know, it’s tough to grasp that, but that is only because of the brainwashing factor again. NaturOli set out to produce the greenest detergent and cleaner possible – and did (winning a major award in the process). There is no laundry soap on the planet with a lower carbon footprint. Why do companies  ship all that water anyway? For that totally pure, unaltered, soap nuts clean and fresh result, you will be happiest with EXTREME 18X. It contains no essential oils that can leave residue and cause “wicking” of the fabric fibers, plus it is totally unscented. If you desire a scent I recommend using an absorbent cloth with a little of your scent of choice and tossing it in the dryer. Use more or less as desired. The oils will not impact the cleaning effects when used in such fashion.

If you are using soap nuts powder, you want it to be as fine as you can possibly get it (dust like is preferred). It’s likely better to purchase finely pre-ground and sifted. A course grind and/or a short wash cycle will result in much saponin just going down the drain and being wasted. It won’t have time to fully release its saponin. (Grinding your own sounds easy enough, but it is a bit trickier than you may think. The shells must be very dry first, and if you have a grinder that will produce an ultra-fine powder, plus a fine filter, an airborne soap nut “dust” will be difficult to avoid. The dust will be irritating if inhaled, or if gotten into eyes. I recommend purchasing it ready-made for use.) Approximately a teaspoon of very fine, quality soap nut powder (added into the powder compartment or directly in with your laundry) will wash an average load. Using powder may be a less economical method of using soap nuts because you’ll likely use more soap nuts than required if reusing them in the wash bag method, or if using liquid. Liquid ensures optimal use of the saponin in the berries.

In all cases, if you are adding salts, water softeners, sodium percarbonate (oxy-bleach basically), washing soda, vinegar, etc. to adjust your water’s pH level and/or for whitening and cleaning boosters, that’s totally fine – plus part of the fun! Experimentation is key to obtaining consistently excellent results.

btw: Soap nuts powder makes for an awesome green scouring powder. That is predominantly what I use powder for. Forget about the toxic Comet and rubber gloves! Powder works great!

There is no rocket science here. Most of this is plain, old-fashioned common sense. The only real hurdle is changing the way we think, and some old habits. Good results are what we are striving for. It may take a couple loads to dial in the best results for your particular scenario, but you will soon know exactly what to do. If you have a pre-wash and a main wash cycle, simply use them as your owner’s manual suggests.

It is noteworthy to point out that with soap nuts you really don’t need a second rinse cycle unless your laundry is very dirty. In most cases, that second rinse is to help flush out all the chemicals in the fabrics. Since we aren’t using chemicals with soap nuts it is no longer needed. It becomes a matter of choice, not necessity. So you do have an opportunity to save quite a bit of water. That’s a nice plus.

I hope this has helped you. It is actually hard to really do something very wrong when using soap nuts liquid or powder. If you are not satisfied with the results, take a look at what you did and make some adjustments. If you have very hard water then you will typically need to use more than average amounts. Once again, let the final results be your finished laundry. Once you have dialed in what is right for you, your laundry will be clean, fresh, soft and absorbent – unlike you have ever experienced before. If you are like the vast majority, you will never want to use anything except soap nuts detergents again.

• Soap Nut Trees

Soap nut trees are one of nature’s greatest gifts.

Sapindus mukorossi tress with ripening soap berries.

Sapindus mukorossi tress with ripening soap berries. Note the yellow to golden brown colors of mukorossi berries that are ready for harvesting. This coloration will last for only a few months at most. They are rarely seen like these by Western consumers.

Man has used soap nuts since ancient times – primarily in Far East lands. They go by many common names such as soap berries, washing nuts, soap nut shells, wash shells, soapberry nuts, Ritha nut shells, Chinese soapberry and many more. Until recently, they have been obscure and virtually unheard of by most. There are logical explanations for this obscurity – many are sad and tragic, but true. However, what is most important is where we go from here. Integrating the benefits of soap nuts into our daily lives will be one of the greatest accomplishments of our age.

Soap nuts are more appropriately called a soapberry. I will use both terms. There is no difference whatsoever regardless of the term used. To visualize a soapberry, think of a golden colored cherry while still on the tree – they are very similar type fruits in appearance. Being more specific, the soap nut that we use for cleaning purposes is actually the pulp and skin of the dried soapberry. The seed is not used for cleaning. It is for cultivating new trees. Research is being conducted for other uses of the soap nut seed, but no other benefits have yet to be documented. Please note that all soap berries are not alike. This will be discussed in detail.

This pulp and skin contain an extremely important natural substance called saponin. Saponin is a truly natural soap (in effect at least). More precisely, and MOST importantly, it is a 100% natural surfactant. By definition a surfactant is an agent, chemical, drug or substance that reduces the surface tension of liquid. It is this reduction of water surface tension that makes cleaning easier. Soap nuts contain this all-important saponin that makes our everyday cleaning needs not only easier, but much healthier, safer and totally free of synthetic chemicals.

So, a soap nut is the vehicle that releases this highly effective, 100% natural substance that is the best alternative to the synthetic chemicals used in the virtually all commercial detergents and cleaners. Even today’s supposedly “natural”, “organic”, and “green” detergents and cleaners mainly use synthetic chemicals as their primary active ingredients. Saponin is the only all-natural substance known that works as effectively and diversely as synthetic surfactants – and therefore is one of the greatest re-discoveries of our age.

I state “re-discovery” because soap nuts are far from new. There are many ancient and Ayurvedic treatments that soap nuts have been essential in producing. They are still commonplace and the primary cleanser used in many remote regions of the world.

They key here is that Mother Nature has freely provided us a substitute for the man-made chemicals that have been coming out of the factories and labs of many of the largest companies on earth. This simple all-natural substitute has profound health and environmental benefits for all mankind. With only a little thought, it is easy to understand why soap nuts are not well known. What does man crave and Mother Nature cares nothing about? Money.

People across the globe are taking a hard, close second look at all the hazards and problems created by exposure to and release of all the synthetic chemicals in our world. Soap nuts are now in the right place at the right time. Soap nuts will be one of the leaders of the new, green age that lies ahead. Their time has come.

Mature mukorossi tree beginning to flower for the upcoming year's bountiful berry harvest. Note: Long distinctive leaves of the mukorossi species.

Mature mukorossi tree beginning to flower for the upcoming year's bountiful berry harvest. Note: Long distinctive leaves of the mukorossi species.

A few facts of interest:
– The mukorossi species is indigenous to China. They are still listed on the books as an “alien” species in India and Nepal, but this is splitting hairs. (The term Chinese soap berry is antiquated at best.) For thousands of years the invasive species migrated southward through eastern Nepal and northern India. Today they are far more established in India and Nepal as agriculture products of international commerce and community incomes – their Fair Trade markets becoming well developed after years of work by local villagers and Southern Asian exporters. China recently began exportation after recognizing a potential for profit. Agricultural products are only a scant few percent (at best) of China’s GDP due to their reputation for low quality control, lack of regulation, common use of toxic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, excessive pollution of both water and air, plus persistently being plagued with worldwide news of hazardous contamination outbreaks.
– They are exceptionally prolific fruit producers. See post on Soap Nuts Sustainability to learn more.
– When growing, patience will be needed. They make take up to 9 years to bare their precious fruits.
– They’re big trees! Can grow to 90′. Allow room.
– Once established, expect them to be live a long time – commonly a century!

Growing Soap Nut Trees from Seed:

(Courtesy L.R. Sacks, www.Soap-Nuts.info)

Initial Note: It is extremely common to see a ring of moldy-looking “white fuzzy stuff” around the umbilical area of the soap nut seed. This is perfectly normal. It does not mean the heart has become rotten nor will it affect germination in any way. No need to wipe it off – and it may even be a good thing.

1. Scarify the seed. Because the soap nut seed coat is so hard, the plant embryo inside cannot breakthrough the seed coat on its own. You must help it by damaging the seed coat. You’ll have to be a little creative. One option is to use a nail file and wear down a notch in the seed coat. I found the seed coat to be so tough that sand paper and fine-grained files did not leave a mark. Another option is to hammer the seed. Be careful not to crush the seed; we just want to weaken the seed coat. I gave about a dozen hard whacks to my seed against concrete, and felt like I was weakening it, but did not see any visible change. Another option is to soak it in hot water. Don’t use water that is actually boiling, but it can still be very hot. I boiled a kettle, let the hot water sit for five minutes, and then filled up a vacuum insulated thermos with the seeds and water, and let it soak for 24 hours. The thermos will keep the water quite warm throughout that period. I used all three methods (filing, hammering, soaking) and it worked ok, but I’m sure there are other good methods too. Soaking is particularly important though, as the water is what activates the germination. If you choose the hammer method be careful not to fully break the outer shell of the seed because once it’s in damp soil it may begin to rot. Remember sapindus mukorossi (and many species  of soap  berry trees) grow in rough rocky mountainous soil not in wetlands so don’t over water.

2. You need to plant the seed. I would do this in spring or early summer in a pot either outside or in a greenhouse. Choose a pot that is deep, as soap nut trees send down vertical taproots. If you don’t have a deep pot, a 2 liter plastic bottle works well – cut off the top and drill several holes in the bottom. Bury the seed in potting soil (not dirt – use good quality potting/germinating soil) to about three times the seed’s depth. Put it in a place where it will not be in direct sun, and where it can catch some rainfall. Water the pot if the soil starts to dry, but don’t water if it is still moist – that can promote fungal growth. Also, avoid fertilizing the soil before germination occurs – high levels of nitrogen in the soil can actually inhibit germination in general.

3. Wait. Your soap nut seed may take a long time to germinate. It could be 1 month to 3 months, perhaps even more. Not all of the seeds will germinate, but if you follow these directions, you should get 80% or more to grow. Once it does begin to grow, it will shoot up fast. About 1 foot in 1 month should be about right, then it will slow down a little. Give it plenty of full sunlight, and water when soil begins to dry. Again, remember these trees grow in rough rocky mountainous soil not in wetlands so don’t over water.

4. Taking care of the tree. My trees are still very young, so I cannot provide a lot of personal experience. I will be growing mine in progressively larger pots, keeping them on a sunny patio. They should be moved inside once freezing weather begins next winter. Since they are mainly grown in northern India and southern China, they may or may not be able to sustain freezing temperatures. Soap nut tress are known to be and appear generally quite hardy, so should not need a high level of care once well established.

• Soap Nuts & Soap Making

To make soap or grow soap? That is the question.

Soap making within ancient civilizations (primarily Roman, Greek, Babylonian and Egyptian) can be traced to Biblical ages (centuries B.C.). Animal fats, tallow, vegetable oils, clays, ashes, salts and numerous ingredients were commonly used. For this article, the different types of soaps are not relevant to soap nuts. Only the fact that they were man-made is very significant.

The soaps used by most of mankind throughout history were not picked from a tree, as are soap berries. Hence, soap producing berries are exceptionally unique. Just the idea of a fruit producing soap is tough to grasp. However, once embraced it becomes very intriguing. The level of excitement in people continually amazes me once they begin to see all the possibilities soap nuts offer us.

Soap was originally produced in large part as a medicinal product. Centuries later it became recognized as a cleanser. The early ancient Romans used olive oil for personal hygiene – not soap. A mixture of olive oil and sand was applied and scraped off in order to cleanse and exfoliate the body. Ancient Greeks also used exfoliation by other means as their primary method of cleansing and maintaining personal hygiene. At some point during the height of the Great Roman Empire soap (Latin: sapo) became widely recognized as a personal cleaning product. A soap making facility and soap bars of man-made soap were uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii. Soap nuts were not in the picture – at all.

There is little evidence that any form of soap was used in cleaning fabrics during ancient times. Water and agitation were the primary means of washing laundry. I’m certain that we’ll never go back to water and rocks for doing laundry, but this indicates just how little we know about how to clean fabrics properly – even today. A surfactant (such as soap nuts or any soap) would have simply made laundry day a little easier.

Sadly, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the importance of personal hygiene took a major dive throughout the lands ruled by the Empire. It is suspected that this decline in personal hygiene resulted in many of the major plagues in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was man’s greed that led to this decline.

During the centuries after the fall, European soap making began to really take off. It began being produced at commercial levels. In the 1600s, English King James I granted the exclusive rights to a single manufacturer in exchange for huge annual payments. It was even taxed and essentially became a luxury item. Soap was not readily available to the average consumer due to its high cost.

Bottom line: Man-made soap has been a major moneymaker for ages. Fortunes were made then – and still are still being made today. For all of Europe and the new western hemisphere the stage was set. There was no incentive for businesses to look for a natural soap – particularly something like soap nuts which abundantly grows on trees. Many powerful people had a great thing going. People were getting rich, and nobody wanted to change a thing – with the exception of making the businesses even more profitable via producing cheaper commercial soaps, detergents and cleaners.

Soaps, as we know them today, did not appear until around the early 1800s – not far off from when P & G first opened their doors. (Old-fashioned, glycerin-rich soap is nothing like what comes out of the factories today. Ask any true soap maker sometime.) For a great article about what man did with soap to trick us, visit: http://www.naturoli.com/mission/powermarketing.html

Does anyone find it ironic that one of the earliest known sources of a cleansing medium was naturally growing on a tree (olives), and today we are discovering another totally natural cleansing medium (soap nuts) growing on trees – over 2,000 years later?

Thankfully, a huge grassroots movement – the GREEN movement – emerged in this century and has placed an enormous emphasis on safe, chemical-free alternatives to today’s chemical laden products. In many ways the re-discovery of soap nuts is a direct result of this newfound emphasis and energy. Soap nuts are, as the “Green Dot Award” jury put it,  “…possibly the most significant green innovation in history for everyday cleaning needs…” Soap nuts will change what and how we think about soap. And also what we DO when it comes to cleaning.

Important note: In no way is this article to cast a shadow on today’s handmade soap making – quite the contrary. Real soap making is an art and a science. Soap-makers are a very special, wonderful breed that cares about healthy, nutrient rich formulations. Some small businesses and people at home are making genuinely fabulous, luxurious soaps – nothing whatsoever like today’s commercial soaps. At NaturOli we still hand pour pure, glycerin-rich soap bars and produce amazingly effective, moisturizing, chemical-free liquid soaps and washes. Most true soap-makers I know embrace soap nuts and saponin. Soap nuts make for another wonderful ingredient that can be used in soap making, plus they are appreciated for their myriad of other uses. Soap nuts will never replace true, pure, chemical-free soaps. Such soaps are a must-try if you have never experienced the quality and richness of them.

• Soap Nuts & Big Business

Soap nuts (soap berries) are baffling and confusing to us. We simply do not think of detergents, soaps and cleaners as something growing in the wild. The interesting question is, “Why?” The eye-opening answer is that we have been TRAINED to think of all cleaners as being MAN-MADE products via hundreds of years of politics and generations of powerful marketing and advertising. We’ve been brainwashed.

Procter and Gamble was founded in 1837 as a commercial soap and candle manufacturer. By 1860 annual sales exceeded one million dollars. That was a LOT of money then. During the 1880s, P & G introduced Ivory soap and has continued expanding their lines. For over 150 years we have been associating soaps and all types of cleansers with commercial manufacturers. We have been shown nothing else. Most of the world knew of anything else. Our OPTIONS have been limited to WHICH of the COMMERCIAL brands we buy.

Today P & G is one of the largest companies in the world – with billions allocated to ongoing marketing and advertising. Let’s remember there are other major power players such as Colgate-Palmolive, Clorox, Lever Brothers, etc. throwing more money into the pot. They compete against one another, but the important thing to realize is that collectively they virtually CONTROL how we think. They have done exceeding well in brainwashing us to think exactly the way they want us to. They produce the soaps, detergents and cleansers that most people use every single day. Even the notion of “growing” soap is EXTREMELY difficult for us to comprehend. Changing how we have been doing something our entire life is a daunting task. But times are changing. Most importantly – we are getting smarter.

Soap nuts did not just pop-up out of nowhere as an alternative to commercial products. They have been well known for their cleaning power in many other parts of the world for ages – particularly those remote areas of the world where they are plentiful and grow wild. This takes us to the mountainous heartlands of Central and Southeast Asia.

Cleaning was certainly not unknown to the cultures outside the boundaries of the Great Roman Empire. Within the other cultures of the world, cleaning was accomplished in various ways. In some, the soap berries (soap nuts) played a major role.

Throughout most of the more developed parts of the world, soap has been being man-made for over 2000 years. Soap nuts are obscure outside their areas of origin. Their uses are equally obscure. Albeit well known in the more remote corners of the world, the rest of the entire world had already found its solutions – and the soap-making businesses of the times were quite happy (and still are).

Consider this: How could a big, profitable soap-making business ever exist if anybody could go gather soap  – FOR FREE – in the hills a few miles away? Remember, for a long time soap was a luxury item that the average family could not afford. There were no big soap-making enterprises near the regions soap nuts grew. Free soap nuts would have put the soap-makers out of business in a hurry.

So, let’s tie all this together. For centuries there have been no major companies with any interest in finding natural alternatives whatsoever to man-made soaps, detergents and cleansers. P & G and the other behemoths are perfectly content to continuing to manufacture and patent chemicals and products to make massive profits. Only in recent years have we seen a demand for more earth-friendly, “green” products.

I don’t think I need to explain “green-washing” here, but caveat emptor (buyer beware). Be it from the heat generated by consumers, or the opportunity recognized, both old and new companies are creating new facades under the guise of being green – Seventh Generation being one of my personal favorites in the art and science of green-washing. Many smaller companies emerged with sincere missions of developing healthier and safer cleaning products. Sadly, the conglomerates have bought up some of the best ones.

Due to the emergence of the information age, the Internet, heightened consumer awareness, public concerns and governmental intervention regarding the health and environmental hazards of all these mass-produced chemical products – we now seek alternatives more than ever before. Large manufacturers are now marketing their products to APPEAR safer and healthier, but they remain primarily synthetic chemical-based formulations. Many of which we may not know their full effects for generations.

As the saying goes, “A leopard can’t change its spots.” Most detergents, soaps and cleaners come from companies with enormous, complex and incredibly expensive infrastructures that rune very deep. Such companies are not about to convert to importing fruits (soap nuts) anytime soon.

The simple fruit of the soap nut tree now poses a serious threat to big business. For big business it has now become the typical – and anticipated – “smoke and mirrors” game. As with the tobacco industry, given their enormity it’s a game that can last for decades – even generations. For an interesting article that discusses the similar scenario encountered by the tobacco industry visit: http://www.naturoli.com/mission/timeforchange.html

Soap nuts are the primary source for Mother Nature’s own soap (saponin, the active ingredient in the soapberry). Saponin is found in many botanicals, such as agaves, yucca, soapwort and more. What is unique to the soapberry is its EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH level of saponin concentration. This high concentration of genuine 100% truly natural soap is the IDEAL alternative to commercial soaps. Now known via new and independent studies, soap nuts and saponin are equivalent in cleaning power to the most popular synthetic chemical detergents in the world. When considering all the heath and environmental problems that soap nuts resolve, soap nuts become the proverbial “dream come true”. (See Efficacy Testing Results in posts.)

Soap nuts are simply a better mousetrap – PERIOD. Now that we have re-discovered them and there is a growing demand for them, we will see more soap nuts and saponin products. Soap nuts are marking one of the greatest turning points in history. Nature’s free gift of the soap berry tree is at the forefront of a better, healthier, greener life for us all.

Big business will do everything possible to hide the truths, misguide us and delay the inevitable. Don’t expect saponin to appear in the ingredients of a P & G product anytime soon. I hope that vast numbers of consumers will band together to derail the strategies and plans mapped out by these huge companies. The REAL power is in two places: Our brains and our wallets. We tend to see ourselves as small and ineffectual. Alone we are. Together we create a force beyond the influence of big business. Will we be smarter, or will we be herded around like the sheep of the past?

Unlike the days of the major battles with the tobacco companies, we consumers now have new and far better tools than at any time in history. We can connect and communicate with each other as never before possible. It’s OUR lives and OUR world being discussed in board rooms across the globe. Where we go from here is OUR choice – not theirs. No longer are our options limited. TOGETHER we can change this world forever.