• Soap Nuts Made Easy

Let’s look purely at what soap nuts do for us – and keep it simple.

This may be the most elementary, yet most important article on Soapnuts.pro. Let us get right to the heart of what the heck a soap nut (soapberry) is, and lift the veil of mystery surrounding them. This segment is focused on only the VERY basics of what soap nuts are and WHAT THEY DO in the BROADEST sense. We will get more detailed regarding soap nuts’ origins, history, benefits, economics, uses, botany, science, FAQs, reviews, and more in other segments. Let’s first understand soap nuts at a purely CONCEPTUAL level. It is so simple. Soap berries are fruits that offer us a better, greener way to clean. Soap nuts produce natural soap. That’s it.

I am intentionally skipping ALL the nuances about soap nuts that create confusion and debate. Some statements and terms will be technically wrong – but VERY true and purposeful in understanding the fundamental concept. My purpose here is to help change HOW we think – to open up parts of our brains that have been clouded and stifled due to a lifetime of programming by big business. This is not an article that will nit-pick details. We are taking a bird’s eye view of the primary things soap nuts DO FOR US.

So, what are soap nuts? Nature’s soap. Plain and simple. And what does soap do? It cleans things. Now, we have just connected soap nuts to cleaning. We are on our way! Therefore, what do soap nuts do? They clean things!

Don’t worry about HOW just yet. What is critical is to understand is that soap nuts can replace virtually ALL synthetic, commercial, chemical cleaners in our homes. You can keep your laundry and home wonderfully clean, fresh, bacteria and pest free – and never purchase another big jug of Tide, fabric softener, dryer sheet, bottle of Windex, canister of Comet or can of pesticide ever again! A bag of soap nuts can replace them all. Herein is our paradigm shift – the beginning of our deprogramming. This is the beginning of recognizing safer, better, natural OPTIONS in how we do our most rudimentary, everyday cleaning and household maintenance.

Think of soap nuts this way: They are Mother Nature’s soap. Soap nuts do not come out of a chemical processing plant. She just grows them on trees. How is this possible? Mother Nature can do whatever she wants. She doesn’t get paid for it, nor does she promote them. Same as accidentally discovering fire, thousands of years ago man discovered a fruit that produced lather. What does lather do? It facilitates cleaning. What did man discover about soap nuts? They clean things!

“I thought it was a detergent.” What does a detergent do? It cleans things. Is it a soap or detergent? Both. For the purpose of changing HOW we think, this doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that our brains accept that soaps, detergents, cleansers and cleaners DO NOT need to be manufactured by man – that nature’s soap nuts clean things (as well and even better).

Where do they come from? Trees. Let’s just call them soap trees. Most trees produce something that enables them to start growing baby trees. Right? Who cares if it is a fruit, nut, berry or acorn? If you take a handful of them – and can lather up and clean with them – it’s a soap. That is EXACTLY what soap nuts do. Certain special trees produce fruits that produce soap. Those special fruits are commonly called soap nuts and/or soap berries.

Mother Nature has her own ready-to-use “brand” of soap. Natural cleaners have been around for ages in various botanicals long before man ever started making soap. Soap nuts simply clean EXCEPTIONALLY well – plus offer us even MORE benefits that we’ll deeply probe into.

Where have soap nuts been all this time? Since Mother Nature doesn’t work for profit – that’s WHY they are new to most of us. She doesn’t market or advertise. It is mainly ancient Far Eastern cultures that have knowledge regarding uses for soap nuts. People elsewhere around the world found other ways to make and profit from producing man-made soap ages ago. There was no motivation for man to seek alternatives. Everybody was happy, and money was pouring in. If Mother Nature was in it for the money, soap nuts would be on store shelves around the world.

As an Asian Indian gentleman explained to me: His family knows soap ONLY as soap nuts. They grew up with them. Be it to bathe, wash clothes, clean jewelry, repel pests or whatever – when they started cleaning, they pulled out the soap nuts.

Go get yourself some soap nuts. Put a handful of them in a wash bag, sock or wrap them up in a washcloth. Get them totally wet and start rubbing and squeezing them. Guess what you get? Suds. These suds indicate cleaning power and much more.

So, soap nuts grow on trees and they produce soap. Understand THAT and the rest will follow. Using soap nuts are a very important option that we have – that we were not aware of. They are putting us on a path to a healthier, chemical-free age. Soap nuts will change how we think about cleaning – forever.

We are beginning a new, “green” age. There are many age-old, natural ways to do many everyday things. Cleaning is only one of them – but a HUGE one. Understand all your options and choose what’s best for you. Soap nuts are a great one to know about.

Freedom of choice has taken a quantum leap with soap nuts. Today our cleaning product options are no longer limited to deciding between which “commercial” brands we buy. Soap nuts are now an option, too – and one of the greatest ones ever discovered.

• Varieties & Quality

Soap nuts were originally discovered and used by locals as a cleansing medium. They were primarily used for bathing and personal hygiene and a plethora of cleaning uses. They make an exceptional jewelry cleaner for example. Soap nuts were also used in numerous medicinal treatments and worked as an effective, yet safe, chemical-free pest repellent. These same uses prevail today – PLUS there is a long list of NEW uses in our modern age.

The botanical term Sapindus is derived from the Latin word “sapo” (soap) and (Indian) indicus, referring to its lather-producing fruit. It is this genus of tree that produces soap nuts – and there are many varieties. Saponin is found in many plants such as yucca, agave, soapwort, and others. What makes the soap nut SO special is their extraordinarily high concentration of saponin (the active ingredient and natural surfactant in soap nuts). Extracting enough saponin from other plants would simply not be feasible. However, Sapindus trees produce a fruit that not only makes it feasible, Sapindus trees make it easy AND SUSTAINABLE.

Soap nuts are a common name for the ripened and dried fruit harvested from a Sapindus tree. There are two primary species being harvested today: Mukorossi and Trifoliatus. Both are found mainly in Southeast Asia. Both are of the family Sapindaceae. I am often asked why does NaturOli use only Mukorossi soap nuts. The Mukorossi species consistently produces the highest level of saponin of the many soap berry varieties. Hence, consumers get the best possible experience from them. Also, other than Mukorossi and Trifoliatus there is no infrastructure and supply chain for the other varieties. When ordering tens of thousands of kilos, the Southeast Asian exporters are the only suppliers that can meet the demand. With time, increased consumer awareness, and increased demand this scenario will change. In decades to come, we will find suppliers in many regions around the Rocky, Andes, Sierra, Appalachian and other mountain ranges. Most likely it will be the Mukorossi variety being grown and harvested.

Sapindus Mukorossi is a large soapberry tree growing primarily in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains of China, northern India and Nepal. It is a prolific fruit producer and lives around ninety years. It is native to China and considered alien to the Doon Valley in India where it flourishes in poor soil conditions. It aids in the reducing soil erosion in these regions. The soap nut flowers are small, white and grouped in panicles (clusters). The fruits are round, yellowish berries that become gummy and wrinkled as they ripen. It produces large, colorful and glossy soapberries compared to other species. It is the most highly valued species.

Sapindus Trifoliatus is a smaller soapberry tree typically found in Southern India, Pakistan and numerous countries in Southeast Asia. It prefers lower altitudes and warmer climates. It produces a smaller soap nut (about half the size of the Mukorossi soap nut). It contains saponin as do all Sapindus fruits, however not as high of level as Mukorossi soap berries. Harvesting and de-seeding the smaller soap nuts is more difficult. Being sold by weight makes Trifoliatus less desirable in many ways. There is more work for the harvesters for less money. There is less money involved per kilo for the exporters. And they are of lower quality and effectiveness for the consumer. Trifoliatus soap nuts are certainly a valuable resource for saponin. HOWEVER, they are also the primary species sold deceptively to be its far superior cousin, the Mukorossi soap nut.

Local villagers, farmers, families and co-ops harvest the soap nuts after the fruit falls from the tree. Properly processed, the seeds are removed and the shells are dried in the sun. They are then sold to the exporters. Currently only about half of the Mukorossi soap nuts available are harvested annually. The rest go to waste. Harvesting provides an economic stimulus for these economically depressed regions. Increased global demand will provide additional stimulus and encourage more cultivation.

Many other varieties of these remarkable soap nut trees grow around the globe with differing data with regards to their fruits. There are actually many types of saponin, too – also with varying properties. We will be studying these soap nut varieties and their individual properties for many years to come. We have much to still learn. The consensus at NaturOli is that the further we drill into the benefits of soap nuts and saponin the more we continue to discover. Who knows how deep this rabbit hole goes?

• What are Soap Nuts?

Are they soap NUTS or soap BERRIES? A little botany:

Soap nuts are not “nuts”. Of course you can take that a few different ways, but I am referring to only the botany. A soap nut is not a nut at all. It is a berry – a fruit. This has confused many people. Most consumers have never seen a soapberry growing on the tree. Most only see the dried fruit. Being hard and crinkled it looks like a nut. It erroneously began being referred to as a soap nut, and the name stuck.

One can become very confused when trying to determine what is rightfully a “nut”. It is a very broad term. Using some definitions, a soapberry could be referred to as a nut or seed. Botanically speaking, a nut is a dried fruit with one seed. That fits for a soap nut. However, the BIG catch is that with a true NUT – the fruit cannot be separated from the seed. A freshly picked ripe soapberry will resemble a cherry. They vary from species to species, but they have a large single seed in each berry and a juicy pulp and skin. Of course, some can get nit-picky here because some nuts have shells, hence they can be separated. However, those “shells” were never a fruit-like pulp. They are woody – nothing like the pulp of a cherry. A soap nut is NOT a nut. It IS a fruit.

Even in India, the soapberry exporters refer to them as soap nuts because that is what most people call them. This does not help the situation. Most all sellers call them and brand them as “nuts”. It is common to see both the one and two word versions of each name to further complicate matters. As usual, the consumer is left confused. I use all the terms interchangeably mainly because “nuts” is so ingrained now, but would prefer for readers to think of them as berries. Again, think of them much like a cherry – a de-seeded (hopefully), dried cherry at the consumer level.

Many different species of soapberries grow around the globe. Simply visit Wikipedia searching under the genus sapindus for some of the many types of soapberries:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapindus

Be they shrubs or trees, we know that soapberries come from sapindus vegetation. We know the species differ significantly. A great deal more study is required to isolate all the differences.

Please be wary of what you read. As stated on Wikipedia, “Common names include soapberry and soapnut, both names referring to the use of the crushed seeds to make soap.” This statement is VERY misleading. It is not the crushed seed that produces soap. It is saponins (the natural substance within them) that produce soap. If it helps, think of saponins as soapberry juice. Saponin predominantly is derived from the pulp and skin of the fruit. The seeds have yet to be determined of significant value.

Personally, I feel much of the confusion is semantics. Much is written by those other than botanical experts and then copied and pasted over and over. I try to write to how I believe most of us think. Is a cherry a fruit or a seed? That depends upon HOW you think. However, most of us think of it as a fruit or berry. It has a big seed inside and we eat the pulp and skin. It is with THIS mindset that I describe soapberries.

I have read claims that soapberries are closely related to the goji berry or wolfberry. This is a little troubling for they VERY different in most of their characteristics. Goji berries are more similar to tiny tomatoes, and often are for culinary and nutritional use. They do not come from the same order of the plant kingdom – and you DO NOT want to eat soapberries.

One seller (that I am not yet permitted to disclose) will soon launch a massive campaign that may earmark a turning point. The soap nut may begin to become more rightfully known as a soapberry. In the meantime, don’t get confused. Regardless of the term, they are all a fruit, and there are different types that yield different results.

That is all that the average consumer NEEDS to know – for now.