• 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.

• Get Best Results: Washing Machine Types

It’s time to look at how to use soap nuts (aka: soapnuts, soapberries, wash nuts, etc.) in your particular type of washing machine. Depending upon the type (and some other factors), the way you use your soap nuts will vary. This post is an introduction purely to get some fundamentals out of our way. We will drill much deeper into all the little nuances of soap nuts and your specific machine later.

Let’s start with a look at these basic machine types. We don’t need to bother discussing the size of machine. Regardless of size they will all work similarly to their bigger or smaller brothers and sisters. There are top-loaders and front-loaders. There are standard and high efficiency (HE) washers. Basically, that’s it. (Okay, somebody is still using a washboard with rollers somewhere, and I’ll even get to that some other day.) Please note that any front-loader is essentially a higher efficiency unit simply due to its design. It is simply that extra water and energy saving features have been incorporated into the newer models.

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

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

No washing machine of any type currently on the market addresses the use of soap nuts in either their designs or owner’s manuals. Only Electrolux to my knowledge has a soap nuts washer on their drawing board. Some soap nuts (saponin) based detergents are being developed to be used in similar fashion to the typical commercial detergents (supposedly natural or not). That is the path of least resistance in reaching the average consumer. Given that the popularity of soap nuts is spreading like a wildfire, it is only a matter of time before more machines are designed to utilize them, and manuals will specifically address their usage.

For the soap nut users that prefer the traditional method of soap nuts in a wash bag, I suspect it will take a bit longer to be addressed by manufacturers. It is simply so different in the way they are used it will be more difficult for to address. Ironically, it is probably the easiest way. (Soap nuts used properly in the traditional method is the most economical – and even fun – way to wash laundry.) Let us be aware that there are strong relationships built between the hardware manufacturers and the detergent producers – similar to the relationships between computer and software companies. They need and help each other. Given that, the fruits of the soap berry tree are not likely to be embraced by the makers of Tide, Gain, Clorox, Cheer (or whomever) anytime soon, the traditional users of soap nuts are going to be left to information such as this (and their common sense) for the best guidance in the meantime.

The numerous benefits of the soapberry are now being found in soap nuts (saponin-based) liquid and soap nut powder detergents that can be used in very similar fashion to the commercial brands. I highly recommend soap nuts liquid for many reasons. See the upcoming post on “Powder vs. Liquid” for in-depth information and rationale. For the sake of brevity, let’s just leave it at this: Liquids are cheaper and simpler to use regardless of machine type. There are more variables that must be considered when using powder. Soap nuts liquids are essentially a no-brainer.

Possibly the most important thing to realize from this post is that when it comes to soap nuts – in any form – are fantastic for every type of machine. Don’t get hung up on the newer HE models that discuss using only appropriate HE detergents. All they are really saying is to avoid high sudsing detergents. Soap nuts are naturally low sudsing. Due to their very nature, soap nuts work equally well in all machine types – and far better than the chemical-based detergents for many reasons. Don’t get hung up on how to use soap nuts in the machines that have various compartments. Some will be used and some won’t be required at all. That stated it now becomes a matter of how to improve upon the way we use soap nuts, and ultimately obtain the very best results from each type of machine. Have no concern. It will all be addressed in great detail in separate posts.