• 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.

15 replies
  1. Clemento
    Clemento says:

    I read blogs on a similar topic, but I never visited your blog. I added it to favorites and I’ll be your constant reader.

    Use of soap nuts (soap berries) will have a long-term health and environmental impact on our planet such as few things have before. There is no shortage of interesting data for me to share. Thanks, Clemento. Welcome to SoapNuts.pro!

  2. Arsento
    Arsento says:

    Interesting and informative. But will you write about this one more?

    There is always more I can write about most aspects of soap nuts. Is there a specific issue or scenario you would like me to elaborate on?

  3. Cornelius
    Cornelius says:

    Thank you! You often write very interesting articles. You improved my mood.

    Thank you, Cornelius. You are certainly an avid soap nut user and fan. Kudos. Glad I could make your day. 🙂

  4. B. Merscher
    B. Merscher says:

    Thanks for the information! My husband and I are looking to make major green changes in our home and lives. Your site about soap nuts might have been the tipping point we needed. They are fascinating!

  5. Krista
    Krista says:

    Want to tell you I bought 3 pounds of soap nuts before Christmas and have stored them as you describe. I still have about a pound left and they look and feel like the day I got them and there’s no change at all in how well they work. Thanks!

  6. Markus
    Markus says:

    Well I arrived here on an additional post but ended up staying for 20 minutes reading your stuff! Enjoyed it 😀

  7. Oi
    Oi says:

    I did not think I would like a blog only about soap nuts, but have found this very useful. I visit often. I always find answers to new questions about soap nuts that pop up.

  8. The Warner family
    The Warner family says:

    Thank you for share very nice info. Your web is great I am impressed by all the the information about soap nuts that you have. It shows how well you understand soap berries. You, my friend, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched everywhere and just couldn’t find. What a perfect site.

  9. kristy
    kristy says:

    good stuff. have learned a lot about how to use soap berries. they are working much better for me since reading some your posts. good work. thanks.

  10. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    How can I make hand soap for the bathroom and kitchen sink? What’s the best way and how can I keep on the counter without it going bad? I have soap nuts and the 18X concentrate.Also whats the best way to clean toilets with soap nuts?

    Hi Lauren,
    Well, there’s lots of ways to use them. You can make a liquid, or grind/buy powder, or simply get a wash bag of them wet and squish it about. It will soap right up. There are a number of posts here about various ways to use them. I’m trying to cover as many as possible in the “Beyond Laundry” posts. The list seems endless. When making your own liquid, it won’t have much of a shelf life. Freezing it into cubes works best. Any botanical liquid that’s not properly preserved or “canned” will have a limited shelf life. It’s good that you have EXTREME 18X for it will last for years. You can dilute it a LOT and make many great liquid cleaners. I usually use about 16-20oz of tap water to 1oz of 18X for an AWESOME glass cleaner! You just adjust according to your cleaning project. You sometimes may want it soapier (floors, carpets, etc.), sometimes not (glass, chrome, dark polished granite, etc.). The soapier you make it, the more tendency it’ll have to leave a soap film or cause streaks. You just adjust as needed. I like using powder for scouring sinks and toilets – it works great! I hope this helps. I think I covered all your questions. Thanks for reading!

  11. Rick
    Rick says:

    I have just made my first batch of soapnut/bentonite clay shampoo. How long will it last stored in my shower and how will I know it is bad. I used 1oz living clay, and 6oz soapnut liquid. The soapnut liquid was made from 2cups water and 4 soapnuts and 1 chamomile tea bag simmered for 30min. As a side note, the living clay instructions say when mixed 1/8 with water it should last for a long time. Will the clay preserve the soapnut?

    No Rick, the bentonite clay will not preserve the botanical liquid. It has no anti-fungal nor anti-bacterial properties that I know of. It alone is basically just clay. It’s very cool for many uses, but botanical liquids are a totally different ballgame. The clay is simply an ingredient of choice – not a preservative. Good luck! – Chris

  12. Css
    Css says:

    I made a soapnut liquid about 2 weeks ago and stored it, strained, in the refrigerator. I used it for a few consecutive washings, but felt I needed something a bit stronger for a bit, before resuming the soapnuts. I did put a touch of gentle shampoo in my soapnut liquid, thinking it would help ‘preserve’ it. Now, I want to use the liquid tomorrow. It smells ever so slightly.. well, fermented I might say; in fact, the lid kinda ‘popped’ off as I unscrewed it (as if it were under a bit of pressure in there!) But I think it smelled like this when I first brewed it, actually. So my question is – how do you know your soapnut liquid has not gone ‘off’? How long does it keep at ‘fridge temperature? Should I chuck my brew and start over?

    Hi, I certainly would dump it. The pressure could be from bacterial growth (i.e., botchalism). Any botanical liquid, just like foods, will go rancid unless properly and full-spectrum preserved. Homemade liquids should be thought of as unpreserved food products. It’s really that simple. Freezing is the only way the average person is going to be able to keep a home cooked liquid for extended periods of time. You can make ice cubes from it. I’ve always thought that was a clever method. Refrigeration helps only marginally. I personally use EXTREME 18X for my liquids. A little goes a LONG way, and you don’t have to worry about it. – Chris

  13. prasanna
    prasanna says:

    Hi, I use soap nuts regularly to wash my hair. It is good. Just was a bit inquisitive on how it would work on my plants. I grow a lot of plants but the insects really freek me out!! What would happen if i spray the soap nut solution on the plants. Is it good for plants?? Please let me know, If i can spray the soap nut solution on my plants and later consume these plants and fruits on which the solution is sprayed. Thank you.

    Good question. MANY folks use a soap nut solution on their houseplants, gardens, lawns, etc. with extraordinary results. Your plants will thank you! I even know of some organic orchards and farms that have adopted its usage – and rave about the results. The saponin has an inherent natural “repellent” type property that deter many typical pests. Folks definitely prefer a soap nut solution over the toxic insecticides like “Off”. Who wouldn’t??? Just regular everyday washing with soap nuts will provide you a degree of insect deterrent. It’s excellent for washing fruits and veggies! That’s a VERY common use. Go for it! btw: Don’t hesitate to be creative if you want something more potent and longer lasting. A blend with citronella oil works amazingly. I know…I made some myself and it’s a MUST on ALL fishing, camping and hiking trips!


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