Soap nuts are a gardener’s dream come true for more reasons than just using them ground into coarse soap nuts powder for a chemical free hand scrub.
With the beautiful weather months at hand more and more people are out digging in the dirt planting for beautification or planting vegetable gardens. With all of that outdoor work comes the need to deal with dirty hands, dirty clothes, lots of perspiration odor in your clothes, grimy faces, and more than a few preditory insects trying to have a snack at your expense.
Soap nuts in their various common use forms answer every one of those challenges, and do so chemically free and without exposing your body or clothes to harmful irritating detergents or cleansers.
Before heading out to the garden mist yourself with some soap nuts liquid as a green chemical free insect repellent. The saponin is a natural insect repellent but will not harm you or your skin like many of the traditional insect or mosquito repellents.
After using soap nuts powder as a chemical free hand scrub for my mobile mechanics it seemed sensible that if soap nuts worked that well on oily greasy hands they’d work equally well on dirt on the hands and under the finger nails after gardening. So a few weeks ago after clearing an area for a ginger garden I had filthy gardener’s hands. Okay some people wear gloves but I’m am very hands on in everything I do and gardening is no exception. My nails are fairly short but even so I had plenty of sandy black grit under them and anyone who has ever gardened with their bare hands knows getting the dirt out from under your nails is a challenge and requires serious scrubbing.
I was amazed at how great my nails looked after a short scrub with soap nuts powder. I was equally pleased that scrubbing my hands with soap nuts did not dry them out.
Once I finished the gardening for that day my next challenge was the dirt that was all over me and my clothes, not to mention the eau de armpit I’d acquired from working in the afternoon sun.
I dropped the clothes into the laundry and popped my soap nuts in their wash bag into the washer and headed for the bath tub for a soak and a some serious scrubbing (or so I thought).
A few months ago I started sprinkling soap nuts powder into my bath water and the tub filled knowing that there would be a lot less scrubbing required because the same way soap nuts change the water tension in the washing machine they do the same in water used for any kind of washing.
Once the tub was filled I slid in, and took a spoon of the soap nuts powder I keep on the side of the tub for and started on my feet. I should mention at this point I also usually garden bare foot so there was serious dirt caked on my feet after watering in the new garden. I make it a habit to scrub my toe nails with soap nuts powder at least once a week to deter fungal growth and keep my nails white naturally. I have some scientific documentation on how well the saponin from soap nuts works as an antifungal treatment so if you need a good anti-fungal detergent try soap nuts. I’ll share that data in one of my next posts.
Back to soap nuts and gardening.
I sprinkled a bit of soap nuts powder onto my damp skin and lathered it up all the way from toes to top and then took the bottle of soap nuts liquid I keep on the side of the tub and washed my hair with it. Yes soap nuts shampoo too. Hey if I’m going to keep my house and body free of chemicals then my hair deserves the same treatment.
Keep in mind I have very coarse full hair below my waste so there is a lot of it to wash. I have had to learn to adjust to using soap nuts shampoo because since there is not real lather guaging how much can be challenging. Once in awhile I get brave and use the soap nuts powder mixed with some vegetable glycerin for shampooing also. I have found that you really need to have your hair very wet to shampoo with soap nuts and you need to use as little as possible and rinse really well. I always squirt a dab of vegetable glycerin into my damp hands after I shampoo with soap nuts because my hair tends to be coarse and when I do that the comb glides through my hair with no resistance. I can’t even say that was true when I used to use regular sulfate sudsy shampoo and hair conditioner. I’ll dedicate an entire post to soap nuts shampoo in the coming weeks because I know many people want to try it but don’t know where to start of who to use soap nuts for a shampoo.
On a side note since I started washing my hair with soap nuts shampoo I have notice a great deal less breakage and my hair seems to be growing faster. I suspect this is due in part to how healthy my scalp is because of using soap nuts.
But back to soap nuts being a dream come true for a gardener.
The last item that needed scrubbing was my face (and then of course the bath tub). I sprinkle a little soap nuts powder (finely ground) onto my hands work up a nice lather and clean and exfoliate my face all in one action.
The bath tub took a sprinkling of soap nuts powder on the grimy bath tub ring and some swooshing with my bare hand and my bath tub was spotless again.
Now think about this if I had used one product for each of the things I described above I would have purchased at least 7 products to do what I did with soap nuts; one item which I get packaged in muslin bags from NaturOli.
Seven products packaged in plastic:
Shampoo (and Conditioner)
Face Scrub (for exfoliating)
Bath Tub cleanser or soft scrub (read my post on soap nuts as a scouring powder)
Not only did I get my body, hair, hands and feet, face, clothes, and bath tub clean I did so with no negative impact on my person or the environment.
Oh and after I make soap nuts liquid (soap nuts tea) I take the spent soap berries and sprinkle them around in my flower beds to deter insects, especially ants. They break down over time right into the soil and while they are breaking down the soap nuts act as a natural insectide and insect repellent but with no harm to either my plants or the ground water.
Wahooo … now who could not like soap nuts. Whether you are looking for ways to cut household expenses, have sensitivity to chemicals or fragrances, or want to reduce the waste you produce soap nuts offers a solution. Oh and they are so much less expensive to use than all those packaged chemical cleaners and personal care products.
I can make a 3 liter bottle of soap nuts liquid at home for approximately $2.23 cents using 1 1/2 ounces of soap nuts. That’s if you buy the NaturOli soap nuts in a one pound bag. I buy the 4 pound bag of NaturOli Nuts Soap Nuts so in point of fact my cost for the 3 liter bottle of soap nuts liquid is actually $1.35. Since I harness solar power to make my soap nuts liquid I have zero energy cost for it too.
Read the post on making soap nuts liquid greener http://www.soap-nuts.info/2009/04/01/making-soap-nuts-liquid-greener
I use that 3 liter bottle for laundry, counter tops, insect repellent, dishwasher detergent, dishwashing liquid, liquid hand soap, for mopping the floors, washing the cars, and shampoo.
Costing out the soap nuts powder is a bit different since I do both a fine grind and a coarse grind depending on what I am using it for. If I use the fine grind to wash my face or as a hand or foot scrub I use about 1/8 of a tsp yes only that tiny bit does the job.
The coarsely ground soap nuts powder I use for scouring sinks, bath tubs, toilets I use about 1 tsp for each sink, bath tub, and toilet.
In my next post I’ll give you the numbers on how much using soap nuts powder for personal care and as a chemical free scouring powder costs.
The next time you head out for time in the garden be sure you have your soap nuts ready!