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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Soapnut tree (Saponida mukorossi) I22gcj10Soapnut tree (Saponida mukorossi) 14dhcg10

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Soapnut tree (Saponida mukorossi)

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jazzycat
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Post  Astrid 2/13/2013, 5:59 am

Dear all,

I'm not sure if I my post is in the right section.

Has anyone here any experiences with soapnut trees (saponida mukorossi)? I have googled its cold hardiness and I got confusing results. German pages state that the plant is not hardy at all while US pages tell me that
-6°C are still OK. :scratch:

Maybe someone on this forum can tell from experience?

Looking forward to your answers!

Many greetings from Germany!

Astrid

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Post  cheyannarach 2/17/2013, 10:07 pm

Bump~

I have never heard of this but maybe the right person just hasn't seen it yet!!
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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 2/18/2013, 1:39 pm

After looking up some online articles, it appears there are several different varieties of soapnut trees, a couple of which are found wild in the southern United States. The variety you mention (Sapindus mukorossi) is from northern India, but at low elevation, which I'd assume means warmer temperatures. Pictures indicate it to be an attractive small tree. If you decide to seek out, obtain and grow one, please keep us informed. Perhaps those from the Gulf area would find it a useful dual-purpose tree: shade and soap making.
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Post  Astrid 2/21/2013, 12:39 pm

Thank you so much for your replies! thanks

I have googled what kind of soapnut tree grows in the US study (sapindus drummondii - I haven't heard of it before) and it's much hardier of course than the Indian version. I will try both (I can get seeds of the Indian one in France and of the US one in Germany). I understand that it takes several years before these trees produce soapnuts but if I want to use my own nutshells to wash my clothes rock on (very environmental-friendly as the saponines are natural) I have to start small. Wink

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Post  Nonna.PapaVino 2/21/2013, 2:25 pm

Astrid, do you know if the soap made from soap nuts is good for shampoo as well as clothes? And, inquiring minds want to know, where have you found the recipe to make the soap (for when you get the nuts)? Nonna
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Post  landarch 2/21/2013, 7:13 pm

I am familiar with Sapindus drummondii (native in my state)...here's a blurb from the USDA web site.


Berries contain approximately 37 percent saponin and were crushed to
make cleaners and soaps by Native American peoples and early settlers
[7,32]. Western soapberry can, however, cause contact dermatitis in
susceptible people [14]. Although the berries are somewhat poisonous,
preparations made from them have been used to treat fevers, rheumatism,
and kidney problems [26,41].
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Post  Astrid 2/26/2013, 5:31 am

Well, the soapnuts you get in Germany are all from Sapindus mukorossi but I think the contents are similar.

In several German forums soapnut shampoo is recommended if you have problems with the chemicals in normal shampoo. However, it is most often used in the washing machine.

There are several recipes for shampoo. You only use the nutshells! If you have a small linen bag you can put several halves into it and with some water rub the shells inside the bag until you get foam and use the foam to wash your hair.

You can also cook 6-10 halves in 1/2 litre of water and use the soap sud to wash your hair. It's more liquid than shampoo, a bit like hair tonic but it cleans the hair unless it's very long.

I use a special soil rich in tensides ("ghassoul") to wash my hair. So far, I use soapnuts only to wash my clothes to avoid the nonbiodegradable chemicals.


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Post  surfmental 3/23/2013, 9:18 am

Glad to see people discussing Soap Nuts! I'm coming in a bit late on this thread as I'm new to the SFG Forum...

I have always been sensitive to powdered detergents and also heard from various sources that they are one of THE worst things for causing allergies in kids. So, when we had our first baby, I was looking for alternatives... I first found soap nuts in a small, "organic" for baby kind of store in Los Angeles. I bought a small box (maybe 15 nuts), which cost around $20 (ouch!!!). I was just so excited by the description and the idea that these nuts would supposedly do several loads of laundry.... I had to try it.

When we got "home" to China, where we live, I tried them and was greatly disappointed... HOWEVER, I was still intrigued by the idea and did a bit of research. It turned out that the soap nuts are native to China, and when I got online, I found I could by 1 Kg of them for around $5-10!!! For that price, I had to try it again... I also researched and found that boiling them into a "tea" is actually much more efficient than just using the raw nuts in your laundry...

Long story short, we have done every load of laundry for more than 2 years now with our own soap nuts detergent! And it turns out that unfortunately our daughter does have very sensitive skin (pampers for example give her instant rash) BUT she has no problems when we use the soap nuts detergent!

It's super easy to make - Boil roughly 10-20 nuts per Liter of water (they vary in size and strength, but at $5-10 a Kg, I figure it is affordable enough to add a few extra) Boil for about 30 minutes, cool, strain, and pour into your preferred container. It's that easy! We like to make several liters at a time. So, we store a larger jar in the refrigerator, while keeping a smaller squirt bottle for daily use near our laundry machine.

This is a mild detergent, so it is not particularly tough on stains. But it definitely gets our clothes clean. We've used it for everything - baby's cloth diapers, stinky work clothes, musty towels...etc. and it gets everything perfectly clean with no leftover odors whatsoever.

It can also be used as a general cleaner around the house. Great for mopping floors. Great for wiping down my baby's high chair... etc. etc.

Sorry for the long-winded post... I just love this stuff so much that I wanted to share it with you all. I am also annoyed and confused by how expensive it is in the US. If anyone wanted to help find a way to import some from China and make them more widely available for reasonable cost in the US, I would be happy to try and help on the China side!

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Post  CapeCoddess 3/23/2013, 10:41 am

Surfmental, can you use this recipe for shampoo?

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Post  Windmere 3/23/2013, 11:45 am

I have never in life heard of soap nuts! How fascinating and intriguing. I certainly don't mind longer posts. This forum is so rich in information. I love it!
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Post  jazzycat 3/23/2013, 5:13 pm

I've never heard of soap nuts either, but I have recently been experimenting with making my own cleaning products and personal products. I might have to look into getting some soap nuts. Very Happy
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Post  Triciasgarden 3/23/2013, 5:32 pm

Surfmetal your description and explanation are great! Not long-winded at all. I have heard about the tree but never knew much about it. I wouldn't have known how to use them, what to clean with them and how good of a job they do! So your explanation and teaching is much needed! I think this is a great topic!
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Post  surfmental 3/25/2013, 1:58 am

CapeCoddess wrote:Surfmental, can you use this recipe for shampoo?

It definitely CAN be used for shampoo, and many other things too. I have seen at least one commercially produced Sapindus Shampoo before, but I've never tried it. Unfortunately, I don't know about the recipe for making your own shampoo.

I've primarily only used it for laundry and simple household cleaning (floors, surfaces, etc...) because these are two areas that I knew would affect my child's health dramatically. And these are two areas where there ARE existing organic or hypo-allergenic products, but I found them to be extremely expensive and mostly hype.

I'll go home and try it tonight on my hair Smile
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Post  GWN 3/25/2013, 11:07 am

wow what a great topic.
I love being more self sustainable, and soap is one thing I have never considered making.
So VERY cool
It WAS a very good post with lots of info, I found it rather interesting to be reading about a guy washing diapers etc, and the picture beside is a surfer. you rock
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Post  surfmental 3/27/2013, 1:55 am

OK, so I tried my soap nut liquid on my hair...
(remember I am using a simple solution of about 15-20 nuts per 1 Liter of water, boiled for 30min and strained)

It definitely got my hair/scalp clean, and it even left my hair feeling pretty soft. So, in that respect, the results are pretty good!

There are, however, some issues. The biggest problem I noticed was that the liquid is very thin - basically like water - and it would not foam up at all in my hair. Now, soap nut liquid WILL foam up when agitated. I WON'T make a thick foam, or lather, but it will make some thin suds. The problem, however, is not the lack of foam per se. After all, I care about results more than special effects. But the thinness of the liquid and the lack of any foam at all means that there is no way to really feel the substance as you rub your head. I poured quite a bit of it (1/4 cup maybe?) on my head and then rubbed it around, but it just felt like I was washing with water. I literally couldn't feel anything "soapy". And I had no idea whether I had gotten my hair and scalp washed or not... I have to admit that I found that problematic psychologically, hehe Smile But, being an experiment, I left it at that.

A while later, once my hair was thoroughly dry, I found that everything was nice and clean feeling, and my hair feels softer than it normally does when using the run-of-the-mill shampoo that I typically use.

Conclusions? Well, first you have to bear in mind that I am a guy with short hair. Certainly, the results might be different for someone with long hair. Also, this was just one use. Perhaps I'll try it for a week to get a better sense of it.... My guess though is that most people would need to either thicken the liquid (adding higher concentration of nuts might work) or add something to it so that they can actually feel it in their hair. As with many things, this might just be a trivial emotional attachment, but then again, maybe not entirely.
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Post  barbara wallace 2/28/2015, 11:04 pm

This is my first day on the site and so far I have gotten a lot of information that has been very helpful.  Thank you. 

Shampooing with the soapnut liquid and having no suds should be ok.  After all, the SLS and other harmful chemicals in shampoos are what makes the foaming suds.  The more suds, the higher concentration of the harmful ingredients.  Sodium Laureth Sulfate  is the same as antifreeze!!  It is the 2nd listed ingredient, water being the 1st, in my bottle of shampoo!! Shocked
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Post  AtlantaMarie 3/1/2015, 10:35 am

Hi Barbara.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA.

Glad you're finding useful things here. 

Please feel free to ask questions.  We just LOVE to give advice...! Wink
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