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What Are Soap Nuts
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What Are Soap Nuts

They grow in the wild. They require absolutely no cultivation or intervention from human hands. They thrive in the poorest of soils where hardly anything else can grow. They can be used right from the tree with no mechanical processing or chemicals involved. So what are soap nuts?

If ever there was a natural product that is used in its natural state it is the soap nut. When ripe the soap nut has a reddish brown color and is about the size and shape of a large walnut. The tree can grow to a height of some twenty feet or more with some species of the tree being much smaller.

Once the nut, or berry as it is sometimes called, falls to the ground, the seed is removed and the outer shell or skin is left to dry naturally in the sun. It is then ready to be used. So what is it used for?

If you gather up a handful of the nuts, put them in a jar of warm water and shake them, you will get a luxurious, foamy lather. It is the lather that can be used in so many different ways.

The locals in the Himalayas where the nut finds its natural home use the lather to wash their hair, their clothes, their skin, and anything thing else that needs a gentle yet thorough cleansing.

The nuts are not discarded after just one use. Typically you would put them in a linen bag before putting them in the water and you simply re-use them. You continue to use the nuts until the lathering potential is depleted.

You can just toss a bag of nuts in your washing machine for some of the cleanest clothes imaginable with no harm done to fast colors. A bag dropped in your dishwater gives you a whole new understanding of what sparkling dishes are all about. So just where does all this lather come from?

Each nut or berry comes coated with a substance called saponin. Saponin is a natural surfactant or sudsing agent. The tree manufactures its own saponin and coats it nuts or fruit with it without cost to the user.

You would think that by now, some forward looking entrepreneur would be cashing in on this phenomenon. After all the nut grows wild, requires no cultivation, is chemical free, environmentally safe, has a shelf life of years and is reusable. Is that what we need or what?

Surprisingly though, there are very few companies that have taken this potentially lucrative market to its logical destiny that is, replacing chemically harmful health care and cleaning products with environmentally safe, chemical free, reusable products based on a 100% natural substance.

In the United States the soap nut is almost unknown. Only recently have some trees been found in Florida.

The biggest player in the market for the moment is a company called Naturoli. They produce a truly amazing natural soap nut shampoo that more than stands its ground with any of the leading and more expensive brands of shampoo on the market.

Hopefully others will see the environmental advantages of using what nature has given us in its natural form and gradually wean us off those products that are harmful to us because of the chemicals they contain. Of course that much needed reality requires time and education of the public but the goal is most certainly attainable.

You can educate yourself by finding out a little more about how soap nuts work. Products already available include laundry detergent, facial creams, body cleansers,soap berry bar soap, skin moisturizers, and a complete line of hair care products. It would appear that the soap nut can and will eventually have a very bright future.

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