I would have to say that the question I get asked most frequently is “How do I make my own shampoo?” For people who are looking to reduce their environmental impact this is understandable as commercial shampoo is mostly water and shipping that around in plastic containers is none too environmentally friendly! Secondly people are concerned about shampoo ingredients as many commercial brands contain Sodium Laureth Sulphate or petroleum derived surfactants. While these ingredients don’t quite live up to their “Google” and “natural world” status  of deadly killers, SLES is an allergen for some and is just too good at stripping away grease to be classed as “mild” and petroleum is not a sustainable resource.

So, what are Soap Nuts?

Soap nuts are actually dried berries from the “sapindus” family of shrubs. The berry skins are a rich source of saponins (natures soaps) and when dried are a great natural alternative to synthetic detergents.  These berries have been used for thousands of years to fulfill a wide variety of functions – including the cleaning of bodies, hair and clothes.

But will they clean my hair / skin well?

Soap nuts are a much better bet than either bar soap or liquid castile soap the saponification involved in creating both of these latter options creates a product with a high pH (very alkali). While this is tolerable for the skin (albeit a little drying) it is not at all good for the hair and will leave it dull and very hard to comb.

The pH of a soap nut solution will depend on the amount of saponin that you have present but as a rule it will be much more acidic – between a pH of 4 and 6. This is perfect for both skin and hair and should degrease without stripping away too much.

And are they sustainably sourced?

Soap nuts have been growing wild for many thousands of years  and have mostly been used as part of traditional medicine and personal care rather than as a resource for mass manufacturing. However, as more people become aware of the benefits of soap nut science, demand will grow and with that comes mass production.  With over 2000 species of soap nut tree in existence, fruiting after the ninth year of life up until they are 90 years old these are some hard working trees which look to be well prepared to deal with a rise in demand. In the meantime the berries are often hand picked and sun dried without the need for chemical intervention, as this is all part of their appeal one would hope that growing demand doesn’t change this.

It looks like this is one natural that ticks all of the boxes.

So, Lets have a closer look…

And after simmering for 1 hour.

Our soapnuts came from Wild Soap Nuts, Australia. Why not give them a go today?