Have you heard of these little miracles of awesomeness? A berry that can wash things?!?! GET. OUT! I’ve been playing around with soap nuts, soap berries, or whatever you want to call them for a few years now. I was first introduced to them when I tried going “no poo” with my shampoo routine, but I have very coarse hair and ridiculously hard water… it was a “no” from me. My city water friends have raved about their valiant efforts.
It does make a fantastic mild detergent, perfect for lightly soiled items or even baby clothes. It is very sensitive to the skin as well, though like any soap, it can be drying… so don’t try washing your body with this stuff.
You can use the soap nuts in a little bag (usually provided from the seller), and when you are done you can toss them in the compost pile. You can also make a liquid detergent out of these bad boys… which is exactly what I have done.
Although, I am not going to deter from my hand made laundry detergent recipe (laundry bar soap shavings, washing soda, and borax), it was fun to try. Many recipes say to incorporate essential oils, but I never have luck with the oil not ending up on my clothes. The only way I have found to add essential oils to soap is in a hot/cold process method of bar soap (yes, the kind with lye– psst, all soap is made with lye or potash [saponified anything means it touches potassium or sodium hydroxide]).
My next soap endeavor is making my own laundry bar soap with tallow (it’s in Zote).
People freak out when they think of making bar or liquid soap. And seriously, if I can do it, you can, too. It’s fun to do and a little more natural than doing the melt and pour method (extra things are added to allow the soap to melt again and become soap). As long as you treat the lye with caution and care (like you would any harsh chemical, including bleach or ammonia), you will be fine. Treat it as a chemistry experiment (not my strong suit in high school).