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Edition 158: 17 November, 2010




Edition 01: 16 April, 2008

Edition 02 : 31 December, 2010.




Soap nuts


There are two main species of soap nut trees. The sapindus mukorossi is native of the lower Himalaya regions. The sapindus trifiolatus is native of southern India. While sapindis mukorossi has larger fruit and is considered to deliver better quality soap nuts than sapindus trifiolatus, the latter is believed to be more appropriate  for  cultivation in drier, low altitude areas in Africa. The following comments therefore refer in particular to the sapindus trifoliatus, but they apply, in general, to the sapindus mukorossi species as well.


Soap nuts (sapindus trifoliatus)


Soap nuts substitute the use of  toxic laundry detergents
1kg will do 100+ loads of wash. (even 200-300 washes)
The cost in western industrialised countries is about  18/ kg.

Soap Nuts are a washing detergent that grows on trees - Used for Millennia, now rediscovered for the modern world. Soap nuts are mild and soft cleansing for your washing machine and for personal use. Their active agents are natural saponin surfactants.

The advantages of soapnuts in a nutshell:

    * Pure and natural washing detergent that leaves your laundry fresh and clean
    * Keeps your colours bright
    * Allergy-free, good for your skin
    * Environmentally-friendly. Chemical free
    * Cultivated through sustainable agriculture
    * Ecological and economical compared to other brands of detergent. One kilogram of soapnuts can be used for more than 100 loads of laundry.
    * No need for fabric softeners
    * Used for all fabrics and with all temperatures. Works well with delicate fabrics such as silk and wool.
    * When washing in cold to warm water, soapnuts can be used for a second  time the same day
    * In the case of heavy stains,  one tablespoon of stain remover can be added.
    * For a fragrant wash add your favourite essential oils

In India and Nepal, the soapnut (sapindus mukorossi, sapindus trifoliatus) has been used as a vegetable washing detergent since time immemorial.

The up to 15 metres high soap nut tree grows mainly in South India. In March and April, the tree is adorned with white flowers, and the ripe soapnuts are
harvested in October. When removed from the tree the soapnuts are sticky and golden in colour. They are dried and their colour becomes reddish-brown. Then
the nuts are cracked and the black kernel, which can neither be eaten nor used for washing is removed and the shell, which contain saponine (a natural
detergent), are packed up in cotton bags.

How does it work?

The somewhat sticky saponine in the shells of the soap nuts acts similar to normal soap. As soon as the shells get in contact with water, this natural
saponine soap is released and creates mild suds. Place 4 to 5 half shells in one of the provided cotton bags. Tie the bag and place it with your laundry
in the washing machine. Start your machine as usual, with or without pre-wash. The remains of the soapnuts can be composted or be disposed of
through organic refuse.

Some information on the Soapnut tree  (sapindus trifoliatus).


Some general information.


Household use of the soapnuts by courtesy of Zamuta Soapnuts.




Some recommended technologies.



"Money is not the key that opens the gates of the market but the bolt that bars them."

Gesell, Silvio, The Natural Economic Order, revised English edition, Peter Owen, London 1958, page 228


“Poverty is created scarcity”

Wahu Kaara, point 8 of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, 58th annual NGO Conference, United Nations, New York 7th September 2005.


"In the end, it's about love for mankind. Freedom begins with love.

Our challenge is to learn to love the world"

Nigerian writer Ben Okri, interview in Ode Magazine, Dec 2002-Jan 2003, p.49


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