Saturday, December 22, 2007
Soap Nuts (found in India & Indonesia)
This article is extracted from Newstarget.com written by Mike Adams
The soap that grows on trees
Across the jungles of India and Indonesia, a surprisingly practical tree called sapindus mukorrosi grows a small fruit surrounded by a firm outer shell, much like a lychee or rambutan. This tree, also called the Chinese Soapberry Tree, is unique in the fact that it synthesizes its own natural soap-like saponins that coat the shell of the fruit. When the fruits ripen and fall from the tree, local families harvest the windfall, then remove the inner fruit from the outer shell. The shell is then dried in the sun, using absolutely no chemical processing or manufacturing processes. In fact, the whole process uses no fossil fuels either, except in the transportation of the product to the western world (which is efficiently accomplished by ship).
It is this outer shell - rich in natural saponins which act as water surfactants -that the native families in India have used for centuries to wash their own clothes. They toss 2-3 shells into a small burlap bag and work it in with their laundry (which is usually washed by hand, by the way). The soap nuts, as they're now called (even though they have no relation to actual nuts), absorb water and release their saponins which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, reducing the surface tension of the water and freeing dirt, grime and oils from the clothing.
When the clothes are rinsed, the soap nut saponins are washed downstream where they remain harmless to the environment. No synthetic chemicals, no fragrance chemicals, no foaming agents or other toxins. Just nut shells grown by nature.
Soap nuts can replace all brand-name detergents
Even though these soap nuts have been used for hundreds of years in India and Indonesia, they're barely known in the western world where brand-name chemical detergents are heavily marketed to consumers through advertising, coupons and in-store displays. Packed in eye-catching boxes and scented with artificial fragrance chemicals, these synthetic detergents are literally scooped up by tens of millions of consumers who have no idea they're bathing their clothes in cancer-causing chemicals while destroying the environment by flushing dangerous chemicals downstream.
Until now, there have been few options for eco-conscious consumers. While an increasing number of eco-friendly manufactured laundry products now exist in the marketplace (such as Seventh Generation and Biokleen brands), no natural laundry product has appeared in the western world that is 100% manufactured directly by nature. And many of the so-called "natural" laundry products are still made with fragrance chemicals, anyway.
When I first saw these soap nuts, I got really excited about the possibility of publicizing an eco-friendly solution that could replace all the manufactured laundry products currently being bought by consumers. So I decided to financially support the Maggie's Soap Nuts company by buying a large number of her soap nut products and stocking them in our Phoenix fulfillment center. They're now available for you to purchase (at a very reasonable price, by the way) at www.BetterLifeGoods.com
When you purchase these soap nuts and put them to use, you're not only protecting your health and the environment, you're also supporting the families in India and Indonesia that sustainably harvest these nuts as a way of life. Remember how I'm always urging us all to "vote with our dollars?" This is the perfect opportunity to do so. Vote against the chemical laundry companies and vote FOR natural, tree-grown laundry products by switching to soap nuts !
This is the "miracle" laundry product made by Mother Nature that I've been looking for. It's made by a tree, with absolutely nothing added or taken away (except the fruit, of course). It's natural through and through. No other laundry product even comes close.
Maggie's Soap Nuts replace both laundry detergent and fabric softener, by the way. They leave your clothes clean, unscented and feeling cozy soft. It's the first laundry product I've ever found that I was truly happy with. This is what I'm now washing all my clothes with.
But do the soap nuts really work ?
Of course, any skeptical consumer would be asking one question right now : "Do these soap nuts really work ?"
I was skeptical, too, that a soap nut grown by a tree in India could really replace my high-tech eco-friendly laundry soap made in America. So I bought a box of Maggie's Soap Nuts and tried them myself. I took 3 soap nuts and dropped them into the small cotton bag that comes in each box of Maggie's Soap Nuts, then I tossed them into my laundry and avoided using any other detergents or laundry products. I set the temperature on warm and gave it a normal wash cycle, then I hit the start button and walked away.
An hour later, I returned and examined the finished load. They sure smelled clean. But the real test would come from wearing them during a workout, so I took them outside to dry them in the sun (since we have such great sunlight here in Arizona, I often use it for drying clothes). After a few hours of blazing desert sunlight, the clothes were completely dry. I suited up with a pair of workout pants and an A shirt, then headed to the gym for an intense workout designed to produce lots of sweat.
The short version of this story is that the clothes were really, truly clean and they smelled just fine, even after an hour of sweat-inducing cardiovascular activity. (It also helps that I don't drink dairy products, which makes people stink, but that's another story...) My workout clothes seemed just as clean to me as any other load of laundry I washed in various eco-friendly laundry products!
Over the next few days, I continued washing more loads with the soap nuts. Every load came out clean, yet unscented (just the way I like it). I washed grimy socks, workout pants, hiking shorts and sweaty underwear, and everything was cleaned to my satisfaction. In other words, Maggie's Soap Nuts really clean your clothes just as good as commercial soap products! I remain convinced that these tree-grown soap nuts are just as good as any other soap products on the market.
One thing I did learn in all this, however, was that you probably shouldn't wash bedsheets with these soap nuts. What happened? In my wash, the small cotton bag holding the soap nuts got wrapped up in the sheet, and the soap nuts soaked the sheet with a slight soap nut color (sort of rust colored). This color came out in the next wash, because it's not a permanent stain or anything, but it taught me that for the soap nuts to be really effective, they needed to be able to circulate freely in the laundry and not get caught in a large bedsheet.
Aside from the bedsheet incident, everything else came out of the wash sqeaky clean !
How soap nuts clean your laundry ?
The process by which soap nuts clean your clothes is naturally quite simple. The soap nut shell contains a natural saponin that works as a surfactant, making your water "wetter" and allowing it to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, working away the dirt and grime that makes clothes dirty. The surfactant then holds on to the dirt, keeping it in suspension in the water until it's drained away, taking the dirt with it.
What's left is a load of clean clothes and nothing else! That's the way laundry should be. Much like clean water, clean laundry should NOT contain toxic chemical residues. In fact, it's more important to consider what laundry products do NOT contain than to look at what they do contain.
What Maggie's Soap Nuts do NOT contain include :
• Foaming chemicals that fool consumers into thinking their clothes are cleaner because there are "suds" in the wash. TRUTH: Suds have nothing to do with cleaning. They are chemical additives used to create the illusion of cleaning action. (Silly consumers actually expect suds, so the manufacturers add them in.)
• Fragrance chemicals that make laundry "smell" clean. Most commercial laundry products use toxic, synthetic fragrance chemicals that are, in fact, well known to promote cancer and liver disorders. Laundry products are not really regulated by any single government agency, and there is currently no law banning the use of known cancer-causing chemicals in laundry products (much like with cosmetics).
• Filler ingredients. Nearly all commercial laundry products are made with at least 50% filler ingredients to "bulk them up" and make them appear to deliver more value for the price. Consumers are mostly just buying the illusion of detergent, made mostly with filler.
You won't find filler or toxic chemicals in Maggie's Soap Nuts. Just pure, natural saponins grown by a tree and engineered by nature. In my opinion, that's where more of our products should ultimately come from. Wouldn't it be great if shampoo also grew on trees?
Actually, it does.
More than just laundry soap
The natural saponins found in Maggie's Soap Nuts are universal cleaning agents. Sure, they work great in the laundry, but did you know they are also traditionally used to clean skin and hair? In fact, the soap nut saponins work on everything from pets and children to washing fruits and vegetables. In ancient India, jewelers even used the soap to shine their precious metals and stones, giving them a beautiful natural luster.
By the way, all children's clothes should be washed in these soap nuts to avoid exposing infants and children to the toxic chemicals found in commercial laundry products. And while you're at it, why not save yourself from that exposure, too, by washing your own clothes with nature's laundry soap?
Using Maggie's Soap Nuts, you can make your own ultra-pure multipurpose cleaner.
Here's the recipe :
Simmer 1 cup of soap nuts in 4 cups of water on your stove, then allow the liquid to cool. Mash the soap nuts by hand (squish them around to get out all the saponins), then drain the resulting liquid through a cheese cloth or nut milk bag. Voila! You've got a concentrated cleaner made by nature! Use it around the kitchen, in the shower, washing the dog... it's all good. You can even use it to wash your dishes.
Remember : This natural soap isn't going to foam up like phoney cleaning products made by chemical companies, and it sure doesn't smell like fragrance chemicals. So don't expect it to look or smell like the products you might have been using. However, soap nuts get things really clean. The soap works so well that it's actually being studied right now as a way to decontaminate soils from exposure to toxic chemicals. How's that for a natural solution? Nature's soap can save the planet from man's soap.
The bottom line : Nature's replacement for manufactured soap products
Overall, I'm incredibly delighted to have discovered Maggie's Soap Nuts. They're nature's gift to the world, and we would all be smart to stop buying manufactured laundry detergents and switch to natural laundry soaps that grow on trees. It's good for your health, your family and your environment. Plus, it ends the cycle of monetary support for manipulative consumer product companies that poison the world with their harmful chemicals products. All those brightly-colored laundry detergent boxes lining the shelves of your local grocery store are, indeed, quite poisonous to both you and the planet.
How much do soap nuts cost ? The price of using these soap nuts in your laundry is well under fifty cents a load (U.S.), making it quite comparable to other eco-friendly laundry products. It's not as cheap as dumping foaming chemicals into your laundry, but then again, if you're the kind of person reading this website, you're probably far more concerned about saving your health than saving a quarter on a load of toxic laundry. Isn't it good to know that you can protect your health and protect the planet as the same time ?
Washing your clothes doesn't have to be bad for the environment. There's a new option now in the western world : Soap nuts !
Posted by The Green Sanctuary at Saturday, December 22, 2007