• Soapnut Foam Washing, by mellie

    Originally posted by mellie, 01/12/2009 How to shampoo your hair with whole soapnuts using the foam method!
    Soapnut Foam Washing

    What are Soapnuts?
    Soapnuts are not actually a nut, but a berry/fruit that grows in tropical countries. The botanical name is Sapindus mukorossi. There is a smaller species that is Sapindus trifoliatus. Mukorossi is reported to be better cleansing.

    It is traditionally dried out in the sun, and then either sold whole or in powder form. Here is what they look like in their whole, dried form (I put a quarter with them so you can see how big they should be), and you can see that they have been cracked open to remove the seed (for some reason, they will not clean your hair [or laundry] well if the seeds are still inside - trust me, I learned this the hard way!):


    Where to get soapnuts?
    If you are lucky enough to have an Indian grocery nearby, they may carry them. They will be called "Reetha" or "Aritha". They will likely also sell ritha powder. The recipe below is for the whole soapnuts. However, some folks have had success using the foam method with ritha powder as well.

    If you don't have an Indian store nearby, there are some online vendors that sell them. I can personally vouch for these ones:
    http://www.gogreen.cellande.co.uk/sh...s/soapnuts.php (I really like these ones!)



    I did not have success with the ones from Mountain Rose Herbs, however. They were smaller and did not clean as well.

    Eaglefeather likes these:

    (ETA: Correction: I had inadvertently put that Silver & Gold liked the Lullwater ones, that is incorrect - sorry!)

    Why Wash with Soapnuts?
    I've actually found soapnuts to be superior to all commercial products I tried! And shampoo bars, too! Some of the things I love about them are:
    -way less shedding!
    -nice clean scalp
    -gently cleansing
    -the SHINE!
    -the BODY!
    -did I mention way less shedding?
    -all natural, and has very little processing
    -it's cheap!
    -no need for conditioner or acid rinse

    Step 1: Making the Soapnut Liquid
    There are a variety of recipes for making soapnut liquid. After much trial and error, I found the only one that works for me (for oily hair and scalp) is 1 c. soapnuts* (approx. 22 nuts) soaked overnight in 1 c. water. (I just use lukewarm tap water). This will make 8 - 16 washing's worth!


    NOTE: Be sure your soapnuts do not have seeds inside - if they do, crack them open with a nutcracker and throw the seeds out.

    Strain out the soapnuts (I use a strainer and a funnel):


    Add 1 T. fresh lemon or lime juice to the liquid. The lemon/lime helps cut grease, although it also seems to really help add shine and avoid dryness for me too - my hair looks and feels much better with the juice added. FYI -lime juice works really great and is my preference!


    The liquid will be a medium brown color and will make 8 oz. total (which makes 8-16 washings!):

    *P.S. Since it is a natural product, sometimes different batches will be stronger than others. I've been buying soapnuts from Cellande Midlands in the UK and they are "sticky" and very powerful, so I've only needed about half the amount. If your liquid is darker than this, dilute it with water till it reaches this color.


    Store your liquid in the fridge for best preservation (some folks even store it in ice cube trays in the freezer - each cube will equal 1 oz.). Some folks have had success leaving it out of the fridge for up to one week.

    If you want, you can dry out and reuse the whole soapnuts again for shampoo (if your hair isn't too oily naturally - it doesn't work as well for me, I just toss them out after one use) or use the 2nd-go liquid to wash dishes (works great!) or for other uses around the house.

    How long does this liquid last in the fridge? Well, I've never had mine go bad, but I usually use it up within 2 weeks.

    Step 2: How to do Soapnut Foam Washing:

    After much trial and error, I've found that it works best to make foam out of it. It cleans much better as a foam than as a liquid, and also you have more control over where it goes and keeping it out of your eyes (because it will burn your eyes like soap!).

    Pour 1/2 oz. of your liquid into an 8 oz. bottle. Over time, I've needed to use just 1/2 oz every washing. (If your hair is still greasy or if you oil, you might need more liquid. 1 oz total should be all you need for your washing, since it's the scalp you will be concentrating on. It foams best to do a 1/2 oz. at a time, then if you need more, rinse out and do another 1/2 oz.):

    ETA: I have been adding an extra squirt of fresh lime juice each shampooing as well, and it really seems to make for some AMAZING shine! If you'd like to try it, do that at this step.


    Shake it up till it's 100% foam - nice thick foam that's not runny or liquidy. TIP: The trick to a good rich foam is in your shaking technique: be sure to shake it fully UP and DOWN really fast, so that all the liquid bounces from the top of the bottle all the way to the bottom. This will give you a nice rich foam that's not runny, in no time at all:


    Take off the lid and pouf the foam onto your hand.


    Wipe it on top of your hair, concentrating on the scalp and not the length. A good way to do it is to turn your head upside-down, or push your hair forward, to make sure you get all of your scalp around your head. No need to rub or use any friction, it actually looks best when I just wipe it on and leave it to soak in on its own.

    Helpful tip!: You can put this foam on DRY HAIR, in front of the mirror, and that will make sure you don't miss any spots or get it in your eyes (IT WILL BURN IF YOU GET IT IN YOUR EYES!!!). Then jump in the shower, leave the foam on while you finish the rest of your showering and rinse out, or just rinse out right away if you don't need to leave it on very long. The dry hair method really works great!!!


    Make sure you get it everywhere on your roots, otherwise you might have greasy spots.

    TIP: Don't put the foam directly on or near your part - it will dry out your part. Just put the foam on your hair on either side of the part.

    Leave on between 30 seconds to 2 minutes, then rinse out. (If you've oiled, it works well to leave it on longer before rinsing out, as the longer time helps remove the oil). No rubbing or friction needed while rinsing! As the liquid is already acidic, I find no need for conditioner or acid rinses.

    NOTE: I've noticed over my long period of washing this way, that the last ounce of liquid in the bottle tends to be the "dregs" and doesn't clean very nicely....I might recommend just tossing that last ounce out!

    And VOILA!! Shiny, bouncy, naturally and gently cleaned hair and scalp!!


    ~The END~


    Some extra tips:

    P.S. Some folks have had success making foam with foaming hand soap containers like this one:
    However, it is VERY important to strain the liquid extremely well first (TIP: use a paper coffee filter, or the little muslin bag that probably came with your soapnuts!), and rinse out the pump after each use.

    P.P.S. Also, some other folks have had success making foam with BlenderBottles, like these:

    NOTE: It may be advisable to avoid using soapnuts while pregnant (see also here). However, according to several Indian women I have talked with, there are no advisements against washing hair with soapnuts during pregnancy in traditional use in India. But, it might be best to avoid use during pregnancy just to be sure. As with all products, it is advised to do a small skin test first to check for allergy.
    What does it cost to wash with soapnuts? Here's my cost analysis.
    P.P.S. You can also use the foam to wash your face and body too!

    Thanks to (in alphabetical order):
    the book "Beauty Secrets of India": for the recipe that I use (please check it out - it is a wonderful book!)
    eaglefeather71: for the dry hair/mirror method!
    Fluke: for the foaming container tips!
    Heidi_234: for the idea of foam!
    Jojo: for reporting on sticky soapnuts!
    ktani: for research and support!
    ljkforu: for sending some soapnuts for me to try!
    naturechild: for help in experimentation!
    patissegrietje: for the suggestion of using on the face!
    Sceleste: for the inspiration and support to keep trying soapnuts when I was ready to give up! And for the paper coffee filter suggestion!
    Silver&Gold: for the idea of BlenderBottles & ice cubes!
    tina1025: for confirmation of the dry method & the idea of adding a little juice every wash!
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Hairkay's Avatar
      Hairkay -
      I have soapnuts and I have used them in hair before. I just soak some in water a day or three and the liquid is ready to be used once you remove the soapnut/berry. I put 5 or 6 in a little cotton bag and use in the laundry. I have also found out last summer that conkers (horse chesnuts) work just as well for laundry. They're free since every autunm local trees have them dropping all over the place. It's worth experimenting with them for hair use too.