The 5-in-One Sustainable Cleaning Product: Soap Nuts

Soap nuts (also known as soap berries) have been used for thousands of years as a natural detergent and cleaner. They come from the Soapnut Tree, and their shells contain a naturally occurring surfactant called saponin. Surfactants help remove dirt and particles from surfaces and clothing, making soap nuts a very effective cleaning product. Traditional commercial soap and detergents use chemical surfactants, which are often toxic. Imagine: you could be washing your clothes and your home in carcinogenic substances every day!

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If you want to aspire to live chemical-free, using soap nuts around the house is a great place to start. Below are 5 uses for soap nuts that will help contribute to a sustainable and economical lifestyle!

1. Liquid Soap & All-Purpose Cleaner

  • Crush or mash berries to release saponins
  • Boil (two berries for every one cup of water)
  • Allow water to cool
  • Strain through a muslin cloth
  • Add desired essential oils (optional)
  • Store in the fridge to prevent spoiling

Leftover soap nuts and the muslin cloth can be used in combination as detergent for one load of laundry.

Your liquid soap can be turned into an all-purpose cleaner by simply putting it in a spray bottle. Use it on all surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom.

2. Laundry Detergent

This is the most common use for soap nuts. They will replace both your laundry detergent and your fabric softener. Simply add 1-2 berries to a load laundry to be washed in hot water (these will last for 2 washes), or 6-8 berries for a cold wash (these will last 6 washes).

If you are unsure whether your berries are still usable, squeeze the shell. It should release a liquid if they are still good.

You can also use the liquid soap (above) as laundry detergent if this is preferable.

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3. Dishwasher Detergent

For those who use dishwashers, place 2-5 soap nuts in your silverware holder for each run. White vinegar can be added to the wash as well, and will act as a natural rinse aid during the cycle.

If you wash dishes by hand, the liquid soap mentioned above will work for this as well.

4. Body Care

Soap berries can also be used to wash your hair and skin!

For natural, hair loss-preventing shampoo, mix the liquid soap with water and store in a recycled jar. The best ratio is ½ to 1 ounce of liquid soap for every 12 ounces of water. Adding baking soda will strengthen the mixture. The shampoo can be used as normal, by rubbing through your scalp and rinsing.

The same mixture used as shampoo can be used as body wash as well. You can even add your favorite aromatherapy to leave the bathroom smelling wonderful. Who would have thought bathing could be so simple, and economical!

5. Glass Cleaner

Clean your windows and mirrors naturally by mixing white vinegar with the liquid soap (half and half). Pour into a spray bottle for ease of use. And of course, essential oils are a must!

Detox Your Personal Care Products

Reading ingredient labels on food and bodycare products can be awfully daunting, especially when the list is long and full of impossible, mysterious words. Let’s be honest, you probably can’t even pronounce half of them, let alone describe what they are or what they’re for.

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If we do (perhaps reluctantly) take the time to read the label, it will most likely be that of a food product. As consumers, we are naturally more concerned with what we put in our bodies, rather than on them. But the fact is, your skin is your body’s largest organ, and acts as a gateway to the rest of your body. Everything that is put on or around you will be absorbed through 20 square feet of permeable membrane. So, it’s safe to say that whatever you put on your body is equally as important as what you put in your body.

Still, reading labels is daunting and unbearably time-consuming. I envy the person that has the time and patience to read every label on every product they pick up. More than that, selecting bodycare and cosmetic products is a deeply personal, almost scientific endeavor. I’ve spent more time comparing shampoos than I’d like to admit. But what does this have to do with the ingredients list?

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When it comes to bodycare, we are picky, and we are attached. We don’t mess around when it comes to beauty. We want the best. We want toothpaste that whitens our teeth, shampoo that suds up in our hair, and lotion that smells heavenly – don’t even get me started on makeup. And once you find your perfect product, you use the same thing for years. We are, after all, creatures of habit. We also like to have options, and reading labels threatens our ability to choose whatever we want.

I used to convince myself that the ingredient lists were long for a reason. Products must need all of those things in order to work, right? Organic products can’t possibly be as effective, can they?

The truth is, the cosmetics and bodycare industries are not as heavily regulated as, say, food. Anything and everything can be added to shampoo or soap unless that ingredient is undeniably and scientifically proven to be toxic or carcinogenic. In other words, beauty companies can (and do) add just about anything in order to make their products smell and look good enough for you to toss in your cart.

As it turns out, organic products can be just as effective - perhaps just in different ways. For example, most commercial shampoos contain something called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is a chemical that contributes to the suds and bubbles produced when you lather your scalp. It can be found in body wash, shaving cream, toothpaste, and other products. This chemical is also used in cleaning products, and as an insecticide. Did I mention it causes cancer, liver damage, rashes, and depression? Is it just me, or are suds starting to sound overrated…?

So, now that we’re all nice and unsettled, how do we tackle this? How can a reasonable person avoid contaminating their body? I have two perfectly viable options for you.

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One: The Abatement Approach. This requires that you obtain a fundamental understanding of the most toxic chemicals and ingredients that may be lurking in your products (i.e. SLS). Once you can recognize a dozen or so of those mysterious ingredients, you can start skimming labels and picking products that lack them.

Two: The Minimalist Approach. Meaning pick products that have the simplest, purest ingredient lists. These products may be harder to find, but they will reward you with transparency and purity.

Option two is my personal preference, but many people are skeptical of single or minimal-ingredient products. However, many of these products are made from ingredients that people have been using for thousands of years. Instead of relying on online reviews to guarantee effectiveness, you can rely on human history.  It doesn’t get much more organic than that. Below is a list of some sustainable, single-ingredient recipes [1] and how they can be incorporated into your beauty routine:

 

Kaffir Lime Shampoo

  • Prevents dandruff, aids eczema, prevents gray hair

Bamboo Charcoal Face Mask

  • Detoxifying - Aids psoriasis, eczema, ringworm

Witch Hazel Skin Toner

  • Itch relief, moisturizing, hydrating
  • Aids ringworm, tinea versicolor, psoriasis, eczema, insect bites

Hemp Soap, Shampoo, & Deodorant

  • Calming, anti-bacterial, moisturizing

Mungbean Powder Facial & Body Wash

  • Cleansing, clarifying

Jasmine Rice Scrub Powder

  • Exfoliating, conditioning, moisturizing

Soap Nuts Detergent, Soap

  • Natural all-purpose cleaning

Neem Oil Skincare

  • Treats psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, chapped skin, wind-burnt skin

Sodium Percarbonate (Salt) Stain removal

  • Removes stains, whitens, disinfects, deodorizes

Lemon Juice moisturizer

  • Aids tinea versicolor, psoriasis

Coconut Oil hair mask, shaving lotion

  • Soothing, moisturizing, prevents irritation, dryness, split ends

Almond Oil cuticle oil, makeup remover

  • Cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing

Argan Oil Nighttime moisturizer

  • Moisturizing, wrinkle resistance

Essential Oils

  • Fragrance, aromatherapy

 

There are tons of products out there with minimal ingredients. In the long run, you’ll save money, time, and stress if you resort to these natural, pure products for all your skincare needs. Mother Nature will take good care of you.

If you decide to take the Abatement Approach, I can provide you with a basic list of chemicals to keep an eye out for [2]. I would highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these names. You’ll be surprised by how many of them you’ll be able to locate on products you use every day.


 Parabens

What are they?

Synthetic compounds widely used as a preservative to stop the growth of damaging microbes such as fungus and bacteria.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Methylparaben
  • Ethylparaben
  • Propulparaben
  • Butylparaben
  • Isobutylparaben

 Where will I find them?

 Deodorants, toothpastes, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, makeups.

Why avoid them?

Parabens disrupt hormone function and reproductive health, which could lead to increased risk of breast cancer. [3]


 Synthetic Colors

What are they?

Essentially a hodge-podge of synthetic chemicals that are used to dye our products and make them pretty.

 Where will I find them?

Soap, lotions, shave gels, toothpastes, shampoos, styling cream, face creams, toners, cleaners, bath gels…. A simpler question would be where can’t you find them.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Red 3
  • Blue 1
  • Green 3
  • Yellow 5
  • FD&C Yellow 6, etc.

 Why avoid them?

They are linked to cancer, allergic reactions, neuron damage, and tumors in the thyroid, adrenal gland, and kidney (depending on the dye). [4]


  Fragrance

 What is it?

 The problem with “Fragrance” is that no one really knows exactly what it consists of. Companies are not required to disclose the [chemical] makeup of their products’ fragrance. If that’s not terrifying enough, I’m not sure what is.

Where will I find it?

Shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, body wash, deodorant, body lotion, makeup (why??), facial cream, serums, and PERFUME (who knows what’s in this stuff!).

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Fragrance (informative, I know)

Why avoid it?

Fragrance is once again a giant mess of chemicals that makes the scent of your product unique and desirable. Many of these chemicals have health concerns such as links to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies and sensitivities. Some have no health data at all, which is arguably more frightening. [5]


Phthalates

What are they?

Chemicals (surprise!) that are used as binders and plasticizers (to increase products’ flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).

Where will I find them?

Color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes and hair care products, nail polish and treatment.

On the ingredients label, they look like:

  • Phthalate
  • DEP
  • DBP
  • DEHP
  • Fragrance

Why avoid it?

They are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. [6]


Triclosan

 What is it?

 Used as an antimicrobial bactericide and a preservative.

Where will I find it?

Antibacterial soap, toothpaste, deodorant, aftershave, lotions, bath products, cleansing products, hair shampoos and conditioners, makeup, and skin care products.

Why avoid it?

Triclosan has been linked to disrupted muscle and hormone function, heart disease, heart failure, and caused skeletal muscles to fail. [7]


Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

What is it?

A very common surfactant. As I mentioned earlier, it contributes to the sudsy/foaming component of your personal care and cleaning products.

Where will I find it?

In everything ranging from engine degreasers, floor cleaners, and car wash products, down to your toothpaste and shampoo.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium dodecyl sulfate
  • Also avoid: Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Also avoid: Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Why avoid it?

They are known to cause skin irritation, eye damage, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, and damage to the immune system (which leaves the body more susceptible to disease and disorders such as cancer). [8]


Formaldehyde

What is it?

A preservative that helps prevent microbes from growing in water-based products.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail and eyelash glue, hair gel and smoothing products, shampoos, body wash, cosmetics.

On the ingredient label, it looks like:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl urea
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol)
  • Glyoxal

Why avoid it?

Formaldehyde is linked to cancer, skin irritation, and allergic reactions. [9]


Toluene

What is it?

A toxic chemical that is used as a solvent to dissolve other substances.

Where will I find it?

Nail polish, nail treatment, hair dyes

On the ingredients label, it looks like:

  • Toluene

Why avoid it?

Toluene is linked to developmental, reproductive, and organ system toxicity, respiratory complications [10]

 


 

Bank Confuses Industrial Hemp With Marijuana, Shuts Down Rawganique's Account

On October 5th, 2017, we received a letter from Umpqua Bank abruptly terminating our 2.5 year banking relationship. Because we sell imported clothing, bedding, and bath products made of hemp fiber, Umpqua has determined that Rawganique “operates a business line that is an excluded line of business,” meaning we are being falsely associated with the marijuana industry (which is a highly regulated industry despite being legal in many states). 

Industrial hemp is in fact a different plant than marijuana, but the two are often associated under the generic term “cannabis.” Cannabis refers to the plant genus that both hemp and marijuana varieties originated from. As our co-founder Klaus Wallner explains, “ Rawganique.co is an organic hemp, linen and cotton clothing company. We don’t have anything to do with marijuana. That’s why this whole situation is so befuddling to us. Industrial hemp is NOT the same as marijuana. Industrial hemp contains ZERO psychoactive THC.” 

In an open letter to Umpqua, Wallner said “Our hemp fiber products cross the US, Canadian, and many other countries’ borders everyday without any problems, because hemp products are legal at both the state and federal level and have always been.” The company has been operating for 20 years and doing business with Umpqua for over two. Despite the obvious lawfulness of our commerce, Umpqua has lumped Rawganique in with the marijuana industry. 

Wallner points out in his letter that hemp seeds and hemp oil are found in all sorts of products, “like Nature’s Path’s cereal products, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (which has hemp oil as a main ingredient), protein bars, and hemp clothing,” yet the bank accounts of grocery stores and clothing stores are not being terminated. 

Our team has now taken it upon ourselves to shed light on this issue. “We have always assumed it’s common knowledge that hemp is different than marijuana,” Wallner said,” and that hemp is in fact a very useful, versatile and important plant.” We plan to use our unfortunate circumstances to educate the public and increase our efforts to spread awareness about industrial hemp.

Since the letter from Umpqua arrived, Wallner has reached out to other banks with local presence to find alternatives. So far, our business has been refused by U.S. Bank on the same grounds. Banner Bank has deferred our inquiry for need of more information. Wallner asked the director of sales at Umpqua, 'Why now? We have had an account in good standing with your bank for over two years.” Their response was that they are now under more rigorous scrutiny due to new FDIC requirements and financial oversight. Banks are being unnecessarily and unfairly cautious, and small businesses are dealing with the consequences.

It doesn't make sense for banks to single us out. We sell hemp fiber clothing, shoes, bed, and bath products, none of which can be smoked or used to get high.

We would like to thank the eco-friendly, sustainability, organic fiber, and hemp communities who have already shown Rawganique immense support on social media, with many expressing disbelief and outrage at the misinformation that still surrounds industrial hemp. After all, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp is food, fuel, medicine, building material, clothing, shoes, paper, and so much more. 

We plan to continue spreading awareness and voicing our advocacy for the industrial hemp industry. If you feel the need to help, please like, comment, and share our social media posts: 

Banking Termination Letter from Umpqua Bank

An Open Letter to Umpqua Bank

Our story has already been shared on three news platforms, The Northern Light, HempToday, and What's Hemppening. Please like, comment and share these articles: