It’s conker season and the games have began. But I am excited for a different reason.
For a while now since my sister introduced me to soap nuts I have been interested in alternatives to commercial washing soaps that make a huge impact on our environment and our pockets. When the privileged discover a new thing that happens to be a staple of a poorer country, the knock on effect is that us lucky peeps inadvertently create shortages and rising costs for those populations. Those that rely on it and this is happening with soap nuts. (Another classic example of this is Quinoa. Prices have been driven up so the middle classes can have one and a half unopened packets stashed in the back of their cupboard and locals have lost their staple diet). So I was very interested to learn that we have a source for laundry soap and it is a lot closer to home and just happens to be season. CONKERS !!!! (Horse Chestnuts)
Here’s the scientific bit …….Soap nuts contain saponins, which is a soap-like chemical compound that creates a lather and suds, but of course, it’s all natural. It just so happens that conkers do to. So as it is conker season get out there and start collecting.
When you have collected them take them out of their green cases and give them a shake so there are no little creatures left. Next if you have a food mixer give them a little Ziz and roughly break them up. If you don’t have a mixer you can smash them with a hammer. This will release the saponins and some stress. Now put them in a container and cover them with hot water and allow them to steep. The conkers will now start to release their saponins. Leave them to steep for about half an hour to forty five minutes. The water will start to look cloudy and eventually thicken with a yellow hue. Strain the liquid from the conkers and there you have laundry soap.
It will take a quarter to a third of a cup per wash. You can add a drop of essential oil such as lavender if you like your laundry to smell clean as well. This is good for a week or so kept in the fridge. I am just about to freeze some liquid and some whole conkers plus drying them out. I will try them out in a few months to see if this is a sustainable supply of laundry soap.
Trying to lessen my impact one wash at a time