Important information about soap nuts in liquid form:
Soap nuts truly natural laundry detergents and cleansers are beginning a new age in safe, green, healthy household cleaning solutions. Soap nut liquids are convenient and effective for many uses, plus also simpler when doing cold water washes. However, there are potentially serious health issues regarding the liquid form of soap nuts that consumers must be aware of.
Recently, soap nut liquids began showing up on the market. When there is demand, supply will follow. Hence, a race began. The race for the next “new thing” is amusing. The inherent problem with a “race” though is that speed often leads to errors and mistakes. The race for soap nut liquids led to some serious problems.
Although we have growing concerns about all the possible health hazards of commercial chemical detergents and cleaners, soap nut liquids present reasons for concern, too. As with any botanical liquid, a pure soap nut liquid will go rancid within days unless preserved properly. One US seller who must have been in a big hurry to get a soap nuts liquid to market stopped selling it within weeks. I bought some. It became rancid within a month. I keep samples of soap nut liquids from the main producers to evaluate their shelf lives. I open them and then tightly re-close them. They are kept at room temperature. Nearly all have become contaminated. They visibly show cloudiness and coagulation. In the worst cases they have developed black spots of bacterial growth and/or fungus floating on the surface.
So, be wary of soap nuts liquids. My review of an official MSDS (Materials Safety Data Sheet) that was provided by an India/Nepal exporter was frightening. It read like a poison. This particular soap nut liquid is very well preserved, but why use it? Apparently, in the big rush to develop the liquid, the exporter used less than eco-friendly, synthetic chemical solvents in the saponin extraction process, plus loaded the solution with cheap chemical preservatives. The precious saponin’s inherent healthy, green characteristics were totally destroyed. All the benefits of using soap nuts were undone.
Most soap nut exporters and sellers are not up on their chemistry, and have little to no prior experience in genuine natural product formulation. They just don’t have the mindset for developing natural, eco-friendly, safe and healthy botanical liquid detergents. It’s not a skin care product or for consumption of which may have necessitated deeper study and more precautions.
IMPORTANT: Very little is required to be disclosed to the consumer. A seller can simply label a product with saponin or soap nuts liquid extract and be on safe legal ground. There are no laws requiring companies to tell you hardly anything. There are no FDA requirements for complete disclosure for soap nuts, detergents or other cleansers. To worsen the problem, many soap nut liquids will be produced, bottled and labeled overseas. It is – by far – the cheapest way to produce it. Don’t expect the label to explain any of this. It will only speak to what you want to hear. Avoid imported soap nut liquids or any of questionable origin. Buyer beware!
Use great care in preparing your own homemade soap nut liquids. It’s exciting to see people experimenting and developing their own concoctions. Although saponin is naturally anti-fungal and anti-microbial, once liquefied it becomes highly susceptible to microbial and bacterial growth that can quickly pose serious health risks. A 100% pure soap nut liquid will have a shelf life of only a few days. Refrigeration helps, but not much. Freezing is a good way to preserve a homemade soap nut liquid. Beyond that, a common sense approach to use of well-studied, high quality, safe preservatives is required to extend the shelf life properly. Citric acid simply does not do the job effectively. It takes time and very lengthy testing to ensure the integrity of a soap nut liquid. If you want to be 100% natural with soap nuts – and remain 100% safe – stick with the traditional methods of soap nut usage or experiment with powdered soap nuts.
(Although this is not the topic of this article, on the note of shelf life: Never expect any truly, “natural” skin care or cosmetic product to last years. Formulas designed for topical application that ultimately enter your bloodstream should be used within six months for maximum benefit. Discard after one year.)
High quality, safe soap nut (saponin) liquids and concentrates are available – some are phenomenal. Do your homework. Labels are often very deceptive and misleading, but check the ingredients. If it does not clearly spell out quality ingredients or show adequate preservatives – move on. Questions the seller. Move along if your questions are not answered to your total satisfaction. Don’t be shy about requesting a MSDS. There is no rating system for detergents and cleansers as there is with cosmetics. Hopefully there will be one someday.
For truly green, chemical-free, natural product formulators, saponin is the Holy Grail of ingredients. Conversely, for chemical formulators, sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) is an inexpensive yet effective foaming agent; hence it is one of the most common (and often the primary) active ingredients in commercial detergents and cleansers today. SLS is a highly suspected skin and lung irritant with potential toxicity to other organs. The soap nut’s saponin eliminates the need for all such hazardous ingredients.
NaturOli has developed a concentrated soap nut liquid laundry soap and cleaner that utilizes a proprietary saponin extraction process requiring no chemical solvents. It is a water-based extraction producing a quality “cosmetic grade” saponin of extremely high potency. Safe “food grade” preservatives are used to obtain a two-year shelf life and ensure the consumer’s safety. Other ingredients are healthy, natural ingredients used to enhance the formulation. The professional chemists and formulators in the NaturOli lab are developing effective, yet safe formulas that as free as possible of all potentially hazardous chemicals. The same standards and care that apply to their skin care formulations apply to their soap nut detergents and cleansers. The label clearly spells out the facts with no hype.
Bottom line: A soap nut liquid must be thought of differently than soap nuts in any other form. Additional concerns must be considered, and extra measures taken. Be prudent and use good judgment. Be safe – not sorry.
For Immediate Release -
FEBRUARY 1, 2010: EXTREME 18X Soap Nuts Liquid Detergent Concentrate wins NaturOli its second “Green Dot Award” for the unprecedented reduction of the carbon footprint, toxic chemicals and waste products created by the manufacture, packaging and transport of detergent products.