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FREE alternative to soap nuts..

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FREE alternative to soap nuts..

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
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barrymungbarrymung Forumite
638 posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
Collect a handfull of conkers. Remove the brown outer shells. Chop the innards up into really small pieces. Boil in a saucepan containing a couple of cups of water, for 5 or 10 minutes. Strain though a fine sieve. Discard the solids and allow the filtered liquid to cool.

The resulting liquid can now be used as a liquid detergent.

Like soapnuts, conkers contain saponin, a natural surfactant. Whilst not as strong as soapnuts, conkers are FREE (In season).

WARNING: Conker juice, like saponin, is mildly poisonous and should be treated as such.
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  • SeakaySeakay Forumite
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    That's brilliant! Any details about how many conkers to the amount of water, and how much of the resulting mixture to a load of washing?
  • Thanks I would love to know more about this please:A
    I am at a Crossroads in my life and deciding which path to take:coffee:
  • SeakaySeakay Forumite
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    I've been hunting about for more info and found these posts:
    http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2808&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
    "In the past, Horse-chestnut seeds were used in France and Switzerland for whitening hemp, flax, silk and wool. They contain a soapy juice, fit for washing of linens and stuffs, for milling of caps and stockings, etc., and for fulling of cloth. For this, 20 horse-chestnut seeds were sufficient for six litres of water. They were peeled, then rasped or dried, and ground in a malt or other mill. The water must be soft, either rain or river water, for hard well water will not do. The nuts are then steeped in cold water, which soon becomes frothy, as with soap, and then turns white as milk. It must be stirred well at first, and then, after standing to settle, strained or poured off clear. Linen washed in this liquid, and afterwards rinsed in clear running water, takes on an agreeable light sky-blue colour. It takes spots out of both linen and woollen, and never damages or injures the cloth."
    "this is really interesting as I have access to 1000s nobody seems to want them here and so I have been splatting them for the fire BUT in emmaus today they had a load of linen sheets (10 for 10 euros with mildew and metal type stains (I bought them as backings for my quilting) but if i can get the stains out I can use them as sheets!! big bonus I aslso have river water (but I think that I will use the rainwater)"
    "but I did do the experiment with the horse chestnuts
    the stains did not come out of the sheets but they did clean up nice and were lovely and soft"
    http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10099&sid=24be3403e3e31febc6afadcc07d5e6ca
    " know there is a thread about conkers but it is now a little old and I thought I'd bring it all up to date with some experiments I've been doing. On the first thread, slugboy wrote out an old recipe for using conkers to wash linen. Well, I've put it to use and it makes a great laundry bleach/cleaner. I followed the instructions by grating 5 conkers and mixing with about 1¼ litres rain water (taken from the garden tub and strained first). I left this to steep for about four days, stirring every so often. Then I liquidised the whole lot - to get as much out of the conkers as possible. I ended up with a creamy white, soapy liquid.

    First of all I soaked the dishcloth and a very dirty towel in the undiluted mixture. They both came out so much cleaner and brighter I was impressed. Then (big mistake) I got a bit carried away and put some in the washing machine with a couple of tops (one bright yellow and one green) that had stains on them with a pair of trousers (mine, luckily) and a tea towel. Not a big wash, I know, but I wanted to try it out. I poured the liquid into the tray where the washing powder would go and of course it just poured straight through. Once washed, the only thing that came out ok was the tea towel. The tops and the trousers ended up with patchy marks (lighter) all over them! and the stains were still there!

    So I have now figured out that it should be ok for whites - which I am washing at this precise moment! - and for things that don't matter if they fade a little. But probably best used as a soaking agent before the main washing process.

    A couple of great side effects have been: my nails looked a lot whiter than normal once I'd finished making the liquid (I got it all over the place including my hands). And my dear Husband was given the task of washing things out when I'd finished and discovered that things like a glass jug came out looking quite sparkly. So the next experiment will be to try it in the dishwasher. (And I can't believe I have converted my stick-in-the-mud, bah-humbug husband to use it to wipe down surfaces, which also come up sparkling!!!)

    Sorry - long thread - but I hope useful to some of you."
  • barrymungbarrymung Forumite
    638 posts
    I read it in a book I was given for Christmas. It didn't go into detail about how many were needed, apart from it being a "handful".

    As with all these things it'll take a bit of experimentation to see what works and what doesn't.

    I'm wondering if some chopped up conkers in a muslin bag then placed in the washing machine would do the trick?
  • barrymungbarrymung Forumite
    638 posts
    Talking of washing whites, the Romans used to soak their togas in urine before washing..the ammonia having a bleaching effect..
  • barrymungbarrymung Forumite
    638 posts
    More here:

    http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:PZEH1OEIjakJ:myweb.tiscali.co.uk/temetfutue/glossary/glossaryF.htm+toga+wash+urine&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk

    It seems that a "Urine tax" was imposed! (The ultimate p*ss take?)

    "Different kinds of alkali were used to separate the dirt more easily from the clothes. By far the most common was the urine of men and animals, which was mixed with the water in which the clothes were washed. To procure a sufficient supply of urine, the fullones were accustomed to place at the corners of the streets vessels, which they carried away after they had been filled by passers-by. Vespasian imposed a urinae vectigal, which was a tax paid by the fullones"
  • dizziedizzie Forumite
    390 posts
    Does anyone know anything about growing/using soapwort as a detergent? Google searches look interesting.
  • savvysavvy Forumite, Board Guide
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    Hi Dizzie, somebody is trying on another thread ;)
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  • arkonite_babearkonite_babe Forumite
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    dizzie wrote: »
    Does anyone know anything about growing/using soapwort as a detergent? Google searches look interesting.

    Here's the link:
    Growing my own soapnut tree
  • ailuro2ailuro2 Forumite
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    barrymung wrote: »
    Collect a handfull of conkers. Remove the brown outer shells. Chop the innards up into really small pieces. Boil in a saucepan containing a couple of cups of water, for 5 or 10 minutes. Strain though a fine sieve. Discard the solids and allow the filtered liquid to cool.

    The resulting liquid can now be used as a liquid detergent.

    Like soapnuts, conkers contain saponin, a natural surfactant. Whilst not as strong as soapnuts, conkers are FREE (In season).

    WARNING: Conker juice, like saponin, is mildly poisonous and should be treated as such.

    But boiling the water for 10 minutes will use up a lot of energy. Is there a more fuel efficient way of doing this, anyone??
    Member of the first Mortgage Free in 3 challenge, no.19
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