Entries in soap nut shells (1)

Sunday
May012011

Used Soap Nuts

There is always going to be some debate as to when all the soap is gone from a soap nut shell, but we believe this is a reasonable representation of "all used up".

The shells in the first of these photos just came out of the wash, and if I am remembering correctly they were used for somewhere around 4 cold washes, 2 warm and one hot, not necessarily in that order. We tend to use them until there are no more semi-transparent patches, they've began to split and crumble, and when we squeeze them while their wet, very little or no bubbles come from the flesh. As you can see, the outside of the shell has turned a lighter tan and almost grey colour, and the inside is a fleshy tan, and is now opaque. For a picture of a completly unused shell please refer to the first picture on the Notes on Quality blog post.

At this point we put them in a mug that lives on the dryer. These used up shells then get hot water poured over them while the next wash is filling, and the "tea" is added to the next wash. This is purely a way of getting every little last bit of soap from the shells, and is not a necessary step. I just like knowing I'm not getting rid of good soap!

These next two photos are of dried out used up shells, and when they are dry it is much easier to see that there is little no no thickness left to the shell. They are paper thin, tear very easily, and have almost no weight left. Just as the wet ones, they are now opaque, and are cracked and crumbling. If they go through the dryer they will either come out looking like this once they are used up, or once they have dried out by any other means. If they still have some soap left, they will have semi-transparent patches, and will be much tougher to tear.

Hopefully this is useful to those of you who are always left wondering if you are getting all you can out of your soap nuts! And remember, you will get more than the estimated number of loads if you have an HE washing machine.