"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Grow Your Own Laundry Detergent
We started processing our alternative laundry detergent the other day. For about 50 cents worth of cheap white vinegar added to our soapwort concoction we made enough laundry detergent to last approximately six months. I'm waiting for the plants to go to seed before making more this fall. My wife wrote a whimsical post SaponariaOfficionalis...What? back in February with links providing more information on this wonderful plant.
In our ongoing endeavor to tread more lightly on the planet and focus our energies on the use of more natural products we are constantly experimenting with a wide variety of plants that can be used for more than just food sources. Only a few hundred years ago many people were much more versed in the forgotten art of self sufficient living, using natures vast array of resources to aid them as they went about their daily tasks.
My wife and I have "advanced" from chemically ridden cleaning products like Purex- free and clear, to supposedly better Seventh Generation laundry soap, to this↓...soapwort. Truly free and clear of man-made chemicals, and about as pure and natural as it gets.
We break down this perennial's second year roots, leaves, stems, and flowers to make soap. The leaves off first year plants work as well but the root is more potent.
First we cut and chop the various parts of SaponariaOfficionalis into more manageable pieces.
Then it is added to the cauldrons to simmer for 5 or 6 hours breaking down the plants tissues, helping to release the sudsy saponins contained therein. We let ours sit overnight before straining the pale green liquid.
The next day you simply mash the leaves up and remove them, making sure to squeeze all the remaining saponins out. Then carefully strain the remaining debris. The hardest part is straining the liquid because it really does want to foam up quit a bit...pour slowly.
Straining the soapwort - look at all that foam! The bucket was only part way filled and already overflowing with suds. For whatever reason the pouring action really causes the suds to form.
Luckily, years ago we saved about 20 of these laundry bottles that we now use to hold our homemade soap. We add 2/3 cup vinegar, to prevent against mold, to each bottle. The vinegar also assists as a cleaning agent, a product I also hope to make myself sometime in the not too distant future.
There you have it, laundry soap grown next to the basil in our garden. Keep in mind that soapwort should not be added to pizza with the basil as it does contain toxic saponins. Regardless of what the many herb books, and herbal internet sites out there suggest, I would give serious thought to consuming this plant in any form for medicinal purposes...just my opinion. I'm formulating a plan to make a shampoo using this same herb, vinegar, and ground flax as a thickener...I'll make sure and share if it turns out.
Weary of the world and its illogical ways my wife and I have chosen a path towards self-reliance in all aspects of our lives. Our main focus is on growing and gathering our own food. We hope to use this blog as an avenue to share with and learn from others with similar interests.
The Good Life (click↓)
"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi
"Deep inside everyone of us is a call to the wild. Much of the impatience, discontent or violence around us is due to a lack of opportunity to reconnect with where we came from. For sanity and generosity of spirit, we should be able to witness nature at its unceasing, rejuvenating work." - Abdul Kareem
On Permaculture, Edible Landscaping and Garden Plants
"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas
First They Came For My Seed..▼
"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine" - Thoreau
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling, for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted. Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories where the machines were made that would drive ever forward toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley; I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city. I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments of those who had died in pursuit of the objective and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective. The once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free to sell themselves to the highest bidder and to enter the best paying prisonsin pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies, which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects, which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress, to the completed sale, to the signature on the contract, which was to clear the way to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go homewould ever get there now, for every remembered place had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant to make way for the passage of the crowd of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless with their many eyes opened toward the objective which they did not yet perceive in the far distance, having never known where they were going, having never known where they came from.