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Is Soapwort Soap?

September 24th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

Soapwort is a perennial herb that’s native to Europe. It was brought to the US where it has thoroughly naturalized itself. It has spread all across the country growing in ditches, along the road, in meadows and in some gardens. The botanical name is Saponaria officinalis. It sometimes has other names like:

  • Sweet Betty
  • Bouncing Betty
  • Wild Sweet William

Now the name of it (soapwort) sounds like something Harry Potter would be familiar with but its use predates him. It actually predates those ladies who discovered soap on Mount Sapo. I would venture a guess that it’s probably the oldest cleansing agent known to man. The roots, which are actually rhizomes, contain a lathering substance known as saponin.

You can easily make a nice hair shampoo from soapwort. Dried rosemary is a good herb to include in your shampoo because it helps to deep-clean follicles and encourage hair growth. I also like to include a bit of lavender because its my favorite herbal frangrance.

Please note that soapwort is irritating to eyes. It’s also poisonous and can destroy red blood cells, so use caution not to ingest any.

To make the soap, boil all parts of the plant but especially the roots in water. It doesn’t take much – about  of the chopped dried root to a quart of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes. Add your rosemary or other herbs after the simmering part. Put a lid on it while cooling. Then strain it and use within 5 days.

If you have any delicate fabrics that could be harmed by synthetic soap, try washing them with your soapwort infusion.

You can find soapwort at health food stores or order it from online bulk herb suppliers. It’s also easy to grow yourself and has pretty, delicate pink flowers from June through October.

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