Soapnut Science

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Cleanliness is Next to… Nuttiness? 

Ancient Ayurvedic Secrets Revealed


Eco Nuts™ was conceived as a company that could transcend the cleaning industry in becoming a leader in environmentally responsible practices. We are environmentally friendly in our operations and socially responsible in dealing with our customers, partners and suppliers.

All our products are cruelty and paraben-free, vegan, tested only on humans, and utilize recycled or recylable packaging! Packaging:  We strive with our packaging and products to have as little impact on the environment as possible, and that means no plastic in every instance it can be avoided. Whenever possible, we incorporate recycled, repurposed, sustainable and organic materials.

Every box of Eco Nuts™ purchased is one less plastic detergent bottle, and our goal is to remove 1 million plastic bottles from ever making it into a landfill or using precious resources in order to recycle that plastic.

EcoNuts Organic Soap Nuts work better than a detergent. They contain saponin, an all-natural surfactant. Conventional detergents are manufactured, chemical surfactants.   Surfactants work by breaking the surface tension of water so it can more easily penetrate into fabrics, effectively making water “wetter.” Once wet, the agitation of your washing machine shakes the dirt loose from your clothes. Then Soap Nuts’ saponin holds the dirt in suspension in the water (preventing it from re-depositing on your clothes) until you’ve rinsed it away. Learn more about lowering the surface tension of water. You will notice wet SoapNuts have a 'squeaky' feeling when the saponin releases naturally from the nuts. Although unscented, the saponin has a natural, mild freshness which gives your clothes body and softness with a clean natural brightness.  Saponin teams with water to penetrate deeply into your clothes, lift away grime, and rinse it away.  No preservatives, fillers, chemicals, or artificial fragrance.

The Soapberry tree (Sapindus spp.) sends its roots back as far as the time of Buddha. The fruit of the tree, called Soap “Nuts” are a model offering from the ancient healing modalities to our modern lifestyles in the realms of cleanliness, aesthetics and medicine. Although Soap Nuts have been used in India for generations and in Europe for decades, it's uses are new to the United States.  Prized for its handsomeness, the leaves of the Chinese Soapberry tree are paripinnate and crowd at the end of the branches. On the branch ends, the "drupes" or berries hang in pairs or triplets. The fruits are green and smooth when fresh, and when dried become a light brown with silky wrinkles. The trunk is straight and cylindrical; the bark is dark to pale yellow with vertical fissures spanning the length. They can rise to as tall as 25 meters and as wide as 5 meters, the leaves forming a thick umbrella shaped canopy embedded with green flowers. For this reason, they are often planted along boulevards in the way we plant magnolias in the US.

The fruits of this special soapy tree, when peeled from their inner seed, are primarily used as a cleanser. The leathery fruit skins release saponin and become a magnificent detergent when immersed in water. In ancient India these fruits, known in Hindi as reetha, were used for soap and hair wash powders, used by jewelers for shining ornaments of gold and silver and used in the laundering of fine silks and wools.  In Vedic culture reetha is indicated in dravya-suddhi (physical and spiritual purification) for cleansing blankets. As a measure of hygiene and purity, Indian Pilgrim Ships required passengers to carry Soap Nuts onboard.

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Ayurveda, the primary form of healing and framework for wellness in India, is based in a holistic approach to healing. Rooted in early Vedic culture, Ayurveda translates to "the science of life" and deals with management of healthy living. Ayurveda provides a template for wellness in the body, as it relates to physical, mental, social and spiritual harmony of a person within their environment.

Soap Nut powder is indicated in Ayurveda as the third in the family of extremely beneficial fruits, along with shikakai and trifla. All three are used extensively in Ayurveda for the treatment of scalp issues such as hair loss, dandruff, and to alleviate parasites such as lice. (You can use a solution of Soap Nuts in the garden to repel pests as persistent as aphids.) In modern India, Soap Nuts are an essential ingredient in hair care products to increase luster and softness of hair. The Soapberry is among the most important trees for beautification in tropical Asia, aesthetics being an important factor in Ayurveda.  Used topically, Soap Nuts are used to eliminate freckles, fine lines, chemical stains and cracks in the skin. They are also used traditionally to treat mild to moderate skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis. Soap Nuts are safe for people with sensitive skin, even people who suffer allergic reactions to store bought "sensitive skin" cleansers.

Soap Nuts are even safe enough to use as toothpaste and as a fruit and vegetable wash. A ten-minute soak in a solution of Soap Nuts removes 95% of the surface pesticides and chemical residues on fresh produce. Soap Nuts are also useful in the kitchen as a food-safe cleaner for countertops, appliances, and sinks.

In India the list of uses for reetha is impressive, claiming over 20 medicinal preparations, which alter the fruit to make it either 100% digestible or emetic. Reetha fruit is so rich in iron it is considered a hemolytic and is used often to treat anemia. When prepared by an  Ayurvedic doctor it can treat chlorosis and epilepsy. It is also used as an expectorant for severe lung congestion, and can help to promote blood circulation in patients with low blood pressure. Reetha is a sedative to the uterus and is used to ease childbirth. It can also be prepared as a digestive aid, an anti-venom, or to treat diarrhea, cholera and paralysis.

Clinical trials have just finished on the use of Sapindus mukorossi as a spermicide (replacing Nonoxynal-9, which has shown to lead to widespread sexually transmitted infections.) Recent studies by Chinese researchers show that the saponins in Soap Nuts inhibit tumor cell growth in humans. Indian researchers show that a solution made from the fruit of Sapindus trifoliaus decreases behaviors associated with migraines in mice. Early Vedic medical texts describe thick solutions made by crushing and adding water to reetha fruit that were used regularly to pacify folks suffering from chronic viral infections and headaches. There is also evidence it was used to treat hysteria. 

Certainly, preparations need not be so complex. For example, you can easily create this traditional Ayurvedic recipe for a relaxing bath:
1 c. raw honey
10 drops lavender oil
1/4 c. papaya leaves
1/4 c. neem leaves
3 T. reetha (soap nut) powder
3 T. shikakai powder
2 t. kastru manjal
2 t. sandalwood powder
Blend herbs by hand with mortar and pestle and pour into bath with
honey and oil.

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