Make Yucca Soap and Yucca Shampoo

Yucca root can easily become yucca soap and yucca shampoo if you follow these directions.
By Nancy Anderson
May/June 1981
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With the roots of the yucca plant you can make yucca shampoo and yucca soap.
MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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The various species of yucca — some of which are known today as Spanish bayonet, Adam's-needle, soapweed, datil, whipple or dagger plant — were of prime economic importance to many native tribes of the American Southwest. The sharp-pointed, waxy leaves furnished excellent fibers for weaving. The long flower stalks and creamy white blossoms were used by the Apaches as food. And  most important for our purposes,  the roots of the yucca provided many native Americans with natural shampoo and natural laundry soap.

Yucca root (called a mole) contains the compound saponin, which has detergent properties and seems to exert a particularly beneficial effect on the protein in animal fiber.

And there's no reason why you can't try making yucca soap and yucca shampoo yourself, because the versatile plants — formerly classified as Liliaceae, but more recently placed in the new family Agavaceae — are found in the southwestern (and, to some extent, southeastern) United States, Mexico and the West Indies.

You Can Dig It!

Yucca root can be gathered at any time of the year, provided the ground isn't frozen. However, since regulations regarding wild plant collection vary, be sure to check your state's laws before you begin to dig. Then, if there aren't any restrictions on gathering yuccas in your area, select a small- to medium-sized plant that can be dug up without too much difficulty — even a young bush will yield enough roots for a dozen or so shampoos.

Next, remove all loose dirt with a stiff brush or old rag, and use a small hatchet to chop the roots into manageable (potato-size) pieces. Now, with a sharp paring knife, cut off the hairlike extensions and the outer root covering, being careful to keep the newly exposed surfaces as clean as possible.

Once that's done, whack the peeled pieces into smaller chunks (about the size of ice cubes) and use a hammer or blender to pulverize these pieces of root into a pulp. When the mush's color has changed from white to light amber, your new shampoo is ready to be used, dried, or frozen (yucca keeps well when preserved by either of the two methods).

Shampoo Storage

If you'd like to sun-dry the roots, spread the material thinly on a clean surface and leave it in direct sunshine until all of its moisture has evaporated. (When the squeezed pulp is no longer sticky and spongy — but feels sort of crackly — it's dry enough to be stored.)

For oven drying, on the other hand, just spread a thin layer of pulp on a cookie sheet and bake it at low temperature (anywhere from 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour or two. (The drying time will vary from one batch to another, so check it fairly often.) Finally, however you dry your yucca, be sure to store the particles in a cool, airy place.

It's also possible to freeze a future supply of soap root, and this can be done at any stage in the root's preparation. Simply seal the pulp in an airtight container, and thaw it before final processing or use.

There is one word of caution concerning yucca shampoo, however: As with any new substance, be sure to do a skin test to check for possible allergic reactions before washing your hair with the pulp. Although anthropologists record that yucca roots were used by native Americans to bathe the entire body (and Walapai mothers even washed their newborns with the suds from a young yucca every day for a week after birth), I once used the root material as a facial cleanser and found that my skin became irritated. But I've had no ill effects from shampooing with the substance.

When you're ready to try your yucca hair wash, make sure your hands (and the sink) are free of grease (or else the roots won't lather), then run a few inches of water into your basin, add at least a handful of the pulp, and swirl the water around vigorously. (You could — as an alternative — place the pulp and a little water in your blender for a few seconds, and pour the foamy results into the sink.)

Shiny as Silk

After you've gotten plenty of suds, fill the sink with water and skim off the floating pulp. (Or, if you don't use the blender to make suds you can avoid having to strain the water at all, simply by placing the to-be-lathered roots in a cheesecloth bag.) Then just wash and rinse your hair as always. You'll be pleased with the way this natural cleanser leaves your hair silky, shiny, healthy and clean!


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Post a comment below.

 

1/13/2014 11:55:56 AM
It seems like you http://toppik.com.au/all-products/ to a greater extent. Having spent quite sometime in this industry, I know found a great potential to cure hair loss in this remedy.

Tien Wang
9/1/2012 6:35:40 PM
MC_@, When I lived in the high deser mountains yucca was very plentiful and in fact they do well surviving cold like snow.

CINDY WEAVER
3/22/2012 6:01:02 PM
I've always heard you can rub the root with water in your hands and it will lather. I don't quite understand how you wash your hair with the stuff if it's in the sink, do you stick your head in the sink after you get the pulp out or pour it over your head in the shower?

Linen
3/12/2012 5:54:20 PM
How do YOU "wash your hair as always"? I always stand in a shower with the water running and squeeze shampoo out of a plastic bottle, lather and rinse. I'm unclear on getting the stuff in the basin into a bottle. If I did, would it keep in the bottle or does it need to be used immediately?

Veronica_6
9/8/2009 2:39:36 PM
This sounds like a cool idea. However I live in an aparment in the city which would not climatically support such a plant. I still make my own products though. I found recipies at the follwing page. I can get all the ingredients at local health stores and grocery stores. I buy organic where I can and there is also a list on the site of what all the different inregdients in natural products do, which is really helpful for lable reading when I do buy things. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/NatureChallenge/QueenofGreen/recipes_videos.asp

Elizabeth_29
8/26/2009 11:03:18 AM
We've had several yuccas growing in our St. Louis, Missouri yard since we planted them about 25 years ago....they keep multiplying and have always bloomed, except for this past Spring. ??? Any ideas why they didn't bloom this one year? I usually have always cut the dead flower stalks back halfway after blooming and that never seemed to keep the plants from blooming again the next Spring. Was looking forward to having some blossoms for culinary purposes since I've read they're edible.

SH
8/19/2009 1:28:07 PM
we agree the natural way is best, however we live in a large metro area and find looking for organics is a better way for us, one of our favorite natural companies is www.theorganicsoapcompany.com...they have 85% organic soaps and other natural items as well. My family loves the stuff. S

Heather_37
6/10/2009 8:50:41 AM
MC Yes we have several ucca growing here in our yard in southern MO (Missouri)and we are not the only ones. Yucca plants are found in many yards here and seem to be doing very well.

Kris Ackerman
5/7/2009 7:31:10 PM
MC, We live in the southeastern North Carolina we are about 45 mins from the coast, it is all flatland where we live lots of swamps. Our water table is only 2 feet, we get temperatures in the single digits a few days during the winter. We have several Yuccas growing in our yard The biggest are approaching around 4 feet these where planted by the former owner. Your climate is probably close so I imagine you would get the same results. You should give it a try start with one plant and if it dies it will be no big loss, but if you are successful smaller plants will grow from the 1st, My Father said he has dug the seedlings up tossed them in the woods and they will take root in the woods. There are many uses Varying from food to shampoos soaps and body washes. If you can get a yucca moth to pollinate they will even bear fruit which I have read was consummed by native americans.Yuccas seem to be a hardy plant I think you will be successful. God Bless!!!

MC_2
5/1/2009 9:46:34 PM
I wonder if yucca will grow in Arkansas?? It's probably too wet, especially in the spring. If I used a lot of stone and made a nice, sandy soil though... It still might not survive the winters. It never stays cold for very long, but it does get all the way down into the single digits at least a few nights every year. Gets pretty cold in the desert southwest, too, if I remember right, though. Anyone in/around NWAR or SWMO ever tried growing the stuff???








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