Make Yucca Soap and Yucca Shampoo

Yucca root can easily become yucca soap and yucca shampoo if you follow these directions.


| May/June 1981


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).

1/13/2014 11:55:56 AM

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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?






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