Decoction Comparison: Soapnut vs Soaproot

So, we've made 2 lovely soapy decoctions. Before we start testing them for different uses, let's adjourn to the lab and have a look at how these 2 natural surfactants behave in a side-by-side comparison test!

Batch Yield

The soapnut liquid gave a slightly higher yield than soaproot - this was (probably) due to a combination of me lifting the lid while making the soaproot decoction (yield loss) and the squeezing of the soapnut bags (yield gain).

All in all there was approximately 20ml more soapnut liquid than soaproot liquid.

Color and Viscosity Check 

Soaproot liquid has a color similar to weak tea and a thinnish, water-like viscosity. Even though it is watery, the liquid is quick to create small bubbles when agitated (just pouring up the liquid created these suds).

Soapnut liquid is slightly darker than soaproot (the color difference is most visible in the top picture). Viscosity-wise, soapnut liquid is noticeably thicker. I would describe it as a runny gel (which thickens somewhat after time). Soapnut suds seem more 'soap-like' with larger bubbles than soaproot.

Foam Test

Although the 2 foam bottles look different in the pic above, they are both from the same supplier (and delivery!), so we're going to assume the function is identical.

100 ml of liquid was placed in a foam bottle. The foam bottles were not agitated prior to pumping 5 pumps of each into a small container.

Below: the 2 foams immediately after being pumped. The soaproot foam is very quick to dissipate while the soapnut foam looks quite stable.

Below, after 5 minutes.

It's pretty clear that soapnut wins the foam test - there is still body to this foam while the soaproot foam has all but disappeared.

As For the Nose

I'll be honest. There's not much in the way of nose candy from either of these surfactants. While soapnut liquid smells quite pungent and reminds me of 'old wine vinegar', soaproot has a milder, more neutral, earthy/woodsy scent. Neither bring thoughts of soap and cleanliness to mind.

As foam, the scent (luckily) softens some.

Now, With Agitation

The foam test was repeated, then – as an afterthought – I shook both bottles vigorously and tested a third time. The results weren't noticeably different.

Next up

Next time we revisit these 2 surfactants it will be to see how they function - both for skin and hair.

Make it!

Make your own SoapRoot Decoction
Make your own SoapNut Decoction


Anonymous said…
Thank you for all this info.......I have a few soap nuts I haven't tried yet. I actually read somewhere that clothes seemed less absorbant when you use soap nuts in the laundry. I didn't even think about trying them on my hair. I will be following your progress on these. Happy summer. JNC
Christopher said…
Love this! It's always very fun to see in-depth comparisons.
LisaLise said…
hey there JNC - Oh yes indeed! If you have soap nuts lying around, get ready to use them for more than laundry!

HI Christopher - Thank you! I'm always a bit hesitant about these 100%-nerdy posts - this blog is in many ways a visual notebook of a good part of my work, and for me, it's quite useful. I'm always thrilled when others find the nerdy-parts interesting.
TinaCPH said…
Great posts Lise :-)
how do they make your skin feel?Have you tested them og your face as well or are they too strong for that?
I am thinking of what additives would be nice as well. Silk, honey? Something with a bit of a nice scent?
LisaLise said…
Hi Tina - stay tuned! All kinds of things coming up to answer your questions. Now, as for additives, I do indeed love that honey idea!
Kirstin said…
Hi Lisa

I thoroughly enjoy your blog!

I was wondering if you have tried adding essential oils to your soapnut deconcoction in a foam bottle, and if the essential oils would they possibly affect the foaminess (and I suppose it would depend on the essential oils used)?

I am looking forward to hearing how the soapnut deconcoction works for your hair and face (and perhaps a body wash?)!
LisaLise said…
Hi Kirsten - Thanks so much for your kind words! Adding essential oils to the deconcoctions is definitely on my to-do list. You are quite right about foaminess reacting differently depending on which oils, but as we are working with natural surfactants that have limited foam-ability, I wouldn't be too worried. In short - you probably can't make the foam-ability any worse than it already is. I'd love to hear back from you on which oils you tried and how it worked for you. :)