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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Make Soap from Yucca Leaves

Many people know that you can make soap from yucca root, but digging up a yucca plant is a lot of work and it kills the plant. The active ingredient in yucca soap is saponin. Saponin is the an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal chemical that foams when it is shaken up. High concentrations of saponin are found in yucca root, but saponin is also found in the leaves of the yucca.

Here's how to make yucca soap and avoid killing the yucca plant:

Cut a handful of yucca leaves.

Use your knife to scrape the waxy, green skin off of the leaves.


Place the scrapings in a sealable container with some water.

Shake the container vigorously for several minutes.

Pour the liquid off into another container and discard the scrapings.


The liquid can be used as hand soap, shampoo, disinfectant wash, laundry soap, or dishwashing soap.

23 comments:

Unknown said...

That's the most direct and useful description of this process that I've seen. Many mentions talk of Yucca being a soap "replacement", but few, that I've seen at least, actual go through the preparation itself. Thanks for that.

Kathleen S'mores Murphy said...

I have been making yucca cordage and KNEW there should be SOME use for all the scrapings! I had realized it was an awesome soap as I would wash the green off my hands from the processing, but wasn't sure how to work with it. I have been using alternative shampooing methods for a couple months now, this was a GREAT addition! VERY happy with the results!

Physical Science Class Blog said...

I just made this and it was easy; however, in regards to shampoo substitute, if you have only experienced sudsing from sodium laureth sulfates and such, this feels different in the hair, and is not so sudsy...not to say that less suds is a bad thing, just a different experience.

Also, in regards to killing a yucca if you harvest the root: I tried a few years ago to get rid of a yucca plant in my yard to protect our blind dog from injury, and I found yucca is hard to kill by digging up the roots. Any small root I left behind generously sprouted many new yuccas in its place. Good for shampoo, bad for blind dog ;)

Sensible Survival said...

Thanks for your comment. As for killing yucca by digging up the roots, wouldn't you know. You can't kill yours, and I've tried half a dozen times to transplant yucca into my yard and can't get one to live. Hank

leslim0121 said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..

rachelle madrigal
www.imarksweb.org

Sensible Survival said...

Thanks for reading.
Hank

vicky said...

Where can you get a yuuca plant and hows the temp for growing one thanks vicky

Hobbyhorse1027 said...

Hello,
I was just wondering why you didn't just chop the yucca leaves up in a blender or with a mortar and pestle if going the no electricity route? Scraping the wax off the leaves seems like it would be very time consuming. Thank you. Lisa

My world said...

I would like to know if the blender route would work too. I'm thinking I will be planting Yucca in my rock bed soon.

Sensible Survival said...

The blender route would work fine I'm sure. The reason that I scrape the leaves is because I use the remaining fiber to make cordage. Also, the scraping is what you would have to do in a wilderness survival situation. Yucca is widely found from Missouri to the south throughout the U.S. It likes to grow in loose sandy soil that is well drained. Look for it on the slope of a south facing hill. If you find one yucca you will probably find many of them. I have seen areas with hundreds of them growing together. Their moisture needs are not great. They like warm temperatures but will survive freezing with no problem. Hank

Terry Cady said...

Thanks!I also agree that this is the simplest description of any soap-making I've ever seen. As far as yucca range, it grows as far north as Montana. It grows better in the eastern part of the state, which gets less water than the west, but I have seen it from the western border to the east. Not sure how far north, though there are a lot of specimens in Missoula that survived -30 (that's 30 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit).

Terry Cady said...

Thanks!I also agree that this is the simplest description of any soap-making I've ever seen. As far as yucca range, it grows as far north as Montana. It grows better in the eastern part of the state, which gets less water than the west, but I have seen it from the western border to the east. Not sure how far north, though there are a lot of specimens in Missoula that survived -30 (that's 30 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit).

Chad Beale said...

I am with the National Park Service and we would like to use your one of your images from this post. Particularly the one of you scraping the leaves. The image would be displayed on a outdoor sign with other images discussing the many different uses of a soaptree yucca. You can contact me at chad_beale@nps.gov THANK YOU

Leslie Lim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lauren Coyle said...

Thank you for the info! Now I finally know how to kill my yucca! LOL. Its taking over my garden in front of my house AND on the side. Maybe now I can put the plant to use! (I also have one in the backyard which I will keep since it is growing slow in the shade.)

AprilHolman said...

Yay! Thank you so much! Finally! Gah! I have been searching for way too long. Everyone just says that it can work. Love your pictures and your work is appreciated.

Nana in the west said...

I know this is an old post but I just stumbled across it. If you're still trying to get one started you might try my "method." Got frustrated after years of trying to get one started so asked my husband to till the area and I'd plant flowers. Next year - yuccas. Now they're everywhere. Good luck.

Nana in the west said...

I know this is an old post but I just stumbled across it. If you're still trying to get one started you might try my "method." Got frustrated after years of trying to get one started so asked my husband to till the area and I'd plant flowers. Next year - yuccas. Now they're everywhere. Good luck.

Rhonda Watts-Hettinger said...

Also pleased to find this info. It may be a somewhat different variety I have here in New Hampshire, but there are several growing behind my house, and one that's always been in the cemetery plot where my parents and grandparents are. On the latter, I hack away about half of it every year or two so it doesn't overpower the stone--still doing fine!

Yvette's Ponderings said...

I just came across your great article. I wonder if I can put this in my washing machine for doing laundry. Thanks.

Sensible Survival said...

Yvette,
Not sure. Never tried it. Don't see why it wouldn't work, but I'd try it with some old clothes first to see how it works.
Hank

Yvette's Ponderings said...

Thanks for your response.

Joshua Fassett said...

How do you store it and what is the shelf life?