"Papa' also my head itchy, same like mom "
If I want to find the moment where all begin maybe is here. It’s enough, my daughters confirm me what my wife was telling me about her allergies and sensitivity, is time to do something about these commercial shampoos. Thanks to my background experience in industrial products, knowing that there is the big business behind the commercial product that we find on the supermarket shelf, I start my research for ideas, replacements, real alternatives, my adventure began.
I read a lot about the alternative to chemicals if you google the words “organic cosmetic and personal care” the shampoo comes out on top of the list. The frustrating fact was that most of them where from 80% to 95% “organic” but I reality very few can prove with the ingredient list, why? Because of the surfactant, the bubble ingredient, the lathered component that makes the soft and white foam, are connected or derivate from the sulfate family (S.L.S, SLES or similar). So, the fact that psychologically everyone is convinced that NO FOAM=NO CLEAN originate the entire strategy of the big corporation. Still, they insist that their products are “Plant derivates…natural ingredients, organic 97%, or sulfate free, parabens free or pointing the attention to other guilty elements. Many articles make the SLS the bad guys, and several companies defend the fact there was no proof about...Me? I kept searching.
Then, one day under the google keyword: “SLS replacement” I discover our superstar: Mr Soapnut the exotic fruit from the plant Sapindus Rarak.
What? There is a fruit that makes soap?
It seems that nobody knows how it starts, here in Thailand, my adopted country. Oh, well everybody knows that is ancient, old story, like a legend, something is transferred by words through generations. It seems that they know this fruit is well known among women and old grandma Thai from ancient is ritual on medicinal use mostly to cure skin disease, but especially as cleaning and washing miracle.
There is no magic or any tricks; the real fact here is that there are no tricks, is a natural chemical reaction (saponin) that happens to come from the shells of this little fruit. Their outer shells that contain saponin creates a natural soap when agitated in water. This Is a natural way to make bubbles, the unique way to break the dirt on every surface.
I will explain in detail later, but basically, this is it.
Once upon a time…maybe in the future, somebody will read about this story and will smile. I was visiting another so-called Natural and organic Exhibition here in Bangkok. My future business partner Aoy and I were looking for alternatives and finally went on with our project on making organic Shampoo. That day we met this incredible Thai couple: a professor in food additive and herbs and his wife a passionate woman with a big heart, a firm believer in organic products.
“I want ORGANIC 100% ok, but is possible?” she always says not the fake one, because is also true that too many products say, declare, emphasize on labels or ads that they are organic but believe or not, this is not true, or at least is not true at 100% especially for the big corporation that they cannot keep their profit with 100% organic ingredients. So, what they do: they not say lies, they don’t’ tell the truth. Shocking? Nah, I am sure you already knew that. So the answer is NO, 100% organic is not possible.
Nok and Professor Aek told me about the alternatives and with my skeptical soul listening took me a few seconds to realize what he was talking about but took me a while to understand. We talk about our passion, history, and stories about cleaning products and our incredible disappointment for the lies that the big corporation products say about their products. The use of chemical ingredients inside our daily product cannot be healthy or unharmful as they say. Period.
There are consequences on this fact, somebody or something will be hurt form this behavior. We have the responsibility to leave a better place for our children and me, the father of two beautiful girls; the burden is big. I felt to do something.
I was aware that substitute the chemical surfactant (SLS, SLES, etc.) in a product that must make many bubbles was delicate, I tried for some of the product I was supervising in the Jewelry applications, but the results were always … not strong enough, degreasing was not sufficient.
Born of the idea and the project
After a long sharing idea time, the frustration accumulated during my research of alternatives to SLS and my disappointing point that surfactant is only chemicals, they stop me, and they ask me if I was aware of the Sapindus family trees. I reply that it would be fantastic but based on my little knowledge I know that they are growing only in the Nepal area and some in other areas, and there is not too much knowledge to create a business, especially here I Thailand.
What if I tell you if they are growing here and a lot?
What? I was excited.
I had to curb my enthusiasm and try to understand the enormous variable of this news, so they told me about these trees in the north of Thailand, the country I consider home for more than 15 years. They grow naturally in the forest, and they make once a year this fantastic little fruit. The Hill Tribe knows this from the century, generation by generation they know where they are, when is the right moment, and they harvest them with knowledge without harm the trees in any way. They pick in the particular technique that they know from generation and they bring to the village where all families and friends sit down to select the best fruit and remove the black seed inside. The seeds go to make arts object (monks’ bracelets or religious artifacts). The shells are selected (the nice ones) and set aside. After the period of a natural dry process, they pack them, and they are ready to deliver. Simple, efficient, natural, clean, in one word: awesome.
I hope you will try our products and tell us about your experience with our soapnuts.
Paolo Conselvan, partner and sincerely welcome you.