The different species of yucca – some of which are known today as Spanish bayonet, Adam’s-needle soapweed, Datil, Whipple or dagger plants – are of prime economic importance to many indigenous tribes of the American Southwest. The pointed, waxy leaves furnished excellent fibers for weaving. Along the stems of flowers and creamy white flowers have been used by Apache as food and – most important for our purposes – the roots of the yucca provided many native Americans with a natural shampoo and laundry soap natural.
Yucca Root (called a mole) contain the compound saponin, which has detergent properties and seems to exert a particularly beneficial effect on protein fiber of animal origin.
And there is no reason why you can not try a yucca soap yourself, because the versatile plant – previously classified as Liliaceae, but more recently included in the new family Agavaceae – are located in south-west (and to some extent, south-east), United States, Mexico and the West Indies.
Collecting and Making Yucca Shampoo
Yucca root may be harvested at any time of year, provided that the ground is not frozen. However, since the regulations on the gathering of wild plants vary, be sure to check the laws of your state before you start digging. Then, if there are no restrictions on the collection of yucca in your area, select a small to medium sized plant that can be dug without difficulty – even a clump of young roots will have enough for ten shampoo.
Next, remove all loose dirt with a stiff brush or old rag, and use a small ax to cut the roots into manageable (potato-size) pieces. Now, with a sharp paring knife, cut hairlike extensions and the root skin, being careful to keep the newly exposed surfaces as clean as possible.
Once 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 has changed color from white to pale yellow, the new shampoo is ready to be used, dried or frozen (Yucca keeps well preserved, where one of two methods).
Storing Natural Shampoo
If you want to sun-dry the roots, spread the material thinly on a clean surface and leave in direct sunlight until all moisture is evaporated. (When the meat juice is no longer sticky and spongy – but it feels kind of scratchy – it is dry enough to be stored.)
For oven drying, on the other hand, only a thin layer of dough on a baking tray and bake at low temperature (anywhere from 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour or two. (The drying time can vary from one batch to another, so check frequently.) Finally, but dry yucca, be sure to store the particles in a cool and breezy.
E ‘can also freeze a future supply of soap root, and this can be done at any stage of preparation of the root. Simply seal the dough in an airtight container, and thawed before processing or final use.
There is a word of caution concerning yucca shampoo, however: As with any new substance, be sure to do a skin test to check for any allergic reactions before washing your hair with the pulp. Although anthropologists record that yucca roots were used by Native Americans to bathe the whole body (and mothers Walapai also washed their infants with the foam from a yucca young people every day for a week after birth), once I used the root material as a face cleanser and found that my skin was irritated, but I have had no negative effects from shampoo with substance.
When you’re ready for the hairwash groped yucca, that your hands (and sink) are free of grease (or other roots not foam), then run a few inches of water in your dock, add at least a handful of dough, and swirl the water around vigorously. (One could – alternatively – place the pulp and a bit ‘of water in a blender for a few seconds, and pour in the sparkling performance in the sink.)
Healthy, shiny hair
After you get a lot of foam, fill the sink with water and remove the pulp float. (Or, if you do not use the blender to make foam, you can avoid having to strain water for all by simply inserting the to-be-lathered roots in a cheesecloth bag.) Then, just wash and rinse hair as usual. You’ll be happy with the way in which this natural cleanser leaves hair silky, shiny, healthy and clean!