Post Apocalypse Hair Doo with Marjory Wildcraft

​Even if you know how to make soap, find out why you won’t be using it after ‘the If you’ve got a hair story, or home made recipe for shampoo that is collapse-proof, please put it in the comments below.

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This post was written by Marjory


  • Kristi Collins says:

    Don’t remember what I read, but I think there are some herbal options.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Krisit, lots of herbal options out there – we are trying to figure what is the easiest, fastest, and funnest. And of course I want beautiful shine.

      You know, that egg mix I wrote about does make my hair fabulously shiny and brings out the color – oh so nice!

      Hey, why not think about reversing gray too? LOL

  • Melanie says:


    Wonder if this would work. Or if you have received this numerous times.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      That does look like a good plant – and you are the first to post it here.

      From the range map, it only looks like it grows in CA and OR though.

      Do you live in CA or OR? Can you try it out and get back with us?

      1. Nancy says:

        I clicked on the Soap Plant link and lo and behold I have some growing in an undeveloped area on my property. I always wondered what it was. I’ll dig some up, find out how to use it, try it, and let you know!

        1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          Oh please do let us all know. Looking forward to hearing back from you.

  • Deb says:

    Yucca plant for soap & shampoo; aloe plant for conditioner. Both can be grown all the way up to zone 6. I grow both in KC, MO. See these two links:


    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:


      Both those articles are good – I especially am a fan of Mother Earth News.
      And there are the specific directions for how to process the yuuca – which I’ll have to try again.

      Now here is a quick question; how many yucca plants would a person need to keep their hair clean? I know yucca is quite aggressive in that if you only leave a tiny amount of the root it does come back eventually. Here in Texas (where I live) there certainly are quite a few yuccas, but I think I would wipe out most of them within a few months of cleaning if I used this once per week.

      Have you done this? Any ideas on how much you would need?

  • Kissiah Aiken says:

    How about soap nuts juice? I’ve used it for laundry as well as shampoo and I love it as a shampoo. Just boil 15 – 20 of the nuts in a pot of water along with a sprig of rosemary because it’s great for hair and smells good. Sage is good too. You’ll notice the saponins, but it doesn’t lather. It does clean though.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Kissiah,

      What part of the country are you in? Do you know the botanical name for ‘soap nuts”? The Western soap berry perhaps? I do plan on collecting some – uh, they ripen about July or August here in TX I think.

      I definitely want to try that. Do you crush the nuts or drop them in whole? I am guessing you are talking about 2 – 4 cups of water in the pot? Is that a good amount for one washing then?

      1. Kissiah Aiken says:

        Oops, I just now saw that you had replied, sorry to be so late getting back to you. I live in DFW area. Yes, it’s the Western Soap Berry tree. They grow very well here in Texas and are beautiful trees. I ordered my soap nuts from Mountain Rose Herbs this time, but I hope to have a few trees growing soon so I can harvest my own.

        I put about 15 nuts into a pot with 6 cups of water with a sprig of rosemary and a couple bay leaves. The extras are because rosemary is good for stimulating hair growth. I’m 50 and have always had thin hair and this helps. Bay is also good for your hair. Let the stuff boil for hours really, adding additional water when you need to until the dried nuts get soft, then I cut open the nuts and replace the outer husk into the water. The saponins are inside. There is also a small blackish red inner nut that you can then remove and use for replanting trees or making beads out of.

        When you are ready to take it off the heat you can remove the husks from the liquid and let them dry. I like to add 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract and about 10 drops of rosemary essential oil or rosemary extract (you can make your own rosemary extract by putting vodka into a glass jar enough to cover the rosemary and let it sit for 3 + weeks) as a preservative to about a cup and a half of the soap nut solution to make sure it doesn’t grow anything icky and use within a week. You will have more liquid than this though, so keep the extra in the freezer or make less soap nut liquid at a time. In an off the grid or post SHTF scenario, making less at a time would be best as the freezer won’t be working.

        When you wash your hair, wet it really well, put some of the solution on your hair and then let it sit for a few minutes. Don’t get it in your eyes though because it burns. You are left with soft, fairly tangle free hair.

        I just made some soap nuts solution recently and am redrying the husks of the soap nuts this time. I want to try grinding them up and mixing with some borax or washing soda to use to clean the bathroom. Just to see if and how it would work.

        I hope this works for you as well as it has for me. I love this stuff and have tried the baking soda and vinegar route, but didn’t like it near as well as this.

        On another note, could we maybe have a setting on the comments where if you or someone else replies we would get an email notice?

        1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          Oh Kissiah, I just printed out your comment and plan on ordering some soap berries to try this out! Thank you so much for posting.

          Yes, I am working to make these comments much more ‘friendly’. I will also get a feature where you will be emailed notice upon responses to your posts. We are working on it – takes a little bit more time. I really do want this to be the most useful website for resources on growing your own.

          1. Mark Manno says:

            My concern with this solution for shampoo is the significant amount of energy that has to go into heating the solution for ‘hours’. If basic services are no more, then fuel will also be in short supply. Even if this works well, I wonder about the practicality of the approach when fuel is scarce.

  • Vic says:

    The American Indians didn’t wash their hair and they had beautiful hair. They wet their hair and used a cloth like a towel and rubbed their hair to distribute the oil.
    My grandmother was born in the late 1800’s, like around 1886, I think. She only washed her hair once a year. The rest of the year, she combed her hair with a metal comb. She would take down her hair three times a day and comb it with the metal comb, starting from the top part, down the hair strands. She also did this before going to bed. The combing distributed the oil in the hair and kept her hair clean and shinny. When she did wash her hair, the water from washing was not even dirty.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Wow, that really sounds great with your grandmother. I have tried simply not washing my hair and it got really, uh well, lets say my family didn’t want to be seen in public with me. LOL

      Oh, and we basically had to throw out those pillows.

      I also tried just rinsing it very well with water on a regular basis (with lots of combing too). My hair just got more and more oily and yucky. But I do know a lot of guy – men – who keep their hair very short – and they only rinse thier hair with water whenever they shower and it works from them.

      1. B says:

        Brushing the oils down from the scalp is key. I brush my hair with a damp comb or brush at night on the in-between days to keep the pollen from collecting in there, and I find that my hair looks better on those days. Before I wash, I thoroughly brush my hair to move the oils down the strand, and just before washing, it looks as if the top 8 inches (I have long hair) are wet and the locks clump together in that telltale way…eewww! Then I run enough bath water to submerge the back of my head. I make a smooth paste of baking soda and water and distribute it to the scalp in sections. After a month, I finally removed all the commercial buildup, and identified the areas of my hair that needed more baking soda…after combing the paste through and rinsing it out, I go back and scrub those oily areas with dry baking soda. I found it’s easiest to keep it in a shaker and to just apply directly, then massage with my fingers. My hair has grown a lot with all the extra scalp stimulation, too, and I no longer have Amy dandruff. Th soda rinses out so easily, I use less water than with shampoo. I dip a large plastic soda cup (about 32 oz) in the bath water and add about 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar and dip the ends in the cup before pouring the solution over my scalp. This is a great detangler! Then I rinse my smoothed out, clean locks in the bath water to diffuse he smell of vinegar. I like to add a drop or two of lavender oil when running the tap, which makes my hair smell clean enough for people to comment about how nice it smells.

        1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          Oh good point about brushing before you wash. I hadn’t realized who important that could be in terms of getting the oils ‘down’.

          Wow, thanks for your post.

          1. lynn says:

            Brushing hair 100 strokes with a natural bristle brush used to be taught to young women up until the 1960’s or so. I know women who never brush their hair! That just seems wrong to me. I have a natural bristle brush and it feels wonderful. I need to use it more often!

          2. Hi Lynn, Yes I remember way back when that was the thing to do.

  • Roberta Watkins says:


    There are plants that were used to make soap. One is Saponaria officinalis. Native Americans used various plants as well. Yucca root. Here is an article about some of the plants that Native Americans used for beauty products.


    Also how about growing some olive trees for oil.


    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:


      That was a good overview article – heres the thing – have you used any of these yourself? I tried pounding yucca root into a ‘saop’ before and I think I am missing some steps on how to use it becuase it didn’t work out very well.

      Olives? Yes, of course you could grow olive in the very southern parts of the US. But it is a LOT of work to grow olives and then press them into oil. And that oil will be much more valuable as a food / calorie source than for your hair.

      Even today in Cuba (see my other posts on the economic collapse in Cuba) people on the streets outside the market were wanting to trade us for shampoo and soap.

      1. Debbie says:

        It takes olive trees about 25 years before they are mature enough to produce fruit. My husband’s grandparents made their fortune with olive oil during WW2 from trees planted here in San Diego CA area in the 1880s. If someone wanted to plan way ahead in their permaculture plans, start planting olive trees now — at least as a legacy for the next generation.

        Talk about slow food . . . LOL!

        1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          That is slow.

          They do have varieties of olive tres that start producing in about 5 years.

          And I understand there are olive trees that are alive after hundreds of years – and still producing.

          1. Mark Manno says:

            When I visited Israel in 1971, we went to the “Mount of Olives” and were told that it is thought the olive trees there probably date from the time of Christ. In other words, in good growing conditions, they will produce for centuries, if not millenia!

  • Sally says:

    I could only hear static and an bit of mumbling…this has happened on several of Marjorie’s YouTube videos…anyone else having that problem?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:


      What computer / browser are you using? I haven’t much feedback about problems and they play fine for me. Definitely want to help.

    2. Debra says:

      never had a problem with any of the video’s

      Just wanted to say I only use Ivory soap to bathe with and wash my hair and lather my legs for shaving. My “hairdresser, ” I occasionally indulge in a professional cut, says I have the softest skin she’s ever felt (after accidently brushing her hand against my face). Love the Baking soda idea-that stuff can be used for almost anything!!!
      And Marjorie, don’t sweat the dirty shirt, I was so interested in your information and the process I never noticed! Not to mention not seeing the wart! HOW could you! LOL!
      Love the videos. Keep the coming!

      1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

        Thanks so much Debra.

        Good to know it isn’t that big a deal…

      2. Marjory Wildcraft says:

        Thanks so much Debra.

        Good to know it isn’t that big a deal…

  • star says:

    When I do not have any soap [ yes I have been out in the past ] I just use vinegar on my hair full strength if very dirty less with water if not then rinse with water . When I do have soap I still rinse with vinegar and water as find I do not need conditioner then and I don’t rinse the vinegar out . Now instead of buying vinegar one can make it . One way is just add peelings and such to a jar and add water cover with a cloth to keep black flies [ fruit flies ] and let it ferment , a little sugar can speed it up . I have made mixed fruit vinegar , apple , grape , pine apple , etc. Vinegar is also good to wash with when one doesn’t have much water a cloth pour vinegar wring out a little and wash away . It is refreshing and the smell goes away after a little while .
    Now another thing one can try is baking soda but I like vinegar best .

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Star,

      So you only use vinegar? Nice. Yes, vinegar is so easy to make and such a useful item for around the house / homestead. I’ll be posting on that very soon.

      Hey, thanks for your comment.

  • melanie says:

    I don’t know why Americans are hung up on “shampoo.” I stopped using shampoo and “bar” soap in my teens. I’m now 63 years old and I use “dish soap” for everything. It handles oils perfectly and does not dry out my hair. In face, I get lots of compliments on my hair. And, incidentally, if you have a problem with “soap scum” in your shower just give up the bar soap. Liquid soap does not scum up everything. I have two 1-gallon jugs of Costco’s “environmentally friendly liquid dish soap” on my storage shelf. I will have clean post-appocalypse hair.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      HI Melanie, so you just use dish soap and it sounds like it is working for you. Hmm, I have tried bar soaps over the years with – er, disgusting – results. Gummy yucky results. But I never tried the liquid dish soap.

      Let me congratulate you on avoiding shamppoo all these years.

    2. lynn says:

      Melanie..thanks for sharing that. You make a good point. I have found that the more natural a dish soap is, the better it is for my skin. I use it for stains on laundry, and making a bathroom cleaner that disinfects..using the addition of some tea tree oil and hydrogen peroxide. dish soap is for way more than dishes!!

  • Joe Smith says:

    Hi Majorie,

    I have not seen you talk about hemp and the over 25,000 products we in this country could use. Here in Kentucky was one state that was produtive in hemp when it was legal. We and the state of Colorado are in the legislature process to legalize it. Think about all the usage many of us don’t know and would be amazed in a world which may be coming to a collapse. I’m not taking about pot. As some one said you could smoke 2 acres of hemp and you wouldn’t get high. You and your readers can support the hemp industy on allowing the state they live in and to grow it. Get a book. In the time we live would make your Grow your own Vegtables much more valuable to all your readers including you.


    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Joe, you are absolutely correct about hemp. It has so many other great uses – cordage for one. But I’ve seen hemp clothing and ropes that lasts a very long time. I haven’t got a lot of experience with it – and primarily because the ‘legal’ problems with growing it. Our Gov’t did us a great dis-service by making it so difficult to work with.

      I didn’t know Kentucky was so close to being able to work with hemp.

      Thanks for bringing this up.

  • Joe Smith says:

    Sorry about your name in the last e-mail. Marjory.

    Maybe you could use hemp for washing your hair?

    Just a thought.


    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      How would you use hemp for washing hair? What part of the plant – and in what method?

  • Doug Wilson says:

    I am 61 and my mother told me that her grandmother used brush cornmeal through her hair during the winter when she didn’t wash her hair for fear of catching cold.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      In the winter time I notice that I tend to wash my hair during the warmest part of the day for just the same reason. I have longish hair and it takes a while to dry – which tends to make me feel cold.

      Now in the summer, I use wet hair to help keep me cool.

      Oh, regarding the cornmeal, someone recently told me they used ground up oat meal in their hair. The meal absorbed the oils which were then brushed or combed out. I am guessing corn and oat meal is about the same consistency. Although both are a food source, I think I’ll give it a try. Have you ever tried it?

      1. lynn says:

        I tried cornmeal once as a teen. Messy, and I didn’t care for the results.

        1. Ohhh, I’ve heard oatmeal works good. But cornmeal?

          I would much rather make corn bread! LOL

  • Jena Ketchum says:

    These ingredients will not be easy to come by post-apocalypse but are great ideas for current home remedies for every hair type:

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Jena,

      Those looked like some good options, but yes, mostly involved items that would be more valuable as food. Thanks for bringing it up.

  • Susan says:

    By far the best shampoo and conditioner is Baking Soda & Water (for shampoo) and Vinagar & Water (for conditioner) from this site…

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Susan,

      By far, the baking soda and vinegar route is winning in terms of responses. So gald so many of you are already out of the commercial shampoo rat race… LOL

  • Jeannette says:

    Check out this webpage of hair care products to make. It is very similar to the info from The Complete Book Of Herbs by Lesley Bremness.


    I haven’t done any of them.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Seems like that page focused a lot on Castile soap. Jack Spirko told me that is about all he uses. Let me know your results if you try any of them.

  • Tracy says:

    I am doing the no poo method. I use 2 T of baking soda in a jar of warm water and use that to “wash” my hair. Then rinse it out with clear water. Then I used 2 T of apple cider vinegar as conditioner. I love my hair using this method. at first it is a little oily but after a while the oily feeling evens out. However your hair feels a little heavier than when you wash with shampoo.

    I tried to use my homemade soap and even though I superfat 10% my scalp still felt dry and itchy. So I went back to no poo And the normal smell of my hair smells very good. I had a co worker smell it to make sure I didn’t smell like salad and she exclaimed “wow your hair smells very clean”.

    I usually wash my hair 2 x per week and vinegar and soda can be stored for a long time and don’t take up a lot of space.

    Hope this helps

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Tracy,

      The vinegar and baking soda method has gotten some rave reviews and I’ve only started using it. I am also thinking of substituting the baking soda with wood ash – as where will we get baking soda? I currently use a solution of water and wood ash to clean my combs and brushes – and it works just like the baking soda.

      I am almost wishing my hair would get dirtier faster so I can try more methods! LOL.

      Thanks for your post.

      1. Gottalovechickens! says:

        I understand that wood ash is still used in other countries (Pakistan? India?) as a cleaning agent. Isn’t wood ash also used to make lye by slowly percolating water through it?

        There are those online who are making soap out of Crisco or a Crisco type substitute. It can be used as an emergency candle as well.

        I am guessing that there is probably no real substitute for soap, or detergents. Big Corporate has this over us for sure.

        In understand sonic washing machines were shown to clean very well, but they never made it to the stores.

        Is fat still difficult to come by that the Cubans, who can be **very** resourceful, cannot make their own soap?

        1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          You know, since I’ve been using the egg/honey/lemon recipe I absolutely love it better than any commercial shampoo. Oh, did you see the follow up article with the update? Check it out, it has the recipe.

          But yes, there are fantastic alternatives to the corporate stuff.

          I am working on yucca next.

          Hmm, not sure why the Cubans didn’t opt for other methods. I gues sit was kind of a known thing – to trade Americans for shampoo and soap. I was told before the trip that hygiene products made great gifts in Cuba.

        2. Marjory Wildcraft says:

          oh yes, lye is very simple to make. Just add water to wood ash, or percolate it through.

  • J. Blair says:

    I, also, do not enjoy looking for shampoo and all the many bottles and choices. Even without hard times, it would be nice to use a more natural alternative and perhaps less expensive. Appreciate you working on the subject of shampoo. Thank-you.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks Blair. I am still experimenting. Oh, I am going to post an article with an update realy soon. Are you subscribed to the list?

      Anyway, I have found a pI absolutely love – uses eggs and hone – which is not apocalypse ideal, but gosh the shine and color.. I’ll get that update posted soon.

  • Dianna Bonner says:

    Hi Marjory,

    I am brand new to prepping and love your site!

    I want to get your opinion on a video I just watched that showed how to make biodiesel (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LR1M7ThM-tE). This is from a tv show called Trucks on Spike TV.

    What caught my attention (and is related to this blog post) was the “waste” byproduct which the host said was glycerin and he said you could use it to make soap.

    I’m wondering if this is feasible since it would solve 2 problems, the need for fuel (diesel) and the need for soap? I don’t know anything about making either so I thought I’d get your opinion.

    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Dianna, I noticed that video was made in 2011 – not a problem in itself and his video is quite well done. The main drawback I know of ts that those free sources of old cooking oil aren’t there anymore. That little loophole closed up. The big french fry cooking fast food joints now sell their old oil. I love people re-using and recycling, but the oil is not free or easy to get anymore. I’ve seen mostly locked drums in the back of those places.

      I like your thinking of using the glycerin by-product.

      If you are new to prepping I would suggest focusing on food, water, shelter, medical, and defense first. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  • Gottalovechickens! says:

    I understand your perspective concerning the importance of fat. Erroneously maligned over the years, it is a very important aspect to health.

    From what I understand, improved hygiene standards had more to do with the decrease of childhood diseases/death rate than vaccines. Agreeing or not agreeing with the vaccine issue does not negate the importance of good hygiene in health.

    You are addressing shampoo issues, but have you addressed clean clothes/every day hygiene? What is the substitute for soap? The Romans used oil and some of the fabric was fulled with urine–that might have cleaning abilities. Neither are encouraging. In excavating Pompeii, skeletons and cesspool investigation revealed a lot of health issues, and some were probably caused by their public baths.

    I am interested in your solutions to this matter.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi gotta Love Chicken (and I do!)

      Yes, I am working on the larger issue of hygiene for the body, clothes, etc.

      I’ll keep you posted as things develop. Are you subscribed to the email list? You’ll be the first to know when it comes out. If you are finding these articles useful PLEASE forward on the fireds and recommedn the list to folks you know.


      1. Mary Anne says:

        July 28, 2013

        Majory, you have such good ideas and solutions. I would like to hear more about your recipes/ideas on hygiene-(keeping hair/body/clothing clean). Please put me on your email list. Thanks!

        Mary Anne Birch

  • Ruth says:

    Marjory, My grandmother used to make her own soap in a big wash tub. She called it Lye soap and as I recall it was just water, lard and lye. I do not have the recipe amounts or just how she did it..sorry. But perhaps someone out there might know about this too?She is gone for many years now, but lived almost right up until she passed in ‘older ways’. A wonderful big black wood cook stove, a popped belly wood heat stove in the sitting room, no hot water in the house though finally agreed to a faucet inside; there had been a pump at the sink until I was maybe first grade..a well on the property!! The meals that came from her kitchen were amazing!! They grew so much on their acre and a half; grandpa put the 1/2 acre in potatoes one season and strawberries the next-rotated, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers where there was not something to eat!!! I loved going there!
    She mad her own butter, baking wonderful bread, cookies and cakes in the ‘ovens’ of that black stove and the smell of wood,bacon,eggs and coffee to this day remind me of them! I wish I had been old enough to have learned from them on ways to be frugal and like it once was in America.

  • Jo Oliver says:

    has using dry oatmeal been suggested?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Yes, it has. I haven’t tired that one yet. The reasoning why oatmeal might not be a good choice is this: when times get tough wouldn’t oatmeal be better to eat?

  • Mary Anne says:

    July 28, 2013

    Majory, you have such good ideas and solutions. I would like to hear more about your recipes/ideas on hygiene-(keeping hair/body/clothing clean). Please put me on your email list. Thanks!

    Mary Anne Birch

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Mary, yes I am continually working on this very important topic.

      Hygiene is probably your biggest defense against disease after collapse. And there are lots of simple, natural options. I am working to find them, use them, and see what is most easy and practical.

  • Nancy McGlinchey says:

    I once read about an elderly Hawaiian gentleman who never bathed but instead, every day, rubbed himself all over with coconut oil. It also protected him from the harmful parts of the sun’s rays, supposedly. There was no mention of his hair or how he smelled…

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      I bet he smelled great. Probably bathed in the ocean.

  • Tony Pursel says:

    Remember the old Western movies where everyone wore long johns? The reason for this was that there were no detergents. Outer clothes were brushed clean. The long johns absorbed body oils and perspiration. I don’t know how those were cleaned!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hah, good point.

  • JA says:

    You are very informative, however, the sound quality on your videos needs to be improved, I can barely hear. Or a printed transcript of your videos would be a great idea too.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Thanks JA. What browser and computer are you using?

  • The saponins in poke roots and other plants are, among other things, emulsifiers, so they would make whatever other plant constituents were in your water extract more absorbable. I was wondering,Margery, as you wrote of trying poke for shampoo, what would happen to you. I am not surprised that you reacted, and I’m glad you didn’t have a more severe reaction.

    Poke berries make a lovely purple dye. Unfortunately, as with many berries, that dye is what is known as a fugitive dye; in other words, it doesn’t hold its color for long. It will within a year of so just of light exposure, turn grey, albeit with a purplish tinge.

    Try using some berries as ink on paper and leave it lying around, you will see what I mean.

    Purple is not an easy color to get from plant dyes. This is one reason why the old royal purple of Greek and Roman times was so valued. It, however, came from mollusks living in the Mediterranean Ocean, and not from plants.

    One plant that will give a purplish-grey color from its roots is alkanet, a plant in the comfrey family that we can grow in our temperate climate–New England and the Midwest, I don’t know about warmer areas such as Florida.

    Thanks for addressing the question of shampoos, Margery, it’s a thorny one.

  • Georgia says:

    Hi Marjory,
    I have recently begun receiving your emails and am enjoying your content very much, thank you!
    Reading the comments on this post I saw a few people praising the “no-poo” method of washing hair with baking soda and vinegar. I used that method for about 4 years and loved it – until my hair started breaking off! Then I read about the problem with using baking soda on hair, it’s the wrong ph (very alkaline) and damages hair. Interesting that it worked very well for so long before the damage showed up. I was very disappointed, as the “no-poo” method had made my hair softer and much more manageable than regular shampoo. Here is where I first read about the ph issue: http://empoweredsustenance.com/no-poo-method-damages-hair/

    So recently I have been searching for another homemade shampoo recipe. I tried raw honey, as described in the post I just linked to, but after several tries my hair only got more sticky! How disappointing… (perhaps my honey to water ratio was off, I may not have been doing it right) Also I have tried Aloe Vera gel combined with Coconut Milk, which seemed to work well for awhile, then felt like it was getting a buildup and I had to resort to regular shampoo just to get it clean again. (Here is where I read about it, and she also mentions that Dr. Bronners castille soap is also too alkaline for the scalp & skin: http://thankyourbody.com/ph-balanced-shampoo-recipe/)

    One of your readers suggested soap nuts, which has been my most recent idea. As I considered ordering them, I hesitated, since I don’t have a local source, and my question is the same as yours – what can I find locally or produce myself that would work? I will be following your discovery progress for sure! This is not only an “after the collapse” problem for me, I need something for now. 🙂

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Georgia,

      Yes, I agree this is a NOW problem – but thinking of after collapse puts a fun twist on it.

      anyway, the western soap berry grows throughout a lot of the southern US. And soap wort the plant grows throughout the entire US (maybe with some care the further north you go).

      I’m going to give them both a try. I’ll keep you posted.

  • Vic says:

    My grandmother was born during Reconstruction in the South. She only washed her hair once a year. The rest of the year, she took her hair down, combed it with a metal comb and put it back up, and she did that three times a day. At night, she took her hair down, combed it and went to bed. In the morning, she combed it and put it up in a bun. During the day, she took her hair down and combed it.
    I’ve been told you can also use a towel to smooth the hair after a shower in which you do not wash your hair, only wet it. This distributes the oil throughout the hair and away from the scalp. I’m told some American Indians did this and that’s why their hair was so shiny and beautiful.
    Also, you can find how to make lye on the internet and in some early American cookbooks.

  • Vic says:

    Marjory, you’re thinking too much with a modern mind. If things are so bad that you can’t get baking soda, your hair will be the last thing on your mind. You will put it up in a bun or something and continuing trying to survive and feed your family.
    Remember, in the past, people didn’t wash their hair everyday, or take a daily bath or shower. In the middle ages, nobody took baths except on their wedding day or some other special occasion. People were lucky to get two baths in their lifetime, including hair washing.
    Remember, in the ’50s, women washed their hair once a week, usually on Saturday (for church). There were no hair dryers back then for home use and it took a long time to dry hair.
    When hair was washed, it was part of the bath process, using homemade lye soap. (In the cities, you could buy soap.) Lye soap was used for everything, from washing dishes to washing bodies and hair. That’s one reason women wore their hair in buns and other hair styles in which the hair was “put up.”
    Now, the Romans used olive oil in their hair and they put it on their bodies and scraped it (and the dirt) off. But they had plenty of olive trees and an extremely dry climate, so the olive oil was helpful. In a northern winter climate or a climate with a lot of humidity, this would be too much oil more than likely.
    Learn to make lye soap and all your problems will be solved. It’s not that hard. If fat is that scarce, your hair will be the last thing on your mind. Put it up.

  • Tammy says:


    As we both live in Texas, one fat source is the big feral hogs. The little ones are tasty, but have very little fat. The big ones have more. While they are definitely a nuisance, damage property, and can be dangerous, in a “post-apocalyptic” scenario, they would be a blessing. Even if I chose not to eat the meat of a huge feral hog, but to give that to my dogs because the meat is so rank, the fat would be useful. (My husband has shown that he can tough it out, but I’d have to be on the other side of camp while he cooked it and I would only be eating veggies that day. Sadly, I can’t even stand the smell after he’s cooked, cleaned up, and I walk into the house afterward.)
    My husband has been helping process hogs here a good bit lately. I guess I could ask them to save some of the extra fat if they are not going to grind it up for sausage. My biggest problem is that I am highly allergic to lye for soap making. I have not found much information for making liquid soaps, which is what I would need to make to keep from breaking out in hives and rashes. (Ivory soap and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda both break me out in rashes and hives terribly, for example.)

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Yes, Texas has a ferral bacon problem.. LOL. They haven’t bothered us much (yet) and I am kinda hoping they will. Grin.

      We do have a small herd of Javelinas, whichd on’t do the damage as hogs, and we don’t bother them that much. I’ve heard various reports on their edibility…

      rendering down the fat of any animal is a very stinky proposition. I got kicked out of the house a long time ago for that.

  • Chris says:

    Have used soap nuts a few times – impressed with the results. Your comments got me wondering if they could be grown in the US – the following links talk about growing them and one has a sale on SEEDS this w/end – 25 seeds for $7. With just a quick read through – I think one might be able to grow them in a pot in a green house if one lives where winter goes below freezing.

    Seeds for sale:
    Good luck……

  • Georgia says:

    Keep in mind that the type of water a person uses is a big factor on the success of their hair washing method. As explained here: http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/2012/01/31/no-shampoo-no-poo-giveaway-too/

  • Debra says:

    I know this is an older post but I was just refreshing my mind on it and got to thinking, I’ve used sand to clean my iron skillet when I didnt have salt or a scrub pad, so how about sand to clean your hair and body-talk about exfoliate! Then just rinse, like in the creek! I haven’t tried it but I’m going to! I’ll let you know. Of course I’ve never had oily hair, and I have been using Ivory soap a long time.

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Bedra,

      I regularly use sand to clean my skin – like as in legs or arms or hands… but not hair (yet).

      Let me know how it goes!

  • Julie Crump says:

    Have you tried soap wort?

    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Hi Julie, No I haven’t tried soap wort yet. I mistakenly thought it was only on the west coast, but my big book of plants says it is all across the US. I’ll get some and give it a try.

  • Scott says:

    Try vegetable fat. There is a liquid soap on the market in health food stores called “Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soap”. It is made from vegetable oil and works really well on the body AND the hair.

    The problem with most soaps that go on the body is that they tend to be a bit too caustic for the scalp, which has a higher ph than the rest of the body. I once used bar soap on my head, as that was all there was, and I got an itchy, flaky head, but the Dr. Bonner’s soap hasn’t been that irritating.

    As far as personal hygiene goes in the post apocalypse, it is very important in the long run to stay relatively clean. Not bathing can result in skin ulcers, infections and contamination from dirty hands. If you didn’t bath, no joke , you would probably die. Ancient people in India and Rome often used “bath powders”. I don’t know what these were made of, but I imagine that they were of a mineral nature and rubbed,wet, into the skin and rinsed off. The ancient Greeks and Native Americans also had specially crafted sticks that could be used to squeegee water and sweat off the body.

    It was the ancient Celts who probably invented soap and civilized the Romans by introducing them to that. The Celts used fat, left over from cooking and probably mixed it with ash (?). There were a group of archeology students in the UK who tried to live like bronze age Celts for a year. They made their own soap and washed in bronze or wooden tubs. They heated the water by heating bronze ingots in the fire and then tossing them into the tubs to have a relatively warm bath. The students said that taking a bath under these circumstances was more difficult than they were used to, so they got used to being “a bit grubby.” However, they did bathe regularly.

    I would be interested in any findings on squeezing the oil out of flax seed, hemp or other plants that could be used for this purpose.


    1. Marjory Wildcraft says:

      Looks like the ingredients would be hard to come by in a grid down situation – palm oil, coconut oil… But I do understand how pine tar would be a beneficial disinfectant.

  • florence krohn says:

    My daughter and I often talk about things that we would need most if and when we go off grid. How about a substitute for toilet paper – Any suggestions? We live in BC Canada.

    1. The nicest form of natural tp is a common weed – mullen. Nice, soft big leaves. I just checked a rang map and it grows almost tot he arctic.

  • Kristen Naillon says:

    Here is a page I found that has some herbal and other solutions that may be good.


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