Making Shampoo on The Road

Posted by in Yoga on the Road

I travel a lot in the tropics and I’ve found that there are very few good products for hair and body down south in the Americas-there’s lots more you can pick up throughout Asia, but Central and South America are still riding the Monsanto train with Unilever (everything seems to be made by Unilever in Latin America) or Nestle. At home in Canada, I make all my soap, shampoo, dog soap, my mom’s shampoo, my cleaning products etc. and for a fraction of the price, but what about when you’re traveling by chicken bus through Guatemala? Below are two recipes, one for making soap on the road, and one for making sweet sweet soap at home in North America.

The more you make your own, the less you are putting gross chemicals on your body and supporting corporate interest. Win-win.

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How to Make Shampoo and Soap in Canada

This is a recipe I learned from Green Heart Gardens in Northern Ontario. They make all their home products and they are all off the chain.

  • 1/2 cup tea made from 2 tbsp of soapwort. You can use it dry or fresh, make sure to steep for 20 minutes (I buy mine online, but this grows wild throughout Canada and the Northern United States)
  • 1/2 cup tea made from 2 tbsp of either yarrow for brunettes (gives the shine) or chamomile for blondes (keeps the brassiness out of colour treated hair too)-same thing, steep for 20 minutes
  • you are welcome to add some Dr. Bronner’s if you want, sometimes I do a little squirt in there
  • Coco Glucoside (you have to order this and New Directions has it) is optional. It’s an alternative to a chemical thickener, it’s not completely natural in the way that a tea bag is, but it’s definitely natural to the letter of the law, add as much as you want for the consistency you like, or you can just get used to soap that is more watery than usual.
  • For soap you will be using as a household product, I add 1 tbsp of Borax
  • This is the fun part: essential oils. Pick ones you like and do a few drops to give your shampoo the smells you love, or if you’re looking for ones that work on grease, citrus (i like grapefruit and blood orange) work well and ginger is anti-bacterial

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When you wash your hair with natural shampoo, you need to close the cuticle with something natural. I put about 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar in a big Mason Jar in the shower and fill it with water then dump that over my head. You will need to wash your hair much less and you won’t need conditioner anymore once you start using natural shampoo. The first few washes might be different, but after two or three, you’ll never go back.

How to Make Soap On The Road

First, go out and buy yourself a small bottle of Dr Bronner’s (they sell it at every major health food store and the small guy’s too in North America). I like to get the peppermint myself, but you can get whatever your heart desires.

When you’re out on the road, grab yourself a coconut and machete it open, drink the water and take out the meat. Place the meat in a blender with some water and blend it. Strain through a sieve and use the remaining milk. The recipe below calls for more Bronner’s than I typically use, but play around with it. Basically you’re stretching your small bottle into double the soap. This can be used to wash your face, body, delicate clothing (read: when you’re washing your only pair of panties left after 4 months travel in a Hostel bathroom and hanging them to dry by your bunk) and hair. I use 2 parts coconut milk to one part Bronner’s at this point.

1/4 cup coconut milke (organic only) + 1/3 cup liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronners) + 1 capsule of vitamin e oil (substitute 1/2 teaspoon of coconut or olive oil). Mix in a glass jar if you can, but a plastic container will do too. In the heat, it keeps longer in glass though. Keeps for a month int he shower.