Do It Yourself
DIY Wilderness Soap and Shampoo
One of the many amazing uses of the yucca plant.
The last time I wrote about the yucca, I showed you how to make rope from the leaves by pounding them, scraping them, and by twisting or braiding them. Today, I will go through the simple process to make both soap and shampoo by properly processing the root of the yucca plant.
The first thing to do is to find a yucca plant. The yucca is a perennial shrub with pointy, evergreen, sword-like leaves that extend every direction from its base, giving it a look like a ball with long green spikes. Somewhere in the middle of it, a stem grows straight and tall that, in the late spring and summer, has flowers and fruits growing from it.
Since you need the root to make soap or shampoo from the yucca, you will need to take the plant with you. Come at the plant from the ground and lift the leaves so they all point up. Grab the base of the yucca and pull it out of the ground in a twisting motion. If the yucca is stubborn, a shovel should make quick work of the job.
Note: Check with local authorities for the legality of taking a yucca out of the ground.
Once you have your yucca out of the ground, you need to separate the root. I used a saw, but I’m confident that an axe or a knife will do just fine.
To prepare to make soap or shampoo from the root of the yucca, first you need to peel the bark like peeling a potato.
Pound the root of the yucca with anything solid. This breaks up the root and exposes the inner fibers. When the root is sufficiently mashed, add water and squeeze. You should see suds in your hand. Scrub your hands clean. When you’re all done, you can save some for later. It does not take a lot of the root of the yucca to be able to get enough soap to wash your hands. Keep in mind that the root of the yucca gives off a strong odor that some find unpleasant.
There are two ways to make the shampoo. The first is exactly like the soap. The only difference is that it goes in the hair instead of for scrubbing with the hands. The second way is what I tried at home. I chopped up the yucca root into small pieces and put them into a pot with water. I turned on the stove to a medium-high heat and waited. When the water boiled, the suds rapidly came out of the root. Then I removed the pot from the heat, and let it cool for a while. I washed my hair with the sudsy water. After I dried off, my hair was very soft and did not carry the strong smell of the yucca root. The ratio of water to yucca root was approximately 3:1.
The yucca has many uses. You can use it to make rope, soap, shampoo, and for wilderness first aid. At certain times of the year, parts of the yucca can be eaten, and other parts used for fire starting. I have made rope from its leaves, and soap and shampoo from its root. The multitude of uses for the yucca makes it an important plant to study, and a valuable resource for numerous survival scenarios.
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