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The Many Faces of Buah Lerak (Soap Nut)

Lerak fruit
The lerak extract (infused in water) has naturally pH 5.5-6.0, the same as our skin.

Source: Axelle BCOM [8]

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One of the most defining changes in our modern society is the shift towards eco-friendly, sustainable products by consumers. A 2015 study from the University of Bonn found that consumers are willing to pay 30% more for environmentally-friendly products [1].

But at the same time, the interest in making eco-friendly products at home has also grown considerably. Many people have begun to find out just how many ingredients they can find at home can be used to make their essential items, and one of them is lerak.

Have you ever heard of lerak? First of all, it’s a fruit, and it looks similar to dates, though its texture is a bit rougher. What’s so amazing about lerak is you can use it for so many home products!

Curious? Here are some home products you can make by using lerak as the main ingredient.


1. Detergent

Phosphate, a common ingredient in detergents, builds up in waterways and lead to eutrophication.

Source: Markus Winkler [9]

Did you know that detergents contribute to water pollution? In 2015, Bangalore was hit by a flood of snowy foam. Scientists claimed excessive phosphorus from detergent, which enters the lakes along with the sewage, is creating the foam [2]. Though it’s a sight to behold, the foam has a pungent smell, worsens traffic, and causes skin irritations.

While human error is involved, there’s no denying that detergents have a devastating impact on our environment and we need to find an alternative.

Enter: Buah Lerak. The saponin content in lerak seeds can be used as the main ingredient to make environmentally-friendly detergent [3]. Better yet, they are 100% biodegradable and will not pollute the environment.

2. Beauty Products

Beauty products such as shampoo and moisturizer
There are about 100,000 microbeads in a face wash product

Source: Gabrielle Henderson [10]

Many beauty products contain microbeads, which not only pollute the environment but also harms wildlife and our health [4].

Similar to detergents, lerak contains properties that make it a great ingredient to make various beauty products such as shampoo, face wash, and moisturizer for the skin [5]. Another bonus: lerak doesn’t cause irritation and can therefore be used on sensitive skin.


3. Organic pesticide

Pesticide farm
Saponin from Lerak can act as a natural pesticide

Source: Henry & Co [11]

Yes, the same fruit that we can use to make zero-waste detergents and beauty products can also be used to make pesticides for plants! Lerak extract has been proven effective in repelling pests without having a bad impact on the environment. This is because the insects will stay away from the saponins contained in lerak fruit [6].

4. Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine from various plants
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems from India

Source; Pratiksha Mohanty [12]

Did we mention that lerak is also good for our health? In several Asian countries such as Japan, China, and India, lerak has been used as herbal medicine. In India, lerak fruit is also known as Reetha and is included in the list of Ayurvedic Medicine plants used to treat epilepsy, acne removal, hair growth, asthma, and headache medications [7].

Are you amazed? We were, too.

We didn’t know the many benefits of this multipurpose fruit, but knowing them makes us want to switch to the greener side! Let’s use more environmentally-friendly products to protect our nature.


Visit our Green Living Project page to begin your zero-waste journey, or post your questions on our forum!





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