The naming of these berries we sell, and even some of the wording we’ve used in our own marketing materials can be confusing and this has been one of the larger challenges we’ve had. I’m going to try to clear this up and hopefully not create further confusion.
The common name is “soap nuts” so at first it was easier for us to to refer to the detergent contained in these as soap (also some of our team is from an area where their regional dialect calls everything soap including detergent).
It’s also not a nut, it’s a berry. So we’ve had to contend with the people who are rightfully concerned who have nut allergies. We didn’t name this plant, but it’s been easier to transition to “soap berry.” I am not sure “detergent berry” will stick.
We really did not envision when we started out as a company in someone’s living room that the wording of soap or detergent would be an issue with making people not want to buy the product, or arguing on forums about the semantics of whether this product contained soap – like a bar of soap – because the word soap was used. But we’re still a very small company so we do the best we can. Consumer education has been our biggest hurdle.
Years ago when we had more people here on the branding side, they didn’t think it was an issue because they felt it was clear that this wasn’t the same as a bar of soap that would not be good for laundry.
They felt customers would be able to discern that since it grew on a tree it would not be the same as a man-made bar of soap with lye and oils, and that the challenge was really to just get people to equate the idea of cleaning with a berry. We’ve since learned that this assumption was not correct, and it’s taken a very long time to clean this up with our limited resources.
So just to make sure we clear this up: Soap Berries are not the same as throwing a bar of soap into your washing machine. It’s called “soap”as in: it cleans, not “soap” as in: it meets the scientific and molecular definition of soap.
So here’s the deal: A Soap Nut is neither soap, nor a nut. It’s detergent and a berry. Whatever you choose to call it, enjoy your clean laundry.