Viking (Conker/Horsechestnut) Soap

The Vikings had, or should I say now have the reputation of  having  being unkempt, dirty, rough and violent.
Infact, this is far from the case, they were very clean, they had baths at least once a week (the Saxons didn't wash so often), cut and combed their hair and washed their clothes regularly. Archeologists have found numerous objects for personal grooming such as combs, ear spoons, tweezers etc.in their tombs
They are believed to  have  made soap from botanicals such as conkers/horsechestnut seeds .
I have a lot of conkers and as, I have read that conker soap is vey gentle, especially for old textiles  I decided to experiment by washing a very delicate, old centrepiece which is falling apart and is rather mucky.

Conker Liquid Soap 
(link-if you don't know what a conker is)

Peel the outer skin from  a few conker( before they turn brown it's much easier).

Wikipedia says 20 are sufficient for 6 litres of water..

Cover conkers with filtered or distilled water (hard water doesn't froth).

Blend until it becomes white and frothy.
Allow to settle and filter the liquid.

Wash delicate items in tepid water.
Rinse with lots of cold water.

This shows that the marks have gone, but unfortunately I rubbed a small spot, that has always been there, too hard and it became a hole. I  rubbed it because it had faded after soaking and I thought I could finally get rid of it. Infact I did, it disintegrated.

The centrepiece became more uniform in colour, but slightly darker, a more creamy colour.Most of the marks were removed without rubbing,
The fabric was noticeably softer after washing but had a potato smell.  It did seem to improve the texture of the fibres and I wonder if originally the colour was similar to this or not, but looking at these photos,
 apart from the black mark the centrepiece looks better in the first photos!.
NB.This liquid would be very poisonous to fish.

Further reading
Make a bar of viking soap


  1. This is the first I've heard that horse chestnuts can be used for much of anything (besides feeding horses? Or, in our case, getting carried around in coat pockets for months on end). Super interesting!

  2. That is really fascinating. Must give that a go too. I'm always looking for alternatives to soap. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Thanks for your encouraging words Eileen and Heiko : )

  4. This is new to me also!! Thank you for sharing:) xxx

  5. So glad you're interested to hear about the undervalued conker, Leslie! ; )

  6. Horsechestnuts are not common in my area, we have buckeyes, which are in the same family. I am going to have to experiment! xx


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