Horse Chestnut Shampoo
You can just chop and crush half a dozen conkers ((Aesculus hippocastanum), and cover them with a cup of boiling water. Leave to stand overnight and strain through muslin, squeezing well, retaining the liquid. (You can put the conkers on the compost heap.) Keep this in a glass jar in the fridge for up to a week. To use, massage a palm-full into your hair for a few minutes. Rinse well.
If you have fresh conkers, you can use the method above as per shampoo to prepare a liquid you can use to hand wash, or add to your washing machine. If you want to lay in a supply to use throughout the year, you will need to chop up or shred your conkers very small (best done in a blender or grinder) and dry them thoroughly. If you have a dehydrator, you can use this, otherwise spread them out on a baking sheet, and put in the oven on the lowest setting it will go, and leave the oven door open while they dry out., keep checking, as it may take several hours, depending on how small the pieces are. Store in airtight containers.
For each wash you will need around 50 gm (2 oz.) of horse chestnuts. You can put this in an organza bag straight into your washing machine, but it will work better if you extract the soapy liquid from the nuts first. Put into a heat proof jug and cover with 450 ml of boiling water. Leave 30 minutes and strain off your horse chestnut liquid (it should have turned fairly thick), it is this you will use for washing. You can put the horse chestnuts back in the jug and add more boiling water to get another infusion off, but it will be weaker than the first and best used for handwashing woollens etc. NB: Do not use this for washing dishes, as horse chestnuts are slightly toxic when taken internally, though safe to use on the skin.
© Anna Franklin 2020