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Wilderness Grooming

by Dino Labiste, Bob Gillis, & Susan Witmore

An eel vertebrae makes an ideal primitive comb.

Brushes for grooming hair were made from soaproot or yucca.

Find an abrasive stone and start filing your fingernails.


Depilating with a clam shell.

Washing up with yucca leaves that were first pounded with a rock. Water was added to the crushed yucca leaves as they were rubbed between the hands to produce green suds. The leaves contain a compound called saponin that creates the soapy lather.

The soaproot bulbs were also used for soap. The bulbs were crushed, water was added, and suds were created when rubbed between the hands. Saponin is also present in soaproot.

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"Small chunks of the peeled cactus can be added to a container of water, the water mixed, and the resultant slimy water used as a hair rinse and conditioner. This can also be lathered into a soap." (from Guide to Wild Foods by Christopher Nyerges)

When the blossoms of ceanothus (also called wild lilac or buck brush) are mixed with water and rubbed vigorously, they make a fragrant soap. The bride and groom of some Native American people used the soap to wash each others hair as part of the wedding ceremony. The flowers bloomed from March to April.

Toothpicks from plant thorns.

E-mail your comments to "Dino Labiste" at dlabiste@yahoo.com or "Bob Gillis" at shelter@best.com The PrimitiveWays Book

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PrimitiveWays Home Page

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