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Alternative for Shampoo by Using Wood Ash

By Angel Nuñez

There is an old Spanish saying that says: “Ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente.”  This means “What the eyes do not see, the heart does not desire.” This is so very true about the lives of San Pedranos in days long gone. There were many things that did not exist back then, and they certainly did not miss them. However, that is not to say that they did not find their way to make the best of any situation. We have seen that when they did not have ovens, they fabricated homemade ovens with the bottoms of metal drums. And when they did not have electric clothes irons, they used the metal ones that were heated on a comal or over the charcoal.

Well here is my story for this week.  It has to do with shampoo that did not exist twenty five years ago in San Pedro or better say in the 1940’s and 50’s. I want you to remember that our source of water was from shallow wells and well water is considered very hard water, if you know what I mean. If you were to wash your hair with well water and using regular soap, it would turn out stiff and dry. Your hair would in no way be soft and silky and shiny.  No señor!

Alternative for Shampoo by Using Wood Ash

Well, here is the story for this week. I will teach you how to prepare your water so that it can do the job as well or even better than shampoo. Go to the fire hearth (fogon) and collect a bucketful of ashes- the same ashes that accumulate from the burning of firewood or charcoal. Get a well washed metal drum, or clean plastic drum or even a wood barrel. Pour the bucket of ashes into the drum. If you can collect two buckets full, that is even better. Now proceed to fill the drum with well water, or in today’s world, with water from the city pipe line or from BWSL. At this point, the water in the barrel will be all milky as it will form a suspension of ashes and water.  Well, just leave it overnight for the ashes to settle at the bottom of the drum. The water will now be crystal clear.

Alternative for Shampoo by Using Wood Ash

Well here is the surprise of this story. This water is very lathery…slippery if you will, or no longer hard water. It was and still is called “legia”. When used to wash clothing or hair, it does have the same effect as today’s expensive shampoos and conditioners. Well, I cannot argue that is has special ingredients for dry hair, or oily hair, or even the properties to prevent dandruff or to help re-grow hair.  But I can attest that this water in drum with ashes does leave your hair soft and silky. And to tell the truth, I don’t think the expensive shampoos of today do have properties to prevent dandruff or to help hair to re-grow. I am skeptical about that as much as you are skeptical about washing your hair with my ‘legia’.

My friends, I gave no reason to lie. I must have filled up over 100 drums to make ‘legia’ as my mom and my sister insisted on this even to wash the family’s fine clothing, the white and linen clothing. Every morning before going to school, I used to full up a drum and for sure by next morning, I had to do it again.  Let’s make that figure 500 drums instead of 100. It works; I assure you.  And I say so because my father said so twenty five years ago in San Pedro.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today Online Newspaper -Jose Luis Zapata Photography Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush, A & R
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