Arcoiris (Rainbow in Spanish) is an ecovillage located between the city of Iquitos and Nauta (Peru’), right in the middle of the peruvian Amazon jungle. The ecovillage relies, for the water provisions (drinking, washing, bathing …), only on the small river on the side of the main hut. For plate washing they don’t use any soap, which would then end up in the river, but they prefer to use a more chemical-free way of washing with ashes. They basically use ashes to scratch the plates and remove the dirt. Since they barely use oil and fat in their food, the method is effective.
The workshop I performed on the 1st of January 2017 was based on extending their method to clothes in a slightly different manner. I taught them how to make lye water out of ashes. The method consists in mixing plain water with wood ashes and letting it sit for about a day. After that the mixture can be filtered with a cloth, so that the insoluble parts of the ashes are left behind and the liquid that comes out is the lye. It has a dark orange color, and the more concentrated the darker. This liquid, when highly concentrated, is caustic. However if the color is not too dark you can touch it with bare hands and feel the soapy texture. This liquid can be used to do laundry. It can be discharged in the soil (not directly in the river as it can locally change the pH of the water to higher values) and the soil layers will filter it and purify the water.
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