Make your own Steel Walnut stainless steel cleaner

Black walnut shells are great for home cleaning! Black walnut shells are a powerful natural abrasive that is renewable, biodegradable, and septic safe. They will scratch some materials but not glass, porcelain or stainless steel so combining them with soap to make a paste creates a highly effective non-toxic scouring solution. No one has to guess what's in our cleaners because we publish our home cleaner recipes. Here's how to make Steel Walnut at home:

Supplies needed:

  • 3 oz. Black Squirrel Farms black walnut fine (<60 mesh) shell powder
  • 1 oz. soap flakes or shavings (making these is as simple as grating bar of soap with a cheese grater - and the more basic the bar soap, the better) *
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp glycerin
  • Stainless steel or glass saucepan (an aluminum pan will end up scratched and we don't know what non-stick saucepan surfaces are made of so we can't guarantee those won't get scratched either)
  • Metal or wooden spoon (the metal won't be scratched and the wooden spoon? who knows, perhaps it will end up clean and gently sanded)
  • An empty Steel Walnut container or other container for your finished Steel Walnut (Steel Walnut will dry out and so is best kept in a sealed container.)
  • Optional: Your favorite essential oil(s) (we like lemongrass)


*Want an idea for what to do with bar soap bits that have become too small to use in the shower?  Make your own soap flakes on an ongoing basis and then use those soap flakes to make Steel Walnut....



  • Grate a bar of soap with the cheese grater. Yes, seriously. (If you have a bunch of little bits of soap, a food processor works too.)
  • Boil the water in the saucepan.
  • Turn off the heat and add the grated soap to the water. Stir until all the soap has melted and the mixture is uniform. At this point the mixture does look a little like used dishwater. Don't worry, there's no problem....
  • Let the mixture cool for several hours or overnight and stir again. It should have the consistency of bubbly mayonnaise. 
  • Add the glycerin and a few drops of essential oil (optional) then add the black walnut shell powder (not optional) and stir until the mixture is uniform. The volume of the mixture will decrease, and it should now have a consistency closer to frosting or paste.
  • Safety note: Whether its flour, sawdust or black walnut shell powder, breathing dust isn't a healthy practice. Take care when dumping and mixing in black walnut shell powder as until the powder is wet some may become airborne or, better yet, do it outside. 
  • Fill the empty Steel Walnut containers (or other containers) with the product that you just created and put the lid on the containers so that your Walnut Steel doesn't dry out (note that it will still work even if it dries out, it's just harder to use)


That's it!  You did it! Scour some pans or an oven or a cooktop until they shine.... great job!


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