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Looking at a) the length of the shower, b) the amount of water used, and c) the amount of energy used to heat the water...

I have found that I'm more inclined to take longer, hotter showers once it starts cooling off outside. Lingering in a hotter shower warms me.

It also dries my skin out terribly in the winter time, leading me to seek selfish methods for taking a shorter, cooler shower.

I'm also a bit paranoid about steam/condensation/moisture in my bathroom, and any detrimental effects on my home. (Mold, etc.)

The latter gives me some pause with a mist shower. The more the water is atomized, the more of it is staying in the air, settling on surfaces, rather than going down the drain.

As for the length & water temperature factors, I've found that heating the bathroom to be warmer than the thermostat temperature, by turning on a ceramic fan space heater ahead of time, accomplishes a number of things for me:

1. It dries out the air in the bathroom, leading to less condensation on windows, mirrors, etc.

2. It puts me in a warm space, where I can comfortably turn the shower to a lower temperature, and get in and out faster.

This approach reminds me of one of the earliest posts I encountered on Low-tech Magazine, outlining localized heating options that heat the immediate space around a person rather than the entire available space in the structure.

Combining a low-flow shower head or mist shower with a warmer bathroom might be even more efficient, though I have some reservations about the long-term effects on the structure from the mist shower. I find that warming the environment the shower is in helps greatly, too.

Ryan Shepard


The link to let Görgen know we're interested looks to be broken.

Joshua Spodek


I predict that future generations will look at rain showers not with envy at the self-indulgence but with disgust at lack of compassion for others.

Mist showers look like a way forward. It's refreshing to have a consistent source of perspective and paths forward that isn't just putting the word "green" or "recyclable" on it so they can sell more.



Reading the finishing paragraph of this article, I suddenly realized why the problems of using mist showers sounded so familiar (requires higher temperature, etc): I, and other campers, have been taking "mist showers" for a while now. We use pressurized garden sprayers to do so.

In fact, when I moved to my current apartment last winter and we didn't yet have electricity, the problem of the temperature become sharply evident :). In the end we took sponge baths for a while.

Another alternative for showering: Solar (consisting of a black plastic bag and a nozzle) camping showers. The 12 liters ours hold are way more than enough for my partner and me to get clean, and the pressure is all gravity produced. We just need to plan our showers a bit carefully and lay the bag in the sun to warm up.



Sounds interesting, I may give it a try. Unfortunately your recommended water temperatures would present an obstacle in the USA, where we have been told that any temperature above 49C will strip the flesh right off of your bones. As a result our building codes require installation of valves which limit water temp to 49C or lower.

kris de decker


sorry, link is fixed



Interesting article as always, this looks like a promising technology. Just thought I'd offer some information on an alternative:

Our household uses a combination of a pump shower, a solar oven with a black bucket inside, a lightweight roof fitted to the top of the shower to increase thermal comfort and an electric kettle for back up heating.

This system is highly portable, delivers solar hot water for renters (who can't modify a building) and uses 12 litres per person per day for a comfortable 5 minute shower. Wrapped in a blanket, a 10 litre bucket of sun heated water only loses 1 degree Celcius per hour.

Energy wise, we use 0.3kWh per person per day if the water is exclusively heated with an electric kettle or roughly 0.15kWh a day as there is enough sun in our region in South East Australia to meet half our shower hot water needs with the solar oven. Obviously, we can drop this further if we choose to shower ever second day.

You can see photos and a more thorough description at: http://smartrenting.org/solar-hot-water-for-renters/

Juan Marcos


Great idea, great analysis ! At least in Spain water mist systems are frequently installed in "terrazas" (open air bars); these have been associated to an increased risk of airborne transmission of Legionella. When I built my own thermal solar system here in Brussels, I was advised to 1. keep the water temperature of my solar water tank well above the temperature required for a shower (Legionella will not survive 90 degrees) and 2. let the water run before taking a shower after coming back from holidays. May I suggest an update of the text taking into account this potential risk ?

John A


Great article as always!

I have pointed this out to my familiy as well in the past. My family is 1 wife, and 2 daughters. They all have long hair, they all shave in the shower. A mist shower is simply not powerful enough to rinse long hair of soap and conditioner. A combination of the 2 might be a win.

Thanks for your valuable insights!



Is soap necessary or healthy?

Several years ago my daughter told me she didn’t use soap as she had read on a beauty website that this was bad for the skin. I tried it and haven’t used soap since. Well only for washing my hands if they get dirty grease from the car.

It makes sense. Your body makes oil to put on the skin and then we use a poisonous chemical(soap) to wash it off. Your body then goes into overdrive to replace it. If you try it you will find you actually smell less.

I also stopped using chemicals(deodorants) to stop me smelling. The smell emanating from your armpits is caused by dead bacteria so I kill the bacteria using lemon juice. I simply take a piece of skin from an already squeezed lemon and rub it in my armpits. The effects last about 3 or 4 days, after which the bacteria start to recover and you need to do it again. Don’t do it everyday as it will start to irritate the skin. Unfortunately it doesn’t give you a nice lemony smell. There is just no smell at all. I presume vinegar would also work but haven’t tried it.

Rafael Ospino


The contraption seems to be an ideal incubator for Legionella. In most showers you try to eliminate mist and aerosols in order to mitigate the risk of Legionella. These constructions are potential killers, why all such attempts were abandoned after the Legionaires disease discovery in 1976. https://www.emhhomes.org.uk/living-in-your-home/safety-at-home/legionella/

Jim Baerg


"If eight billion people used a five-nozzle mist shower, all wind turbines in the world could still only provide two billion people with a daily hot shower."

But most of the worlds population lives in the broad band either side of the equator where there is enough sunlight even at the winter solstice to make solar water heating practical.

Re: Legionella
The Wikipedia article on the bacterium says that keeping water cooler than 25 °C or hotter than 51 °C, is one way to make sure Legionella dies.

 Josephine Ferorelli


This brings to mind another shower-style that is more common in water-scarce places, the bucket shower. No special equipment needed: bucket, cup, and appropriate location. I showered this way consistently when I was traveling in North India: when I was lucky, a guest house would be able to deliver a hot bucket. I guess it'd be a tougher sell than something based on familiar hardware, but I found that I quickly got used to it, and even when ambient temperatures were pretty low, a bucket of hot water was enough to feel warm, clean and cozy. Especially in a small, enclosed space. Hair rinsing was easy, and the water stayed hot for the full length of the project. Much depends on how you heat it, I suppose.

Best, and thanks for your ongoing project,

kris de decker


As far as I know, water boilers always keep the temperature high enough to prevent Legionella, and then mix it with cold water to provide the desired temperature. Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see why a mist shower would be more problematic than a normal shower.




Thanks for the article. There is one technical detail in the beginning. Please prove me wrong, but when i calculate the energy needed to heat 76.5 liters of water from 18°C to 38°C, i get another result. I approximate the density of water with 1kg/l, the temperature difference is 20 Kelvin and the heat capacity of water is roughly 4.2 kj/ (kg*K).
So 76.5 kg * 20 Kelvin *4.2 kj /(kg *K) = 6.426 *10^3 kJ
1kWh = 3600 kJ, so i divide the result by 3600 and get 1.785 kWh, approximately 1.8 kWh. You wrote that it would be 2.1 kWh, so i wonder where is the mistake.




Thank you for posting this article. It is quite timely considering the recent droughts in the western USA. In 2015, Washington State experienced a severe drought. I was amazed and shocked to see Lake Cle Elum, also a reservoir, reduced from a large lake with waves in a brisk breeze, to a narrow stream with "dust bowls". The state and municipalities asked residents to voluntarily reduce water use 10% or face mandatory restrictions. Seattle residents reduced their water use 15% in response.

Deciding to do our part, we switched the washing machine and dishwashers to the quick cycles already on the machines and discovered that nearly everything came clean just as well as with longer cycles.

We also switched to low flow shower heads, and I substituted sponge baths for showers 3-4 days per week. My skin became less dry, an unexpected benefit of showering less.

We saved water from sinks and bathing to flush the toilets, and waste water from the washing machine to water landscape plants, although not vegetables for food safety. I hooked up the effluent hose from the washer to a rain barell, attached a water hose to the tank and watered plants while the machine was running.

The result is that we dropped our household water use by 45%. Our water bill also dropped by 40%, so we saved a lot of money. We have maintained these conservation efforts since then and I estimated that we have saved enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool and several thousand dollars. We did this with no change in available technologies and no drop in quality of life. We did not imagine that conservation alone could do so much!

Thanks again,



I am super excited about this, because I have been collecting parts to experiment with mist showers (which along with an enclosed shower stall, should be a very lovely experience).

As for rinsing, I have been basing my thoughts on the common shower valve that is used to switch between the wall-mount showerhead and a handheld. In this case, it would switch between wall mount for rinsing and mist for long warmth.



great article!

never knew about sponge bath, will give it a try. been using the navy shower, though i didn't know it was called that.
mist showers are such a cool idea, very fitting that it was fuller who built the first.

if they become widespread (as they should), sewage systems will need a serious overhaul because they are designed around higher water usage. they will be damaged in their current state.


it is also a known problem when upgrading an old house with new water-saving equipment, but keeping old drain piping.

there is a minimum amount of water needed to reliably transport solid matter (e.g. shed skin) and a certain amount of hot enough water to prevent grease buildup (e.g. from soap).

what kind of solutions exist for this?



A few years ago my water heater failed. To get warmed water, I put a black plastic bucket into a large clear plastic bag. It worked. A few days later I built a plywood box with a clear plastic cover. I put castors under it to ease aiming it to the sun. It worked much better.

To see this assembly, go to Gary's www.builditsolar.com web site and look at the water heating section where he has an article about this water heater.

4 gallons of heated water was more than enough to pour over me and get clean.



I don't spend 8 or 9 minutes with the water running. When wet, I stop water and apply real soap. Then I rinse myself. It must be 2 or 3 minutes with the water running.

Shower gel are made to be applied with the water running and so are made sticky. Then shower gel needs much more water than the soap to get rid of it.

IMHO shower gel are a nonsense. Most of it goes to the drain without producing any washing effect. It is a waste of resource.




no, i don't believe in it. maybe we just stop being under the shower so long. i tried the spray several years ago. and like they said. you need to boost up the temperature a lot. if you move a lot in the shower like me, the difference between too hot (like they said 50°) and good enough are bigger than in a normal shower. definitely the ones that are on the sides of the shower.

maybe a recovery system would be more something i believe in. which can partly reuse the temperature of the water running away in the drain. or even the water itself.

no, i don't believe in the spray. small chance of breakthrough in my eyes.

Vicente Baca


It seems like the "Navy shower" has about the same efficiency, does not require new hardware, and does not incur the risk of bacterial infections.

I intend to make this my routine now. Thank you for introducing me to it.

Kris De Decker


I did some research about the legionella risk. Turns out that it is a problem for showers in general. Research in the UK found the bacteria in one third of shower. Infection rates are rising across the world as more people take showers rather than baths. So yes, please take elementary precautions with mist showers, as they produce more airborne particles than conventional showers (legionella infects the respiratory system).

Most importantly, your boiler should be clean, have decent plumbing, and keep the water at the recommended minimum temperature. But this does not entirely exclude the risk. Showers, taps and wash basins can become contaminated if they are not used for a while. It is advised to clean shower heads (or nozzles) regularly, and to flush out taps and showers (or nozzles) with hot water for several minutes if they have not been used for a while.


Seems like legionella is another reason to stop showering and go back to the sponge bath.



Thanks for the article! Reminds me of our garden pressure sprayer, that you can easily charge by hand. I'll give it a try at my next shower :)




Just don't take a shower everyday. The more you wash your skin and hair the more they suint sebum. If you stop to take shower everyday, they adapt themself after a short time of 1 month maybe. I personaly take 1 shower every 3 days or after sports. My transpiration smell is also lighter. If I don't take shower as while camping holiday for more than 3 days I don't smell. If necessary and for more comfort you can make a sponge cleaning. The best way to save money and energy is to question needs before technology

Mario Stoltz


Hi Kris,

Thanks a lot for a great and thought-provoking article, like always. I especially like that this is a topic that touches nearly everyone.

Just to add one item to the "Legionella" risk that has not been mentioned in the comments so far: the smaller water droplets from a mist shower remain in the air for a longer time, and are more likely to be inhaled deep into your respiratory system. The larger drops from a conventional shower are much harder to inhale. So if your water has a bacterial charge, a mist shower has a risk of delivering these directly into your lungs.

I think this risk can be managed by how you position the nozzles, and of course by managing water temperature accordingly. However, remember that once the shower is turned off, there will be a volume of water that remains in the hoses and which will be at room temperature soon. Maybe the nozzles and hose system could be modified so that once pressure is off, the water drains automatically?

James Newton


One thing he did NOT cover was using a heat exchangers to recover heat from the drain water to help warm the incoming. I can also tell you that Navy showers work very very well. And if you have a nice blast of warm /air/ on you, they are quite comfortable. Heating air is far more efficient.



I'd love to switch to primarily sink-baths, BUT one thing I can't figure out is how to do it without getting water all over the floor and annoying my housemates. I could lay a towel down and then mop up the floor with it afterwards, but it wouldn't dry in time to use the next day (my regular shower towel is always still slightly damp the next day, so a towel that had absorbed more water wouldn't dry at all). I'd have to use a new towel every day, and at the end of the week I'd have a whole extra load of musty towels to wash and dry, which is more water and electricity than 2-3 showers.

There has to be a better way to do it without getting water everywhere, but it seems to be one of those things that was such common knowledge at the time that no one wrote down how to do it, and now no one remembers. I can't find a description of how to properly sink-bathe with minimal mess anywhere, except to do it outdoors where the water just falls on dirt - not very helpful. Has anyone else troubleshooted this and figured out how to do it?

Mario Stoltz


Hello Danica (28),

I guess the classical bits of advice would be:
* consider "sink bathing" in the shower stall
* get as close to the floor as you can - this will limit the range of spills. In many countries in the middle east, people wash on short-legged stools for this reason (sitting about 20cm or 8in above the floor). This also means that you will take your water from a bucket or a washing bowl, not the sink itself
* make a few trials with how strongly you wring your washcloths out before you use it on your body. It does not have to be dripping-wet to clean your skin.

Mike A


Too complicated for me. I prefer a daily sponge bath with a barely damp washcloth: face, neck, armpits, and crotch. And then a weekly shower with a 'Navy' type shower head, which lets you wet down, then easily stop the flow to soap up, then restart the flow to rinse. I take less than 30 seconds to wet down, and no more than one minute to rinse. So maybe 12 to 15 litres max per week

My big waste of water and energy is with shaving. I use much too much hot water there. Which is why I only shave once a week, but I'm retired so can get away with it. Never found an electric razor that gives a clean shave. I'm 76 and have been looking for a good one most of my life.

Rafael Ospino


Jim Baerg - No, there is no safe lower temperature, and the safe disinfection temperature is 90 degrees Celsius. 25 to 50 degrees is the optimal cultivation temperature range. Below 25 it just grows more slowly. And the dirtier the water, the greater the risk. The only method to make a shower like the one described completely safe is to flush water with a temperature of 90 degrees with all nozzles covered with plastic bags in order not to allow the formation of aerosols. The flushing must continue until all parts of the construction have reached 90 degrees.
This procedure is the correct one for all type of showers, not only mist showers.
Please Jim, do not trivialize the risk. Even if Legionella is fatal for only 10-20% of the cases many of the survivors are subjected to lifelong suffering, including risk for paralysis.
In warm countries it is vastly safer and water saving to leave a water of bucket in the sun and then just scoop it over you. That will produce very little or none of the lethal mist or aerosols.
Thanks for informing about the outdated info on Wikipedia. I shall correct it as soon as possible.



Hello Kris,

I already used a water saving shower head. Your article inspired me to
further reduce the consumption simply by replacing the little
perforated plastic disk in the shower head with a home brew version. A
new disk, cut out of an old plastic container and perforated with a
hot needle, has much smaller holes now. That creates finer droplets
and considerably reduces the water flow.

I do have the same concern as the person in comment 18 though. Much of
the water goes into flushing down the soap residues after showering
(or taking a sponge bath). Otherwise the pipes get clogged quite quickly.

So far I have no solution other than pouring down the pipes hot water
or applying chemical treatment from time to time with vinegar and
sodium bicarbonate. I may have to get a drain snake for mechanical
cleaning but they take up storage space in a small home.

If you have any advice, updating the article might help many readers
of your website.

Thank you very much for your work and have a good weekend.



i take sink baths using green tea or an herbal tisane, using only a few cups of water. no need for soap. i wash my hair over the tub or kitchen sink with bar shampoo, avoiding plastic packaging.



The Nebia patent could be of interest.

US9931651 - https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/04/7d/4a/8a38c5168913ec/US9931651.pdf



Micron Woman - Guide to the world spray droplets



Great idea and I'm glad you've posted it. The history was interesting as the pre-1990's world is a mystery to my lived experience.

I had a thought to improve it and to increase acceptance by using a mixed approach - plus to avoid legionnaire's disease.

If the system could be designed such that a single switch/level near the water controls could alternate the nozzles from flow to mist. This would allow for flushing and warming of the nozzle lines and would support more usage patterns.

In effect it would be like a combination 'Navy Shower' with quick flushes, while tuning down to the mist mode while you're soaping up and 'feeling luxurious' by standing in the water. The flushes would be essential for long hair and quick final rinse offs.

Another great water saver I've not seen in many places is in the kitchen. There are foot operated controls which allow you to turn the water on/off while using both hands to hold the dish and the sponge. Huge amounts of water are wasted while washing up because it is too hard to constantly turn the flowing water on and off. People frequently use lots of energy intensive hot water when washing up. It is a little more complicated to install and use, but once you get past that, the foot controls quickly become essential!

Eric Brozell


This is the first article that I have read on Low Tech Magazine. In fact, I just discovered it's existence this week.
What an amazing and thorough article this was. This Magazine and type of stories will be the savior of life as we know it.
Thank you.



This absolutely is a Legonella risk -and I should know as I spent a week in hospital with it and a three month recovery period afterwards - caught from inhaling water droplets from a modern and well equipped marina shower while on a sailing trip. I would not wish what I went through on anyone, collapsed lungs are extremely unpleasant.

A previous respondent misquoted a Wikipedia page regarding temperature control to eliminate the bacterium. Duration of temperature is also an important factor. The correct information is as follows

Temperature affects the survival of Legionella as follows:

Above 70 °C (158 °F) – Legionella dies almost instantly
At 60 °C (140 °F) – 90% die in 2 minutes (Decimal reduction time (D) = 2 minutes)
At 50 °C (122 °F) – 90% die in 80–124 minutes, depending on strain (D = 80–124 minutes)
48 to 50 °C (118 to 122 °F) – can survive but do not multiply
32 to 42 °C (90 to 108 °F) – ideal growth range
25 to 45 °C (77 to 113 °F) – growth range
Below 20 °C (68 °F) – can survive, even below freezing, but are dormant
Other temperature sensitivity[29][30]

60 to 70 °C (140 to 158 °F) to 80 °C (176 °F) – Disinfection range
66 °C (151 °F) – Legionella dies within 2 minutes
60 °C (140 °F) – Legionella dies within 32 minutes
55 °C (131 °F) – Legionella dies within 5 to 6 hours



Hello everyone,

Thanks a lot for this very interesting article !
I have been trying to do the same system at home, I have one technical issue, I can't find the parts to make the adapter that allows to connect the existing installation to the 6 mm tube, would you have any advice ? I searched for the parts and already made adapters, I didn't succeed, I suppose I am not looking in the right places, I just don't know where to look.

Have a nice day




In my country the water is Chlorinated to kill bacteria. Does that counts to kill Legonella?

kris de decker


@ Alejandro

I would not count on it.



Thank you for yet another v interesting and thought-provoking article, and to all the people who made constructive comments.
A few thoughts :
- I loved the mist shower idea but have harkened the warnings about legionalla - love Kevin's idea of switching from water flow to mist to water flow, plus ideas about putting a cover on the shower, blasting warm air to help feel warm on cold days and solar heating a bucket of water;
- My modern boiler heats to over 90° once every 24 hrs to kill legionalla bacteria. But we space out our showers and I didn't know you had to rince out taps & pipes.
- Sponge washing doesn't have to be wet but if it is, doing so in the shower can be handy (as can not having taken out the bidet from your 70's house)
- Thanks for the idea of using green tea or herbal tisanes to sponge wash, I use them as a hair rinse but hadn't thought to do so to replace soap, which is indeed much better than shower gel but effectively just as damaging to the skin, as is chalky or chlorinated water. Apart from washing less often, using oils and creams(ALL over, and even while still damp) protects skin. For the underarms, if sweat smell is likely to be a problem, bicarbonate works as an alternative to lemon juice (but I'll try herbal teas, too)
- The most economical for washing dishes is to pre-rince, then use a bowl of hot washing water and a bowl of cold rinsing water with a dash of vinegar in it. Change the washing water when it gets too greasy.
- And thanks to the person who gave all the water saving tips !



I've been thinking about this mist shower concept off and on for a while now, and am thinking about using a stainless steel hand pump gardening sprayer as the pressure unit. Heating of the water would be in a large pot, on a small rocket stove. Finding the proper fittings to fit it all together is the trick...



I live in Brazil and recently I bought what people here call "redneck shower" http://images.tcdn.com.br/img/img_prod/662859/233_9_20181012101648.jpg

With 2.5 liters I can take a shower, as well as my son. My wife takes 5 liters total to include washing her hair.

To heat 2.5 liters of water from 25 to 40 C it is necessary 4 min and 20 seconds at a 1000W stove, wich is roughly 9 KWh (maximum) per month.

Numbers may vary by place and by family, but it is a great reduction of water and energy consumption.



My water utility in Southern California gives out low-flow showerheads that can dial to 2\4\6 litters per minutes and has a cut-off switch. My showers at 2 lpm typically goes through 10 liters. I capture the non-soapy water to flush the toilet. Although the shower is directly above the water heater, at the start I need to flush 4 liters before it becomes warm. I catch this clean flush water in a bucket to wash my daily underwear, then use that soapy water to mop the floor and then finally to flush the toilet. In the Summer, I take cold showers which uses as little as 4 liters without needing to wait for warm water. My daily water consumption is around 40 liters which is one-tenth of an average American. It takes 2-3 months for my water meter to move one tick. Unfortunately this doesn't save me much money because most of my $35 water bill goes to "water conservation" measures for the utility. I conserve because water is essential to life and hopefully whatever I don't consume remains in nature and supports additional wildlife on our planet.

 Ben Brown


Kris, A year after using a single nozzle and agricultural sprayer after reading your article on mist showers, I invested in mist heads, a hose an on/off valve and a better sprayer tank/pump. I can not say enough good about a low impact mist shower. I've been journaling/e-mailing our local college contact and the city's sustainability officer in Kalamazoo, Michigan for the past three weeks. I've collected data which I hope to get corroborated. In brief: I heat 1.5 gallons of filtered/purified water to 148F in 16 minutes on an induction hob set for 700 watts of energy. The water is poured into the tank which is plumbed to 2 mist heads, one hip height, the other just above my face. Getting wet/shutting off the water/soaping up/rinsing off I use 1 gallon of water for the total shower. The sensation is far better than using my 1.5 gpm showerhead and I feel both warmer and cleaner. I wish there were several advocacy groups promoting this as a superior experience. I definitely plan to talk about this far and wide. It is a cultural turn from the more we consume the more satisfied we will be but it can be fully a valid thing.

Thomas W



I use something like that in my tiny house. 5$ from the dollar store. I mainly use it with a 25% white vinegar solution, works very well for cleaning all kinds of things: counters, dishes & humans! Works with warm water as well but I prefer a steaming hot washcloth. Either way, water consumption is less than a cup per wash.

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