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Mark

(1)

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

(2)

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

Joshua Spodek

(3)

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.

J.M.C.S.

(4)

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.

Kelly

(5)

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

(6)

sorry, link is fixed

Steve

(7)

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

(8)

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

(9)

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!

Andy

(10)

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

(11)

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

(12)

"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

(13)

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,
Josephine

kris de decker

(14)

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.

JuliusJ

(15)

Hey

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.

 Sigrid

(16)

Hello,

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,
Sigrid

Ruben

(17)

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.

djargo

(18)

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.

https://www.watereducation.org/western-water/californians-save-more-water-their-sewers-get-less-and-thats-problem

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?

karl

(19)

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.

Sylvain

(20)

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.

Sylvain

Jörgen

(21)

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

(22)

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

(23)

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.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/legionella.htm
https://www.nchasia.com/en-hk/nch-insights/industry-news/how-to-prevent-legionella-in-showers
https://blog.hydrosense-legionella.com/legionella-in-showers
https://www.iosh.com/media/2629/legionella-liam-cook-qatar-september-2017.pdf

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

finn

(24)

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 :)

https://www.agritek.de/haus-und-hof/gloria-prima-5-druckspruehgeraet_981003_3254

zanetta

(25)

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

(26)

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

(27)

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.

Danica

(28)

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

(29)

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

(30)

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

(31)

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.

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