"Mist showers": a decadent shower that the planet can sustain

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/14/sustainable-luxury.html


I’m still showering like it’s 1999.


Sounds wonderful, except for one tiny drawback:

There’s one problem with mist showers operating with only one to three nozzles: modern water boilers don’t get triggered by a flow rate below 1 litre of water per minute, meaning that only cold mist comes out.

A cold mist shower would definitely be a way to wake up.


In some English-speaking countries I have heard it called a “bowl wash” and in the U.S. I have heard it called a sink bath, a sponge bath, etc. My German mom calls it a “spit bath.”

You need a washrag. And a bowl or basin.

There’s this, and I bet @Papasan has experience with it:

Where I live, misting heads and drip emitters we used for irrigating our garden clog in a month. Our well water is really hard. I can only imagine the maintenance required to keep a mist shower device running in the conditions I have here.




When I did a safari & stayed in tents, that’s how they did the showers. They rigged up a shower-tent with warm water (heated by the sun in black plastic barrels) poured over you to get wet, then you lather up, and rinse off.


This is what happens when people who don’t know how things works tries to create new solutions to environmental issues and fall in love with their ideas before they discuss it with other people. It’s also a good indication that they believe certain assumptions that are true in their location are true all over the place.

Yes, in California and other desert locations, the amount of water available is rather limited. This is because it is a desert. In locations that are actually sustainable for people to live in, the main problem with fresh water is an overabundance which causes widespread devastation and destruction, and not insignificant loss of life. Here’s a hint: Rivers are supposed to run into the sea.

OK, so now that we have water use out of the way, energy use.

It completely and utterly ignores the much more reasonable option of using solar energy to heat the water, which would work for many climates most of the year. As @nungesser points out quite correctly and very well, a barrel painted black and left out in the sun does an amazing job of heating water. Heck, just pre-heating the water for the hot water tank with a solar water heater would likely significantly reduce power usage with no other changes to the system.


In a traditional shower, even a “Navy” shower, there is enough water flow that the force of the water moving over the skin sluices the gunk off the body and down the drain. In a mist shower, there is not enough water flow for that. To actually get clean, the bather must be careful to use hands or cloths to rub down the skin, in order to move the gunk. If he fails to do that, or isn’t careful enough, the gunk just gets wet and then he has damp mudlike gunk on his skin, and that isn’t removed until he uses a towel to dry himself. And now the cloth he used to rub down with, and/or the towel, are dirtier than they would be if used with a traditional shower. And it is more difficult to get them clean (i.e., the energy and water costs of doing the laundry are now higher). I fear a mist shower really only transfers the usage costs, and does not actually reduce them.


They use those cold mist showers in Texas to help with heat exhaustion. I learned about them at a 4th July concert in Houston.


I’ve seen them many places – at Cedar Point, Disneyland/Disney World, and outside stores in Phoenix. They’re excellent at cooling you down.


So showering with a friend is greener?


Right. If the concern is the amount of water being used (and the energy associated with moving that water) then a grey water system seems to be more productive. Using your water more than once by sending it to irrigation or your toilet tank instead of directly to the sewer would have more impact than simply reducing the amount used in the shower.


The reverse osmosis system went dead on a ship, we had hot salt water to bathe in, it was 30 + days of very itchy skin, not a fond memory.


Yeah, NASA and Buckminster Fuller. What a bunch of rubes. Also, @Snork “mudlike gunk”? I mean, yeah, if you roll around in muck all day, a mist shower might not get you squeaky clean. I don’t remember the last time I saw mudlike gunk sluicing down the drain during a shower. Eugh.


The case for this presupposes that we shower mainly for hygiene or even cleanliness. But that’s wrong. On the 99.9% of occasions when people haven’t been rolling in mud etc., we take showers (1) for pleasure and (2) because of fashions relating to smell. And I would argue most of (2) is driven by (1), since daily bathing was never a thing until it became widely possible to do it in a pleasant way.

So, if you don’t get a shower-like experience from a mist shower, then it doesn’t matter how little energy or water you use, because it doesn’t replace showering; the relevant comparison is to not taking a shower at all.

In my bathroom (since I don’t keep my home at 24°C throughout the winter), spraying myself with mist – even initially scalding mist – would just mean I had the heating on full for the next three hours trying to get the shivering under control. I would much prefer to take a real shower once every ten days.

What would anyway make more sense is a recirculating shower, so that you use less water than a bath, and a system like that would almost implicitly be able to reclaim the waste heat once you’re done (i.e. the water sits in a tank, heating the cold water coming into the boiler, instead of flushing your hard-earned heat into the sewer).

Or: communal bathing.


Buckminster Fuller is one of those rubes that rubes like to look up to.

Are you one of those rubes?

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This is terrible! I am sorry to hear.

I imagine this took place long before the invention of these:

ETA: grammar


I remember a hostel shower where I had to keep one hand on the button for the water to run (like a “dead man’s switch” I suppose). When I used both hands to lather up or shampoo, the water went off until I had a free hand to re-activate the button.




And NASA. Let’s not forget the space agency. Rubes, the lot of them!!

But seriously… Bucky Fuller’s a “rube” now? A moron that only morons appreciate? Please, elucidate.