Photo via: Todd R.
It's called the Strip Wash Challenge. I among a few other here on Treehugger signed up to take on this challenge which involved making it through an entire week using only natural body cleansers and the least amount of water possible. We were armed with only a pouch of Moroccan Rhassoul Clay and a alum stone deodorant rock from Natural Spa Supplies. It's the ageless battle of organic nature against the stinky journalist... who will be the last one standing!Rhassoul Clay and Alum Rock
Before we get on with this epic battle, lets talk briefly about the weapons at hand. Moroccan Rhassoul is an extremely mineral rich clay found deep beneath the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. It is known for its gentle cleansing, skin enrichment, and extremely clean and organic nature. The clay can be used on the face, the body, and even the hair.
Alum Stone is a completely natural deodorant. It is formed out of volcanic rock also known as Alunite crystal. These crystals are found in abundance in the Western deserts. They have similar laboratory made synthetic rock deodorants on the market, but this is actually the real deal. It works by coating the skin with a fine, salt layer, which inhibits the growth of odor causing microbes.
The Alum Stone Results
The use of the alum stone deodorant actually worked pretty good as long as I applied it a few times per day. I put a layer on in the morning, in the afternoon, before my evening workout, after the workout, and finally before I retired to bed.
I live a fairly active lifestyle, so I perspire a lot, which is why I made extra sure to have a layer of the salt on at all times. I could tell that over time the salts wash off and lose their effectiveness during heavy perspiration. If you are one of those who remains relatively dry all day long, then one coat in the morning would probably be all you really need.
The Moroccan Rhassoul
On the second day of my challenge I decided to break out the clay and see what kind of damage it could do. I had a two hour workout earlier that evening and had just finished a 45 minutes jog, so I was pretty ripe for the picking. I mixed the clay powder in a plastic bowl with a bit of water and it was ready in a jiffy.
I stepped into the tub and began to smear the tan mud all over my face and hair. When you first apply the mud you can feel the grit of the clay scrub the dead skin away, but it quickly breaks down to a creamier consistency. Washing the hair with the clay takes a bit getting used to, as there is no lather, no suds, just a thick mixture of mud, which you have to really work through your scalp.
By the time I had gotten the mixture throughout my hair, I could feel the clay mixture drying on my face, so I hopped out to look in the mirror. To my surprise, I looked like an aged ancient warrior, dressed for battle. At this point I began to feel a tingling sensation on my scalp. Everything was looking to be going fairly smoothly, so I gave myself a complete sponge bath using the clay mixture and a few quick bursts of water here and there.
I left the clay sit for two or three minutes, dampened a washcloth with water, and proceeded to wipe the clay off. The mixture was actually removed much easier than I would have thought. It practically melts right off with warm water. The first thing I noticed upon removing the bulk of the clay, was that my skin felt soft, moisturized, and tingly. Getting the clay out of the hair was a bit more of a challenge without using too much water, but it was doable with a little extra time and patience.
Now, the clay does leave a bit of a mess around the shower walls when you are finished, especially if you aren't careful, as I wasn't. Thankfully it comes off just as easily as it does from your skin. The total time of the entire routine from start to finish was probably 30 minutes, which is over twice as long as a quick shower, but it was actually quite exhilarating.
The Results of the Rhassoul Clay
I must say that I was impressed with the cleanliness I felt using the clay. I probably used no more than about one to two gallons of water total for each bath, which is some significant water savings. My skin felt great and my hair felt clean, soft, and had no oily residue what-so-ever. There is also a slight organic smell that is left over, which smells a bit like the essence of an early spring garden.
Overall, I would say these minimal water baths worked well for me. I stayed stink-free for the entire week, I used as much as 100 gallons less water than usual, and my hair and skin looked and felt great. It does take a little bit of extra time to follow this regiment in comparison to a three to five minute shower, but I actually did not mind the extra time. It was fun to get muddy. This is one time in your life, where in order to get clean, you must first get dirty!
I would also have to say that if you can bring your partner into the mix, such as in lathering mud on each other, that would be a particularly enjoyable experience. You would also quite likely save even more water this way. Yes, a shower for two is good for both you and the environment, but a mud bath for two might prove twice as nice!
This is of course just my experience with these products over the weeks time I spent with them, so I would be very interested to hear some other thoughts and experiences from Treehuggers who have tried this same regiment... What did you think?