BWCA BDUB-safe shampoo Boundary Waters Gear Forum
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marky
member (20)member
 
08/04/2021 06:58PM  
My wife is wondering if there are any shampoo products that are safe to use in the Boundary Waters. Or alternative products that would serve the purpose.
 
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Tfrank86
 
08/04/2021 07:16PM  
We use Dr. Bronner’s castille soap unscented. It works for everything from bathing, dishes, laundary, etc. While it is natural and biodegradable just make sure you wash up well away from shore.
 
marky
member (20)member
 
08/04/2021 07:21PM  
Tfrank86: "We use Dr. Bronner’s castille soap unscented. It works for everything from bathing, dishes, laundary, etc. While it is natural and biodegradable just make sure you wash up well away from shore."

Thanks, Tfrank86. One of our group brings a Peppermint Dr. Bronner's, which we use for dishes and general campsite cleaning, but with it having natural ingredients, why do you say to use it "well away from shore"? She's hoping to find something environmentally safe that can be used in the water.
 
gotwins
distinguished member (228)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2021 07:45PM  
The regs say to wash your body and everything else 100' away from shore, as in no soap in the lake. I'm not going to lie, I've taken a bath with the good Doctor in the lake in the past. Last few trips (past decade), I've just taken a pail of water (or a solar shower, very nice addition to the pack, and my wife loves it for washing her hair), up away from the shore. Heck, I'll even heat the water if it's cold to make it nicer to wash with. Use that with the good Doctor or whatever you want when you're far from shore. I guess as I get older, I am more picky about keeping anything out of the lake that could be a potential problem down the road.

I might aslo add that Dr Bronner's is quite drying, you might want to have your wife try it at home before the trip. My wife doesn't like it as it makes her hair a big snarl. She uses something a bit more like at home, with the solar shower on shore.
 
mmrocker13
distinguished member (115)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2021 07:55PM  
I typically go in with two french braids, and don't take them out. That allows me to go without shampooing my hair. We do rinse our stink off in the lake, but nobody shampoos anything for the duration. So that is an option she might want to explore. I've worn braids for trips up to 12 to 14 days. If she's not comfortable with that, she could also use a dry shampoo. I do dry shampoo normally (as in at home, not in the wilderness) , and it can extend the amount of time between washing for a very long time. And of course depending on what type of dry shampoo, it's frequently lighter than carrying shampoo or other liquid soap.
 
andym
distinguished member(5125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
08/04/2021 08:12PM  
Biodegradable soaps are algae food. Hence the need to keep them out of the lakes.
 
08/04/2021 09:58PM  
Even biodegradable soaps form a film on top of the water where they just float around for a while. They need to be kept on shore, back in the woods where organic matter and associated bugs break it down. No soap in the water.
 
gkimball
distinguished member(648)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/04/2021 11:10PM  
I would think a ranger would write someone up pretty fast if they came up on a campsite and they were shampooing or washing with soap in the lake.
 
andym
distinguished member(5125)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
08/05/2021 12:00AM  
BTW, my wife also braids her hair on trips and can go 10 days just getting it wet while swimming.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(13970)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
08/05/2021 07:05AM  
Zero soap products in the lake, that’s the law. Wash off with a pail of water and soap in the woods.
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1654)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/05/2021 08:07AM  
I wood stay away from the Peppermint scented/flavored soap even if used well away from the lake, it's a bear attractant. I certainly wouldn't want to smell like a human candy cane when a hungry bear comes into camp.
 
08/05/2021 08:14AM  
Savage Voyageur: "Zero soap products in the lake, that’s the law. Wash off with a pail of water and soap in the woods. "

+1 million
 
08/05/2021 11:48AM  
The problem with all soap that works odd that it contains phosphate which is algae fertilizer which turns clear water green or brownish green because of an over abundance of the growth. And the regulation is to try to keep that at a minimum. Just look at all the lakes and rivers in farm country for examples of highly fertilized water.
What is my expertise on this area? I was an agronomist for 20 years.
 
gotwins
distinguished member (228)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/05/2021 12:18PM  
Captn Tony: "The problem with all soap that works odd that it contains phosphate which is algae fertilizer which turns clear water green or brownish green because of an over abundance of the growth. And the regulation is to try to keep that at a minimum. Just look at all the lakes and rivers in farm country for examples of highly fertilized water.
What is my expertise on this area? I was an agronomist for 20 years. "


I'm the son of an agronomist and I'm a chemist. You're right phosphorous and phosphates are algae fertilizer. However, most soaps we consumers use don't contain this. For example, Dawn dish soap:

"Ever wonder why Dawn soap is the wildlife cleaner of choice after an oil spill? According to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, Dawn effectively removes grease but does not cause harm to the skin of the birds. It's also biodegradable and contains no phosphates."

and

"Bronner's, two great all-purpose soaps in easily packable, small containers. Both are free of harmful chemicals and phosphates and are biodegradable."

Have you ever noticed that every dishwasher soap over the past decade proudly states on the bottle/box "phosphate free"?

The problem with soaps in the lake are the surfactants. They are harmful to the invertebrates in the lake. Also, soap can increase nitrogen levels in the lakes, which causes the algae to grow.

Anyway, yeah, wash away from the lake. It's not that hard to do, and keeps the lakes nice and clear!
 
PeaceFrog
distinguished member (105)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/05/2021 03:10PM  
Savage Voyageur: "Zero soap products in the lake, that’s the law. Wash off with a pail of water and soap in the woods. "

Amen
 
08/05/2021 04:20PM  
No matter what you use, do NOT use it in the water.
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1123)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/05/2021 06:33PM  
The water in the BWCA is too cold and nutrient deficient to allow biodegradable soap to biodegrade. Therefore, it is critical to wash away from shore whether it is dishes, body, or hair. I never bother washing my hair unless my trip is more than 2 weeks. I have long hair and just keep it back in a ponytail. We don't use soap to wash our bodies either, just take a dip in the lake each afternoon. If it is a hot, sunny afternoon we go in with our day time clothes on so they get a rinse as well.

 
LarryS48
distinguished member (171)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
08/06/2021 02:47AM  
The old, old solution for soap was a bar of Ivory Soap. This has largely been replaced by “biodegradable” camping soaps. Soaps are sodium or potassium salts of fatty acids. I always assumed that Ivory was 99 and 44/100 percent soap i.e. salts of fatty acids. I also guessed that camping soaps were also salts of fatty acids. So, what makes camping soap better? I am not looking for an answer of it is more biodegradable. I want to know WHY. What is the difference in the chemical make up? Is it the other 0.56% in the Ivory soap? Are the fatty acids different? Does the metal ion make a difference? Is it just marketing hype? Are there any tests that show one is superior to the other? Is it simply that a bar of soap that floats might encourage use in the lake?
 
08/06/2021 07:08AM  
straighthairedcurly: "The water in the BWCA is too cold and nutrient deficient to allow biodegradable soap to biodegrade. Therefore, it is critical to wash away from shore whether it is dishes, body, or hair. I never bother washing my hair unless my trip is more than 2 weeks. I have long hair and just keep it back in a ponytail. We don't use soap to wash our bodies either, just take a dip in the lake each afternoon. If it is a hot, sunny afternoon we go in with our day time clothes on so they get a rinse as well.


"


Pretty much what I have always done, especially the fully clothed dip on hot days. If you need more, use cleansing wipes on the important areas.
 
08/06/2021 03:30PM  
Taking a solar shower back in the woods is pretty great. Bring something to stand on (patch of Tyvek or heavy plastic) and heat the water on the stove if it's cloudy.

Please don't soap up in the lake.
 
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