A Shower at Factor E Farm

I  know I promised the True Fans group that I would work documenting Factor E in video (there will be some to come),  but I found more pressing needs on site- namely hygiene facilities.   Riding to the airport with Cat and Richard from U. Missouri Columbia and Lonny from Appropedia, Lonny helped me frame why hygiene is so fundamental.  He said that we cannot confuse that which is important from that which is fundamental; while physics may be fundamental, because you can’t have anything without atoms, he considers biology more important, because it explains the systems we live within.  While the vision of a new economy is the most important source of drive and energy at Factor E, hygiene and food are the fundamentals that sustain the project.

So most of my week was dedicated to making a shower.  I re-brazed and repaired an in-line heater that had been used in the Babington burner prototype, and added a thermal shut off so no one gets burned.  The shower is made entirely out of parts found at Factor E, plus a low flow shower with “soap up” valve to save water.  My design rationale for the shower was to create a comfortable and relaxed showering experience with only 10 gallons of water.  This is accomplished by fully enclosing the top of the shower to retain heat, and placing the shower in the greenhouse.  Trapping the heat and steam of the shower will keep  you comfortable even when the water is off, so that instead of a rushed, chore-like 5 minute shower,  you can take a relaxed 10 minute shower, using only 5 minutes of water.

I just barely had enough time to get the whole thing up before I had to leave, so I went to the airport dirty.  With messy hair and mud all over me I got an extra hassle going through security.  Stomping off the plane at my Denver transfer flight I left a little piece of Factor E, a 4″ medallion of caked mud and straw, ready to be ground permanently into the carpet.  It’s such a pleasure to bring the project to a wider audience.


  1. Molly

    The shower is fantastic! Jeremy and Marcin had their first spring shower yesterday. Thank you so much for building it Mathew! After building one raised bed for kale and filling pots with soil for some grapevine cuttings I was in need of a real shower. The only downside is it took me a half hour to fill the water barrel up with enough water for hopefully 3 showers. We got to get a pump or reconnect the rain barrel pipes. The water pressure was great and the space is really warm thanks to the black plastic. Unfortunately all the heated water leaked out and my shower was quite room temperature, but that should be fixed if I pick up the right size rubber washer. It’s great to get the dirt out of my hair. Thanks again.

  2. Lonny

    You might want to consider catching some rainwater and directing it to the shower barrel. The shower barrel could have an overflow where it connects back to the other rainwater barrels.

    As for the enclosed shower, check out the Sunfrost shower.

    PS I think that the Fundamental versus Important concept was dissected well by Ken Wilber in Sex, Ecology and Spirituality… and a shower is both! 🙂

  3. […] Molly and I built a hand washing station and I put together a shower, sanitation is still a major problem at Factor E Farm. This post is an analysis of the sanitation […]

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