Burning Man Showers: Options for Self-Reliant Desert Hygiene

burning man showers

As anyone who's experienced the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert can tell you, amidst the mesmerizing art installations and unique community experiences, a significant challenge is staying clean and refreshed. In an environment where dust storms and intense heat are the norms, maintaining personal hygiene isn't just about comfort; it's crucial for a pleasant and healthy experience. Knowing your shower options is essential for an enjoyable time at Burning Man.

Let's delve into the shower facilities available at Burning Man, along with alternative portable shower options that Burners often bring to ensure they stay clean in the temporary city of Black Rock.

Burning Man's Provided Shower Facilities:

While Burning Man doesn't provide communal shower facilities like some festivals (e.g., Coachella), the principles of radical self-reliance and communal effort mean participants often bring their own solutions or share with campmates. Here's what you typically find:

  • DIY Shower Setups by Camps:
    • Some theme camps set up their own showers, often open to fellow Burners for a small contribution or barter.
    • These setups vary in sophistication, from simple solar bag showers to more elaborate systems.
  • Public Shower Projects:
    • Occasionally, art installations double as functional showers, though these are not a guaranteed amenity.

    Hygiene Limitations at Burning Man:

    While Burning Man's ethos encourages creative solutions for hygiene, there are challenges:

    • Water Supply: Water is a precious resource in the desert. Any shower setup must consider water conservation and greywater disposal.
    • Privacy and Comfort: DIY or communal showers offer varying levels of privacy and comfort.
    • Environmental Conditions: The harsh desert environment can affect the functionality of shower setups.

    showers at burning man

    Burning Man Hygiene Pain Points

    When you’re preparing for Burning Man, and considering that basic necessities you’re used to that are limited, like water, you’ll want to think about all the hygiene functions you use at home. That includes:

    1. Hand Washing
    2. Face Washing
    3. Foot Washing
    4. Brushing Your Teeth
    5. Showering
    6. Washing Your Hair
    7. Washing Clothes
    8. Washing Dishes
    9. Washing Utensils

    So to maintain some sense of hygienic normalcy, you will need water for more than just showering and drinking - and you inevitably will need more than you initially think. Outside of bringing more water, the large appetite for water to meet daily hygienic needs will inevitably also necessitate conserving water in any way possible. 

    How to Conserve Water at Burning Man

    In order to get the most out of the water you bring to Burning Man, for not only drinking but also for the hygienic purposes we’ve listed above, water conservation methods are extremely important. Fortunately, there are a number of preparations you can take to improve your water conservation methods. Conserving water when camping and having limited access to water can come in many different forms, including:

    1. Use Water Efficiently for Drinking: Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it at designated water stations. Avoid using disposable plastic bottles as they contribute to waste and are less efficient.
    2. Smart Cooking Choices: Choose meals that require minimal water to prepare. Consider pre-cooked or no-cook food items to reduce water usage for cooking and cleaning.
    3. Limit Shower Use: Avoid taking long showers. If possible, take sponge baths or use biodegradable wet wipes for quick clean-ups.
    4. Recycle Water: If you use water for washing dishes or your hands, try to reuse this water for other purposes, such as extinguishing your campfire.
    5. Use Biodegradable Soap: When washing yourself or your dishes, use biodegradable soap to minimize environmental impact. This way, if you use water sparingly for cleaning, you're not harming the surrounding nature.
    6. Capture Rainwater: If it’s safe and legal in your area, set up a system to capture rainwater. This can be used for non-drinking purposes like washing dishes or putting out fires.
    7. Check for Leaks: Make sure all your water containers and systems (like portable showers or water carriers) are leak-proof. Even a small drip can result in significant water loss over time.
    8. Avoid Disposable Dishes: Use reusable dishes and utensils to reduce the need for washing up multiple items.
    9. Use a Pressurized Water Source: Using pressurized water can help conserving water by empowering you to use water more efficiently. A good pressurized water source like a portable shower can allow you to control water flow such that you can cut it off quickly or utilize a pressurized spray to knock off dirt and gunk more efficiently than just pouring it out.  

    Why a Portable Shower Is The Best Way to Conserve Water

    When it comes to providing a pressurized water source that helps conserve water, there are a few options, but the best all-around option is a portable shower. Due to the fact that a portable shower can cut water flow immediately, while also providing pressure, it is useful for many of the hygiene needs we discussed above. While portable showers may not be ideal for dispensing drinking water, they are great for showering, hand washing, washing dishes, hair, etc. 

    The thing is, there are many different types of portable showers, so knowing how they function and what they require is necessary when making the decision that works best for you. Let’s look at the different types of portable showers and how they would work at Burning Man to see what option may be best for you.  

    hand washing at burning man

    Portable Shower Options for Burning Man:

    Given the unique conditions of Burning Man, many participants bring portable showers. Let's explore the types of portable showers suited for the Desert:

  • Solar Bag Showers:
        • Pros: Eco-friendly, no need for electricity, portable.
        • Cons: Dependent on sunny weather, limited water pressure, and variable water temperature.
  • Pump-Action Portable Showers:
        • Pros: Manual operation, compact, easy to store.
        • Cons: Physical effort required, limited pressure, no built-in heating.
  • Propane Heated Portable Showers:
        • Pros: Provide hot water, stronger water pressure.
        • Cons: More complex setup, safety considerations with propane, bulkier, and ongoing fuel costs.
  • Battery-Powered Portable Showers:
      • Pros: Consistent water pressure, versatile water source usage, easy to move.
      • Cons: Dependent on battery life, generally more expensive, may require additional water source.

    So you can see that when it comes to portable showers, there are a number of choices and some may be better for your situation depending on your intended use and how much money you want to spend. If you’re looking for a solution that is convenient, easy to use, portable, and powerful, a battery-pressurized system is likely the best choice. 

    If you do your research into battery-pressurized portable showers, you’ll find that RinseKit is the superior choice. Here’s why:

    Why RinseKit is Ideal for Burning Man

    rinsekit for burning man

    RinseKit portable showers are battery pressurized portable showers, where the entirety of the unit, including the battery and the water tank, are contained in a small, portable case about the size of a small cooler. Due to their ease of use, power and portability, RinseKit emerges as a leading solution for Burning Man for several reasons:

  • Convenience and Simplicity:
        • RinseKit showers are battery-pressurized with an onboard water tank. That means that all you have to do to use it is fill it with water, press the power button, and spray.
  • Reliable Water Pressure:
        • The battery-powered pressure system ensures consistent, high-pressure water flow. It’s similar to the pressure of your shower or hose at home, so it can easily knock off all the sand and grime you collect at Burning Man. Unlike other portable showers, it also does not lose pressure due to decreasing water levels in the tank, so you get consistent pressure down to the last drop.
  • Efficiency and Sustainability:
        • High capacity (3.5 to 5 gallons) makes them suitable for the water-scarce environment of Burning Man. Due to the battery powered pressure, you can also use the water you do have more efficiently, as the water flow can be activated and deactivated instantly. This helps you conserve that water that is oh-so-valuable in the desert.
  • Portability and Multifunctionality:
        • Easy to transport and useful for various needs beyond showering. RinseKit’s compact shape and functionality make it great for campsite cooking, dishwashing, handwashing, face washing, clothes washing, or any other cleaning function you may need at the campsite.
  • Hot Water Options:
      • With accessories like the propane-powered HyperHeater, RinseKit can provide a hot shower experience, so you can take a hot, high pressure shower at your campsite.

    So you can see that if you are looking for a portable shower that has it all, including portability, high pressure, convenience and hot water, RinseKit has it all.

    portable shower for burning man

    Adding Privacy with the RinseKit Shelter:

    For those seeking privacy, RinseKit offers a shower tent with dedicated spaces for showering and changing, enhancing the Burning Man experience with comfort and convenience. With the Shelter, you can take a full standing shower right at the campsite, with full privacy so you don’t have to shower in your swimsuit or set up a makeshift curtain off of a vehicle. Combined with the RinseKit and HyperHeater, you can take a hot, high pressure, private shower right at your campsite.

    shower tent for burning man

    Real-Life Scenario at Burning Man:

    Imagine returning to your camp after a day of exploration, art, and community. Instead of contending with basic or non-existent shower facilities, you set up your RinseKit with the HyperHeater and Shelter Shower Tent and enjoy a rejuvenating hot shower right at your campsite, preparing you for another night of adventure. You can get refreshed, cleaned off and looking your best in just a few simple steps.

    At Burning Man, where self-reliance and community are key, RinseKit offers an effective, private, and enjoyable showering experience. It enables Burners to maintain hygiene and comfort effortlessly, allowing them to fully immerse in the unique and transformative experience of Burning Man. RinseKit isn’t just a portable shower; it's an essential tool for thriving in the challenging yet rewarding environment of the Desert.