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I am a fan of Dr. Bronners for in camp “bathing”, and of Campsuds for dishwashing in tidal areas. Bronners and salt water makes a disgusting, ineffective globular mess.

But this is more about home use, specifically shop use for hand washing. I don’t do a lot of greasy mechanical/engine work and don’t need the degreaser aspect. But for scrubbing off errant paint, adhesives or even epoxy, an epidermis removing scrub with Lava still does it for me.

PA220006 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

What do y’all use?

And, this is driving me nuts, what the vintage grease remover stuff, the pale creamy goo you scooped out of a can, rubbed in and wiped off of a rag?
 
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I'm more the greasy type--I use Dawn detergent (so don't call me Madge). I just fill up the hand dispensers with it. I even use it in mechanical bike chain cleaners. I should probably have some Lava around for the other stuff (I remember bathing with it as a kid--I must have been dirty). My great aunt used to make her own lye soap....
 
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Lava Soap Redux

I’ve been doing a lot of sticky fingered stuff lately, and scrubbing my grimy hands with Lava several times a day. Enough that I finally had to replace a becoming-a-sliver with a fresh bar. Lava seems to work equally with cold well water as with hot water; I am not waiting around for the water to warm up.

Y’all know frugal I am. That slender sliver got dried and went into a Ziplock in the clean-up ditty bag, along with the Scotchbrite, Bronner’s and CampSuds.

That sliver of Lava should exfoliate some heel callus and remove leg and elbow grime, along with a layer of epidermis. I wonder if it floats?

(Eh, y’all also know how raise-a-question curious I can be. Nope, Lava sinks like a rock)

I’ll summer swim in the lake or river, but occasionally have qualms about bathing in it, even when not at Polar Bear Plunge temps. A lot of snowmelt or dam fed rivers are still bone-chilling cold in summer. Just wading can make your ankles ache.

Beyond that, on heavily populated lakes, with nearby neighbor sites, instead of enjoy-my-suds wafting up on your beach, I’ll draw a bucket of water and sponge bathe in camp.
 
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Probably TMI, but I use Lava for everything…big ol bar in the shower. Only one that feels CLEAN when I’m done. Dr. B’s for camp stuff.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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I'd forgotten about Lava since my childhood. Yes, I recall it was a very effective daily soap for us kids who had no shower and took a bath only on Saturday night.

Around the house, which isn't really relevant since I don't build or outfit canoes, I used to be an Irish Spring guy for decades, but my wife is now the soap procurer. Beekman 1802 goat milk soap has been a standard for the past few years, supposedly rejuvenating for ancient skin, especially in this Covid age of obsessive hand washing and alcoholically desiccating hand sanitizers.

On canoe trips, I've stayed with supposedly biodegradable liquid camp suds for decades. Does the job for me. If I don't bathe every day, I do like to splash and wash my face and hair every morning. Makes me feel fresh and awake.
 
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I'm a tinkerer so one minute I might be building a woodstove, cabinet, or whatever else comes to mind, and the next I might be shoulder deep under a car hood, painting a fender, or sewing up a new tent, so I need something fast and effective (ever tried cleaning off 20 yr old 130W gear oil?) so I keep a variety of stuff on hand- Varsol and acetone, White Wolf waterless cream hand cleaner (designed originally for printshops), and for just basic degriming Simple Orange in the 1gal pump jug.
for camping it's your basic campsuds for just about everything, and a small bottle of irish spring body wash to destinkify when I get back to the car.
 
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We had a service station when I was a teen in the '60s and the every station had Gojo. I have the gallon pump bottle in my garage and it looks like I will never have to buy another. I think it was Lava that we kept in the station bathroom. Lava still sounds like a great option in the boat or car camping.
 
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I grew up on Chesapeake Bay. We used to use soap made for salt water.

People need to remember to keep soap out of lakes, streams and even the salt water. Use a collapsible bucket or wash basin away from live water. Even "biodegradable soap" should not be used in lakes and streams.
 
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I agree about soaps made for saltwater. Dr. Bronner’s in a bucket of saltwater turns to some weird globular science experiment. CampSuds does work in salt water, but I’d be very interested in commercially available others, please do tell.

And I agree about keeping soap out of (most) lakes and streams. Salt water, coast or tidal river, eh, if I am desperate enough to bath in saltwater the solution to pollution is dilution, at least for my little bit of soap suds. I need to be pretty grimy to bath in salt water, and will bring wetnaps instead; potable water is too precious even for a rinse.

A story of course. Friend Alan, not really a paddler or camper, came on a coastal trip. One morning I watched him open the nozzle on a dromedary bag of potable water and loving wash his hands, at least until I shouted “Jesus @#$%ing Christ, that is the last of our drinking water!”

On lakes or streams, if it is summer warm, a no-soap swim every day holds me well. Off season I’ll dip a bucket of freshwater, take a brief Polar-Bear Plunge and retreat up past camp to suds up and rinse off like a Navy shower. On a well, and septic, I do that at home too.

And I agree, even if it is “biodegradable” I don’t want to see a ring of my across-the-lake neighbor’s suds frothed up on my landing beach.

On desert rivers a bucket of silt-steeled alum water is a bathing boon. Dip a muddy bucket, stir in some alum, sit it in the sun and wait for washing up clarity. I really don’t need to bath in “Too thick to drink, too thin to plow”.

Alum jar, stir stick, collapsible bucket, folding tabletop on top to keep the blowing dust out.

P5041973 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Left unwatched and unovered other things can end up in your silt settling bucket.

P5081013 by Mike McCrea, on Flickr

Fresh mouse kabobs on the menu tonight.
 
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No one has mentioned "Snap" pumice soap. We were early-twenties working on my friend's car - literally in the shade of a tree. It was hot and we were working shirtless. Friend was covered in greasy dirt from the belt line up. He was raised by his European grandparents and when grams saw the state of him there was no arguing. She alternated between scrubbing his entire upper body with Snap and rinsing with the garden hose. He had picked up a bit of a sunburn so was screaming almost the entire time. I laughed. A lot. From a good distance.
 

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