Archive for category grooming

The Navy Shower – Does it Pay?

Some Background


photo: _Teb

I see this idea batted around constantly. That we spend utterly too much time bathing ourselves, and sending all that water and heat right down the drain. We should be reclaiming the water, reclaiming the heat, and that by bathing, we are strangling mother earth and smiling (and smelling squeaky clean) as we do it.

One of the reasons I decided to do the math on this one is that someone on a forum called me out for shaving in the shower. I thought that he was just being finicky, so I decided to do the math, and let the chips fall where they may.

It seems that there are a great many variations on this topic, and I decided to crunch some numbers and see where the truth really lies. I am going to look at two different takes on daily bathing: mine, and that of the ‘navy shower.’ My guess is that your bathing method lies in the middle somewhere.

According to Wikipedia, a Navy Shower goes like this:

  1. Turn on the water
  2. Immediately wet the body
  3. Turn off the water
  4. Soap up and scrub
  5. Turn the water back on and rinse off the soap
  6. Turn off the water

That same article states that a navy shower uses about 3 gallons of water.

My shower is as follows:

  1. Turn on the shower
  2. Hop and and scrub up
  3. Warm up while listening to the radio
  4. Shave
  5. Rinse
  6. Hop out

Total water time: 15 minutes.

How to Make the Calculations

We are going to have to make a few approximations and assumptions here. I was going to throw a bucket under my shower head, and see how much came out in a minute, then use that number. I quickly realized that such a measurement was dependent on pressure and plumbing more than anything else.

I then read an article that stated that shower heads manufactured after 1992 were limited to 2.2 gallons per minute. This is at full pressure. I take my shower at less than full pressure. To make this number a little easier to deal with, let’s say that the average is 2 GPM.

So, this being the case, by shaving and listening to the radio in the shower, I use 30 gallons of water. About ten navy showers worth. This number is starting to hurt.

How they Bill you

The water department doesn’t bill you by the gallon. This number would be way too hard to measure, and would cause everyone to freak out as that number climbed sky high. The number that they bill you by is “Hundred Cubic Feet.” Imagine a cube 1 foot on each edge. Each hundred of those is what they bill you for.

You will have to look at your water bill to get the exact number. In my case, I had to back calculate. The interesting thing about my water bill is that I get billed for water coming in, and water going to the sewer. Both numbers are 12. What if I filled up a swimming pool? Would the sewer number be smaller? I really doubt it.


After all is said and done, I get charged $7.73 per hundred cubic feet of water.

The amount of water in a daily shower is tiny compared to a hundred cubic feet, so let’s make another assumption. Let’s assume that we bathe every day. A friend of mine says that is a sign that I am obsessive compulsive, but I will take that moniker in exchange for feeling clean and fresh in the morning.

That means that each month, I dump 900 gallons (!) down the drain bathing. That seems like alot. Let’s see how much it costs me.

Once cubic foot = 7.48 gallons

So each month, I use 1.2 hundred cubic feet (ouch) for a total of $9.28. This is a great deal more than I expected.

The same month in navy showers would cost less than a dollar.

Now, to heat that water!

There is really no way to accurately guess this number, but follow my logic here:

In the summer, my gas bill is about $30. I would guess that 1/4 of that is for cooking, which leaves $22.5 for heating water.

There are three people in my house showering daily. That means about 4 hundred cubic feet are used for bathing (they use more water than me).

That means 1/3 of the water (remember, I used 12 HCF per month) used was for bathing. That means 1/3 of $22.50 was used for heating shower water, or $7.50.

Taking that number again, and dividing by three to get my total, I used $2.50 to heat my water.

The Final Analysis

Each month, taking a fifteen minute shower each day, I spend $11.78. While this number is based on several assumptions and approximations, it is very close.

Taking a ‘navy shower’ each month costs $1.18 per month. An order of magnitude (and a real number!) cheaper.

Now, multiply this over the number of people in your house, and you can see that these are actually real numbers, and add up to some serious cash very quickly. I am now left to think really hard about this. I really like taking my warm shower in the morning. I don’t think i could go navy on this one, but if i only stayed in for 7 1/2 minutes, I could save almost six bucks.

If I were to shave in the sink after the shower, I could easily shave 5 minutes off my daily shower time. Think about it this way:

According to my calculations, I spend about 79 cents for each average minute in the shower. If I shave in the sink, I will save $4 a month. $48 bucks a year!

If I could get my family do do the same thing, we would have enough money left over to: go out to the movies an extra time a month, go out to dinner an extra time per month. Then again, it could rain hundred dollar bills for 40 days and 40 nights, and we’d all be rich.

Just sayin’..

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Shave Like your Grandpa Did

Vintage Shaving KitIn the interest of full disclosure, this story has links to a few products on Amazon. If you decide to buy these products from these links, I get a portion of the money. In the future, I may include such links to products, but do note that in all cases, these are products I have personally used and tested, and are products I believe in.
I will only include such ads when it facilitates the purchase of quality items.

An act of defiance.

A few years ago, I received a new razor blade in the mail. It came with two cartridges, and the handle. Just when I thought that three blades were enough to cope with any stubble i might have, the cartridge came with FOUR blades. I went through the two free blades in as many weeks, and since I had the handle, I thought i would just buy the blades for the handle.

I got to the store, and found that these blades cost $16 for three! I had never thought about how much i was spending on razor blades, so I looked at my old brand, and found that I was spending about $12 for a pack of four. I looked at the other brands, and this was about the standard pricing.

Then, scanning the racks, I found that I could pick up 10 old school safety razors for $5. I remembered that my grandpa gave me a safety razor about twenty years ago, and I still had it. In an act of technological defiance, I grabbed my old school razors at a fraction of the cost, and split.

Since I had my grandpa’s razor, the price of admission was free, but if you are a newcomer, you are going to have to get a handle. The most economical way to do it is to go to a second hand store. They usually have them lined up for five bucks a pop. In a lot of cases, they usually have new ones with cases for ten bucks. Until you know what you like, it really doesn’t matter which brand or style you get. Just get one that feels good in your hand. One of the brands that I have tried in the area of new razors is Merkur.

So, at this point, I had spend five bucks, for more than three times as many blades. But! Would one old school razor blade do the work of three modern blades?

But will it cut?

I ended up throwing a blade into my forty (at least) year old razor, and let it rip. To my surprise, I found that after I got used to how the razor worked (the angle and such) I was getting the best shave of my life. Over the years, I have found some tricks to getting an even better shave, and to my surprise, the best results were had with some of the most economical products.

Here are the things I learned. It took me awhile of wandering on my own. Armed with this info, you can have a barber shop quality shave every day, at a fraction of the super mega ultra blade cost:

  • You should always make two passes when you shave. The first pass goes WITH the grain, to knock your stubble down, the second pass goes AGAINST the grain. This will give you a baby butt smooth shave.
  • Take a look at your safety razor edgewise. You will see that it has an angle of about 30 degrees. This is the angle that you want to have flat on your face. Keep this angle as you move across your face, and you will keep that stubble in line.
  • Once you are comfortable, you might want to try a real shaving cream. The stuff they sell in the mega stores come in two styles. Cheap fluffy soap, and expensive but not so effective creams. None of these products are really suitable for shaving. Once you have tried a real cream, you will never got back. Some brands I have used: Proraso and Taylor of Old Bond Street. Although they are a bit more expensive than their discount store counterparts at first, I find that each product lasts several (four to six!) months.
  • If you venture out into using real shaving creams, you are going to need to pick up a brush. Brushes usually go from $15 – $40. My suggestion is to get a nice Badger Brush in the $25 neighborhood. Mine has lasted for years, and I have not thought it was worth my while to replace it for a bigger model.
  • If you decide to try other brands of razor blades (discount stores usually only carry their store brand), I have found that Merkur safety razor blades are considerably more robust than discount brands.

So, do you save money?

In retrospect, I was spending about $15 a month on shaving supplies. This has been cut to:

Razor Blades$2.40
Shave Cream$2
Total:$4.40 per month

So yes! Shaving like grandpa did saves a good deal of money, and works better than the latest blade technology.

How To

Okay, I found this video on youtube. While I think that all the information is valid, I found that since I shave in the shower, I can do it in five minutes, tops. So keep that in mind when they give you start hearing all the lengthy time estimates:

For a wealth of wet shaving information, and to learn to perfect your form, make sure to check Mark’s website and his youtube channel. Thanks, Mark for the excellent work.

So, if you decide to go this route, please let me know how it worked out for you. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Photo courtesy of Coffee Black and Egg White Photography

Addendum – 12/13/09

After using both Merkur blades and generic blades, I came to some conclusions. They are posted as a new entry on this blog.

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