Bucket Bath vs Shower Bath: Saves Water?

On average, does bathing in shower take more water than bathing with a bucket or less?

Before starting any argument, let me confess that I use a shower daily, not because I like it, but because I have no luxury of using a bucket (In the west, you would find a lot of wastage of resources and energy). But somehow, there are a lot of people who are convinced that a shower wastes less water than a bucket bath. I do not think so. India has been facing water shortage since times unknown and we have come to a conclusion that using a bucket is the best way out. I support this 'tradition.' By the way, California too has just realised it. Maybe in few years time, we would be seeing buckets in every bathroom in California atleast.

One Quora explanation tells us to plug the water in the bath tub, take a shower and compare the water levels with the volume of a bucket. It is absolutely nonsense. Probably the writer got confused between a bucket and the bath tub (I am scared of the wastage created by a tub bath, so I will not even talk about it). I decided to do a simple experiment in a hostel bathroom in India. The reason for choosing a hostel bathroom is because generally in hostels, the shower faucets are clogged in most of the pores (the reason for this is a research problem no one has ever probed into) and thus I am literally using the slowest possible shower faucet. I filled a one liter mug with the water from the shower. It took me a bit more than 12 seconds for the mug to fill. That would mean 5 liters per minute and assuming 5 minutes for a bath, it consumed 25 liters of water. 

Assuming that those who believe that they are conserving water by taking showers will also bathe very fast, I cut down the bath time to a very very modest 3 minutes which brings down the consumption to 15 liters. Now, according to Milton, selling its products on Flipkart, the common bucket is 18 liters in volume, thus making a shower bath better, mathematically (in reality, it is not, you know! :-P)

However, to give an edge to shower faucets, I have made a lot of assumptions above. I have also not considered the initial wastage that generally occurs while using a shower and also the fact that a bucket is never filled to the brim (even the volume is calculated likewise).

Now, instead of my calculations, I look at the American "Faucet Flow Rate Regulations" (yes, there are such regulations), framed in 1994 (I really wonder if the US knows about a bucket! I am kidding, it does, Amazon.com sells them). According to the regulations, the maximum allowed flow rate is 2.5 gallons per minute which is about 9.4 liters per minute. The aim is to bring that down to 1.2 gpm but that is only in California but let me assume this is the norm everywhere. Even though it is a huge, huge assumption, let me go ahead and say that every shower faucet in the US urinates 1.2 gpm or 4.5 liters per minute, rounded off. An average person showers for 8 minutes. That would mean 36 liters of water in total. Phew! Again, the 'conservationists' who believe shower bath is good would let's say bathe for only 5 minutes which makes the count 22.5 liters of water. Again in the shower's defense, let us assume that a common bucket has a volume of 22 litersThe shower still uses more water!

However, I am showering no praises on bucket bath. That is because in the true defense of those in support of a shower bath over bucket bath, I have always taken into account that those who go for bucket bath only use one bucket of water which might not be true. Using two or more buckets of water makes it way water consuming than a regular shower bath. But hey, I have assumed so much for the shower players, I can make this small assumption as well. Just keep in mind that there are millions who are still thirsty while we bathe daily/weekly. Overall, "a" bucket bath is way better than shower in the present circumstances at least! Also, c'mon, with a bucket bath, one can reach any particular spot on the body but that is not possible with a shower bath. Most importantly, you can take your time in a bucket bath without having to worry about turning off knobs. What is the point of taking a bath if one cannot stand and wonder or recollect the lyrics of a really long song!


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