All About the Calistoga Mud Bath

What’s in a Mud Bath? – The very first Calistoga mud baths were invented by the native Wappo Indians, who liked to mix volcanic ash and warm spring water for their treatments. These natural mud baths were commercialized shortly after the Gold Rush by none other than Sam Brennan, Calistoga’s founder. In 1946, mud baths finally made their debut in spa facilities when young chiropractor John “Doc” Wilkinson founded a spa facility in Calistoga to provide additional treatments for his patients, as well as the rest of the local populace. Wilkinson’s recipe – a mixture of natural volcanic ash, hot spring water from a nearby source, and peat moss to make the mixture more soft and buoyant – is still commonly used in Calistoga today. However, most modern spas have now added aromatherapy, such as lavender and eucalyptus scents, to the experience as well.

All About Calistoga Mud Baths – Mud baths, which commonly consist of hot spring water, peat, and natural minerals infused with rich volcanic ash, have been valued for their therapeutic and rejuvenating properties for thousands of years. Natural black mud from the Dead Sea, for example, contains a plethora of minerals that not only absorb dirt and oil from the skin, but have also been known to improve joint and muscle pain. These Dead Sea mud treatments are usually applied to the hair, face, and body, though most mud-bath connoisseurs in Western countries opt for full-body immersion. Historically, mud baths were once available only in those regions possessing an adequate geological supply of volcanic material. However, mud baths are now available in most high-end spas around the world, and remain a highly-favored treatment for those seeking both relaxation and rejuvenation.

How To Take a Mud Bath – Regardless of the Calistoga spa destination you select, mud bath treatments usually follow a general process. The first ten to twelve minutes are spent immersed in a pool of warm mud, kept at or above a comfortable 100 degrees Farenheit. This experience makes for a completely unique spa treatment, in that you actually achieve a feeling of near-weightlessness as you relax. The mixture is specifically engineered to be comfortable, warm, and buoyant; there is no pressure anywhere on the body as you float just beneath the surface, coated from neck to toe in downy softness and just the right amount of soothing, pleasant heat. When the immersion is over, an attendant will help you exit the pool. This attendant will have refreshing, ice-cold water and washcloths on hand, for cleansing purposes. After you wash off the mud, you will get to enjoy a soak in a mineral whirlpool bath, followed by a steam room treatment. To conclude your spa experience, a blanket wrap will then be administered to slowly aid the cooling of the body. The entire process normally takes around one-and-a-half hours, though it may be longer if you choose to receive a massage as well.

What is a Volcanic Ash Mud Bath? – Two to six million years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions formed the region of California that encompasses Calistoga. The leftover volcanic ash from these eruptions, mixed with natural mineral water from local springs, is the key ingredient for Calistoga’s volcanic mud baths. These mud bath treatments, which Calistoga is famous for, are unique only to this particular area. While many spas in Calistoga offer this rare and exclusive treat, one would be hard-put to find it anywhere else in the world; volcanic mud baths are found only in topographical regions located near dormant volcanoes.

A quick tip for visitors: when you come in for your volcanic mud bath treatment, be sure to inquire about its’ history. Spa attendants are more than happy to share their knowledge with you, and will be pleased that you asked.