For 16 years Shelly Egbert's father has owned 140 acres of geothermally active land north of Gerlach. And for 16 years she and her family have enjoyed the hot springs there and the silky buttery mud that llines the hot springs. Now, Shelly has figured out how to package it and share it. That's right, they are putting mud in jars and selling it to spas across the country.
"It's pure beautiful mud," Egbert says. "It comes from the earth to you and back to the earth. That's our company motto. We collect it by hand, package it in biodegradable plastic and in cardboard infused with wildflower seeds. When you're done with it, you plant the box and it grows wildflowers."
In fact, Black Rock Mud won an international packaging award for that idea. And their plan in general is a winner. The pure mud, which has no smell at all because the geothermal activity is from plate movement and not volcanic activity.
"It's as pure as it gets," Egbert says. "We don't use any chemicals or any fillers or even any thing other than the mud as it comes from Mother Earth."
They harvest twice a year and they never know just how much they'll get. But the buckets of mud dry out a bit on a rack, are strained to get the rocks out and packaged by eight of the kids in the two families. And get this, the profits are going in to college funds for the kids.
"We don't expect to make a million on this," Egbert says. "But we hope to make enough to get these kids through college. And they are home schooled and so they are learning about being good stewards of the land, and about using your resources to make a living. We have mud so we are packaging mud."