Living on Karst, a soap and water solution…

Posted on 19. Aug, 2008 by in Daily Dose of Door

Fels-naptha soap Ok, there is no obvious reason to post these two things together but, if you get a case of poison ivy, the one sure-cure is washing it regularly with a bar of Fels-naptha soap. It’s really all about washing away all traces of the plant toxins carried by the fluids that come from its blistering effects on the skin. This old-fashioned brown bar of soap stops the spread of infection. Trying to find it is a bit harder nowadays. Neither Nelson’s nor Ace Hardware carry it. I tried several grocery stores, but the Piggly Wiggly in Sister Bay is the only one with bars on the shelf. Put one of these just-in-case, old stand-bys in your survival kit.

While looking back over recent news regarding the caving event last Saturday, I decided to search for “Living on Karst” to see if there was a movie link or a slideshow or anything else I could include to update the story. Instead, I found a great publication, free and on-line. Living on Karst; A Reference Guide for Landowners in Limestone Regions that was produced by the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias in June of 1997. Karst is defined as a landscape with sinkholes, springs, and streams that sink into subsurface caverns – in other words, Door County. The word “karst” was developed in Europe, where early geologists first studied the nature of groundwater flowing through limestone hills and valleys.

Unless watersheds are protected, these direct connections between the surface and the subsurface can threaten the quality of our drinking water. The safest watersheds are those in which all residents understand the karst landscape and work together to reduce soil erosion, high-density development, agricultural and urban storm water runoff, overgrazing, improper waste disposal, and pollution.

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  • Scott Hathaway

    Useful information about Karst, and interesting about fels-naphtha soap. While it may very well work to wash off the plant toxin (urushiol) that causes the poison ivy and poison oak rash, you included some erroneous information. The plant oil causes the rash, but the blister fluid does not, and blister fluid will not spread the rash. The reason the rash appears in different stages is usually due to differential time of exposure of intensity of exposure. If you brush against a poison ivy plant, and you’re sensitive to it (some people aren’t) you wil get a rash , usually by the next day. Some skin surface may seem to take longer to break out, but that is because the intensity of exposure is less. YOu may have it also on your clothes, or on your dog’s fur, and therefore you come in contact with the oil later, and in less intensive ways, hence a more minor rash. I like the current format. Keep up the good work.


  • Stephen Kastner

    Hey Scott,
    Thanks for correcting my childhood beliefs in the magic of Fels-naptha. It’s always great to get the oversight of an ER doc! Glad to hear that you like the new format.