In Nevada, the prospectors are back, but this time, it's not gold they're after. The Wall Street Journal looks at a resident who has built a business out of a substance that's a little easier to find: mud. Out in the desert, hot water swells up from underground, transforming dry dirt into mud that's as "smooth as butter," packed with 50 trace elements, and great for the skin, according to harvester Shelly Egbert. She worked with her seven kids—including a 2-year-old—to produce this year's autumn harvest of 5,000 jars, sold for $59 each.
Unlike the mud already used by companies like L'Oreal, who source their product from exotic international locations, the Nevada supply doesn't smell, says Egbert. Harvesters of the smellier stuff say their product removes toxins and has preserved buried bodies for thousands of years. Plus, "some people like earthy smells. We don't have anything extremely stinky," notes a distributor. Some companies cover the smell with fragrances, but when it comes to the Nevada goo, "what you see is what you get," says a Reno spa director who buys from Egbert. (Read more mud stories.)