Alaska Glacial Mud Co.: Cordova woman turns mud into gold

May 29, 2012

Dedicated to sustainability and the environment,
Padawer makes spa treats

Lauren Padawer had no idea in 2001 that a trip down the Copper River for social and environmental

reasons would inspire her to start a luxurious business.

After a foot soak in a silky glacial pool amidst wildlife, the only things she knew were that her skin felt incredible and that people have enjoyed the benefits of spa mud treatments for centuries.

Several years later she leveraged that feeling into a business plan.

With the help of market research, savings, a loan from her parents and two grants form the Alaska Marketplace competition Padawer started Alaska Glacial Mud Co. in Cordova several years after that fateful river trip.

Her company sells soaps and facial masques made with “mineral-rich and pure glacial clay in the world,” according to the website.

Glacial mud by itself is natural exfoliant, detoxifier and skin nourisher, she said. But glacial mud from the Copper River Delta is even moreso.

It “is unique from all other muds in the world, including other glacial muds,” Padawer said. “The Copper River drains an impressive geographic area encompassing four separate mountain ranges — parts of the Alaska, Chugach, Wrangell-St. Elias and Talkeetnas—which have sources of volcanic and metamorphic sedimentary rock minerals, as well as the largest sub-polar icefield — the Bagely Icefield — making it the most mineralogically diverse mud we have seen in the marketplace.”

The mud contains more than 60 naturally occurring major and trace elements required for the body’s natural balance and healthy skin cell regeneration, Padawer explained. Among the elements are  magnesium, copper, zinc, sulfur, silver, silica, calcium, sodium, potassium and iron that promote anti-aging, help skin hold moisture and form collagen resulting in radiant skin, she said.

Alaska Glacial Mud Co. also adds extracts of blueberry, cranberry, horsetail, nettle, elderflower and yarrow in the formulated purifying mineral mud masque to act as antioxidants and skin softeners. Moisturizing vitamins B5 and E are also mixed into the formula.

The glacial facial purifying mineral mud masque comes in unscented, lavender-vanilla and lavender-peppermint.

Not only is the mud good for your skin, but it’s good for your soul as well, she said.

“The process of doing a mud masque treatment forces us to slow down because you can’t do much except to relax when you’re covered in mud,” she said. “Mud brings us back to earth both literally and figuratively and also the playful days of childhood.  The texture is at first soft, squishy, smooth and cool – then it hardens up – then back to smooth radiant skin with an afterglow.”

Alaska Glacial Mud Co. is dedicated to the environment and sustainability, due in part to Padawer’s life-changing river trip.

The Eyak Preservation Council, a non-profit organization founded by Eyak descendant Dune Lankard, sponsored the trip. The council promotes preservation as a way to honor the cultural heritage of the Eyak people.

“I believe it is our social responsibility to give back to what feeds us, nature,” Padawer said. “The community of Cordova has a direct lifeline to the Copper River, so it is important to me that Alaska Glacial Mud Co. support organizations that protect, defend and educate people about the Copper River Watershed. The Copper River feeds us with wild salmon and supports a highly productive ecosystem.”

The company also uses recyclable packaging and processes the mud with hydropower, as well as organic ingredients when possible.

“Our skin is the largest organ in the human body and capable of absorbing toxins, so we have to be cautious of exposure from chemicals,” she said. “We also don’t want to see these types of toxic ingredients back into our watershed. We want to provide a high quality skin care product and protect the environment.”

When she’s not hand-harvesting mud for masques and soaps, Padawer is a commercial salmon fishermen so she knows the importance of sustaining the watershed and her livelihood.

Alaska Glacial Mud Co. donates about $500 to $1,000 annually in cash and product donations to organizations the work for the watershed.


Alaska Glacial Mud Co.

ADDRESS: P.O. Box 394, Cordova, AK 99574

PHONE: 907.424.4695




Photos courtesy Alaska Glacial Mud Co.

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