A New York City bathhouse and spa sparked a bit of controversy when they revealed that they were operating a small-scale bitcoin mining operation that also heated their pools. The business, named Bathouse, posted yesterday on Instagram they are operating on a Bitcoin Standard.
Bathhouse is located in Brooklyn and accepts Bitcoin payments. The company took to social media yesterday to explain how the process actually works.
The heat generated by their mining heats their pools, with the water returning later in the process to cool the hardware. Their post read, “Enjoy a hot pool while supporting the Bitcoin network.”
A Bitcoin mining rig is the physical infrastructure of the computers that execute the network’s computational process. These use a fair amount of electricity—regardless of source—as well as produce a lot of noise and heat. Mining also requires cooling methods, such as Bathhouse’s process, to not overheat and run efficiently.
Implementing their unique heating process in March 2022, their founders “were interested in what this technology can do for humanity.” Bathhouse told Decrypt they were looking for an efficient engineering solution, and trying to find ways to conserve energy.
According to the business, they have now “proven to themselves Bitcoin mining is a viable option.”
Bathhouse also explained that it “can see this being implemented into a lot of building solutions for creating heat, domestic hot water, et cetera,” and that they are “happy to share what they have learned with anyone interested.”
Bitcoin mining is the process in which specialized computers, known as ASICs, compete to find a specific number, which is found on average every ten minutes. Known as proof of work, the miner that finds the solution to the algorithm–known as SHA256–receives bitcoin as a reward for the energy spent in the process. At the moment, the reward is 6.25 BTC per block, although it is meant to be cut in half next year.
Mining is a controversial subject, as was made clear by some of the replies on the social media post.
“This makes me like Bathhouse less,” said one user. “Now I’m concerned about who is mining this cryptocurrency, who is profiting from it, and whether I support that. We’re gonna need some transparency.”
Others had similar thoughts, one commenter adding, “In the year of our lord 2023… thinking bitcoin mining gives you cachet? Praying this is a poorly-conceived joke.”
The post, however, did gather steam–pun intended–among bitcoiners, with Bradley Rettler (commonly known as one of the “bitcoin philosophers” from the group Resistance Money) writing on Instagram: “Thank you for securing the network, helping resist authoritarianism, and bringing financial freedom to people while you heat your pools!”