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12 surprising facts about the Dead Sea

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The Dead Sea is one of the most fascinating places on earth. During my travels through Israel and Jordan I learnt that there are so many interesting facts about the Dead Sea! So today I would like to share some of them with you… Ready to learn about this incredible place? Read on…

What is the Dead Sea?

Before I share with you my top 12 fascinating facts about the Dead Sea, it is first important that we understand what the Dead Sea actually is!

The Dead Sea is an endorheic lake located in the Jordan Valley of Palestine and Israel. It is bordered by the countries of Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank. The Dead Sea is a salt lake, meaning it contains a high concentration of salt and other minerals. It is considered to be the lowest point on Earth, with an elevation of 423 meters (1,388 feet) below sea level. The Dead Sea is an extremely unique and fascinating body of water.

The Dead Sea is known for its high salt concentration and its dense mud, which is said to have healing properties. The salt concentration of the Dead Sea is 10 times higher than that of the ocean, making it one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. The high salt concentration makes it impossible for most aquatic life to survive in the Dead Sea. The dense mud of the Dead Sea is made up of a variety of minerals, including magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and is said to have therapeutic and healing properties.

In addition to its therapeutic mud and high salt concentration, the Dead Sea is also known for its strong currents and hazardous waves. The strong currents and waves are caused by the difference in the temperature of the water between the surface and the depths of the Dead Sea. The surface of the Dead Sea is much warmer than the depths, causing the water to rise and fall in the form of large and powerful waves.

The Dead Sea is an important source of tourism for the region, attracting visitors from around the world. People come from all over to experience the unique environment of the Dead Sea, and many people visit to take advantage of the healing properties of the Dead Sea mud. Additionally, the Dead Sea has been used for centuries for its high salt concentration, with the salt being used for various industrial and medicinal purposes.

The Dead Sea is an amazing and unique environment and is an important source of natural beauty, economic activity, and healing in the region. With its strong currents and hazardous waves, healing mud, and high salt concentration, the Dead Sea is an incredible natural wonder and offers an experience unlike anywhere else in the world.

Facts about the Dead Sea

So what are the most interesting facts about the Dead Sea? Lets take a closer look…

#1 The Dead Sea isn’t actually a sea

The first of my facts about the Dead Sea is actually quite ironic.

Funnily enough, it’s not. Despite its name, the Dead Sea is actually a salt lake. Also know as  saline lake, a salt lake is a landlocked body of water with a higher concentration of salt than other lakes. Sometimes, salt lakes actually have more salt than sea water.

Official saline lake classification (the percentage of salt dissolved in a body of water) is as follows:

Subsaline: 0.5-3%

Hyposaline: 3-20%

Mesoslaine 20-50%

Hypersaline > 50%

There are salt lakes all over the world. From Alicante to Australia, they’re often a popular source of natural beauty.

Note- when visiting the Dead Sea it is best not to shave that morning because the salt makes it STING!

#2 The Dead Sea is the lowest place on Earth

The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 430.5 metres, or 1,412 ft, below sea level. This makes it Earth’s lowest elevation on land. 

It’s also the deepest salt lake in the world, at 304m (997 ft) deep. It’s main northern basin is 50km (30 miles) long and 15km (9 miles) wide.

This is one of the most interesting facts about the Dead Sea.

#3 There’s no life in the Dead Sea

Due to the saltiness, life can’t be sustained within the Dead Sea. That’s where the name comes from! The high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organism (fish and aquatic plants) from surviving in the water. 

Minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi can be found, though. In 1980, after a particularly rainy winter, the water in the Dead Sea turned red. It turned out to be a type of alga known as Dunaliella in the water nourishing some halobacteria. The halobacteria contained carotenoid, and was therefore red-pigmented. This caused the colour change in the water!

#4 No water flows out of the Dead Sea

Here is another one of the most interesting facts about the Dead Sea…

The Dead Sea is surrounded by land on three sides. The fourth side is open, but this where water enters the sea from rivers and streams; chiefly, the Dead Sea is fed by the Jordan River.

The land that borders the Dead Sea belongs to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. While these countries are often synonymous with political trouble, they share a beautiful piece of nature that embodies calm and serenity.

My husband floating in the Dead Sea

#5 The Dead Sea is the source of most agricultural potassium worldwide

Potassium is often used as a fertiliser. In photosynthesis, potassium regulates the opening and closure of stomata – therefore, it relates the CO2 uptake. The potassium also triggers the activation of enzymes and is essential when it comes to producing Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP. This is an important energy source for plants and crop production.

Salt evaporation pans are used to extract salt from the Dead Sea. This is used to produce carnallite. The carnallite (potassium magnetite chloride) is further processed in order to create potassium chloride.

Two separate companies look after this. One is Israeli-owned, known as the Dead Sea Works. Founded in 1952, it produces potash, elemental bromine, caustic soda, magnesium metal and sodium chloride.

The other company is Arab Potash. Located in Jordan, they primarily produce potash, as well as sodium chloride and bromine.

#6 The Dead Sea scrolls were found here

Given the name, that’s pretty obvious. 800+ manuscripts were found in caves near the Dead Sea, written on either papyrus or animal skin. They are virtually the only surviving biblical documents written before the second century. Discovered in the 1940s and 50s, you can see them now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Read more about theDead Sea Scrolls here.

This is one of the most important historical facts about the Dead Sea.

#7 Cleopatra loved the Dead Sea

If you’re into mythology or know a lot of facts about the Dead Sea, you probably know this. But if not, it’s said that Cleopatra used the Dead Sea as a way of maintaining her beauty. She used the salts as an exfoliant, paying particular attention to any rough skin. Though she didn’t know it, salt from the Dead Sea is high in the following beneficial elements:

Calcium

Iodine

Magnesium

Sodium

Potassium

Bromide

All of these have different skincare benefits. Whether it’s to cleanse, balance or moisturise, salt from the Dead Sea is dream for the skin.

As well as the salt, Cleopatra used the Dead Sea mud to look after herself, her skin and her beauty. This is something that has been carried forward to modern day. Dead Sea mud eases eczema, psoriasis, arthritis and more, according to some sufferers!

#8 You can float in the Dead Sea

This is one of the facts about the Dead Sea that most people are familiar with!

Due to the large amount of salt, the water is much denser than fresh water. This means that tourists and visitors can effortlessly float in the Dead Sea! It’s one of the most unique “swimming” experiences the world has to offer, and you can bob along reading a book quite happily too.

There’s a few things to note before you float in the Dead Sea, though…

  • Don’t jump in or splash around. The water is so salty, it will really sting if you get it in your eyes.
  • Shaving, waxing and plucking beforehand (on the same day) is not recommended. The salt will burn your open pores.
  • You might have to pay to float in the Dead Sea. It depends which area you’re in, but it has been turned into a tourist trap in some parts. Research where you are where the best free area is for floating in the Dead Sea.
  • Wear flip flops or sandals down to the water’s edge. The mud and stones on the beaches can get HOT.
  • Cake some of that Dead Sea mud on your body pre-float. Your skin will thank you for it!

#9 The Dead Sea is a great place for hay fever sufferers

One of the most interesting facts about the Dead Sea: while no life can thrive in the water, the lake itself and the surrounding areas are great for humans. The air is oxygen-rich! The pollen count is low! This means the area is somewhat of a haven for people suffering from asthma, hay fever and other similar issues.

#10 The Dead Sea is dying

As with a lot of nature, the Dead Sea might not be around forever. Experts say that since 1930, the water’s surface has almost halved. Jordan plan to convey seawater from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea to aid in conservation efforts.

This is one of the most disappointing facts about the Dead Sea. You can read more about the project, known as the Jordan National Red Sea Development Project or JRSP here.

#11 The Dead Sea can heal you

Due to its high concentration of salts and minerals, the Dead Sea has an abundance of remedial characteristics. Numerous people travel to the Sea to treat their skin concerns such as acne, psoriasis, and cellulite as well as muscular discomfort and joint inflammation. As a result, it is the biggest natural spa in the world, attracting both visitors and natives. Nevertheless, if you’re seeking to take pleasure in additional treatments, you will find a variety of them available at the hotels and spas that surround its shores.

#12 There is no place saltier than the Dead Sea

The Dead Sea has an extraordinarily salty composition, with its salt content being almost ten times greater than that of average seawater. This is because the River Jordan is the only source of water for the lake, which then has no means of draining and escapes only through evaporation.

The arid and sweltering climate of the area hastens evaporation, leading to a build-up of salt and other minerals. It is calculated that the total salt content of the Dead Sea is around 37 billion tonnes.

#13 The Dead Sea was the world’s first spa

People have been searching for the recovery benefits of the Dead Sea since the time of the Bible. Herod the Great, the ruler from 37 to 4 BC, was responsible for the construction of one of the earliest spas in the world situated on its coasts. According to the story, Cleopatra was a fan of the Dead Sea and employed its merchandise in her beauty routine.

As a big fan of spa breaks and wellness tourism, this is one of my favourite facts about the Dead Sea!

#14 Alongside the Dead Sea is the lowest road on Earth

Highway 90, which is renowned as the most depressed route in the world, goes along the coasts of the Dead Sea which are located in Israel and the West Bank. It is measured to be approximately 393 metres below the sea level.

#15 You are less likely to get sunburn at the Dead Sea

Visiting the Dead Sea provides less of an opportunity to get sunburned than other places. This is because it is situated below sea level and the sun’s damaging UV radiation is blocked by three layers of protection. These comprise an additional layer of air, a layer of vapour above the Dead Sea, and a thick ozone layer. (But it is still advisable to put on sunscreen!)

#16 The Dead Sea played a role in Egyptian mummification

One of the extraordinary characteristics of the Dead Sea is that it brings up tiny stones and chunks of asphalt from its hidden depths to the top. In olden times, the Egyptians used to import this type of material to use in their mummification activities.

#17 You won’t find any boats on the Dead Sea

And for the last of my facts about the Dead Sea…

Swimming and other aquatic activities are not possible in the Dead Sea. Although you can float on the surface of the lake like a person, the water’s buoyancy makes it difficult for boats to navigate in the lake.

Facts about the Dead Sea- To Conclude

The Dead Sea is a fascinating place and I expect you agree after reading these facts about the Dead Sea!

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