Soap Lake is a unique mineral lake, possibly the most unique in all the world. The simplest description is that it is similar to a hot spring or the dead sea but it is much more. Carved by the erosive forces of cataclysmic floods during the ice ages, the lake paints a serene portrait across a landscape framed with rugged basalt cliffs. After thousands of years, groundwater leaching through hundreds of feet of basalt created the lake. Filling it’s waters with the minerals from the surrounding rocks. Soap Lake is known to have the most diverse mineral content of any body of water on earth. The waters and the lake bed mud are well known to have health benefits, which is why the lake is world renown as “Nature’s Spa”. The highest concentrate of minerals in the lake waters and lake bed mud are sulfate, carbonate, bicarbonate, sodium, and chloride and a the lake waters have a pH at or close to 10.0. Another unique quality of the lake is that the water is stratified into layers that do not mix with each other and have never mixed in its entire history. The layer of water near the bottom of the lake is supersaturated with the minerals.
Tradition holds that the lake was known by at least two Indian names Smokiam, which means “healing waters” and Let-to-to-weints, which is said to mean “healing water springs.” Visitors travel from around the world to bathe in the rich mineral waters. Skin, circulatory, digestive, and joint problems are most commonly benefited by bathing in the water. Many visitors claim the waters leave their skin soft and aching joints and muscles refreshed.
Mud Baths are one way to enjoy the unique mineral lake. Apply mud over the desired skin and lay in the sun to dry. The mud absorbs moisture, oils, and toxins from the skin area. After the mud dries, rinse off with fresh water if you will be sunbathing. The combination of minerals and ultra-violet rays causes rapid tanning or increased risk of sunburn.
Soaking in Soap Lake water opens capillaries and increases circulation. Over-usage of Soap Lake water can cause the skin to dry out or become sensitive. It is recommended to rinse off with fresh water and use oil or lotion to rebuild the natural oils of the skin.
The minerals also create a buoyancy in the water, adding to floatation or swimmers and increasing speeds for water course races. On a windy day the appearance of soap bubbles can be seen on the shores giving the lake its unique name.
Yes, the waters and mud do often times have a scent of sulfer and other minerals due to the high mineral content. This is very similar to what is experienced at hot springs. The scent disappears when the mud is dried. There are no fish in the lake, due to the high PH and mineral content. There are numerous species of aquatic birds that live on its shores and a rare small shrimp lives in the waters.
As of 2000:
Less than 0.01 mg/l of aluminum, iron, copper, rubidium, lithium, strontium, barium, chromium, lead, manganese, titanium, vanadium, and boron.