The History of Dead Sea Minerals
The Dead Sea is a body of water that is also called “The Sea of Death” or “Salt Sea.” In Arabic, it is called al-Bahr al-Mayyit. It is technically a salt lake though it is called a sea. It is bordered by Palestine and Israel in the west and Jordan in the east.
The Dead Sea is a very deep lake with high salinity levels. The deepest part reaches three hundred and four meters (997 feet). It has one of the highest salinity levels of any body of water in the world. The Dead Sea stretches for fifty kilometers (31 miles) at its farthest point. At its widest point, it is fifteen kilometers (9 miles) wide. There are very few animals in the sea, because of the high salinity. The Jordan River it the primary source for the waters of the Dead Sea.
For thousands of years, tourists and locals have visited the Dead Sea due to its high mineral content. Dead Sea minerals have been long considered restorative and healing.
The Dead Sea has been considered one of the oldest health spas in the world. The sea was a resort for King Herod the Great during the first century BCE. Also, the sea was a frequent refuge for the biblical King David.
One of the unique features of the Dead Sea is the presence of asphalt. Asphalt bubbles up from deep underwater seeps. This is rare because most seas and oceans are eighty-five percent sodium chloride which is table salt. The asphalt was historically used in ancient Egyptian mummification rituals. Also, archaeologists have discovered many Neolithic skulls covered in asphalt and bitumen from the sea.
Potassium chloride, also called potash, is another of the highly sought after Dead Sea minerals. In the early 1900s, the sea began to draw in chemists and other scientists who discovered that it had a high concentration of potassium chloride. Since antiquity, potash has been used as a fertilizer for crops.
Bromine was also discovered in the sea around the same time. Bromine and other bromide solutions were often used as sedatives in the 1800s and early 1900s. Bromine vapor is used as part of the process in preparing daguerreotypes, the very first form of photography.
For thousands of years, the Dead Sea has been a source of minerals for the entire world. Some of them are useful for industrial purposes such as fertilizer and recycling aluminum. Some of them are useful for restorative properties, such as mud baths.