Few hot springs are spoken of as highly as Iceland's Blue Lagoon. As one of the most popular attractions in the country, it draws thousands of people year after year to its steamy, tepid waters. Before arriving at the Blue Lagoon, it's quite possible that many people don't even know what makes it so special or the fact that it's not even nature-made. It's a large geothermal pool that was man-made and is also said to hold healing powers - but how? And why?
These are only some of the questions that visitors should know the answers to before stepping foot into this lagoon's cool blue waters. It's an incredible place to visit and get a soak but it's even more admirable if you know the why's and how's of its inner workings. It's the only one of its kind in the world which has put it pretty high on everyone's bucket list of destinations, and if it's on yours, then you're in the right place. This is everything you need to know about Iceland's easily accessible geothermal pool before you go.
It Seems Completely Natural But It's Actually Man-Made
Even so, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the water within the lagoon - if anything, it's actually incredibly healthy for the skin (more about that later) due to the minerals that exist in the water through a natural process. The lagoon was formed in 1976 due to the geothermal plant that sits right next to it. The job of the geothermal plant is to drill for hot water and steam, and the water runoff from this is what helped to create the Blue Lagoon.
When people hear 'wastewater they often think of something dirty, polluted, and contaminated - and the Blue Lagoon is none of the above. The water that's channeled into the lagoon is clean, fresh, and supercharged with natural minerals that have been shown to help skin conditions. In fact, the water is completely replaced every 48 hours, as new water runoff is constantly replacing water that gets funneled into the lagoon. Therefore, the inner workings of the Blue Lagoon are not only fascinating but are also incredibly clever. Rather than allowing the water to go to waste when it's so full of minerals - which can't be used by houses for heating and such - it's used instead as a holistic thermal spa.
How It Works And Why It's So 'Healing'
All of this obviously begs the question of how and why people began soaking in the lagoon. It's not every day that a person walks by a giant thermal pool and decides to take a soak in it, but the Blue Lagoon was a unique case. For starters, the origin of the water, and its mineral contents, was well-known, as opposed to other natural hot springs that need to be chemically tested before they're deemed safe. The first person to take a dip in the pool was Valur Margeirsson, and it was he who gave the lagoon its name. Margeirsson suffered from psoriasis, an often painful skin condition, and was eager to try something new as a treatment. Knowing how beneficial the Blue Lagoon's minerals could be, he went for a soak and, lo and behold, found some relief. This was in 1981 and by 1987, the lagoon was open to the public for those with similar skin conditions.
Interestingly enough, while the relief from certain skin conditions has been attributed to the minerals in the lagoon's water, it's not fully known why it helps to improve skin ailments. Along with silica, the lagoon is also home to a specific type of bacteria that only grows in its waters, as well as blue-green algae that give the Blue Lagoon its signature hue. Aside from that, chloride and natron are also present and create natural sea salt, which has long been hailed as being beneficial for the skin. Additional minerals include calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and carbonate.
These things are so beneficial that the lagoon began offering specific skin treatments back in 1994 and continues to have personalized treatments today. When visiting the Blue Lagoon, it's not unusual to see people scooping the mud up from the bottom and applying it to their faces, arms, legs, and anywhere else they could have irritation. With the surrounding volcanic landscape being such a beautiful setting for this lagoon, it's easy to see how healing these waters would be simply because of the stress that melts away when you're relaxing there.