The Most Important Salts of The Dead Sea
are the halite salts, which include sodium chloride (NaCl) and potassium chloride (KCl), as well as magnesium bromide MgBr 2, magnesium chloride (MgCl 2 ), and calcium chloride (CaCl 2 ), which are present in very small quantities.
The structure of halite is typical of minerals that form crystals, which are composed of a lattice of atoms (in the discussed case, both Cl and Na or K) that form cubes. Every atom in the halite crystal has its own position defined by coordinates (x, y, z).
The reason because this salt forms cubic crystal is because it’s capable to exist in two different crystal systems (hexagonal and cubic) and it can freely decide which system to use. So, sometimes the sodium chloride is forming cubes with a coordination number of 8 (shown in this post), but if you increase the temperature or pressure over a certain threshold, that coordination number will decrease to 6.
The salt crystals are evaporating into thin air soon after they are formed, so you can’t find them on the ground surface. Instead, you can collect some samples from its bottom parts (where they are more felt), or make your own salt crystals by evaporating the water solution of this salt (the process is described below).
You can also see halite crystals if you fly over the Dead Sea in a helicopter.
This salt can also form large crystals from a solution of brine (saturated saltwater). In the image below, you can see an example of such a crystal that I found on my desk after returning from Israel.
The halite is probably the most famous salt around the world because it’s crucial to produce our favorite seasoning. Salt production is essential for human survival.
Before digging into details of halite, I would like to mention that the chemical formula of this “common” salt (halite) is NaCl, but its crystal structure contains two different ions: Na+ and Cl-. We will discuss this later in the post.
Salts are ionic compounds composed of positively and negatively charged ions. When you dissolve a teaspoon of salt in water, the positive and negative ions will separate from each other due to their opposite charges and they will form an “array” of charged particles called “electrolyte”.
The attractive forces between these oppositely charged ions are strong and that’s why they can’t just separate into individual atoms in the solution. This attractive force is called an ionic bond, which you can read more about here.
Dead sea salts benefits:
The mineral-rich mud of the Dead Sea is notable for its therapeutic qualities, which in ancient times led to it being considered a site of recreation and rejuvenation. The salt concentration (32% by mass) of this lake is much higher than that of ocean water (3.5%) and provides various health benefits.
The first recorded use of the Dead Sea mud was in the 1st century BC when King Herod’s servants emerged after treatment with mineral-rich mud reporting softer skin. It is believed that Cleopatra used Dead sea mud to give her baths an aura of luxury, which could have contributed to her beauty legend.
Today, people flock to the Dead Sea to enjoy the benefits of its mud and water, as well as its therapeutic qualities.
It is estimated that some 27,000 tons of salts are taken from the Dead Sea every year. These salts collect in layers on the surface of the sea or within it. The salt was first harvested by hand and then later with the use of steam bores. After the waters evaporate, large salt crystals called ‘Halite’ are left behind and can be collected by hand or machine.
Dead Sea Mud is known for its high levels of Sodium Chloride (Sodium) and Magnesium as well as other minerals such as Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Copper, and manganese. The mud helps to rejuvenate the skin due to its high mineral content that nourishes and replenishes the skin while simultaneously reducing inflammation by drawing out toxins.
Its high salt concentration has the effect of retaining moisture in the skin, meaning it is especially effective when applied to dry flaky areas such as elbows, heels, and knees. In addition to these benefits, it reduces itching, treats cellulite, and stimulates the circulation of blood under the skin’s surface.
Dead sea salts have been found to increase collagen production in lab tests which aid in regenerating cells in the skin that are slow to produce new cells naturally over time.
There are several ways to use Dead Sea salts without the need for a trip to the coast, which is as follows:
1. Baths – To suit all tastes, you can either boil up some strong salty water or dissolve 1-2 cups of salt into warm running water. For best results, allow yourself roughly 20 minutes in the bathtub so that you can enjoy the full benefits of your bath.
2. Salt Scrubs – Mix a few tablespoons of salt with olive oil and a teaspoon of any essential oil you wish to add for scent. Apply to dry areas such as elbows, heels or knees before showering off after 5-10 minutes. This treatment will leave you feeling soft and rejuvenated.
3. Salt Soaks – Fill a bowl (preferably wooden) with water and add 2-4 cups of salt. Then, hold your hand over the top to form a small opening and pour in an ounce of any essential oil of your choice. Immerse yourself completely in the bath for up to 30 minutes while the salt works to soften your skin and the essential oils aromatically enhance your experience.
4. Salt Scrub Shower – Fill an empty soap dispenser with 3/4 cup of sea salt, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and 20-30 drops of any essential oils you want to use for scent. Shake well before each shower, then apply 5-10 pumps of salt scrub onto wet skin while showering. The salt will dissolve while you are showering and work to rejuvenate your skin while you rinse off.
5. Body Wraps – Mix together equal parts sea salt, cornstarch, and baking soda along with essential oils for scent (try lavender, chamomile, or lemon if you are looking for a more calming effect on your skin).
Apply to dry areas on your body and wrap tightly with plastic wrap before wrapping in towels to keep heat trapped close to the skin. You can then remove after 20-30 minutes, rinse off the salt mixture thoroughly, then apply moisturizer.
6. Foot Scrub – Mix 2 cups of salt with 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add 15-20 drops of any essential oils you prefer for scent and apply to clean, dry feet before gently scrubbing with a loofah brush in a circular motion. After 5 minutes, rinse off the salt mixture thoroughly before following up with a moisture-rich lotion.
How to use dead sea salt?
1. Use the salt like you would any other body scrub to exfoliate your skin and remove dead cells, leaving your skin fresh and healthy. Afterward, rinse off the salt in the shower with warm water before applying moisturizer. For best results, use this scrub 3-4 times per week or as needed (depending on how dry your skin is).
2. Pour the salt onto a flat, sturdy surface and make a line of three fists width with it. Next, place your fingers into the salt and rub them together to form a paste before massaging it into dry areas on your skin such as elbows, knees, heels, or any other rough patches that need some TLC.
3. Dampen your skin with warm water and apply the salt like you would any regular body scrub before using a loofah to gently scrub away dead skin cells. If you have very dry skin, try rinsing off in lukewarm or warm water instead of hot so that it won’t be too drying on the skin.
4. Mix together 1 cup of salt, 2 cups of baking soda, and 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil (try lavender for its calming, soothing effect). After showering with warm water to open up pores, apply this mixture like you would a body scrub before rinsing it off after 10 minutes. This can be done as needed or up to 1-2 times per week.
why is the dead sea so salty?
The sea is considered “dead” because it contains high concentrations of salt and other minerals – about 27% salinity – which prevent many fish and aquatic plants from living in it. However, the 320 million tons of salt that flow into the Dead Sea each year create a layer of water so dense with minerals, that nothing can live in it.
The Dead Sea contains 31 different types of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, and bromides which are all beneficial to our skin. The very high salinity of the water makes it impossible for any animal or plant life to live in it. This means that there is no interference from pollution sources, giving you the perfect environment for a natural spa treatment.
Who discovered the dead sea?
The first person is known to discover the Dead Sea was a 12th century Arab Christian named Mohammed bin Saleh al-Oneida. He sailed down the Jordan River and into the Dead Sea, which he called “the Sea of Zoar.”
According to Muslim legend, Zoar was an old city that God destroyed to punish its residents for disobeying Him, but it was also the home of Lot who fled Zoar with his family to avoid God’s wrath.
Al-Oreidi tested the water in the Dead Sea and found it to be too buoyant to swim in. He reported that anyone floating on their back would be pushed to the surface by the density of the water.