Lake Baskunchak – The Largest Salt Reserve

Pat Hyland - Sep 30, 2013
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Russia is popular for its natural attractions that lure thousands of visitors all across the globe each year. Lake Baskunchak is located at a few minutes distance from the city Astrakhan and features the look of huge depression amongst the salt mountain. This salt lake is located 270 m north of the Caspian Sea and to 53 km East of River Volga.

The name Baskunchak of the lake means dog’s head. Legend says that once a caravan carrying merchant was lost in this location and their dog saw this lake and took a few laps of this water. However, the saltiness of the water was too much that the dog fell dead immediately and only its head was visible on the surface of the lake. This explains the saltiness of the lake that possesses 90% of salt concentration.

This lake is also known as the biggest salt shaker of Russia. Studies reveal that the salt reserves can last for many thousands of years. Multiple springs also contribute to the renewal of the salt reserves in the lake and brings about 2500 tons of salt each day. This lake remains as a salt mining location right from the 8th century. The availability of 99.8% pure salt fulfills 80% of the salt demands of entire Russia. Based on the demand of the Russian population, mining of 1.5 million to 5 million tons of salt takes place each year. The salt was transported initially through the Silk Road. According to Russian sources, the Baskunchak Lake was mentioned in the year 1627 in the book of the ‘big drawing’. This book had the first geographical description of Russia. It termed this lake as, “break the salt, pure as ice”.

The shores of this salty lake feature deposits of medicinal mud which when mixed with the periodic rainwater helps the travelers to enjoy a mud bath that rejuvenates their senses. The tourists flock this region from the months of June to August to enjoy a mud bath and take a dip in the lake.

The surface of Lake Baskunchak can be walked as it is very dry and some can even drive a car effortlessly. It is impossible to drown in the lake water as it is saturated with 90% of salt, which means anything that falls inside would surface and not sink. However, the lake’s depth is just lower than 1 meter and it is bone dry during the summers. The transportation available in this salty region is through the Urals, commercial four-wheel drive that has a tilt body that allows you to travel to the entire salt region. The weather of this region can be scorching heat to torrential rain.

This lake has no kind of living plants, seaweeds, birds or insects as the salt water kills them all. The only living organism to thrive in this brine solution is the bacteria. The salt found here is very pure i.e. it contains NaCl of 99.8%, which makes it the best salt in the world.

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