While floating around taking photos in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon the other day, I overheard a woman speaking reassuredly to her reluctant friend. The other woman was suspicious and very wary about putting on the “signature silica mud mask” dug up from the bottom of the lagoon that’s supposed to dry on your face. The first woman laughed and said, “It’s okay—it doesn’t get any more natural than this!!” Which I found amusing because there is nothing natural about the Blue Lagoon. The whole lagoon is manmade, and the water and silica goop is run-off from a nearby geothermal power plant. Superheated water from a nearby flow of lava vents from the ground to run turbines that generate electricity. After passing through the turbines, steam and hot water go through a heat exchanger that provides for the municipal water heating system. The waste water from this process can’t be recycled due to its high mineral content, so it’s fed into this human-made lagoon. This whole thing was a pretty accident, which locals had fun in for free in the early seventies when the power plant was new. You may now access these turquoise-white, silicate-laden waters yourself for a steep entry price. Just know that it isn’t exactly a “Natural Wonder” or natural phenomenon. Which doesn’t stop over a half a million visitors yearly (as in, almost every single tourist visiting Iceland!) from paying to enjoy soaking here and taking a selfie wearing the now iconic face mask.
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