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BlueLagoon1

The Blue Lagoon

August 22, 2017

BlueLagoon1

The Blue Lagoon

August 22, 2017

Blue-green Oasis in a Lava Field

The milky blue lagoon in the Reykjanes peninsula is quite striking in contrast to the black lava field and the fragile green moss growing on it. The geothermal water is between 37° and 40° C (98-104°F) but can sometimes fluctuate beyond that range.

What many people do not know is that the lagoon is man-made and was in fact originally an environmental disaster. The water is a waste water from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi. When it opened in 1976, they decided to let the water trickle into the lava field, thinking it would be absorbed by it. That did not happen and the dissolved minerals in the water made a blanket of mud and the lagoon was formed.

Five years later, or in 1981, people started bathing in the small lagoon. There were no facilities, not unlike the hot springs in Landmannalaugar, so people had to get undressed either in their cars or just out in the open. Stories about the healing powers of the water soon spread out, and soon people suffering from psoriasis in varying degrees swore it helped them with their disease.

In 1992 the Blue Lagoon company was established. They built facilities where people could undress and shower before entering the lagoon, and it has since then become one of the most visited locations in Iceland.

A couple of decades ago the power plant was moved, which in return meant the lagoon itself had to be moved. New facilities were built, and in recent years, a restaurant, research facilities as well as a hotel have been built in the area.

The lagoon gets its colour from the silica in the water. However, the algae sometimes gives it a greenish hue in the summer.

The silica is in barrels around the edges of the lagoon for swimmers to slather on them. It is reportedly very good for your skin. We do not recommend you put it in your hair though, and it is even advisable to put conditioner in your hair before you go out into the lagoon because the hair can become very stiff and difficult to manage.

From where does the water come?

The water comes from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi Geothermal power plants use boreholes which sometimes go down to 5000 metres to get their water. In Reykjanes, there is no need to go further down than 2000 metres to get to the superheater water. At this depth, the water is infused with sea water and is very mineral rich.

On the way up, the water changes to steam due to pressure changes. The steam then powers large turbines which in turn create electricity for the municipalities of Reykjanes.

Leftover steam is used to heat up fresh water which is pumped up from the groundwater contained in the area. The heated freshwater is then used to heat up houses. Reykjanes is one of a few places in Iceland where you can use the hot water from the tap and use it in your tea or coffee. In other places, like the capital area, for example, geothermal water is used for heating.

The output water from the power plant is then used for the Blue Lagoon.

Shower before entering the lagoon

There are strict rules regarding hygiene before going into the Blue Lagoon (and swimming pools in Iceland for that matter). Everyone must wash his or her whole body (even the hair) without swimsuits and with soap before entering. There are closed cubicles in the shower area for those who are uncomfortable with being naked in front of other people.

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BlueLagoon2

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BlueLagoon1

The Blue Lagoon

August 22, 2017

BlueLagoon1

The Blue Lagoon

August 22, 2017

Blue-green Oasis in a Lava Field

The milky blue lagoon in the Reykjanes peninsula is quite striking in contrast to the black lava field and the fragile green moss growing on it. The geothermal water is between 37° and 40° C (98-104°F) but can sometimes fluctuate beyond that range.

What many people do not know is that the lagoon is man-made and was in fact originally an environmental disaster. The water is a waste water from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi. When it opened in 1976, they decided to let the water trickle into the lava field, thinking it would be absorbed by it. That did not happen and the dissolved minerals in the water made a blanket of mud and the lagoon was formed.

Five years later, or in 1981, people started bathing in the small lagoon. There were no facilities, not unlike the hot springs in Landmannalaugar, so people had to get undressed either in their cars or just out in the open. Stories about the healing powers of the water soon spread out, and soon people suffering from psoriasis in varying degrees swore it helped them with their disease.

In 1992 the Blue Lagoon company was established. They built facilities where people could undress and shower before entering the lagoon, and it has since then become one of the most visited locations in Iceland.

A couple of decades ago the power plant was moved, which in return meant the lagoon itself had to be moved. New facilities were built, and in recent years, a restaurant, research facilities as well as a hotel have been built in the area.

The lagoon gets its colour from the silica in the water. However, the algae sometimes gives it a greenish hue in the summer.

The silica is in barrels around the edges of the lagoon for swimmers to slather on them. It is reportedly very good for your skin. We do not recommend you put it in your hair though, and it is even advisable to put conditioner in your hair before you go out into the lagoon because the hair can become very stiff and difficult to manage.

From where does the water come?

The water comes from the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi Geothermal power plants use boreholes which sometimes go down to 5000 metres to get their water. In Reykjanes, there is no need to go further down than 2000 metres to get to the superheater water. At this depth, the water is infused with sea water and is very mineral rich.

On the way up, the water changes to steam due to pressure changes. The steam then powers large turbines which in turn create electricity for the municipalities of Reykjanes.

Leftover steam is used to heat up fresh water which is pumped up from the groundwater contained in the area. The heated freshwater is then used to heat up houses. Reykjanes is one of a few places in Iceland where you can use the hot water from the tap and use it in your tea or coffee. In other places, like the capital area, for example, geothermal water is used for heating.

The output water from the power plant is then used for the Blue Lagoon.

Shower before entering the lagoon

There are strict rules regarding hygiene before going into the Blue Lagoon (and swimming pools in Iceland for that matter). Everyone must wash his or her whole body (even the hair) without swimsuits and with soap before entering. There are closed cubicles in the shower area for those who are uncomfortable with being naked in front of other people.

BlueLagoon3
BlueLagoon2

The RE blog

Into the Glacier
Fjaðrárgljúfur
kirkjufell-12x7
Golden-Circle-and-Fontana-Steam-bath
Reykjanes
BlueLagoon1
Hraunfossar3
RE05-Reykjavik Panorama

Five things glacial to do in Iceland

Recommended glacier-related activities for you to consider – happy icing!

Read more