Tag: Natron lake

The death that hides in the water-Lake Natron, Tanzania

Today, I shall take you on another trip. It will be a long trip. Our destination is Lake Natron in Tanzania.

You will ask, why go so far away? Well, it is because the lake is kind of special, I m not sure if this is in the best way. . as it is special because of the water composition. It is a salt lake similar to the Dead Sea, in the salt aspect and how the water evaporates and leaves the salt and other minerals but also is different because the lake is also highly alkaline, has a lot of natron in( natron is a combination between baking soda and sodium carbonate).

Natron is an old substance that was used in different ways over the years. It was known since ancient Egypt. When it was used as a cleaning product for the house but also for the body. Blended with oil was used as a soap. From natron was also made a kind of mouthwash using natron undiluted. Mixed with other things was used as an early antiseptic for small wounds. Egyptians used natron also in the process of mummification, natron helped in the drying process.

Mixed with castor oil was used to obtain a smokeless fuel that was used by Egyptians to paint the walls of their tombs.

Inside the house it was used as an insecticide repellent, another use was to bleach the leather. Natron was also used as a meat preserver.

Now that I told you a bit about what the substance can do, let’s go back to the lake.

This lake ph.’s is quite high around 10,5 or higher, almost as high as ammonia. Even if the composition of the water makes living in such conditions quite harsh there are still some fishes in the water(Alcolapia latilabris), some algae, and flamingos that feed on the algae. Flamingos like this lake as they are not disturbed.

We can’t go for a swim in this lake because is caustic. The smallest cut we would have or wound that we could have would make us be more in pain because of the water effect on the skin.

During the dry season when the water is lower a lot of bird’s bodies are coming out of water. They are quite well preserved as you can see on the picture below in the link: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-alkaline-african-lake-turns-animals-into-stone-445359/

In the link above, you can see photos of the bird that died and were conserved by the lake water. They look creepy and in a way alive.

The temperature in the lake is around 60 Celsius degrees, a swim for some animals can be fatal and lead to death and a calcified well-preserved body.

The lake can have a pin-red color because of the bacteria that are living inside the lake and feed with salt.

So let’s have a walk and enjoy the view!

Here is a video that I found on YouTube about the lake. You can heave a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SML8K3WQfPY