Strange places, alien landscapes (and cultures) – Kawah Ijen Volcano

Can you imagine a lake whose contents you could use for battery acid? Here’s a photo gallery and description of Kawah Ijen Volcano – Indonesia: Boating on a Lake of Sulfuric Acid – July 2008.

Kawah Ijen is one of the most incredible and surreal places I’ve ever visited. It’s the site of a labor intensive sulfur mining operation where miners collect and carry huge loads of pure sulfur up from the crater floor along a steep, rocky path amid clouds of sulfur dioxide gas, all for the equivalent of about ten dollars a day.

It is also home to the largest lake of sulfuric acid in the world. I wanted to explore this volcano in the most extreme manner I could think of… By taking a small boat out onto the acid lake. The ph of the lake water is 0.5, similar to the strength of car battery acid.

Drop a soda can in the lake and watch the bubbles as the aluminum reacts with the lake ‘waters.’ End your boating trip cutting out the areas of your pants where acid from the paddles dripped on them to avoid acid burns. And then there’s the sulfur mining operations where up to 100 pound baskets are manually carried up the slopes of the crater for processing sugar on Java.

It is one thing to note the incredible places on the planet. This one has people working there to take advantage of its special mineral resources. See also Mount Bromo and Kawah Ijen Volcano Walking Tour; Kawah ijen Tourism Service “a lake made of 36 million cubic meters representing a solution of sulfuric acid and hydrogen chloride, the most powerful existing acids.”; more photos; information; smells like sulfur (more pictures); wikipedia;

It is a tourist attraction!

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