On the Black Sea just a few miles north of Burgas in Bulgaria there is an open air spa where people come to relax and recharge.
Here you can enjoy the therapeutic qualities of bathing and floating in pink salt water followed by a sulphurous mud bath. The swimming pools with lye and healing mud are a completely natural spa experience.
The Burgas Pink Salt Lakes and Mud Pools
The Burgas salt lakes are worth seeing for their bright pink colour alone, but it is the health benefits that people come here for.
Bathing in the pools with lye and covering yourself with thermal properties of mud is said to help all sorts of health problems including: reducing swelling, healing wounds, improving metabolism, skin diseases, varicose veins, sciatica, arthritis, colds and flu. The minerals in the lye and mud, including calcium, iodine and phosphorus, also rejuvenates the skin.
The Lye and the Mud
Lye is the thick oily liquid which settles above the salt layer, after the sea water has been put in evaporators salt-pans and crystallized.
The healing mud is a sedimentary product of the enclosed saline lake; it has a dark grey to black colour and smells of hydrogen sulphide due to the numerous decaying microorganisms. This mud has been formed for thousands of years of decaying unicellular organisms, weeds, fish, crayfish and mussels. One centimetre of mud takes at least one year to form.
The Natural Spa Experience
This one hundred percent natural spa experience has three stages; first floating in the pink salt water or lye pool, then covering yourself in healing mud and finally washing the mud off in the Black Sea, located 50 meters from the pools.
So how does it feel to lie in these pools and then cover yourself top to toe with mud?
The pink lye water is silky to the touch and full of large salt crystals. Floating in the salt water is one of the strangest experiences I have ever had, as you struggle to put your feet down and end up bobbing around and revolving on the surface. Covering yourself with mud is initially gross, as the smell of sulphur is so strong that you may not want to go through with it. But once you have got used to the smell, the mud is smooth and cooling especially on a warm sunny day. While covering myself with mud the lyrics to the Flanders & Swann Hippopotamus Song kept going through my mind ‘Mud Mud Glorious Mud, nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.’). Washing it off makes your skin much smoother and cleansed. Although beware not to get the salt water in your eyes, especially when you have mud on your hands as I did a couple of times.
Admittedly salt water bathing and mud pools will not to everyone’s taste, but if you do try it, it is an experience you will not forget and genuinely make you feel rejuvenated all over.