Soup Lake is a unique mineral canyon lake, located in the desert oasis of the Grand Coulee Valley, 6 miles away from the town of Ephrata. Despite the lake is not hot, it boasts a high mineral content that makes its healing properties far superior to many hot springs. Soap Lake has the most diverse mineral composition in comparison with other mineral lakes on our planet.
The lake is called Soap because of naturally occurring foams on its surface. Also, the water gives slimy or soap-like feelings and acts like soap, removing oils and dirt off of your skin.
Historically, prior to European settlers arriving, the Soap Lake was known by Native Americans under two names. The first one was Smokiam, meaning “healing waters” and the second was Let-to-to-weints, meaning “healing water springs”. European settlers called it “Sanitarium Lake”.
Formed during Ice Age, the lake was created by groundwater leaking through a thick layer of basalt, absorbing minerals from the surrounding rocks and enriching the water and mud. The lake contains 23 minerals and is highly alkaline with a pH of 9.8.
An exceptional feature of Soap Lake is that a body of water has sharp stratification into two layers. The layers have distinguished characteristics and never mix together. The bottom layer is relatively cold, low in oxygen and has the highest concentration of sulfide. The bottom and top layers are separated from each other by a horizontal chemocline that allows some sulfide diffuses into the top.
Like the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan, Soup Lake is dense and buoyant, allowing swimmers float easily. Like the Dead Sea, Soap Lake mud and water contain over 20 different minerals!
Known, also, as “Nature’s Spa”, the lake attracts a lot of visitors, offering them opportunities to use its unique healing properties to cure arthritis, and joint pain, as well as a variety of skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis.
The high alkalinity of the water discourages growth of bacteria and other infectious agents.
Besides minerals, a water-soluble oil-like substance Ichthyol is present. In dermatology, Ichthyol is used to treat skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, acne, and furunculosis. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is effective against gram-positive bacteria.
There are different types of mud: black and blue. Blue mud is considered better because its located deeper in the lake and has a higher mineral concentration, but it is hard to find.
Pick up mud from the bottom, apply and massage it over your body, allow it dry in the sun and then wash it off.
Please keep in mind that it is prohibited to collect and remove mud from the lake.
If you stop at one of four resorts near the lake, you can use the resort’s own beach. If you decide to use other types of accommodations, you can use west or east public beaches, which gives you the same benefits as a private beach.
The lake is pretty shallow and you can find plenty of space and use healing mud in addition to the mineral water of the lake.
Soap Lake | Facts
Location: 6 miles northeast of Ephrata • Central Washington • USA
Service: Picnic tables, restrooms
Accommodations: Resorts and hotels
Hiking distance: Short
Road Access: Any vehicle
Day-use fees: None
Elevation: 1,106 ft (337 m)
- Take Highway WA-28 and head 5.5 miles northeast to WA-17
- Turn left onto WA-17 and drive 0.6 miles to the 1st Ave
- Turn left and then right.