A leisurely walk on the beach can sometimes harvest glittering shells or oddly shaped driftwood, but on Israel’s Dead Sea beaches something uniquely interesting can be discovered.
The Dead Sea of Israel, or Salt Sea as it’s sometimes called, has ten times more concentrated salt than the world’s oceans. Because of this toxic level of minerals animals won’t be found in its waters and plant life is rare. Its waters and beaches have given rise to tourist resorts since Biblical times. Those who visit a beach on the Dead Sea and who look closely beneath their feet will sometimes discover something unusual.
Chemically, the Dead Sea waters have a heavy concentration of sodium chloride (NaCl). When the salt forms an isometric crystal, the shape is called halite. Among the detritus of Israel’s Dead Sea beaches, halite crystals can be found in the shape of perfectly formed colorless cubes approximately an inch on each side.
Instead of collecting shells or bits of wood, one can gather tiny salt cubes at one of the few places on earth where they can be found as a natural phenomenon.
Written by Richard Paracka