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Hiking Indonesia

Discover Indonesia’s Blue-Flamed Volcano!!

January 11, 2017
Kawah Ijen Volcano, Blue Flames, Indonesia
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Kawah Ijen (pronounced: kawa eejen) is located on the island of Java in Indonesia. After reading about it, I knew that no matter how out of the way it might be, I needed to see this blue-flamed beauty. But what makes this volcano more interesting than any other volcano on the planet?

Well, Kawah Ijen is an extremely rare volcano that actually erupts electric blue flames from its crater. And the kicker is, it’s only visible at night! Yup you heard right, during the day Cinderella turns back into a pumpkin, and looks just like any other volcano.

Discover Indonesia’s Blue-Flamed Volcano

But How is it Blue-Flamed?

You may be wondering, how this could possibly occur? It’s important to make note that Kawah Ijen doesn’t actually have blue lava. Instead, the amazing blue glow is a result of extremely high quantities of sulfuric gases emerging from the earth simultaneously with the lava. When the gases leak out at extremely high temperatures and pressures and then comes into contact with the air (i.e. oxygen)…BOOM. It ignites into the awe inspiring blue flames. So it’s actually the burning sulfuric gas that creates the phenomenon. From there, the sulfuric gas shifts into liquid sulfur, and as it burns it flows down the slope of the volcano, giving the appearance of flowing blue lava. What’s interesting is that the process takes place all day long, but it’s only visible at night.

Oliver Grunewald famously photographed the blue flames, catapulting Kawah Ijen onto the world stage.

Kawah Ijen, Blue Flamed, Java, Indonesia

Source

The Sulfuric Rock

As the burning sulfur cools, it leaves deposits of sulfuric rock around the lake. This sulfuric rock is then quarried in an extremely labor-intensive manner. The sulfuric rock is mined and then carried in baskets on the backs of the local minors back down to the base of the mountain. If you do make the trek at night, you will most likely see the sulfur miners. They often times work at night to escape the heat of the day. These local miners are very friendly, and often times will guide tourists up the mountain and earn an extra bit of income in the process.

Kawah Ijen, Blue Flamed, Java, Indonesia

They also sell sulfur pieces as souvenirs that have been carved into fun shapes, like dinosaurs!

Kawah Ijen, Blue Flamed, Java, Indonesia

Read more: A Guide to Hiking Kawah Ijen Volcano

Kawah Ijen Crater Lake

To make Kawah Ijen even more unique is the gorgeous turquoise waters of the Kawah Ijen Crater Lake at the top of the volcano. It is the world’s largest acidic lake, and the acidity is exactly what gives the lake its stunning shade of green. The blue volcano and the turquoise lake are completely correlated. Its the emission of hydrogen chloride gas into the lake, which creates its unique color.

Pro tip: Just be sure to NOT go swimming!

Kawah Ijen Crater, Blue Flamed, Java, Indonesia

A note to the wise

  • Sulfuric gas = sulfur dioxide gas = that smelly thing that is similar to rotten eggs
  • Sulfur dioxide gas with oxygen turns into sulfuric acid = dangerous
  • Hydrogen chloride gas with water turns into hydrochloric acid = dangerous

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Kawah Ijen, Blue Flamed, Java, Indonesia

Plan on visiting Kawah Ijen? Let me know in the comments below!

TIFFANY NICOLE

Tiffany created Lavender Vines as a place to share her love for Jesus and adventures from around the world. She has a slight obsession with salted caramel lattes, Japanese kimonos, and an ongoing love affair with NYC and Paris.

  • Reply
    Greg Rodgers
    January 11, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Wow…have enjoyed Indonesia many times but somehow missed this. Thank you for the enlightenment fun read!

  • Tiffany Nicole
    Reply
    Tiffany Nicole
    January 18, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    I’m so glad you liked it! It’s definitely an experience you will never forget 🙂

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Kawah Ijen Volcano, Blue flames, Indonesia
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Kawah Ijen is easily one of the most fascinating volcanoes on the planet. Famous for its electric blue flames that...

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