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Potash Evaporation Ponds in Utah

Anything you see in Utah is striking, and these bright ponds in the desert totally blow up your imagination

Best time: May–September (all year round)

Potash Evaporation Ponds
Potash Evaporation Ponds

The Potash evaporation ponds are the striking blue dots in the middle of a red desert landscape. Such a contrast creates an odd scene but attracts lots of people interested in a peak.

These ponds are managed by Intrepid Potash Inc., the largest producer of potassium chloride in the U.S. They cover a territory of 1.5 square kilometres along the Colorado River, 30 km west of Moab. The ponds are lined with rubber to keep the salts in. The bright blue colour you may see is the result of adding an artificial dye, which protects them from the absorption of sunlight and evaporation. As the sun evaporates the water in the pond, the crystals of potassium and salt remain. The process of evaporation takes about 300 days, and each day these ponds produce between 700 and 1,000 tons of potash.

The potash source is located at a depth of 914 metres under the 300 million-year-old Paradox Basin. To extract the potassium from there, special wells are drilled, and hot water is pumped to dissolve the potassium. Such solar salt water ponds can be used as a source of solar thermal energy for power generation, desalination, and process heating.

Potash Evaporation Ponds are there all year round but evaporation is the most intense in the summer (May to September), so you can see how this natural lab works by yourself.

Practical info

How are the Potash Evaporation Ponds created?

The bright blue color of the Potash Evaporation Ponds in Utah is due to an artificial dye added to the ponds to protect them from absorbing sunlight and further evaporation. The ponds are created by pumping water from the Colorado River into a rubber-lined series of ponds to evaporate the water, leaving behind potassium and salt crystals in about 300 days. The process produces about 700 to 1000 tons of potash daily, and it is a significant natural resource for the country's supply of potash. Show more

What is the significance of potash in the production of potassium chloride?

Potash is a natural resource vital in the production of potassium chloride, which is a necessary component of fertilizer used by farmers to improve crop yields. In addition, it is used as a substitute for salt in the food industry and in the medical industry to treat diseases. Utah's Potash Evaporation Ponds produce around 33% of the country's potash, making it an essential location for supplying potash to the country. Show more

When is the best time to visit the Potash Evaporation Ponds in Utah?

The Potash Evaporation Ponds in Utah are present throughout the year, but the best time to witness the evaporation process is between May and September. During this period, visitors can observe how the water evaporates, leaving behind potassium and salt crystals and creating a unique visual experience. However, during winter, access to the ponds may be restricted due to snow and the climate's low temperatures. Show more

How is the colour of the ponds maintained?

The bright blue color of the ponds is preserved by adding an artificial dye to the ponds to protect them from sunlight and further evaporation. The dye works as a reflector, giving the ponds their characteristic hue. The blue color also enhances the ponds' aesthetic beauty and makes them stand out against the red desert landscape. However, the dye fades over time, and the ponds eventually turn green until the next time they are dyed blue. Show more

Can the solar salt water ponds be used for other purposes like generating power or heating?

The hot water derived from solar salt water ponds can be utilized for other applications, such as generating power or heating. The salt production solar ponds can be employed for power production, desalination, and other industrial process heating. The hot brine water originating from the Paradox Basin can be used for generating clean electricity in geothermal power plants. Furthermore, it can be utilized in thermal desalination plants for freshwater production, which makes the ponds an important asset for various industrial activities. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin