The Beauty of Kawah Ijen Blue Fire

“Kawah Ijen” (Ijen Crater) is the world’s biggest acidic crater lake. Banyuwangi regency which is lied on the eastern tip of Java island, Indonesia is the home of this super volcano. The acidic lake of Ijen Crater is located in the 15 km diameter of Ijen Caldera along with Mt. Merapi (not to be confused with Merapi volcano near Yogyakarta), Mt. Rante, and Mt. Pendil. Nowadays the caldera is a perfect area to grow largely well-known Java Arabica (90%) & Robusta (10%) coffee.

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The crater lake has turquoise water color, 1 km in diameter, 200 m in depth, 36 degrees C water temperature with its water acidity level of 0,5 ph. It is just acidic enough to melt a tint or flesh.

The crater produces massive sulfur dioxide gas of 340 tonnes / day which is driven through ceramic pipes for condensation process so that the boiling molten sulfur is going to cool down to create solidified sulfur deposit by the end of the pipes.

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The mining operation is still traditionally ran by man power. About 350 active sulfur miners work everyday collecting sulfur blocks. In the early morning, they have to walk-up the steep 3 km of soil path from Paltuding (entrance gate), continued by walking 300 m down through narrow stony path from crater’s rim to the mining area. The job is not over yet, afterward they still have to collect cooled sulfur pieces into bamboo baskets, then carry them away on their shoulder back to Paltuding using only a pair of bamboo basket. At the end, the the collected sulfur is used to supply sulfur needs of the island used for various things such as : sugar purifier, cosmetic , and skin medicine material.

About Ijen Crater

Ijen Crater “Kawah Ijen” exactly located in the border of two regencies in East Java Provinces. It located between the border of Banyuwangi and Bondowoso regency. The crater is located 2700 meters above sea level. It has the most acidic crater in the world which seen in green from distance and of course still erupted.

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You will also find many sulfur miners in Ijen Crater. This might be the only place in the world where sulfur are manually excavated by human muscles using a handmade basket. Everyday is a challenge for the miners. They spend hours to carry the heavy sulfur “Around 60 kg’s” on their shoulder return way from bottom to the up of the crater on foot! They also works everyday with a smoky sulfur gas to earn money for the family.

Eternal Blue Flame

On the island-nation of Indonesia stands several volcanoes, but there is one that does not glow orange or red, but a unique blue color, adding a strange phenomenon to the pile of facts about these fiery giants. Kawah Ijen, a volcano on Java, the larger half of the country of Indonesia, glows blue. This bright-blue fire is not magma flowing down the sides, but light from combusting sulfuric gases. These vapors arise from cracks in the mountain at high pressure and temperature, which can reach 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit. These gases ignite when they touch the air, shooting flames sometimes 16 feet high into the air.

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Some of the gases compress into liquid sulfur and continue to burn as they flow down the sides, making it look like gushing lava. Olivier Grunewald, a photographer from Paris, has been snapping photos of this unusual occurrence for several years. Of these photos, Cynthia Werner, a research geologist at the Alaskan Volcano Observatory reported that she has never “seen this much sulfur flowing at a volcano.” The burning continues day and night, but the blue glow can only be seen during the day. The blue fire can also be seen at the base of the column of ash from erupting mountains.

How to Get to Kawah Ijen

Kawah Ijen, which literally translates to “Ijen Crater,” is located in Far Eastern Java Island. To reach Ijen, take the train from Yogyakarta or Surabaya to Karangasem station or, alternatively, the ferry from Bali to Ketapang. Due to the danger involved in entering the crater, hiring a guide is highly advisable. Entrance to the park costs Rp. 15,000 as of February 2014, which does not include a 30,000 camera fee.

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Expect to see the stunning blue electric fire of Kawah Ijen at night, caused by the ignition of leaking sulphur fumes from sections of ceramic pipes laid to a volcanic vent.

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