Is Lake Superior Salt Water or Fresh Water? (Are the Great Lakes Salty?)

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Have you ever taken a look at the Great Lakes and wondered, is Lake Superior salt water or freshwater?

It’s easy to understand why you might wonder this, since it’s such a large body of water, and sometimes, it even looks like it could be an ocean!

But being located in the Midwest along the shores of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, it just doesn’t seem possible for it to be salt water.

I’ve lived in the state of Minnesota for my entire life and spend a lot of time wandering the shores of Lake Superior throughout the year.

And in this post, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about whether or not this massive lake is salt water or not.

Is Lake Superior Salt Water?

While it’s easy to understand why some people believe that Lake Superior is saltwater, the answer just isn’t what some people might think.

In actuality, Lake Superior is a fully freshwater lake. In fact, it’s the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the world.

Because of its size, it can often be mistaken for a few things like being salty, having sharks living in it, or other false facts.

A view of the freshwater Lake Superior from a ledge at Artist Point in Grand Marais.

From the shoreline, Lake Superior can sometimes look to be the size of the ocean, and it can have gale force winds that are ocean-like as well!

When we look at its size, we can see that the entire lake covers over 30,000 square miles of land.

These are a few of the reasons why some may ask if Lake Superior is salty or freshwater.

But in the end, the Lake Superior basin contains no salt, and the billions of gallons of water that make it up are fresh.

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    Why Isn’t Lake Superior Saltwater?

    Now that we’ve established the fact that Lake Superior is not in fact salt water, we can move on to bigger and better things.

    But the question, is Lake Superior salt water, also leaves us wondering why it isn’t.

    After all, it’s a massive body of water and it would just make sense for it to be salty, wouldn’t it?

    The main reason that Lake Superior is not salt water is because it is fed by and drained into rivers and streams.

    Unlike the ocean, Lake Superior has water that leaves it via streams and rivers, and any salt that is pushed into it leaves in these other water sources.

    Since there are such low concentrations of salt built up in the water, it doesn’t take much for the streams and rivers to push the salt out.

    Are Any of the Great Lakes Saltwater?

    No, while it’s easy to understand why we might think this and ask the question are the Great Lakes saltwater, the answer is no.

    All 5 of the great lakes are fresh water lakes, and none of them are made up of salt water.

    Waves crashing into the shore near Grand Marais.

    Just like with Lake Superior, all 5 Great Lakes, Lake Erie, Huron, Ontario, and Michigan all have features of a saltwater ocean, but they are not.

    Although all of them do connect to the ocean at some point, no saltwater flows into them.

    They are fed by streams, rivers, and rainwater, and almost all of the composition of the water is fresh.

    Are All 5 Great Lakes Freshwater?

    If you’re wondering is Lake Superior freshwater, or are any of the Great Lakes freshwater, here’s your answer.

    Yes, all of the Great Lakes are freshwater lakes and none of them have any salt water in them.

    The lakes are not connected to any oceans and are fed primarily by rivers and streams, as well as rainwater.

    The Great Lakes, which include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, are the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by area.

    They also come very close to being the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world by volume but are second.

    According to the Great Lakes Commission, the lakes make up about 1/5 of the world’s freshwater supply! That’s a lot of water.

    Why Are Oceans Salty?

    This may be a question that many people ask throughout their life, especially if they’re caught in the ocean and end up with a mouthful of saltwater.

    (Trust me, it isn’t pleasant!)

    Because the oceans are so large and makeup 70% of our Earth, we know that there is a lot of salt on our planet.

    There are a few reasons that you’ll find this salt in our oceans and seas.

    Oceans are salty because when it rains, the acid in the rain begins to erode the rocks that surround the ocean.

    A picture of the sunrise over the ocean in Mexico, which is salt water unlike Lake Superior

    This runoff that has hit the rocks and created erosion makes its way into the water, carrying the salts and minerals in the rock with it.

    From there, the salt is either used by sea creatures or it remains in the ocean and builds up over time.

    Another reason that we find salt in the oceans is that some hydrothermal vents line the sides of the ocean and as they become hotter, some of the dissolved minerals flow into the ocean.

    Are There Any Salty Lakes?

    While they are few and far between, there are a few lakes that are salty, but you won’t find any of them in the Midwest!

    In the United States, you’ll find the Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is what gave the mountain city its name.

    The lake is a popular stopping spot for people passing through and is well-known around the country for being salty, although there’s a chance it could be drying up.

    There are a few more salty lakes in the United States like Soda Lake in Washington and Walker Lake in Nevada.

    Other salty lakes around the world include the Caspian Sea, which is the largest lake in the world, as well as the Dead Sea in Jordan and Israel.

    Although they aren’t common and you won’t find that any of the Great Lakes are them, there are some salty lakes around the world!

    About Lake Superior

    Lake Superior is a large body of water that is found in the Midwest and is one of the five Great Lakes in North America.

    It’s the deepest, coldest, and the largest of the Great Lakes, and many people visit throughout the year to see the largest freshwater lake in the world.

    You’ll find quadrillions of gallons in the Lake Superior Basin, and it has enough to fill all of the other Great Lakes plus some.

    The shoreline from the ground near Artist Point.

    It’s a very cold lake with the average surface temperature being at around 55 degrees, which is almost too cold to swim.

    One of the most unique facts about Lake Superior is that it very rarely freezes over, so you’ll typically only ever see ice forming along the edges.

    Lake Superior is a fascinating body of water that you should visit!

    Can You Swim in Lake Superior?

    Yes, you can most definitely swim in the Lake Superior Basin, although it is very cold year-round and you might have a little cold shock!

    Many people go swimming in the lake at beaches off of Duluth, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or in certain places in Northern Wisconsin.

    While the water is clear and looks like a nice place to take a dip, it’s definitely important to remember how cold it is.

    Waves crashing into shore on Lake Superior, which is not a salt water lake.

    Lake Superior is actually the coldest of all of the Great Lakes, with an average surface temperature of around 55 degrees.

    Many people wear wetsuits year-round or just wade along the shoreline, where it’s the warmest.

    During the winter months when the waves are strong, you might even people surfing on Lake Superior’s waves!

    What State is Lake Superior In?

    Lake Superior is located off the coast of three different states, as well as touching the border of Canada.

    Technically, a majority of Lake Superior is found within Canada!

    Some of the Great Lakes create almost a natural border between the United States and Canada.

    The large Great Lake is found along the northwestern shore of Minnesota, which is affectionately known as Minnesota’s North Shore.

    Water on Lake Superior with waves coming into the shore.

    It’s also found lining the northern half of Wisconsin, as well as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which are a few of Minnesota’s border states.

    Out on the lake, there are over 400 islands, but the largest one is Isle Royale, which is actually one of the most remote national parks in North America.

    How Big is Lake Superior?

    Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake by area in the world, meaning it’s also the largest lake in the United States and North America.

    It’s the deepest and largest of all of the Great Lakes, measuring around 31,000 square miles.

    Just behind Lake Superior is Lake Huron with around 23,000 square miles of land covered.

    In length and width, Lake Superior is about 350 miles long and around 160 miles wide.

    Plus, it’s around 1,300 feet deep, making it one of the deepest lakes in the United States, just behind Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe, and Lake Chelan.


    Is Lake Superior Water Drinkable?

    Yes, the water from Lake Superior is drinkable, but it’s always recommended to either boil or filter the water before drinking it.

    Do Great Lakes have Sharks?

    No, none of the Great Lakes have sharks. Because they aren’t made of salt water, they wouldn’t be able to sustain any ocean life, whether that be sharks or whales.

    Which is the Cleanest Great Lake?

    Lake Superior comes in as the cleanest of all the Great Lakes.

    Why is Lake Superior so Blue?

    Lake Superior is a pretty blue lake thanks to how clean it is. Many other lakes in Minnesota are brown and dirty, but Lake Superior stands out as being blue and clean!

    Are there Whales in the Great Lakes?

    No, there are not any whales in any of the Great Lakes, just like there are no sharks or other sea creatures.

    Which Great Lake is the Deepest?

    Lake Superior is the deepest Great Lake with it’s deepest point at around 400 meters or about 1,300 feet.

    How Long is Lake Superior?

    Lake Superior is almost 350 miles long, stretching from Western Minnesota all the way over to the end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

    How Deep is Lake Superior?

    Lake Superior has a maximum depth of about 400 meters or 1,300 feet. This is the deepest of the Great Lakes.

    How Much Salt is in Lake Superior?

    Since Lake Superior is entirely freshwater, there is no salt in the lake.

    Is Lake Superior the Largest Lake in the World?

    No, Lake Superior isn’t the overall largest lake in the world, but it is the largest lake by area in the world.

    Is Lake Superior Freshwater?

    Yes, Lake Superior is freshwater, along with all of the other Great Lakes.

    Wrap-Up: Is Lake Superior Saltwater?

    After all of this information, the answer to your question, is Lake Superior salt water, is clear.

    None of the Great Lakes, including Lake Superior, are saltwater, but instead, they are all made up of completely fresh water.

    But even so, Lake Superior enchants us with its pristine, clear waters that offer a haven for countless species and a playground for adventure seekers.

    So although we can’t have what we all wish we could here in Minnesota (I’m talking about an ocean!), we can still enjoy all that Lake Superior gives us.